“I think our job is to love the world.” Kate DiCamillo
Some days it takes courage to love this world of ours. Some days it feels easier–simpler, anyway—to pretend this fragile planet, badly used in so many ways, isn’t owed anything so demanding as love.
And when I say “badly used,” I’m talking about more than greenhouse gases and plastic clogging our seas and a climate spinning out of control.
I’m talking about a world bristling with nuclear weapons. I’m talking about leaders—especially those in my own country—who for the past fifty years and more have believed in such monstrosities, manufactured them, stockpiled them, brandished them, used them on a civilian population . . . leaders who clearly hunger to use them again.
I’m talking about laws in this “land of the free” created and interpreted and enforced to protect a tiny fraction of our citizenry, those who are rich, white, male, heterosexual.
I’m talking about the wealthiest nation in the world where every day food goes to waste by the ton while too many of its citizens go hungry.
I’m talking about . . . but what is the point of more talk?
We know. We all know. And knowing seems to bring only despair, and despair does nothing to feed love.
Kate De Camillo, however, says “our job is to love the world” and Kate is a wise woman.
What does it mean, though, to love? It is such an easy word to say, so friendly sounding, convenient, all encompassing. But love takes thought and attention and lots and lots of hard work. I know that from trying to live love every day within the confines of a family, within a community of friends. I know, too, that love has very little to do with feeling and a great deal to do with doing.
Love is a verb, after all. An active verb, any English teacher would be glad to point out.
So what does it mean to love the world? This world. The one we stand upon today. The one descending into chaos all around us.
And how can my loving make the tiniest bit of difference?
I am a storyteller. Only that. The best of my energy and passion and talent turns itself into stories, stories meant to challenge and to heal.
Many years ago I cast a book into the world that spoke against war, hoping to build a longing for peace in my readers. My book’s title was Rain of Fire, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom gave Rain of Fire a nice award.
And war did not stop. It did not even pause
Again and again I hold the natural world up in my stories. I write about the flora and the fauna and the arching blue sky with reverence, hoping to generate reverence in my readers.
And the flora and the fauna and the arching blue sky go on being abused without end.
I write about families, struggling to nurture, to survive.
And families go on struggling . . . to nurture, to survive.
Clearly my stories are not a fix for anything. And yet they are the deepest gift that has been given into my hands.
They are my love for this chaotic world made manifest.
I write these stories with all the honesty, with all the passion, with all the intelligence I possess. They are my strength and my determined hope. They are the gift—very nearly the only gift—I have to give the children coming up behind me.
Are my stories enough? Of course, not. Nothing I do alone will ever be enough. Yet each story lives out its life as a fragment of a larger love.
And only love, all our love gathered together, has any hope of saving this beleaguered world.
What is your gift? What is the work of your love?