According to fairy tales, true love is the most powerful magic of all. It will break the strongest spells and defeat the wickedest fairies. It will wake princesses from a death-like sleep, and transform frogs and beasts into princes.
“All we need is love,” the songs remind us, “love is all we need.”
I’ve always believed it, and I still do, deeply and with passion.
But, what does true love, real love, look like?
You’ll notice in the fairy stories, the characters never use the power of true love’s kiss until near the end of the tale. It’s as though they’re unaware of their power, right up until the crisis moment, when it’s do or die. It’s after they’ve fought their way through the briar forest, defended the castle against marauding invaders, or slain the giant, fiery dragon.
True love isn’t about flowers, candy and violin music. Real love shows up when things get tough.
Real love requires courage. It’s in all those acts of bravery and heroism, and in facing all the challenges and obstacles that come before the kiss. Real acts of love are difficult, but if it wasn’t real love then we’d just walk away. Why go through all that trouble? Because love is also the ultimate reward.
In real life, I’ve seen real love in action this week. Heroic police officers defended our citizens against a hate-filled terrorist. Courageous paramedics and dedicated hospital staff cared for the wounded. Countless people came to embrace the grieving and frightened, to offer floral tributes and write moving messages of love. Throughout our country, people have gathered together to sing and pray, and comfort one another. Though our people are diverse, we stand together as one nation. We celebrate our differences, we cherish our freedom.
Real love gives us the strength to withstand terrible blows. It gives us the resilience to get up from an attack, and the determination to continue, undefeated. Real love doesn’t dwell on revenge, it doesn’t perpetuate acts of hate and violence. Real love strives for what is right and good. Real love can change the world.
Love is just as heroic when it shows up in tiny ways on ordinary days: when we choose to be patient, when we speak a kind word, when we make the effort to understand someone else’s point of view, when we give up our need to be right and just let others be. When we stop judging others, thinking we know best, and let them live their own lives. When we are honest. When we are friendly. When we act with intention, choosing love.
I notice that stories of dark, apocalyptic futures are popular these days, but they’re not my favourite. I won’t be writing stories like those. I dream of a better world, a more enlightened world, with a brighter future. A world where people understand that conflict is a fact of our existence, but that we can choose how to respond to it. We can choose to use peaceful strategies to resolve our differences. We can choose kindness. We can choose to reject violence, and strive to do no harm.
I know that humans are complex creatures. We struggle, day by day, with many challenges and conflicts. We’re not always the best that we can be. Sometimes we take dark paths. I’m sure this will be no different in the future. There will always be heroes and villains. Thankfully, there will also be stories to remind us that the greatest power of all is true love, and in the end, the heroes who remain steadfast and courageous will find their reward.