News & Politics

Personal Voices: 'Porvida' Love

There is a way for activists and others to hold on to their idealism and hope as they work to transform the world.
While I daily celebrate the love I share with mother, wife, children, family and friends, the love that inspires me most is called porvida love -- which includes all these relationships and more.

Porvida love, drawn from my Chicano tradition, is constant and radically "for life." It is the deep respect of Chief Seattle for mother earth; the activist commitment of Mahatma Gandhi, Dolores Huerta and Dr. Martin Luther King for justice; and the everyday caring practices of people like my grandmother, Mama Cuca. It is love for all my relations, including Mother Earth, and from the core of our spirit it is the power to transform self, others and our world.

Porvida love is hopeful, holistic and proactive. It begins by recognizing the best of our human potential. It holds the vision that all families and communities can learn to transcend our tendencies toward selfishness and actualize our ability to become more loving and considerate of others. Knowing this, you or I can choose to see, believe and support the evolution of the loving character within self and others. In these ways porvida love is proactive because it involves consciously making choices in every moment to create love in all our relations and interactions.

As an elder in my community, I carry the responsibility to teach love. In preparation for my role, I dedicated my life to living love within my family, community and work life. Years ago, with my wife's support I chose to organize my work so I could be the house parent, giving me time to be a father able to listen, visit my children's classrooms, and invite the use of our home as the young people's hangout. As a planning consultant, I choose to work with organizations whose mission or leadership is committed to creating a better world.

These decisions stem from porvida love. It requires some sacrifices, yet affords tremendous joy and fulfillment, and allows me to continually grow in my ability to help others get in touch with their power and purpose.

As humans we were not born to merely live, indulge and die. We were born to evolve our human ability to be more loving -- in other words to be porvida. What does this look like in our daily lives? It is waking up and feeling gratitude for another day. It is consciously interacting with children or loved ones so they feel better about themselves and their potential. It is gathering family or friends together to give them the opportunity to build trust and practice their expression of love. It is taking care of self with exercise, prayer, visits to nature or relationship time.

Porvida also means extending love to include our other relations. It is engaging in random acts of kindness to inspire others to share love. It is reading more than the morning newspaper to determine how best to use your voice and vote to promote justice and halt corporate greed. It is choosing to spend your money wisely to counter wasteful materialism or environmental destruction. It is donating time and money to both aid the needy and to build community and political movements committed to advancing worker's rights, multicultural respect and environmental protection. It is interacting with every other person in a manner that helps them discover their ability to more profoundly love themselves, one another, justice and life. It is holding on to our idealism and hope as we work to transform prejudice, ignorance, selfishness and greed.

The Spanish words "por vida" literally mean "for life" -- however, they also connote the action of giving to life. We can do this by continually making love our gift to ourselves and to the world. This is most essential today given the tremendous needs within our communities for healing, employment, mutual support and love.

So I request that, starting today, you consider living more mindful of the ideal of porvida love.

Begin by breathing in and out and envisioning the flow of air as love. Allow love to guide your creativity and actions. Consider being courageous and radical with your love and initiate acts that inspire expression, understanding and respect. Listen to and compliment a young person. Call for a family circle to share celebration words for a special occasion. Offer a few minute massage to a senior. Choose to involve friends and co-workers in a political or community action. Passionately hold the vision that every act of caring and respect advances the energy of love and transforms the world.

Dr. Roberto Vargas is principal consultant for New World Associates and a recognized ceremony leader within the Chicano community. He lives with his family in Castro Valley, Calif.

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