February is the month we celebrate love and Black History Month, and with these two ideas in mind, I put my old history major hat on, and dug into quotes by historic Black figures. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be reminded by the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King and many others. They faced enormous challenges that could have temped the average person to be hateful, angry and resentful. Yet these remarkable individuals saw the all-encompassing power of love instead. When I reflected on this with a sage friend who often speaks about race and his experiences in his podcast, he boiled it down beautifully: “Look where hate gets you. Look where love gets you. You tell me what’s better.”
It occurs to me that sometimes we are tempted to entertain hateful thoughts because we think it’s justified. Sometimes we are tempted because we don’t seem able to understand how someone thinks differently than we do. Sometimes we are tempted to believe that the ends justify the means. But Martin Luther King, Corretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, as well as many others throughout history, brought about change through love and forgiveness. True love is not selective. It is not reserved for those who look like us, think like us, act like us. It’s an idea that brings us freedom in our own thinking.
Here are some of my favorite quotes that address the idea of love:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
"Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated." — Coretta Scott King
"I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom." — Rosa Parks
"I am grateful to have been loved, and to be loved now and to be able to love. Because love liberates." — Maya Angelou
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude." — Martin Luther King Jr.
Recently, I’ve started talking with my kids in the morning about qualities that are inherent in us and all mankind and that we want to focus on expressing that day. Here are 28 ideas that we will be working with each day of the month:
Love is kindness.
Love is unselfish.
Love is merciful.
Love is grateful.
Love is being principled.
Love is being respectful.
Love is meekness.
Love is being completely void of hate.
Love is patient.
Love is selflessness.
Love is nurturing.
Love is tenderness.
Love is being calm and kind when we disagree.
Love is powerful.
Love is unlimited.
Love is grace.
Love is inspiring.
Love is trusting.
Love is pure, without jealousy.
Love is listening.
Love is doing good deeds, not just using good words.
Love is giving your child the gift of struggling through a challenge so he or she achieves satisfaction and confidence afterward.
Love is substantial.
Love is freedom from the burden of unhappiness, anger and hate.
Many of these ideas can be practiced in play with parents, siblings and friends. Getting in the habit of finding small opportunities to express love, even when we seem to be challenged, frustrated and disappointed, will give our children (and us!) the foundation we need to face bigger challenges with pure love in our thinking. Please join us in expressing love!