It was Eric Fromm who said that “The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness”. Failure to do so, he goes on to say, leads to insanity, because the only way of escaping the isolation from the world is to pretend that the world does not exist.
We try many ways of dealing with our aloneness before we resort to insanity. We take drugs, we drink, we sleep with anything that moves, we throw ourselves into careers, we undertake creative endeavours, we busy ourselves, quite literally, to distraction.
Ultimately, however, there is only one holistic way of overcoming our separateness, and that is to love.
In his masterpiece “The Art of Loving” Fromm describes loving as not ‘falling for’ but ‘giving’.
Love is what makes the world go round. Not money.
Love is the most basic of all currencies.
We are given life out of an act of love. None of us asked to be born, we are freely given life. And from that moment on, all our relationships are built around the principles of love, even the bad ones.
The best definition of wealth I have come across is ‘the ability to give’. By that definition, even the financially richest of us can be actually seen as being poor.
The more we are able to give, the richer we become. We become more alive.
The secret of love is in giving.
When we moan that we are not loved enough, or we cannot find love, the answer invariably lies in what we are prepared to give, rather than what we are wanting to receive.
The laws of nature even comply. Every schoolgirl knows that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action’. Now why should that not be true in personal relationships.
And yet the perceived wisdom is about ‘getting a partner’, ‘getting love’, of lack, of missing something, of not being given to.
Love has been ‘comsumerized’. We try to consume love, like everything else – as proved by the mushrooming trade in pornography.
We try to buy love wherever we can, to trade for it, to scheme for it, but it will not be ‘had’.
Love is the natural flow of energy from one part of our universe to another – it is the very building block of life.
As humans we have to learn to manage it as we have learnt to manage electricity or nuclear power. Until we do that we remain in our own shells, isolated, resentful, and in danger of going insane.
It is amazing that we do not teach ‘how to love’ in school. It is assumed that parents will know – but they often do not.
How can you teach your children to love, when you have never been loved yourself?
Whether we know it or not, the chief lesson we have to learn in life is ‘How to love’.
It is the ultimate lesson that lies at the root of most of the problems that we face today: war, poverty and man’s inhumanity to man.
Surely it is something we should all be working at.