27 April 2009

Failing 'Love' - Part 2

Last week, i wrote about how we overuse the word 'love' by using it for our closest relationships as well as for those everyday activities such as watching television or eating dinner. I find it intriguing that more people don't question our use of the word 'love.'

What does it say about our loved ones when we describe our food using the same word?

It all stems from our use of 'love.' We use this word so often and for so many ideas. This is lazy language, using words in a plug-n-play fashion. It's used to express an action as well as an emotion. I don't think it was ever designed to be an emotion.

Emotional words are used to describe a temporary state of being. For example, 'i am happy,' or 'she is unsettled,' or 'we are certain.' Those are all emotional states that are dictated by your state of mind and your surroundings.

When we assign love to as emotion, this demeans it, belittles it. It tells us love is dictated by our state of mind and surroundings.

This is a false love. Honest love is not dictated your state of mind.

Think about it this way: with your family, there are many times you do not like them, don't want to be around them, don't want love them; but you do love them, even during those hard moments when you don't actually like them. This is love, and it goes beyond emotion.

This is how love should work all over, not just with family. There will be times when i don't particularly like Briana, but i still choose to love her. Marriage is not an amusement park. Or maybe it is, but there are still those carnival games that are frustrating beyond belief, and the tilt-o-whirl still makes you hurl, and the crowds sometimes pack in too tight. There are still great times to be had, and the price of admission is worth it all, but it's not all rainbows and sunshine.

Love is like that. When we are at the amusement park at it's dirtiest, hottest, and we are feeling sick to our stomach, but we still choose to stay, that is love. Of course, it's an imperfect analogy. We don't stay just because we are there to enjoy ourselves. Love is more than enjoyment. If it were, it would be smack in the land of emotions.

Love is a choice. Love is choosing, daily, to fight for, not against. Love is choosing to take time to understand before jumping to conclusions. Love is choosing to follow, even when it means walking uphill.

I do realize there is a reason you choose to love one person over another. You love your family because they are part of who you are, they are your blood, part of your emotional and physical upbringing. You love your friends because of that initial and continual connection. You share likes and dislikes and experiences. You love your husband or wife (or, girlfriend or boyfriend) because, like your friends, you share likes and dislikes and experiences, as well as a common physical attraction.

This past weekend, i went to Mexican restaurant called Zócalo for a friend's birthday party. On the wall behind our table was a painting of two hearts joined with two words written at the top, and two at the bottom. At the top, one on each side, were the words 'pasión' and 'razón,' 'passion' and 'reason.' The bottom said 'amor puro,' which means 'pure love.' The purest love is this mixture of passion and reason.

Too often in our culture, we emphasize the passion without mention of the reason, due to our misuse of the word 'love.' If we had not taken it to mean something that is so emotional and experiential, but used it sparingly, or even developed more words for the varying degrees within the word, like the Greeks did, then we would be in a much better place.

Instead, we are left with a word that has been bleached. The original meaning and intent behind the word, its strength and power, they have all been weakened. This is one of those cautionary tales, because i don't think there is a way we can reverse course. As a culture, we have traveled so far away, used this word so thoroughly in every aspect of life, and divorced it from any sort of power that we cannot build it back up.

The only course of action i see taking place are on personal levels. We cannot affect the culture as a group until we take action individually. I, for one, decided to no longer use the word 'love' expect for the purposeful times it actually fits. No more loving pizza, or loving this kind of music. If it forces me to be more descriptive with my words, so be it. Love will be kept sacred in my personal use, to gain back some power. Feel free to join me in this effort.


  1. you did an awesome job with this michael. read part one last week. really enjoyed it. i have had these thoughts for such a long time, just not ever really wrote about it. thank you for doing this.
    love you mon.

    K, bye

  2. Good work. It was a great read.

  3. And i'm pretty sure this is why i never became an English major. I could never begin to write something like this even though i've held the same views for a while now. I'm not even sure how to explain how thoroughly i share the same thoughts and have been struggling with how it has affected me for the last 5 or so years.

    When i was first coming into this awareness of the overuse of the word "love" it was already a part of my speech. It got to me so much that i stopped using it in my actual speech and when i wrote it i would always spell it "luv". I guess the mindset behind that goes along was along the lines that it was a lesser form of the actual spelled word and the way that i was using it was a lesser form of what i see the actual word to be and mean.

    Nowadays the word is still largely outside of my normal vocabulary, and, like you, i had/have "decided to no longer use the word 'love' except for the purposeful times it actually fits".