“It all turns on affection” – These are not my words. Poet, Essayist, Writer Wendell Berry’s 2012 annual Jefferson Lecture is titled “It All Turns on Affection”. It is a phrase that he was inspired to quote from the writer E.M.Forster’s book “Howards End” published in 1910.
That phrase caught my attention and stopped me in my tracks. Interesting choice of words I thought. What does that phrase actually mean?
What is Affection?
Affection is showing strong fondness and keen interest with undivided attention towards someone or something that you like. Affection looks like hugs, pats, kind gestures, smiles, encouragement, adoration, a heart that swells with joy and pride. Affection is cool ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Everything we do in our lives is to show our affection to someone.
In our day to day living we declare our likes and dislikes either openly or through actions. If affection is strong liking, our expression of dislikes are not being affectionate – therefore, not loving.
If the statement ‘It all turns on affection’ is true, then the root cause for troubles in the world whether it is between individuals or nations, is the lack of affection, is it not?
Why can’t we be affectionate towards everyone? Why do we focus on unlikable qualities and declare our dislikes and withdraw affection? Are we scared of getting hurt?
When the society we live in, the conditioning we are brought up with, the situational values that we are surrounded with scream separateness, and our hearts cry for unity, we feel the divide in us . We are not trained to listen to our hearts cry, we are only equipped to follow our mind.
Mind that is a bundle of thoughts enjoys keeping us in dualistic comparisons of Right & Wrong, Good & Bad, Beauty & Ugly etc., When the mind screams ‘unfair’ loudly, it is hard to hear the heart that whispers to see past and Affection is nowhere to be seen. Instead we see differences that breed dislikes, antipathy, animosity, enmity that turns into hatred – a strong emotion that creates permanent divide so deep that it becomes difficult to bridge.
“It all turns on affection” – the cry rising from many corners of the world for love and unity can only come into reality if each individual becomes a little bit more affectionate not just to their loved ones but to someone that they don’t know, to something that they don’t understand, towards issues that cause the divide. If we put our dislikes aside and see with kind eyes and broad imagination, we will understand the love and unity in every heart beat.
Wendell Berry says – “As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection, and it is in affection we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind and conserving economy'”
If the first step to create a better world and economy is ‘Imagination’, can we all actively imagine a world filled with Affection, Kindness, Generosity of Spirit, so we can create it?
Whilst acknowledging that there is cruelty in the world, if we actively engage our imaginative faculty to envision a world that is rich in not just physical resources but rich in Love and Peace, won’t we be bringing that into reality? After all it is said we create everything twice – once in our imaginations and once in physical reality.
So let us engage our tremendous imaginative powers and invoke sympathy and empathy. Let us envision a Golden Age that is filled with Love and Peace. We owe this not just to ourselves but to our future generations as well. It is not enough to just indulge in imagination, we need to act as though it is real. We need to see past our differences, and become compassionate, affectionate. It is possible. We have ‘Role Models’ that have shown us the way to do this.
Lets make the phrase ‘It all turns on Affection’ true and make it happen by turning our lives on affection every moment.
Would you like to join in that?
Drop a line how you imagine a better world than what it is now?
Until next time
With Love and Respect