June 25, 1967. It was fifty years ago that the Beatles recorded this iconic song. I was 16 at the time and I can still sing all the words and croon my way through all the musical transitions.
1967 was the ‘Summer of Love.’ The chaos of 1968 was building but it had not erupted yet; we still held on to some innocence and hope.
All you need is love. Love is all you need.
In 2017, it’s tempting to add love to our list of fantasy thinking from our childhood, right up there with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Love seems a flimsy response to the shock and political chaos we are enduring. It sure doesn’t seem like love is all we need to deal with the terror, violence and never-ending war of this 21st century.
But I’m going to argue that the Beatles were on to something.
Often when I officiate a wedding, I read the famous biblical passage about love from 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient. Love is kind.
Love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude.
Love it is not irritable or resentful and does not seek its own way.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
These words don’t describe how love feels. These words tell us how love acts.
Warm fuzzy feelings are fine and good. Hot pulsing emotions are part of what makes us human. And of course, all that is part of the love-spectrum.
But when it comes down to the core, the center, the foundation – love is a verb, not an emotion. And it’s a really strong verb: persistent, resistant, insistent action on behalf of another.
A few months ago, in an On Being interview, Congressman John Lewis talked about how the Civil Rights Movement was a movement of love.
In that interview, Rep. Lewis said these amazing words:
The [Civil Rights] movement created what I like to call a nonviolent revolution. It was love at its best. It’s one of the highest forms of love. That you beat me, you arrest me, you take me to jail, you almost kill me, but in spite of that, I’m going to still love you. I know Dr. King used to joke sometimes and say things like, “Just love the hell outta everybody. Just love ‘em.”
Just love the hell out of them.
We need more people to love like this in 2017. We’re not going to turn this climate of vitriol and violence around by spewing more vitriol and doing more violence to one another. We need the yeast of love to work in all sorts of hidden ways so that this powerful force can eventually overcome the darkness of our days.
Wherever you’re coming from, whether you are a believer in the Beatles or in the Bible or in the bold tenets of nonviolent revolution, I still will argue that love is all we need.
So let’s start loving the hell out of this crazy societal chaos. I’ll give it a go. Who’s with me?
Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and Intersections Facebook page. She is national secretary for Coffee Party USA and contributes regularly to the Join the Coffee Party Movement Facebook page.