Lovescaping as a Way of Life
I believe in a world where everyone’s voice is heard, where we establish relationships and exchange love, ideas, culture, histories and knowledge in a respectful and humble manner. I believe in a world where there is no oppression, no war. I believe in a world where dignity and respect are championed and where different forms of knowledge are valued. It is in the context of these principles and values that I find solace in Lovescaping as a way of life and the only way in which I can learn, educate, “do development” work, but most importantly, LIVE in the world. I find it inconceivable to do so otherwise. I hold the belief that everyone’s voice is important, and must be heard. I believe we can learn from everyone, and the only way to “do development” is through an exchange of knowledge and ideas, and through the acknowledgment of different points of views in order to come up with the best methods, projects and solutions. Orlando Fals Borda, one of the fathers of participatory research, led the way to the development of a participatory methodology, through his study of Afro-Colombian people from the coastal regions of Colombia. Fals Borda dedicated most of his life to the study of comunidades campesinas. He was inspired and moved by the stories of the people and realized that knowledge should be created with the participation of common people, giving validity, voice and agency to their dreams and hopes, leading to social emancipation. Furthermore, Fals Borda held the view that participatory research should not just be a channel for research, but a way of life. Reflecting on the First World Congress on Participatory Research held in 1977, Fals Borda said,
“Una vivencia necesaria para progresar en democracia, como un complejo de actitudes y valores, y como un método de trabajo que dan sentido a la praxis en el terreno. A partir de aquel Simposio, había que ver a la IP no sólo como una metodología de investigación sino al mismo tiempo como una filosofía de la vida que convierte a sus practicantes en personas sentipensantes. Y de allí en adelante, nuestro movimiento creció y tomó dimensiones universals” (Fals Borda quoted in Colmenares, 2011).
The word “sentipensante” brilliantly encapsulates the idea that thought and feeling merge into one as we embrace Lovescaping as a way of life. Sentir and pensar are still segregated, especially in academia, and Fals Borda was one of the first to push against the conventional establishment in giving voice and value and legitimizing other forms of knowledge. Eduardo Galeano beautifully expresses this further: “El lenguaje que dice la verdad, es el lenguaje Sentipensante. El que es capaz de pensar sintiendo y sentir pensando” (Galeano, 2008).
If we conceive of education as a way to teach the Sentipensante language, in which love is taught in terms of thought and feeling, we would be changing the way we think and act in the world. Transferred to an education setting, this view allows each student to strive at their own pace, in their own way and to explore their interests. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model that can equally benefit everyone. Through a participatory approach, we allow for creativity and critical thinking to flourish. In the process, we develop a social conscience that makes us more aware of our neighbors’ needs and allows us to live in harmony within our community where our collective meaning and reality are shared through a “we.” Ubuntu.
The only thing that can transcend our physical being is love. Love is like a seed that can be planted, nurtured, grown, and that remains throughout time. Its influence can cause a ripple effect that continues to touch and feed others even long after our mortal bodies have departed from this planet. It is through our actions that we can show love. The complexities surrounding the topic of love is its often abstract and intangible nature, although we all have an idea of what love means and what it should look like. Love encompasses a great number of pillars, and the following circle of love is by no means a comprehensive number of pillars, but what I believe constitute the essential pillars of love:
There is no set hierarchy for these, they all feed off each other and build upon each other- they cannot exist in alienation from each other. That is why I like to show them visually in the shape of a circle. Life is a cycle, and expressing love in terms of a circle makes it ever-moving, ever-continuing, ever-changing, ever-growing, ever-learning. Just like the ancient symbol of the snake eating its own tail, the Ouroboros, which symbolizes infinity, wholeness and cyclicality. In this regard, love acts as a symbol of infinite and boundless power.
Lovescaping seeks to teach how to love. Because love can be taught and learned…
Colmenares, A. (2011). Investigación-acción participativa: una metodología integradora del conocimiento y la acción. Voces Y Silencios: Revista Latinoamericana De Educación, 3(1), 102-115.
Galeano, E. (2008). Entre Los Poetas Míos… Eduardo Galeano. http://omegalfa.es/downloadfile.php?file=libros/cuaderno-de-poesia-critica-n-18-eduardo-galeano.pdf.: Biblioteca Omegalfa.