Love really seems this fundamental force, driving so much of what we do in life. And, obviously, that can get played upon, confused with other things and twisted into many contorted versions of itself – as any force can be, if misdirected. Beyond that, though, there’s clearly a very human need to love and be loved, whatever that might mean.
To a large extent, aren’t we all driven by love? By the desire for understanding, acceptance, recognition. By the hope of belonging: a place we feel at peace, free to be ourselves, completely at home. That space we can trust, open up without fear, and have all our dreams and difficulties acknowledged while we’re working our way through them.
At its core, love seems this powerful, complete acceptance and appreciation of who we are as people on our journeys: a recognition of where we’ve come from, ways that shaped us, the things we hope to bring into life and those we’re struggling to leave behind. Humans truly seem more works in progress than finished products, much as modern society might try to tell us differently (Notes One).
And, pushing the boundaries of that, might the challenge of life itself be in extending that courtesy of love to all humanity? Past, present, future, near or far. This sense of treating everyone with loving respect, concern and consideration so we’re all able to offer what we can while fulfilling our needs and overcoming our inevitable obstacles. We’re all human, all essentially the same, all seeking that recognition from others of our kind.
We might hope we’ll find such acceptance within family, friendships, romance, community or society more broadly: that we’ll be seen for who we truly are and what we’d like to make of ourselves; valued for our presence and all we have to offer by way of unique talents, insights or strengths; and allowed to be the flawed, wounded, learning people we almost inevitably are (Notes Two). If we’re all the same, how could we act otherwise?
When people don’t feel loved, deserving of love or capable of expressing it, that evidently causes serious problems for them, those around them, and society as a whole. So, rather than schmaltzy, sentimental, self-serving notions of love or coldly psychological assessments of someone’s “need for validation”, might love not be an eminently practical and essential foundation for healthy human coexistence? (Notes Three)
Often though, this very human need for recognition seems to be played upon or made light of as a means for personal, commercial or societal control: natural insecurities around our worth, value, and place within social relationships dovetailing into various industries that, at times, seem to be feeding or capitalising on all this. It’s clearly an effective button to press.
Is it possible to act only out of love? Globally as much as personally, how might that change things? Instead of this being misdirected down ultimately unfulfilling and often circular avenues, could it actually become an incredibly beautiful and potent force for change?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Worthless, or priceless?
Note 1: The dignity & power of a human life
Note 1: Cycles of mind & matter
Note 1: Culture as reflection
Note 2: Starting over in life
Note 2: Letting go of “who you are”
Note 2: How we feel about society
Note 2: We’re all vulnerable
Note 2: Masks we all wear
Note 3: And, how much can we care?
Note 3: Seeing, knowing and loving
Note 3: Love of self