As a child of parents and teachers who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I could not help but grow up loving The Beatles. I remember in Year 2, our teacher got us all to dress in floaty dresses, paint flowers on our faces, and sing Beatles songs for our contribution to the school show. My days as a hippy began then, I believe.
The concept of ‘love’ is a funny one. It’s spoken, sung, painted, danced and written about everywhere. And yet, I feel too often that our world is becoming a much less loving one. I feel that when you turn on the tv, or open the newspaper, or listen to the news, we’re living in a world ruled by fear. If you believed it all, I’m not sure why you would ever leave the house, for fear of a storm, or an attacker, or war.
Imagine if you could take all the fear in the world and turn it drop by drop into love?
So many things in life seem to boil down to these two simple things. Have you seen the bit from the comedian Bill Hicks, ‘Just a ride’? Have a little watch.
A wise man once told me that the way to deal with any conflict with another person is to ‘love them more’. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first with this, but I realised over the days following that conversation that it meant trying your hardest, with whoever it was, and however hateful they were towards you, to move to a position of love. That is, to do your best to imagine, ‘How would I feel if this were a person who I loved?’ ‘How could I love this person more?’ ‘What if this person were my uncle, or my friend who had momentarily just said or done something really irritating?’ Of course, I might be cross, but because of my love for them, I would find a way to forgive them, or understand them, or at least try to do these things. It doesn’t always work, but when I’ve tried it, I’ve never regretted my attempts. And I’ve realised that often, the other person is just acting from a place of fear anyway.
The word ‘love’ is a problematic one, sometimes, as we associate it with romantic love, with sappy-ness and Disney films. But you can use another word, if you wish; trust, kindness, compassion. Being hopeful, being positive, or being nice (that word that the teachers never let us use at school). All these words work in place of love.
Caitlin Moran wrote a letter to her daughter, some time last year. A beautiful, funny, poignant letter, where she spoke of the importance of being nice. I feel that sometimes, we’re so busy trying to live life to the full, to survive the day-to-day, to change the world, we can forget to just be nice.
The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’. — Caitlin Moran