At least one hundred principles of love
Back in the mid-1980s, Christopher Spence and Nancy Kline wrote 'At Least One Hundred Principles of Love: On loving ourselves, each other and the world'; there are actually 114. You can download a copy for yourself here. It’s not a long read and as Nancy says: “Don’t worry. It’s not sentimental. Hallmark will never pick it up, thank goodness.”
She’s right, it’s anything but sentimental. For me, it is one of the most powerful writings I’ve ever read. I only re-read it a few days ago after many years and it moved me as much as it did when it first came out. Did it change my life? Looking back over that time I would say so, but not immediately. Gradually. It embraces too much to be taken in all at once. (Like much of the changes we make in our lives, that continues to happen incrementally.)
I think I was also quite overwhelmed by the language — it has its own poetic form — which is breathtakingly visionary, positive and heart-inspiringly empowering, if that’s not too over-the-top a series of superlatives. It is still the most uplifting as well as challenging and scary thing I’ve read. That’s because, for one, it has high expectations of us, though in a good way. It encourages us to take risks as we lean into the wind over the proverbial cliff face of potentiality and possibility, knowing full well we’ll still be supported as we lean in. It’s tough to embrace what it asks of us; this is what real courage is all about. I think at times I come close to some of it, but at other times I have a ways to go. If you’re skeptical, read it and see if I’m not too far from the mark! The sheer scope of the work for us as individuals, when we’re in partnerships, and when we’re in groups is awesome, and I mean that in the true sense of the word.
After all those years, I have more experienced eyes of course, so anything re-read will be absorbed through a far different lens. It is still a lot to live up to. As a manifesto for transforming us, our communities, and by extension our world, it is sublime, a blueprint like no other. And it’s both timeless and ageless: it is unabashedly relevant today as it was then. Christopher and Nancy, you have written a masterpiece.
Have a read. I’m interested in your thoughts. Let me know in the comments.