Cliché is one of the topics that are quite destructive to our lives. Our “new age” of television and radio featuring decreasing shot lengths and a lack of purpose or meaning where we are bombarded with increasing amounts of unnecessary information and advertisements that are being designed to effectively sway our opinions of what detergent to buy or which sugar water is more exciting and will ensure the highest chance of having intercourse. There is however a drastic downside, we are all becoming numb. Words are losing their meaning, goals are evaporating and our lives are becoming more dramatic because our youth is learning that the only option is to be hornified, offended and or afraid of what is around the next corner. A topic of intense irritation is the four-letter word Love. Women swoon over it as if it is, indeed, their holy grail of goals; men run away from it as if it is the most horrifying topic that is brought up in conversation. The word may exist outside of our understanding of it, entirely. What a shame that it is craved so.
As far as four letter words go, Love is probably one of the most benign, in terms of people taking immediate offense to it. As far as my experience and education have taken me, no one has exploded into a fit of rage over being told they are loved. Contrary to popular opinion, however, love does not always provide a great feeling or release of emotion. Many people that I know seem to have a nebulous or unappreciative mindset of what loving someone or being loved really means. If you pay attention to the media it is often the case that love is portrayed as passion and or sex, which doesn’t appear to be true from the way we carry ourselves. I have had sex with people I did not love, and I am sure many of you have as well. It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that we have passion without love being involved, or else what is sport? So where does that leave love?
What is love? A question that stumped me for a long time, until I broke up with a long time girlfriend and realized what its meaning really is; an intense desire or need to fulfill and or enrich another person’s life with your own, often at a cost or loss. Animals experience love; Chimpanzees have been found to pair bond and fight to their own death in the face of adversity for other chimpanzees. There are records of many of the great apes having ritualistic behavior and even crying or being depressed following a member of their community dying. What makes our love different from theirs? As a product of evolution I cannot deny that the similarities between species is shocking. I for one have no problem looking into my dogs eyes when I am sick and humoring the idea that he is worried about me. He has an investment in my well being, namely his own. I provide him with all that he needs and he provides me with irrevocable companionship and compassion in return.
Our lives are pock marked with malnutrition and new forms of disease and cancer that ruin our ability to forecast much of anything, and yet we stay true to the concept of love. Many of us were brought up in households where our parents showed us love through firm leadership or guidance or maybe it was that pat on the back when we finally beat our fathers at chess. It is a tough road for those who were not provided with this type of positive reinforcement. The scary part is that they are really no different from us all and many are prominent figures in our community. Malcolm X was one such figure; his childhood was harsh and lead to his acceptance into and eventually to choosing to absolve himself of Militant Islam. We all have our skeletons in our closet, but what these people, our friends and family, who have not had their appropriate number of pats and hugs do not realize is that they are not their skeletons. The only part of spirituality that I do believe in is that we are more than a sum of our parts, but that is only because we do not understand our brains well enough yet.
My lifetime has seen many amazing things, like RLS, Alcoholism and obesity becoming diseases and terrorism becoming a world wide issue. It is a true shame to me that words of such magnificent beauty as Love have become so cliché that their real meaning is lost. It is with sincere hope and appreciation that the world should become alerted to this growing epidemic. John Stewart recently had a guest (William Safire) and their discourse illustrates what I am talking about here better than any closing statement I could provide would. You should watch the entire thing, but the highlight is about 2:30 in.
Love is a word with some very powerful connotations, and it needs to be used appropriately. It is the only word to bring tears to my eyes and joy to my heart at the same time, and it is the also the only word that carries with it such a casual, nearly obligatory, usage that it also brings sadness. We do not run around saying we have a deep liking for pizza, but we do choose to say we love it. As a writer, lover and a human being trying to use my words with what merit they do have, I would love to have such blatant disregard for meaning be a jail able offense, especially when it has such negative effects on those around me that I do care about.