This is the fourth edition of the “Great Books” series, and this is truly a great one. LOVE is a book written by Leo Buscuglia, and an all-time favorite of mine.
I was introduced to this book by my mother when she handed it to me as I boarded the plane to leave for college. I looked at it and with a smirk said..Really? A love book. She smiled at me and said something I didn’t understand until I read the book, and it still echos with me today: Love is the answer. Love is what it’s all about. The more love you put out the better the world is and as the Beatles said: the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
I didn’t read the book. In fact years went by, very tumultuous years of college, relationships, jobs, careers, failed careers, failed relationships – and I lugged this LOVE book all around with me. Then one day..I opened it, sadly it was after my mom died. I never got to thank her for the awesome life advice she gave me.
The story goes that Leo Busgulia was a popular professor of anthropology when he, as most teachers and lecturers do, picked one student out of the group to focus on. He gauged the success or the failure of his lectures by this student. If she laughed, he was doing good. If she didn’t, he needed to step up his game. As a teacher and speaker myself, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this, how many times that unknown person forced me to step up my game, and how many times I’ve heard stories just like this from others. One day, the student didn’t show up. She didn’t show up for a whole week, so he asked a few of the other students if they knew her. Nobody knew her. In fact, she was alone. She was so alone that she killed herself. She never left a note, and the people around her were as caught off guard by the suicide as Leo was. He decided that there was something he could have done, and he would make sure that nobody ever left his class feeling unloved, undervalued, or hopeless. He created what he called a “Love” class. This class was to show and help people understand that they were valued. It started as a group of 10 kids taking a elective course, and it turned into a movement and eventually a book.
A friend of mine, acclaimed author Ricky Robert III, created a company called “You are valued”. This company strives to show every person that they are valued, they mean something in this world, and they have the ability to do great things. He walks up to random people everyday and explains that “they are valued” and they have an amazing ability to do things they never thought they could. Ricky tells stories of unknowingly saving people from suicide, disease, and abuse.
This is the same idea as the Leo Buscuglia’s LOVE book. We have been put in this world not to think of us and ours, but instead to think about everyone. To live in this world interconnected to every living being on this planet. More importantly, we were put on this earth to coexist with people…our own human race. When we walk into an elevator, what happens? Everyone walks in, pushes a button, and turns toward the door. The only talking permitted is amongst people who walked into the elevator with them, or someone you met before you entered the elevator. WHAT?? Why? This is stupid!
We are human beings, part of the race of homo sapiens that crawl around on this planet building stuff and riding around on the planet’s crust. That person next to you in a coffee shop line, in the line to pick up their kids, buying groceries, and even in an elevator are people. They are flesh and blood, with emotions and ideas just like you. They deserve as much respect as you do, and they definitely deserve a “hello”, a “how are you”, “have a good day”, or the one I use all the time: “I hope you have a great day” Why can’t we do that? Because we’ve been taught it’s not right, and suddenly it becomes uncomfortable. Many times people are so alone and unhappy, one word from another human being is all they really need or want.
I remember hating to go see my grandmother because she would talk incessantly. The reason…she was alone 24/7, 300 days a year. When those 65 days happened throughout the year, she pushed as much conversation and living into them as she possibly could. That is no way to live, but this is the life we force people to have. If you are alone…you will stay alone. If you have friends…you are approachable, as long as I’m OK with those friends. We have so many rules about caring and loving, that there’s even a huge drama about saying “I Love you” to someone. Trying saying it to a complete stranger and watch the craziness you get.
This book gives us our ability for love and compassion back. This book shows us that there is more important things in the world than us. It shows that we need to value everyone and all people. We must start to create a world where everyone is loved and valued, or violence and destruction and loneliness will take over. We already see people escaping into their homes with their facebook, internet, and video games…excluding the outside world except through a barrier of media and violence.
Our world deserves better than that. Our world needs to change to be more compassionate, empathetic, and understanding about all people and all walks of life. That is the gift this book gives us.