Turn to the Person on Your Left
And show a bit of love
What we want is all around us.
Country and blues singer Kathy Mattea released a single in 1992 called ‘Standing Knee-Deep in a River (Dying of Thirst)’. Like most country/blues songs, it’s about love. We want people we can love, and people to love us back.
The message of the lyrics is that we’re surrounded by people who want our love and attention, but we turn away from them and scan the horizon instead. We think that people we can love and who will love us back are far, far away, and we have to wait a long time for them to appear. But, as Mattea implies, we’re surrounded by people to love. We just need to look around.
If, today, everyone in the world turned to the person on their left and gave them a bit of love, what a difference it would make. How the world would change!
But what is love?
There are countless definitions of love. This one from Eckhart Tolle points to the sublime, sacred meaning of it:
To love is to recognize yourself in another.
Christ said it another way:
Love your neighbour as yourself.
The deeper meaning of this scripture has often been sidetracked by the modern idea that we have to love ourselves first, in order to love others. But taken simply, it means the same as Tolle’s quote. Love is perceiving the other as yourself (not like you, but as you). My neighbour and I are one. You and your neighbour are one. You and I are one. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and stand on the same earth under the same sky. We are, in our essence, one consciousness. There is no other.
Mattea sings about people flowing by her ‘just like water’, but she turns away from them because it all seems too hard. But love isn’t hard, Love isn't complicated. Love is simple. It can be expressed through eye contact. A smile. A nod. A door held open. A helping hand. Being peaceful during times of conflict. Giving a flower. Accepting advice. Dropping coins into a hat. Extending an invitation. Offering silence so someone else can speak.
Yes, love is simple, but it’s also powerful. It can stop wars. Free people. Feed multitudes. Build bridges. Save humanity.
Love is acknowledging, through our actions, that we are one consciousness.
There is no other.
We are One.
Turn to the person on your left and give them a bit of love, even if - for a hundred and one reasons - you don't want to.
Doing this will change the world.
With love, Marlane