Editor’s note: Columnist Catherine Lafferty is writing a series on the Dene laws. This week’s installment is on the third of the nine laws, which is: “Love each other as much as possible.”
Love each other as much as possible. Treat each other as brothers and sisters. Help each other and don’t harm anyone.
We have all harmed someone at one point or another in our lives, be it through our words or our actions, intentionally or non-intentionally, we tend to hurt those we love the most and it often starts with our siblings.
Sibling rivalry was an everyday occurrence in my household. So how do we follow through with this Dene law of loving each other as much as possible, as sisters and brothers, when we can hardly get along with our own? For some, it is most difficult to love our families, especially that one family member that seems to really get on our nerves.
Maybe this is because our families know us better than anyone and we see their imperfections and annoyances in ourselves. They can teach us lessons in how we can react and learn from each other when faced with conflicting and diverse personalities.
Love comes in many forms. Acceptance and love of a parent or caregiver is where the most impact is formed in raising children to grow up to be good people. Some parents find it difficult to express love for their children, perhaps because they themselves experienced a lack of love in their own childhoods. This leaves children feeling unloved, like they are not worthy of love, and this has devastating consequences that can cause children to grow up and become emotionally detached from themselves and others as adults.
Growing up in a loving home is vital for a child to be able to express themselves and not suppress their feelings. Back in the day, suppressing your feelings was the norm. People didn’t talk about how they felt openly, but now we are starting to realize that it is important to talk about how we feel, to share what our needs are, especially in committed relationships.
Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to open ourselves up, to love wholeheartedly without fear, because love exposes our true selves, it brings out our strengths but it also brings out our weaknesses. Love is a risk, it is the ultimate vulnerability.
When you love someone, you are risking heartbreak, but you are also inviting the possibility of true happiness. Trusting another person with your heart can be scary, especially if you have been hurt before, but it is worth it. Loving is a part of life, and some would say it is the only thing in life that really matters.
Lastly, it is important to love without judgment, to love with our hearts and minds, not only with our eyes. It’s easy to love someone when they are happy and treat you well but what about loving someone when they are not at their best? When they are unable to give love in return?
Seeing beyond our shortcomings is the essence of unconditional love and this is what we need to display more of, not only in our own personal relationships but in our day to day interactions with each other.
Helping a stranger with their groceries, forgiving the driver that cut you off on the road; it is difficult to do but the more we practice kindness, the easier it gets. Kindness and love go hand in hand and simple acts of kindness are loving gestures that are reciprocated back to us in our own lives through a reflection of how we live.