The most misunderstood sentence in the world, and the most misunderstood word in the world is the last one. Anything else on the end of a sentence that began "All you need is..." would be taken quite seriously. All you need is God. All you need is money. All you need is guts. It's easy. All you need is love: that's hard.
People dismiss it as vague hippy maunderings, nothing to do with the Real World tee em. Love doesn't put food on the table. Love doesn't protect you from the Enemy, mugger or Commie or whatever fright-mask it wears this week. Love won't save you when the flood comes. Put thatin your bong and smoke it, maaaan.
But if you love someone, and they love you, then it's natural to share food, both ways. If you love The Enemy and The Enemy loves you, then it isn't The Enemy any more. And if you love your neighbours and they love you, there'll be room in the boat for all whosever it happens to be, and plenty of willing hands to rebuild when the waters subside. Love can do all these things. God can't, if the other person's Muslim and the only food available is bacon sarnies. Money won't, if you've got it and The Enemy wants it (and The Enemy always wants it).Guts won't, when you've been treading water for two days and nights and there are thirty-eight more to go.
Love can feed you, clothe you, shelter you. It won't coddle or overindulge you, it won't lie to you to make you feel better. It'll expect the best you can give, and rag on you if less is forthcoming. But it will always value what you give, and see that you get a fair reward.
It can't be made into a system. The Book of Loveism would be either an infinite number of volumes, or one five-word sentence. It would happen by chance, on impulse, one moment at a time, and it would never be absolutely perfect...but it would work, if, and only if, we can, each and all of us, fully understand the appalling truth:
Because if all you need is love, then you don't need anything else, and whatever you don't need gets in the way. Love is the missing element that makes that ghastly litany of nihilism "Imagine" into the paean of hope it's supposed to be. If you love everybody, and everybody loves you, then heaven, and country, and possessions can become irrelevant, obstacles rather than life support. If I love you and you love me, you can take my books, I can wear your shirt (assuming it fits), because we know the sharing won't be abused. If I love you and you love me, then we can glory in the world as a whole, not just our separate little bit of it. And if I love you and you love me, we have heaven right here. That's about all heaven is.
Those who think hate is more powerful than love have never seen love, only affection or infatuation. Those who talk about hate and love being two sides of the same coin are closer to the mark, but they haven't thought it through. What killed the sixties, what kills love wherever it finds it, is not hate, but indifference. What wrecked the flower-power revolution was not love, not false ideals (because they were not false), but indifference. "You can share my books/clothes/wife because I love you" is a far cry from "you can share etc because it doesn't matter." The poison seed at the heart of the movement was summed up (or can be) in the phrase "Hey...that's cool."
Cool is the antithesis of love. Love is hot, fierce, dangerous, turns and bites if you catch it at the wrong moment. Love is not something you can ever take for granted: it never runs in neutral. You have to do it all the time, so much so that finding time to do anything else becomes a serious problem, and boredom a thing of the past. Again, all you need...is love. Paradoxically, though, perfect and mutual love (and its inseparable companion, perfect and mutual trust) might end up by freeing us from so much that we have to do now simply because we don't have it.
There is no way to "Imagine " a world ruled by love. There's only one way to find out what it would be like...
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