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What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love

by Kathleen Reeves

Cobb Institute Spiritual Integration Chair

“If we want a society in which the sense of belonging is strong, people are concerned for one another, and there is strong commitment to the common good, we need a metaphysics that shows that we are in fact part of larger societies and have no existence apart from our relations to others.” —John Cobb

Last year in Claremont, about 200 people gathered from all over the country. They all came to Pilgrim Place to celebrate the 95th birthday of Dr. John B Cobb Jr. Mr Cobb is a retired professor, theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist. He is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology, the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. He is beloved by former students and many have joined him in his mission to save the planet. One of the main tenets of process philosophy is that we are interconnected to everything in our world. The pandemic is a perfect example. Our experience of the current pandemic is a perfect example of how our economic systems, schools, jobs, shelter, and relationship with other animals are shaped by our relationships. We do not live in a vacuum. We have seen what happens when we forget that we are interconnected with everything and everyone. 

Political partisanships, climate change, mass extinction, and the current pandemic are negative manifestations of the illusion of separateness. Everything affects everything. What the world needs now, is love and compassion. We need to discard the illusion of separateness and work together to save our world. The weary world is ready for some tenderness and care. 

The Cobb Institute was founded in April 2019, after Claremont School of Theology’s relocation to Salem, Oregon. The Center for Process Studies (CPS) moved with them but John Cobb, the founder of CPS remained in Claremont. At 96 years old, Mr. Cobb is still active in his mission, so a small group created the Cobb Institute at a meeting in Mr. Cobb’s living room. A year and a half later, the group has quadrupled in number and is active in the community. We are not a church or a religion but there is a spiritual component to our work. The Cobb Institute is sharing love and sacred activism. 

Volunteers from the Cobb Institute work to support and collaborate with Compassionate Pomona, urban agriculture, early childhood education, affordable housing, public banking, spiritual exploration, and the arts. At the Cobb Institute, we believe that we must begin where we are. Hopefully other groups will follow our lead. 

Living in a relational world means that everything you do matters. Sometimes people feel helpless and overwhelmed, so they never begin. If you feel that way, start small. Imagine how millions of small acts of kindness or positive steps toward an ecological civilization would add up. Let someone cut in front of you at the grocery store, or on the freeway. Feed the birds at the park or pick up trash at the beach. Fall in love with the world and let the world love you back. That is what our world needs most: Love.

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