The hardened criminal may say he was never loved.
But is more love the solution? Can we create more love? Is there only so much love out there? Or is love a finite element like hydrogen and oxygen? While a torrential downpour floods one country, another country may be cheated from a single drop of water for thirsty crops. Maybe we have the right amount of water but it is not always distributed correctly.
Is love like food? In the US, although we hear of people going hungry, there seems to be plenty for all. Many studies show that so much of our food is wasted or becomes spoiled. Maybe we have enough food but it needs to be spread around more?
Does one family express too much love while another lacks love? Is it even possible to have too much love? Does love need to be spread around more? Unlike water and food, it is difficult to measure love. I don’t think we can create it out of nothing, like carbon and helium, and I believe we have all the love we need.
In our own unique ways, most of us crave affection and understanding. We need to feel justified and validated. It legitimizes us. This prepares me for an opinion you may find controversial: It is not being loved, but knowing we are loved that shapes our reality. One can love their spouse, friend, or family member. But if that person does not know or feel they are loved their view of the world will be quite different.
What does it mean to know we are loved?
Know: To grasp in the mind with clarity or certainty. To regard as true beyond doubt. To be aware of through observation. To perceive directly. To recognize the nature of.*
When I was thirty, I remember freshening up in front of a bathroom mirror at a friends house. As I patted my face dry, I saw the reverse reflection of a sentence printed on a picture hanging behind me. As I turned around it read, to the best of my memory, “Happiness is not something that happens to you- it happens inside of you.” It was at that moment that I began the journey of understanding that our reality is not based on anything that surrounds us. Rather, our reality is determined by how we perceive our surroundings. In that regard, it is possible that the hardened criminal was loved, and even told he was loved. In many instances, the problem may be that the criminal never felt or knew he was loved.
We have all been loved. There is someone who loves us right now. Tonight my mind is fresh with the vision of the hundreds of faces I saw today as I strolled the streets of Los Angeles. There were people pushing vendor carts, drivers weaving across lanes, executives walking briskly in tailored suits, and people feeding the congregations of pigeons. The variety of facial expressions exceeded the diversity of people. Some showed hope, wonder, and excitement. Others showed lonely despair. Many times a pigeon feeder would beam with happiness while a well-dressed businessman revealed underlying concern.
It is a topic I would not argue, but I am convinced the world we see has little to do with the things we can touch. Love and happiness radiate from a spark that already lives within us. It is what we know and feel about ourselves that determines what we see- even before we open our eyes.
*Sources: Miriam Webster Dictionary and The Free Dictionary.