The short answer to these questions is that love produces collaboration between friends and enemies to resolve problems of conflict, helping everyone involved to grow and evolve to greater levels of security, prosperity and quality of life.
Call it peace. Want some?
When we love our enemies, not only do they become transformed within our own consciousness, they also sense that we are not an immediate threat to their well-being, which softens their barriers to our approach. In a practical application of love, we become “nonviolent.”
However, we are simultaneously becoming a threat to their self-confidence as right, virtuous and powerful. When we love our enemies, we are challenging them to let go of the fear of death, loss and humiliation. That fear drives their hatred of anyone or anything that refuses to reflect back their self-image of strength in a narcissistic game of illusionary power.
What changes the game is our own willingness to risk their hatred, to let go of our own fear of death, loss or humiliation, to have an unlimited trust in our own well-being regardless of what happens. It is this kind of self-confidence that is attractive to someone playing the hatred game. We are hard-wired through our mirror neurons to experience the emotional solidity of everyone in our vicinity, such that any angry person entering a large room filled with people can bring down the mood of the entire room. The converse is true also, that a loving person can elevate the mood of an angry person.
The loving person doesn’t see the superficial hatred game, they see the potential for solutions to conflict within the deep passion that all people possess to contribute to the lives of others. They also see the distorted strategies to achieve that goal, strategies that were created in response to the traumatic, emergency situations which rob all of us of our trust, our confidence, our sense of agency.
We are by nature of our shared human experience of being born into this world — all of us — me included — vulnerable to these distortions, this distrust, this forgetting of our passion to contribute. We are all the same in that regard. It is the root cause of the toxic shame that binds us into the everlasting game of remaining within the fortress of self-protection, over-protection and hypervigilance to any threat.
We deny, we refuse to admit, that we have avoided in ways large and small our ability to connect with the needs of others, their pain, their agony, their shame that is the same as our own. We bury our shame so deep that we have not even a glimmer of its presence. Yet it drives our aggressive behavior, our workaholism, our people-pleasing, our distractions and addictions, our feelings of never being or having enough. As we allow this merry-go-round to continue spinning, we are losing our human potential, plain and simple. There is no victory in that.
I think our greatest barrier to the self-confidence needed to connect with our enemies is the pain of realization that we have shut ourselves off from not only feeling the pain of others, we have also blocked any possibility of knowing their love for us. It is like taking off a pair of boots that are way too small and have squeezed all the blood out of our feet. As the numbness fades away, we suddenly realize how much we hurt, and there is much to grieve.
As a practical method for relaxing our fortress mentality just a little bit, physical relaxation in a warm bath or in the hands of a massage therapist is often the simple, accessible doorway to softening the armor of our defense system. As we witness our pain, we begin to see behind it that which we are protecting: the fragile, innocent light of our unconditional love for life in all its forms. As Marianne Williamson has said, it is not our darkness that we fear, it is our light that terrifies us the most.
It may seem paradoxical, and yet it is the unconditional nature of our love that we cannot explain in words to ourselves or to anyone else that is so threatening. Our mental processes have no grip, no power in such a situation. Who would ever willingly submit to such powerlessness?
We cannot own or control this unconditional love. We cannot even will it to do anything that we would have it do. It is just there, waiting for opportunities to express itself rather spontaneously, willy-nilly, anywhere and everywhere. Imagine what it would be like to allow that love to flow, naturally and effortlessly. The fortress of fear and hatred would be gone. Life would follow a meandering path that is deeply trusted.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in this is that we will have to give up our self-hatred, or shame — just let it go, give it up, surrender it into the archives of our story. On the other side of that is knowing that life loves us, loves us just as we are, toxic shame and all our failings included, as just part of the process of our personal growth and development into our full potential as a human being.
It does not matter who or what we imagine the source of that love to be, only that we postulate that it might be real.
Once we have a tasty experience of accepting ourselves just as we are, it starts to happen more often, until it becomes so very real that the light that is given to us to shine through us onto the world is reflected back to us — constantly, reliably, without ceasing. Healthy self-confidence is allowing, surrendering to the will and power of that light. We have taken the first baby step toward accepting our unique role within an infinitely large systemic context beyond our control or understanding.
What we do understand is that we have no enemies, we have temporary misunderstandings with friends and family who are crying out from their deep sense of powerlessness for help in defiant ways. They secretly want to experience their power to contribute to the lives of others, just as we do. This may be hard to believe. I believe it because I myself have experienced the mindset of a misanthropic psychopath, and recovered.
A life of recovery is dedicated to finding what was once lost. Until we find the unconditional love deep inside ourselves, we suffer the addictions to substitutes, be they drugs, money, work or any number of self-destructive paths. How much pain we can endure determines the turning point, the hitting bottom that allows us to loosen our grip on what we thought we knew to be true.
The victory of love is over that pain, that tension, that fortress between us and them — winners and losers — yet most of all it is a victory over the fear of loss because life itself becomes unconditional, it has no limitations, what were considered miracles become commonplace, and death simply becomes the next adventure.
I do not expect you to accept what I am saying until you experience it for yourself, and this is where my words must end for now.