Why do we do what we do? Why do we strive to make the world a better place, where people can reach their dreams and live as their authentic selves?
I would argue that love lies at the heart of our work. Love for our own children and family, and love for all children and families. Love of animals and the ocean and trees. Love for where we live, love of country. I think justice is what happens when you combine fairness and love.
And yet, when we recommend using the word love to our client organizations, they all too often balk. They think the word is too soft or flowery. Or that it will trigger cynicism, that people will question their sincerity. We’ve even heard people say things like “that’s a word that real people use to talk to other people they care about.” They say that as a reason to NOT use the word love, but connecting in the ways that people actually talk to one another should be the goal of your organization’s communications! Not something to avoid.
Love is one of our strongest, most hopeful and most persistent emotions. We organize our lives around love: we seek out loving relationships, and we spend our free time nurturing and maintaining those bonds. Love is an animating force in our lives and in our work, and yet we fear saying so.
I understand. It’s risky to talk about love. And just like you’d be skeptical of anyone who tells you they love you on a first date, our organizations shouldn’t just toss it out there for effect. Love is a powerful idea and needs to be deployed carefully. But when done right, is there anything better to hear?
Some smart non-profits have also harnessed the power of this most powerful emotion. “Wigs for Kids” and “Locks of Love” have similar programs, but which name pulls at your heartstrings? For decades, the Peace Corps offered us “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”
It’s not always necessary to say the word love to convey the idea. It can be just as powerful to invoke it. “Helping preserve the places you cherish” is the tagline of a group called LandChoices, which inspires action by invoking love of place. And the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition uses the love we feel for our kids to work toward “Finding a Cure Now … So Our Daughters Won’t Have To.”
So I hope the next time Tina asks you, “What’s love got to do with it?” you’ll think EVERYTHING! And that it starts showing up in what you write and say about your organizations’ love-fueled work.
Image credit: Shepard Fairey www.obeygiant.com
Amanda Cooper, LightBox Collaborative partner, is not afraid to say it:I love my work! Helping social justice leaders change the world means I get to put my passion into action every day.