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It Takes a Village...Community...Tribe
by Cheryl Rompa
Beltane 2003, Vol 2-3
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MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
Practicing A Love Ethic

Our culture(1) was founded on the Puritan work ethic. This has been the standard by which we live our lives since the United States was colonized. We believe that hard work and tenacity will be reward enough in our lives.

Often, we are disappointed when we find out that working hard and then finally relaxing into our "retirement" is not the reward we thought it would be. If by chance we figure out that there might be better possibilities for living our lives, we typically don't know how to make them reality.

Often the driving force behind working hard is the goal of acquiring "things." We gauge success by the quantity and/or quality of the things we own and by how much money we make a year. We are convinced that the things we see advertised will make us happier, sexier and smarter. So we go to work at jobs we find boring -- or despicable -- to get the money to buy the things we think will make us happy. If by chance we are doing work we enjoy, it helps, but work still takes up 40 to 60 hours a week of our time and energy. All of that so we can feel good about a job well done and the financial benefits of a solid work week.

Having a life driven by money and things is never going to be the life we think it will be. The drive to consume more and more will never last nor will it fill our lives with what we need. This motivation is based on lies and a fantasy that is shallow and superficial. We have practiced this work ethic long enough. It's not working for us as a human race. We have lost our connection to one another with our competitive "keep up with the Jones" attitudes. We have left our children to fend for themselves so that families can have two incomes just to make ends meet. We have decided somewhere along the way that driving a SUV is more important than saving our atmosphere or breathing clean air. We are adolescents caught up in the instant gratification of getting our needs met "now" and to hell with the consequences.

I've been thinking about another way to be in this world. In bell hooks book, all about love: New Visions, she suggests we begin to live our life by a "love ethic." I like the thought that we be motivated by love rather than by work or the things we can buy, and that the fear of not having enough isn't our emotional foundation. I wonder what the world would be like if our first thought every day would be something like:

  • "What loving thing can I do today?" or
  • "How can I help to make this a better world?" or
  • "Who can I connect with that I have been afraid of or disappointed by?"

Living by a love ethic would mean that we commit to transforming our lives. We would live by a different set of values. We would

make choices based on the belief that honesty, openness and personal integrity need to be expressed in public and personal decisions... [and learn that] Living by a love ethic we learn to value loyalty and a commitment to sustained bonds over material advancement.(2)

Our lives could change drastically, full of blissful joy and unimagined connectedness to Mother Earth and all the beings that inhabit Her. If we could face our fears about change and have the courage to see how transformational a love ethic could be, then we could really look closely at how distant we've become from one another. A love ethic is what helps us think well about one another. To live by a love ethic is something we can learn to do and practice everyday. It means we reach out rather than withdraw when we are hurt by our human mistakes. Currently, we tend to think the worst before all the information is in.

Believing in the Goddess is believing in a love ethic.  

Believing in the Goddess is believing in a love ethic. Why do we continue to practice our spirituality based on the fears of other religious beliefs? Practicing a love ethic means we have to interrupt ourselves when we begin to speak ill of our sisters. Even if a sister makes a huge blunder (in our opinion), with a love ethic we can understand her humanness and ask how we can help her be true to her integrity. And if she is unable to see how she is distancing herself, we can continue to send loving thoughts her way as she struggles.

Saying that, I also believe we each have to practice the love ethic with ourselves. We have to walk and talk our integrity. We have to be brave enough to look into the shadows of our souls and find the ways we sabotage ourselves and our relationships. This requires a vigilant awareness and persistent honesty with self first. We must practice a love ethic that includes forgiveness and willingness to change as constant attitudes in our thinking. It is difficult to look into our wounded selves and see what keeps us from moving closer to each other. Shifting to a love ethic may seem like a hopeless and fruitless effort, but by loving each other we can make a daily effort to celebrate and appreciate each other.

I'd like to encourage each of you to evaluate your life from a love ethic point of view and see what the Goddess may open up for you. One way to do this is to practice a love ethic behavior everyday. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make a list of your friends and leave room under each name to write down three things you appreciate about them.
  • Make a list of the people you have difficulties with, and find something you appreciate about them. (This may be difficult at first, but it becomes easier as we practice.)
  • Remember how curious you were as a child. When we were children, we could ask any question and not feel like we were being "nosy." This curiosity was about wanting information, not about judging each other. So pay attention to your curious self and get excited by the wonder of everything around you; get "nosy" about each other's lives.

When we live our lives by a love ethic we can heal broken hearts, stop world hunger and protect Mother Earth and all Her creatures. We can end the oppression of one another and stop wars. A love ethic means we reach out to each other time and time again, and we don't stop even when we are hurt and angry and disappointed and disillusioned. We keep loving each other every minute of every day and we practice and practice and practice until we know the love ethic by heart.

(1) "our culture" in this context = dominant culture (white, mainstream, United States

(2) bell hooks, all about love: New Visions, p. 88

Graphics Credit
+ Love at Work, Copyright © 2003 Sage Starwalker. All rights reserved.

Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without permission. All other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.
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