All About Love by Bell Hooks

I am extremely excited about having finished the third book from Emma Watson‘s feminist book club «Our Shared Shelf» All About Love. New Visions by Bell Hooks; I mean I finished it, and it‘s still March! Yuss! I‘m on schedule!
Sorry. That‘s not why we‘re here.IMG_20160322_233624I never read the blurb because if Emma Watson gives you a book to read you don‘t go questioning it, all right? But I‘m not Emma, so I might as well give you the blurb:

«The word „love“ is most often defined as a noun, yet… we would all love better if we used it as a verb,» writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new ethic for a people and a society bereft with lovelessness.
As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question „What is love?“ her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society‘s failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the „100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life.“ All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.

To be honest, I had some trouble getting into the book, and at times also to keep reading. For one thing, the autho‘s big on generalisations. Right from the beginning she declares that love means something inherently different for men than it does for women. I generally disagree with feminists who claim that the difference between men and women is purely in the testicles because obviously testosterone does to a certain degree define how prone someone is to violence and other traits we claim as «manly.» Still, to say that «men» see love as such and such and that this would contradict any woman‘s point of view I found difficult to accept. She doesn‘t really leave any window open for cultural norms (I‘m sure that my male Honduran friends have a different idea of love than my male friends from New Zealand), nor does she really mention that her theories could apply to both genders.

Bell Hooks is also quite quick in drawing conclusions based on her own subjective opinion on the matter. For instance, in one chaper, she states without any lead-up:Bild 28I would have liked a little more information or reasoning as to how she came to this conclusion.

There were a number of other things that I‘m not going to go into detail about; such as the fact that she continuously contradicts herself or the beforementioned subjectivity. I still rated it four out of five stars, because from 20,000 ft viewpoint I agree with her overall message. In fact, many of the things she says can be life changing if applied in day to day life.

One of the things I‘m finding most inspiring is the notion that love is a choice. If we want to be able to love we have to let ourselves be loved. I feel she‘s sort of going into what we learned from Stephen Chbowski that «We accept the love we think we deserbe.» Well, actually, what we deserve and what we don‘t is our own decision. We can decide that we deserve the best ever treatment from our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, etc. Or we can accept abuse as a norm. What is important is that it might be a bad idea to value romantic love over friendship.Bild 29Abuse is not love, the author stresses. It‘s just that sometimes we confuse it for love, especially at a young age. But I completely agree on the fact that if somebody makes you unhappy in any way it is okay for you to leave the realms of this relationship.

Over all the book tries to lay the groundwork for a more loving society. And love appears in so many different aspects of our daily lives; honesty, justice, care, nurturing, forgiveness, selflessnes… the list goes on. Essentially, these are also the foundation of peace.

I hope the sun is shining where you are and I hope you have a lunch date, as I do right now, and I also hope that you know you‘re totally and completely worthy of love, you sexy noodle!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was murdered last week.
If we cared about every single person that dies and makes it into the news we would not be able to keep ourselves from devastation. But Berta Cáceres was a beautiful woman who cared quite a bit herself. About her people, about her country, about the land and the dirt and the water. She died because she wanted to live and she wanted her people to live.

berta4

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous and environmental organizer who fought for indigenous land rights in Honduras. Land rights are a complicated thing in Honduras – essentially, what happens is this: Inigenous and Non-indigenous people have been living on those lands for centuries. They are farmers and as such their ethnic background is often of secondary importance. They never needed any titles to rightfully work the lands they were living on, they had formed communities and they had their own systems and treaties. I‘m not saying everything was always well, but all in all it worked. But Honduras is largely owned by oligarchs, meaning rich men who have the money to rightfully produce land titles that up until a few decades ago never existed. Probably the biggest jerk of them all is Miguel Facussé – he‘s rich as fuck (excuse the expression) and basically everything in Honduras belongs to him, at least in part. He and his rich friends now own lands that have been in the hands of peasants for ages, and they shoo the farmers away to build hotels or roads or oil palm plantations. This leads many families into poverty and is only one of the massive problems Honduras is facing.

Berta Cáceres founded the grassroot organisation COPINH (Civic Council of the Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras); since 2012 COPINH‘s biggest fight has been against the establishment of the construction of the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. For the Lenca (an indigenous people of Honduras) communities, the approved constructions of over 40 hydroelectric dams presents a great threat; for the Lenca people, the free-flowing Gualcarque River has a special cultural and spiritual significance. Furthermore, the implementation of dams would choke the main source of irrigation and drinking water for the community.  For lack of respect for the rights of the Lenca people, the failure to comply with Convention 169 and the negative impacts of the project on their livelihoods, Berta Cáceres organised and led a peaceful opposition to the project as the coordinator of COPINH. In consequence of their actions, Berta Cáceres and other Lenca leaders have been the target of threats and intimidation. 

What‘s sad about Berta Cáceres‘ death is that it doesn‘t even come as a surprise. She was fighting for her people‘s rights, of course somebody murdered her! Because the rights she was fighting for aren‘t a given. Because rich jerks rule the country and they don‘t care about peasants or tradition or the ground they are standing on. All they care about is their little kingdom that will not fall, even if the world around them does. What‘s also sad is that the murderer is most probably still walking free. It‘s not unlikely that some rich person from DESA or the government or a sympathiser paid someone off to get the job done. Investigations? Better forget about that.

berta2
They buried me, but what they don’t know is that I’m a seed.

But here‘s what leaves me hopeful; the rich jerks, DESA, politicians, they try and denunciate Berta Cáceres as a drama-queen, a liar whose opinion doesn‘t matter. Except that it did. Berta Cáceres did not have to lie to scratch the petty facade behind which all those denunciators are hiding. She merely told the truth, she pointed out the injustice and she had the courage to act and to speak. And it hurt them. It hurt them so much they had to kill her. And maybe, if we ask ourselves why things like this still happen in our 21st century world, the answer is because there are not enough people like Berta Cáceres.

We must not be defeated by her death; we do not live in a just world and if all we can do is stand up to a bully at school, then that makes the world an infinitely brighter place.

Be bold, and be courageous, and remember:

Bild 15

I feel like I should mention that not every rich person in Honduras is a jerk. I know many wealthy Hondurans who are lovely, caring people and who are deeply shaken by Berta Cáceres’ death. Also, the conflicts in Honduras are not as straight forward as I put them. There’s a whole lot of aspects to be considered, which I simply ignored in order to make this blog post more readable!