The Power of Love

By Jill Applegate

“You can’t lead people unless you love people, and you can’t save people without serving people.”

–Cornel West

Love is something that we can all understand. Rarely are politics.

Normally, one does not think of our government and the practices that surround it as loving. Many people believe that our representatives get too caught up in the politics of Washington, D.C. and forget to reconnect with their constituents after campaign season. Today during our academic sessions, we had the opportunity to hear from Tavis Smiley, a PBS talk show host and political commentator, and Cornel West, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and well known political activist. Both commented extensively on how love should influence the operation of our government.

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”

West discussed the importance of securing fair and reasonable treatment for all American people, which ultimately reflects the love of our government for the citizens of this nation.  This is especially true with his and Smiley’s campaign to end poverty in America, which they both believe is a leading issue in today’s society that our government should give more attention.  Fellow student Courtney Howell discusses this campaign in more detail, and more information can be found here.

“Not a love of power, but the power of love.”

Smiley here is referring to the idea that our government officials, instead of becoming preoccupied and fixated with the power that accompanies the duties and responsibilities of holding public office, should use their position to create policy and support their constituents with love.  Love is a powerful emotion that, more likely than not, will be reciprocated by the constituents once initiated by the politicians.  From West’s quote above, this love can be seemingly be initiated and shown through exercising justice for the American people.

Love will not simply solve the problems facing our country today. But it is an important first step. We want to believe that our elected officials are doing what is best for us, and showing emotion humanizes our representatives and brings them down to our level. We all experience emotion, but we rarely all get involved in politics. If our officials are looking for a way to the hearts of their constituents, they should try showing a little love.

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