Love is the Answer – or is it?

I hope you’ll forgive me: Today I’m not writing about insects or any other nature-related topic. Something else is weighing on my mind.

I usually try to think of something meaningful to write at the end of each year, but I’ve struggled to settle on a topic. I keep my mind open to any kind of inspiration that might strike me as the basis for a post. The other day I got an email from Spotify that summarized my music listening habits from the past twelve months. It said that my most-played song in 2021 was “Love is the Answer,” by England Dan and John Ford Coley — I listened to it 115 times. That is quite a lot, isn’t it?

So I was going to write about why that song touches me so deeply. I was going to talk about why we should all love one another, especially at this time of year. I was going to write about how music brings us joy. It was going to be an uplifting article about hope for the future.

And then the news broke about a school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, not far from where I used to live. The murderer was a student at the school, and he obtained the gun from his parents. He’s been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder and terrorism, and his parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for their part in the tragedy.

This country has a lot of upsetting societal problems, but these never-ending mass shootings drag me into the depths of despair. Just imagining how it feels when that happens in your community is heartbreaking. I’m sure the causes of this kind of tragedy are a combination of factors, and I have my own opinions about what needs to be done to begin to heal our society. (And yes, it does involve gun control.)

But all I can do today is mourn the senseless loss of life and infliction of terror on that small town in Michigan. Aggression and violence have become pervasive in American society, to the point that it’s “normal” to experience it to some degree no matter what your day involves. Yesterday, for example, I was running errands and sitting at a red light as the man in a big pickup truck behind me angrily honked and gestured, trying to force me into the intersection so he could turn right on red. I half expected him to get out and threaten me for the crime of taking up space on “his” road. And the saddest thing about it is that it’s commonplace these days.

When I lived in Japan as a young woman in the 1980s, people from European and Asian countries often told me that they thought America was a dangerous place to visit. I laughed and told them they must have gotten that idea from our movies, and assured them we weren’t all running around shooting each other.

And yet, now, we are.

I’m so ashamed of us — as Americans and as human beings — that we can’t figure out how to fix these problems and take care of each other so nobody gets to a point of such rage or sadness that they want to take a gun to school or work and kill innocent people.

What is wrong with us as a species that we can’t live in peaceful coexistence? People have waged war on each other since the beginning of time, I know. But for a species that claims to be the smartest on the planet, why can’t we figure out how not to kill each other? We can’t figure out how to share the world’s resources equitably. We destroy the natural world that sustains all human life. We’re selfish and greedy.

As I write this I keep second-guessing myself because I know there’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t been said thousands of times already. And it all falls upon deaf ears. So why bother saying it again? And yet I still feel the need to say…something. To find a reason to pull myself back up from the pit of despair and go forward with some hope.

Which, I guess, brings me back to this song. The lyrics were written by Todd Rundgren, but I’m partial to the cover version of it done in 1979 by England Dan and John Ford Coley.

And when you feel afraid
Love one another
When you’ve lost your way
Love one another
And when you’re all alone
Love one another
And when you’re far from home
Love one another
And when you’re down and out
Love one another
And when your hopes run out
Love one another
And when you need a friend
Love one another
And when you’re near the end
Love, we got to love,
We got to love one another

Todd Rundgren, Love is the Answer

If you’ve read any of my posts about being a highly-sensitive person (HSP), it won’t come as a surprise when I confess that I often cry when I listen to this song. I think it’s that repeated refrain to “love one another” no matter what — “when you’re all alone,” “when you need a friend,” or “when your hopes run out.” Just love one another…again and again and again. Don’t give up. In one way it sounds so simplistic and naive, right? But then again, maybe the answer is that simple. If we can just keep pulling ourselves up and trying to get better at it, as individuals, as nations, and as a species. I have to believe that.

Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all, set us free
Love is the answer

Todd Rundgren, Love is the Answer

Here’s the song if you’d like to listen to it. Tissues optional but recommended.

25 comments

    • Thanks, Cindy! I’ve found that writing about things like this is very helpful because I’m reminded of all the good and decent people among my readers and friends. Thanks for your steady friendship!

  1. We do indeed live in a world where angry aggressive people seem to abound. It’s very sad and can drag you down but I try to take heart in the small simple kindnesses of people around me when a neighbor stops to talk, or a wave from someone walking their dog or perhaps just an “excuse me” when someone at a grocery walks in front of you. I hold tight to the belief that there are many many more times the number of good people out there just trying to stumble their way through our bumpy world just as we all are. And I hold tight to Nature to ground me and help show me how to slow down, breathe and realize the value of life in all its forms. Thank you for your post. Love is, after all, at the base of it all.

    • Hi Teresa. Thanks for the reminder that there are many more good people than bad. It’s hard to remember that when the scary ones are often the loudest! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂

  2. I’m an HSP too, Kim. I have to keep from watching too much news, violent films, mixing with too many people etc. We have just come back from time in the city and have had to quarantine at home. And you know what? I don’t mind at all. I was on edge the entire time we were in the city, not from guns but just angry people. They are everywhere. I really appreciate you trying to tackle such an emotive and large subject. I tend to think it is even simpler than love, we just need to be kind to one another and give each other the benefit of the doubt…and put away the guns. Best wishes to you for the holiday season, whatever that means for you. xx

    • Hi Ardys. I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned being an HSP before, but I’m glad to know that. I totally understand how you felt in the city. I used to love traveling to cities, but in recent years I’ve generally tried to avoid places where there are lots of people. I sense anger in the air everywhere, and it drains all my energy quickly.

      You make a good point about kindness…maybe we can think of it as a form of love that we can use with total strangers. Happy holidays to you too!

  3. Tissues applied.
    I had forgotten this song. It is so right…
    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. You write so good about such a difficult subject. Your explanations, questions and answers are spot on. Love is the answer.

    • Thanks, Lisa. I sure don’t feel like I’ve got all the answers, but I’m glad this resonated with you. I know love can’t fix everything but it sure can’t make it worse!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It is such a crazy place right know…thank you for the reminder that I can do my part.

    • Hi Rebecca. I assume that’s a typo and you meant HSPs, right? And yes, the world is getting more and more challenging for us, isn’t it? I’ve just deleted my Twitter and Instagram accounts to try to minimize my exposure to the things that cause me the most upset. I think it’s more important than ever to manage the information we HSPs allow into our lives…so much overstimulation makes it hard to focus on what’s important!

  5. I wrote this awhile back, thought it was appropriate to share here –
    ‎”Love Needed a Depository,” ~ Marian Fisher
    and so it found the heart.
    It needed reassurance,
    and so it discovered man.
    It needed longevity,

    and so it produced heirs.

    It needed constancy,

    and so it created balance.

    Love by it’s very nature,

    multiplied itself.
    It took what was left,
    and manufactured other hearts.

    And in it’s wisdom,
    Called upon it’s strength,

    To remain whole in adversity,

    To weather rejection and pain,

    And to stay unbroken and unwilted,
    While in its sojourn upon this earth.

  6. I think most of these shootings are done because of mental stress and we have not done enough to help this problem in our country. There is still so much stigma put on mental problems and families are ashamed and hide the problems their family members have. Most all incidents show signs or warnings before they happen but nothing is done until a tragedy happens and it’s too late. There are some good meds to help if a family member could act. I think sometime that some people are so abused as a kid that the abuser has a problem themselves, so no help there!

    • Yep, I agree that better mental health care would probably help us begin to get a handle on this problem. But we also have a huge gun problem. When I can see two billboards advertising machine guns on my way to the grocery store, something’s not right.

  7. Very, very unfortunately, in the USA we live among many misguided people. Among other bad attributes that they have, they love their guns. “Peace, love and understanding” is not part of their vocabulary.

    • Yeah, exactly. And in some of the other comments we’ve talked about mental health care and gun control, but social media and cable tv are yet another part of this complex societal problem.

  8. There is a saying that “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”. I have been thinking for years that sometimes we need to do both. I appreciate you giving voice to the despair that I sometimes feel while at the same time offering something that transcends the despair. Wishing you well over the holidays and beyond. May we all find candles to light.

  9. Yes… love is the answer. And God is love (1st John 4:7-20). There is something innately wrong with us as a species, what drives us to needless selfishness and violence- it’s called a sinful nature. But God in His mercy, instead of destroying humanity as is deserved, found a loophole. He sent us the only perfect human to exist- both 100% God and 100% human, because it is impossible for a human alone to achieve blamelessness- and then allowed him to die in our place. Because you know who is referred to as the light of the world? Jesus.

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