“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”– Albert Einstein
When I present lectures on sociological theories, I often see in my students’ bored facial expressions indicating a total lack of interest in the subject. But, when I move the lecture to issues related to education, social class, or global stratification, I can see a few faces turning into a full attention mode, but still not all the students are with me. However, there is one topic that will cause the entire class to lay down their e-devices and start to listen to every word: that is the topic of LOVE. Love strikes me as a neglected force that, once released, could bring about international stability and boost economic development.
Love emerges in my lectures for its role in interpersonal relations in socialization and development. I begin my lecture with a discussion about the role of family in social development and then move towards marriage and, more broadly, love. The topic family frequently triggers strong emotional reactions among students. As classroom discussions reveal many have experienced some family difficulty or problems. And then comes the topic of love: each time when I talk about love, I can see melting facial expressions in each of my students. The purpose of the lecture is not only focused on romantic teenage love based on hormones and erotic attraction. In the Bible, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 15:13 “The Greatest Social Worker Ever” says, “Greater love has no one than this – that someone lay down his life for his friends.” I always substantiate this quote with a compelling story about the Polish Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe who volunteered to die by starvation in place of a stranger in the Nazis’ death camp of Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century." All of sudden, gender, complexion or ethnicity no longer matter. Neither does religion, age or sexual orientation. When I see students’ reaction to my lecture on love in everyday life, I get chills down my spine and goose bumps all over my body.
Watching the reactions of my students, I have become deeply convinced that love is not only a universal force for good, but one that also brings to the human heart hope and peace for a better tomorrow. When humans are in love, they can selflessly endure more- since love, like ray of hope, stimulates them to persevere. Hopefulness too, encourages us to explore, build, innovate and thrive, but it all starts with love.
Recently, while surfing the Internet I came across a very interesting blog with very uplifting excerpts from one of Albert Einstein's letters to his first daughter, Lieserl, on love as a universal force. My initial reaction was enthusiastic. Finally, (I thought) I won’t be alone anymore when talking about love to my students, but on second thought I knew that I needed to thoroughly verify the authenticity of this letter, as the value of the content was priceless. Here are some excerpts:
"… When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world. I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below. There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is LOVE. When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is Light that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love. This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will. To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits. After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy… If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer. Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet. However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released. When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life. I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! …"
Unfortunately, after digging deeper on the Internet my “googling” results revealed that the physicist did not write the letter, but an anonymous person did who still remains unknown. Before launching a full-fledged investigation, I read several on-line comments strongly indicating that humankind desperately pursues signs of affirmation related to love. Einstein's letter was skillfully and thoughtfully drafted to serve the purpose for all who crave this powerful virtue. I must admit, I found the fact that Einstein was not the author to be very disappointing. Unquestionably, my classroom arguments on love would come across more convincingly. Nevertheless, I have found one consolation providing evidence that I was not alone in my examination of Einstein’s alleged ‘love’ letter. In fact, many people sought to dig up the truth about Einstein's letter on ‘love’ as universal force.
One expert put the speculation to rest. Diana Kormos-Buchwald, a professor of physics and the history of science at the California Institute of Technology and a director and editor of the Einstein Papers Project authoritatively stated: "This document is not by Einstein. The family letters donated to the Hebrew University - referred to in this rumor - were not given by Lieserl. They were given by Margot Einstein, who was Albert Einstein's stepdaughter. Many of those letters were published in Volume 10 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein in 2006 and in subsequent volumes, in chronological order." But later she added: “What I hope people take away is that Einstein was never the isolated scientist in the attic with a pen and paper, that image that seems to persist. He had a huge network of friends, colleagues and collaborators. What I’m impressed with most is how hard working he is. Inspiration is a very small component. He works very hard all day and every day.” In a TIME Magazine article we learn more about Einstein’s lost first child, Lieserl. The truth is unclear if not tragic, but is it up to us, commoners, to judge Einstein’s life moreover his genies?
Sadly, I still wish Einstein or someone of his prominence had written this letter. We all need heartwarming gestures and stories, especially younger generations, but not exclusively! The emptiness and disillusionment reminds me of the day of Pope John Paul II's death on April 2, 2005, where the youth were not only grieving the departure of the Roman-Catholic Church leader, but also the passing of an untainted and trustworthy shepherd. As humans we crave true and unconditional love and the opportunity to love someone in return. The Prophet Muhammad humbly conveys to his followers: “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” According to Islam love is one of the greatest blessings Allah has bestowed on humanity. Allah has created human nature in such a way that a person will take pleasure from loving and being loved, from friendship and from intimacy.
Undoubtedly, the disputed Einstein letter should have a thought provoking effect on many, including those whose passion and life’s calling is the eradication of poverty. Isn’t development about giving and receiving? For those who work for global peace and social justice, love could have a soothing and contagious effect for oppressors and victims simultaneously. Mother Teresa once noticed: “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.”
One might wonder, where my fascination with this fabricated Einstein’s letter comes from. Call me naïve, but as someone who was born on April Fool’s Day, I have always been attracted to and intrigued by such sensations, and feel obliged to give the benefit of the doubt before facing the final uncertainty.
By sharing this letter with friends, colleagues, students, and loyal readers, I anticipate that we will be able to ignite a debate about love in the humdrum of daily life that is sometimes felt at the end of the honeymoon. I hope that we will learn how to incubate the most formidable, but also most fragile of unseen universal forces that distinguish us from other inhabitants of Earth. I wonder what the stats of mainstream media coverage are on Kardashian’s love life versus the coverage of the loving acts of ordinary people who struggle to keep their families together in developing countries. One of the greatest members of Einstein’s social circle was philosopher, medical missionary, and Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer who very firmly expressed his admiration for love by saying: “We all know how important love is, yet how often is it really emoted or exhibited? What so many sick people in this world suffer from-loneliness, boredom and fear-can't be cured with a pill.”
But are we ready and mature enough to accept the call for love as a universal force? Perhaps 2016 is the year that love should be applied as an existential balm for our aching if not bleeding world? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said to those who opposed him: “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” He was also one of those fascinated with the power of love and stated that: “Love is the only creative, redemptive transforming power in the universe.” In his last magnificent sermon: The Drum Major Instinct, which at the request of his widow, was played at his funeral, he asked that it be mentioned in his eulogy: “… that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. … that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.”
Wishing all to be loved and to know the joy of sharing selfless love with another in the upcoming year! “LOVE IS THE ONLY WAY.”
P.S. On October 5, 1962, the “Fab Four” from Liverpool launched their journey of international stardom and fame by releasing the first single “Love Me Do”. Maybe this is a hint from the Beatles to all of us to start everything what we do in our lives with passion and love? We should ask Sir Paul McCartney or Ringo Star about their views on the universal power of love before it is not too late to avoid confusion as it was with Albert Einstein.
The Beatles: Love Me Do - 50th Anniversary - BBC News