“Love” is universally valued. It has no boundaries and rings true in all languages. It is a gift, a virtue and a quality that no law can destroy. We cannot purchase it, order it online, tax, or import it. But all across the world love is present. One only has to observe people to see its magic.
The words of George Sands, “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved,” rang true for me in Spanish and English on a recent educational trip to Cuba. I was struck by the absence of material goods contrasted by a profound joy overflowing among the people. Gaps in monetary belongings appeared offset by an excess time and devotion to a culture of love. Music, dance, singing and art displayed day and night by individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities encompassed my Cuban experience. “What the Cuban people lack in “stuff” and freedom, they make up for in love of each other and of life.
Although very little monetary currency is exchanged by the average person in Havana, there is a palpable richness among the people – young and old. There are also health outcomes more closely associated with first world countries. Money can certainly buy some happiness, but my observations within this northern Caribbean island of 11 million suggests love I (in addition to a strong primary care health system) is priceless and no form of government or limitations in freedom or purchasing power can take that away.
Questions come to mind as I return to the Miami airport among the luxuries of duty free shopping and the plethora of food options. Is there a link between a simpler life and more love and happiness? Does capitalism focus us too much on achievement and affluence? Does the human spirit have a potential to grow love in the absence of stuff? Is there an alternative balance of “things” with “relationships “than that which I have grown up believing in? Perhaps there are
healthier ways I could invest my time or energy that would bring more love and happiness to my life. While I would never give up my freedom, are there other items I could part with in exchange for more time with those I love. Perhaps a change is in my control?