Though I have since made a career change, I realized, as I read this book for the umpteenth time a few weeks ago, it was one of the driving forces in my decision to become a counselor. Many times I have seen in families, the battered women and children I've worked with and counseled, the need to love and be loved, to not be lonely. We are told that we will become more lovable as we choose the right clothes, perfume, shampoo, even toothpaste! The list of products, guaranteeing that we will have would-be lovers banging at our door, that we will never be lonely as long as we buy these products is endless. Our media-oriented society measures lovability by: popularity, sex-appeal, the right clothes and products. Living by these standards alone makes us lonely, especially if we can't live up to them. These standards are only masks, hiding us from not only our inner selves, but those of others as well.
Marie, the main character in the book "Daughter of Earth" struggles with her loneliness. She wants what we all want - to be loved and not have to prove that we are adequate enough to be loved. "Marie lives out her whole life struggling to act as a whole person - to give and receive love in a relationship of equality - and to work against oppression - despite the image that inhabits her imagination."
From a very young age, Marie learned of the world's contradictions. She learned how devalued women were, "that even male animals cost more than female animals and seemed more valuable; that male fowls cost more than females and were chosen with more care." With the birth of her little brother, Marie realized how important a son was for there was much celebration as cigars and whiskey were passed around. She also saw how the lives of those in poverty were worthless and that "the companies" these people worked for only cared about the profit they were making rather than the lives and safety of their employees. "Coal was dear...life was cheap."
As Marie watched married women around her, she realized that the "love expressed in sex enslaves and humiliates" them. "It is the toll men exact for giving economic protection to their wives. The weeping of wives - what is more bitter?" She sees women become powerless as wives and mothers and she in turn seeks a relationship that is equal in giving and receiving love. She does not want to be like the women in her childhood that have lost the power to make their own choices.
In two relationships, Marie thinks she has found the equality she's been looking for. However, in the end it is not even so: "To her comes the memory of many women who have loved, suffered and remained true to the one man who did not love or remain true to them; to her comes the memory of a man who betrayed many good women for the sake of the one woman who detested and was cruel to him. She thinks of the great loves that seem to have been great because they were hopeless; of the night that follows the day; of love and hate that are separated by less than a hair's breadth. And she things of annihilation that irrevocably follows creation. But above all, she see that she has had to pay with her life's love for the experience for which she was least responsible."
It was through a man named Sardarji, that Marie learned what it meant to love and be loved. And through her experiences with him she learned that love means to get over who we are because of our culture, our values, or the decisions we make. Through Sardarji, Marie "touched for the first time a movement of unwavering principle and beauty...and saw that difference of race, color and creed are as shadows on the face of a stream, each lending a beauty of its own; that subjection of any kind and in any place is beneath the dignity of man..."
Sardarji taught Marie that we can't live without loving all humankind; that we must do as Sardarji told Marie: "Make conviction the basis of our actions. We must fight for what we believe in rather than fighting for something we know nothing about or for something we are told to fight for. We must think about what it means to fight. We must know what we are fighting for before we able to help and before we can enlist the help of others."
To break the vicious circle people get caught up in when they try to prove they are adequate to be loved takes knowledge. For as Marie says to Sardarji, "knowledge without love is useless." In order to love all humankind "we need to know how others suffer; and if we have already known, that we should not forget." To love without loneliness means that we need to "experience in our hearts again and again the suffering of the dispossessed."