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Book Reflection: Love, by Leo Buscaglia

Behold what you love and find dear.

Be blind of eye and deaf of ear,

so that when you’ve taken firm grasp

of what you love,

not even blades of steal

cutting through flesh, would have you release

what you hold out of love.

The bones would still possess the prize

without having crushed what lies inside.

poem by F. V. Bell

 In reading the book Love by Leo Buscaglia, each time I scan through its pages, I immediately want to read the entire book again. I will write on Chapter 5, “Love has Many Deterrents,” because this is a natural, lifelong challenge that humans must confront: to love or not. Love is a verb; an action word, if you will. Buscaglia mentions common insecurities brought on by past hurts and trauma, which in turn lead to “predator versus prey” relationships. He also discusses how the fear of becoming emotionally wounded in relationships (be they with relatives, friends, or lovers) can keep one from taking the risk of simply connecting to another human being on even the smallest levels of interaction.

For example, Buscaglia and some friends had gathered in a West Coast bar when they all noticed a man sitting alone. Buscaglia thought aloud to invite the man over, while his friends thought to let him be, rationalizing that because he was alone, he had made the decision to be without company. Buscaglia responded, “That’s fine, but if I ask him, he’ll have a choice.” It turned out that the man was visiting from Germany and happily accepted his invitation for conversation and company; they were the only persons to approach him in a friendly manner aside from the hospitality staff at the hotel and airport.

Buscaglia goes on to delve into the order of higher thinking and how man responds to his environment, where if “he believes in a world of evil, he will respond suspiciously, fearfully and be constantly searching for and assuredly finding the evil he seeks,” while if “he believes in a world of good, he will remain confident, trusting, vulnerable, and hopeful.” Buscaglia goes on to say that the greatest deterrent to love “is found in anyone who fears change” (fear is paralyzes and breeds contempt).  Love flows like the river; always itself, yet ever changing, recognizing no obstacle. Love never fails, people only fail to love.

Detroit is large city. At the heart of this city are its people, who attract or repel opportunities each time they present themselves. My most recent conversations with persons not African American and not Detroiters from Detroit have involved the concept of inclusivity and basic human interactions. I didn’t think it was so hard for some of us to smile sincerely or say “hello” or “what up, doe?” when crossing paths. We will remain separate if that is what we choose, despite our desires for accessibility to opportunities and economic prosperity in the uncertain times of this evolving city. So, perhaps the next time you find yourself in the company of a stranger, remember, you have a choice…

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