Translating love into justice structures

Michael Edwards, from Demos, New York, has provided the notes from his talk in the ‘Love and Liberty Session’

Love and Liberty

All of my work is based on the assumption that the health of our interior lives affects the success of our work for justice in the world, and that the shape and operation of social institutions and public policies affect the health of our interior lives. Therefore, the best path to social transformation lies through the integration of both these elements so that we can “be the change we want to see in the world” as Gandhi put it, and “translate love into justice structures”, which Martin Luther King said was our life’s mission.

If we apply this frame to the current system – the system we are criticizing today – we can see how this cycle works in negative ways. If we have more information, it assumes, we can control the world, and if we can control it then bad things won’t happen, but the desire for control inevitably spins off into domination, persecution and mistrust and starts the whole cycle afresh. How can we turn this negative cycle into a positive one?

Ultimately, the only way to be free from insecurity and the toxic influence it has over our actions is to become firmly and permanently established in a state free from fear. We can call that state by many names, but for me, love – unconditional or unlimited love – is the one that resonates most. Unlimited love is the ultimate experience and expression of freedom from fear, insecurity, rage, and the urge to domination, and therefore it provides the best basis for new and healthier forms of politics, economics and social relations.

What might security policies look like if we developed them from this radically-different basis? Obviously we don’t know, but it will be a lot of fun finding out! What are the limits to love or trust in a context where there are some very bad people who want to do us harm? Better to approach that question from a position of love so that we can minimize intrusions on our freedoms than from the opposite perspective which always invites over-reach and manipulation. That’s the only way to deal with questions of insecurity in a way that avoids replicating or reinforcing the values and behaviors that produced the problem in the first place.

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