What Do We Mean When We Say, “It’s Love”?
Perhaps you’ve seen United Way of King County’s popular video, “Together,” where our staff and community members join former Seattle Seahawks great (and current United Way board member) Doug Baldwin Jr. in sharing the drive and passion for our work. In this video, we speak of that which connects us, provides for us, heals us, and protects us:
But what do we really mean when we say “love”?
Allow us to turn to Greek mythology, which perhaps defines the word “love” best. It breaks it down to eight types—including philautia (love of the self), storge (family love), philia (deep friendship), eros (romantic love), and the one we and our partners practice in community, agape (love of humankind).
When we and our partners deliver services to and advocate for the well-being of the communities we serve, we do it out of agape, a selfless, unconditional desire to want the best for our neighbors. Our love for them drives us to see them fed, clothed, housed, educated, healthy, and happy.
We don’t work with a savior mindset, but rather with the understanding that when one person in our communities suffers, we all feel the impact. When one person celebrates, we all feel the joy. We acknowledge that each individual contributes to the rich, colorful human fabric, and when we see that fabric damaged or stained, we must repair it.
To give an example, we want to see all children, regardless of background, have the best start possible toward a good education. That is why we invest in the ParentChild+ program.
We understand the plight of families stretching their incomes to pay for food, gas, and groceries. Our Free Tax Preparation Campaign ensures that they will keep some of that income as we find them an array of credits and deductions at no cost.
While the debate rages over what to do about the area’s housing crisis, we act with immediacy and compassion. Every eviction we and our partners prevent with rental assistance and legal resources means that someone else will not face the prospect of living on the streets.
Though we share stories of some of those we’ve provided services to or advocated for, the truth is that we never see most of those who have benefitted. That, too, is agape a quote from motivational speaker Nelson Henderson manifests it well: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. too, spoke of agape love in many of his speeches. In his 1957 article, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” King said, “Agape means nothing sentimental or basically affectionate; it means understanding, redeeming goodwill for all men, an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.”
At United Way, we say that we are working side by side with communities to build an equitable future for everyone. We say racial justice guides our work, and that our commitment is to ensure everyone has access to resources, quality education, enough to eat, and a safe place to call home.
That’s just our way of saying, “We love you.”