|Posted on January 28, 2012 at 1:50 AM|
What's love got to do with it, indeed? Quite a lot, really.
Spend any amount of time watching anyone of the countless, brain-etching reality shows peppered across the TV landscape and you will inevitably come to the point where some sap gets kicked off (or evicted or not given a rose or has their torch snuffed out). Afterward there will be one of those confessionals where the other contestants, who just voted their co-schmuck out of the show, testify one on one in front of a camera how much the departed will be missed and I promise you that at least one of these jackasses will say, "I love (him/her) so much, and I miss (him/her) already." Bullshit. You don't love them; you just lied and backstabbed your way to a better shot at winning whatever the prize is by getting them booted. That's not love. That's not even in love's time zone. When used in that kind of shallow, self-serving context, the word "love" becomes an empty, hollowed-out husk. What an overused and underappreciated, not to mention misunderstood, word. So what is "love?" I've got some thoughts, but you knew that, didn't you?
Men in Pajamas
Ah, the ancient Greeks. Funny how much gets traced back to them. They were, after all, like the world's first college kids - all insightful and ponderous and pompous philosophizing and complicated just for the sake of being complicated. I would imagine that, just like the over-earnest college kids of today, the Greeks must have been unbelievably annoying to be within earshot of in a restaurant. But, when it comes to love, they had some interesting ideas. They had not one, but four words for it.
There was agape, which meant general affection, such as for one's children or spouse. Its biblical use referred to self-sacrificial or giving love, such as the love of God for humanity (minus the genocide). Reciprocation is not in any way required for agape love. In modern day Greek, agape simply means "love". So this is our "I'd die for you" love.
Next there was philia. Philia means "friendship or fondness" in modern Greek and meant friendship a couple thousand years ago, more or less, but could include the feelings for fellow soldiers and fellow travelers, political or business associates, members of the same religious group or tribe, lifelong friends, or even a merchant and his customers. It's a pretty broad word but usually requires that the emotion be returned unless, of course, it's attached to a word like "necro" in which case it almost certainly will not be reciprocated. Here we have our "just friends" love.
Storge means "affection" and is used more in modern times than in ancient works, but almost always denotes a family relationship. Or "I love you cuz we're related and I have to" love.
And finally there was eros. Eros is a sensual, passionate, longing love. The Greek word erotas means "romantic love". But eros does not always have to be sexual, it can mean the love you have for someone which is stronger than the friendship love (philia). Of course without the sex, eros seems kind of empty; it is where we get the word "erotic", after all. So, finally, we have "I wanna get bouncy with you" love.
The Swiss Army Knife of Words
So there you have some definitions. But why is that word tossed around so loosely? Probably because it frames the very core of humanity. Without it our families would fall apart, there would be no friendships, hell, children would never get raised (they would still get made, however, because love is not necessary for a good shag). But it gets used without ever thinking about what it really means to "love" someone because no one wants to second guess the genuineness of the love that's being proclaimed, it's a loaded word and we let its trivial declaration go unchallenged. A co-worker says "I love this sandwich." and we don't say, "No you don't. You like it, you enjoy it, and you may even favor it over all other sandwiches. But, you don't love it." And so the real power behind the word "love" gets watered down.
You've never felt like this before!
Now don't get me wrong, love can seriously screw things up. Wars have been fought over it, opportunities lost, lives ruined. And that is because love can make the most intelligent and rational mind go functionally retarded. Oh, sure, you'll still be able to operate machinery, but you'll make a fool of yourself and irritate your friends. Love can make you forgiving to a fault. You'll let things slide that, were they done by any other than the object of your affection, you would be cutting brake lines. And, if its unrequited love, well, may God (or your favorite deity) have mercy on your soul, 'cause that is gonna be a spirit grinding experience. But, when it's good, it's hot-chocolate-on-a-cold-winter-day good. I guess if you're smart, you won't let it happen to you because, like Willow said, "Love makes you do the wacky." Unfortunately, if you're human, it'll probably happen no matter what.
I guess the real question is: what do you really mean when you say "I love you"? Have you ever thought about it? There is a lot going on in that statement, and it should never be uttered lightly, or as an instinctive reflex to having had it said to you.
Some Thoughts for Your V.D. Sweetie
(V.D. for Valentine's Day, not Venereal Disease)
Now, every poet, songwriter, playwright, philosopher, and dip in love has droned on doe-eyed about love and any quick search on the internet will reward you with hundreds of quotes about it, but here are a few to get you going Let's start with what is easily the best definition. Not to get all Bible-thumpery on you, but I think this is probably what we all want it to mean:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." ~I Corinthians 13:4-8~
"Love is friendship set to music." ~E. Joseph Crossmann~
"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." ~Peter Ustinov~
"Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell." ~Joan Crawford~
"Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence." ~Erich Fromm~
"One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love." ~Sophocles~
"According to film logic, you are the antagonist in your significant other's love story." ~Soren Bowie~
I think Dr. Hibbert summed it up the best when he asked, "Is that the love between a man and a woman? Or the love of a man for a cuban cigar?"