Our culture is obsessed with love. We write songs about it; watch movies centered on around it, and even buy books based on love. Love seems to be everywhere we look (and listen).
But are we really experiencing love in the midst of all the love “in the air”? Do we love according to our definition, perception or accepted version of love?
Sometimes it seems as if we love like the falling of dominos—we love as we have been loved. We pass the love we’ve received from another to the next person, and so goes the progression. It may change in expression but hardly ever in volume or capacity. And that brings up the question of whether or not you can measure love. Do I love my mother more than my brother does, because I’ll call her on her birthday, and he’ll just send a card? I’m sure some would say a card means more than a phone call; therefore my brother loves our mother more. Will my mom love us back in equal amounts depending on how she received our expressions of love?
Then, sometimes it appears that our love is nothing like the falling of dominos but more based on how we’re feeling personally and how others influence that feeling. This kind of love is the type that comes from the inside. It’s kind of like a self-creating love—the more wood you throw on the fire the greater the fire will burn, right? This love comes out of a person based on the amount a person is willing to exert (like energy I guess). If a friend stops by for a visit, the amount of love someone is willing to put forth maybe higher than, say, when the person in the car in front of you is driving 10 MPH under the limit on a two-lane road. This self-determining love can also be influenced by the weather or a day at the beach or in the office. You love others as you love yourself, some might say.
So why, with all the love in our music, movies and books, (the realm of ideality), is it lacking in our waking, working, talking, thinking (the realm of reality)? I know where the love is hypothetically, but where is the love actually? Is love just a dream or an idea no one can seem to get right?
It’s not often we see love stories in pop-culture between people of different cultures. It’s rare to see a love story take place between an interracial couple that is not surrounded by ridicule, rejection or controversy (clearly not terms that describing love). Is the issue in our movies and music? If we sang more songs about love then maybe people would start to get the message? A quick look at history may throw a wretch in those gears.
If the two sources of love are self and other people, then we’re going to (of course) love like humans know how. We’re going to love humans, all humans, as only humans are enabled to love. If we tell people we love them then go and hurt someone, are we really loving as we idealize love to be?
It seems as if we always hear about the terrible things evil people can do, but rarely hear about the great things people do in love. There are those who have conquered in love: Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa and William Wilberforce, to name some of the few. It’s easy to think of the names associated with evil and hate but often a challenge to think of the names associated with acts of love, care and acceptance—not names of songs or book titles—but actual people and movements that took place, in the words of U2, “in the name of love”.
What moved Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa? What moves people to care for the sick in Africa or the inner city of Pittsburgh or mountains of West Virginia? What moves people to love??
We hunger for love as people, as a society, as a world. How do we tip the scales and overpower hate with true love when our culture only knows how to express conditional and temporary love?
To find the source of the river you must go to the ocean.