We see it everywhere. On the covers of magazines, the backs of cereal boxes. Love is a commodity, an advertisement that lines the pockets of corporations and is the goal of all our “buy it now”s and “save _%!”. We can love ourselves more if we buy that new dress, new phone, new book. We can buy someone’s love for us if we gift them that one thing that they’ve always wanted. If we can somehow achieve more, win bigger and climb higher, people will love us more. They will look up to us and admire us and adore us. We will be the Kardashian of their lives, the celebrity that they can be friends with, not so much because of us but because of our status and in some way by knowing us, they will be loved more by their friends. A vicious cycle – a pessimistic view of a cruel world.
The above words cast the world as almost animalistic, inhuman. But at least some inkling of it is true, or else you wouldn’t be there, on the other side of your computer screen nodding as you switch between reading my words and the millions of updates at your fingertips. The hundreds of Facebook updates (“look at my new car!”, “mmhmm Starbucks”, “I love ___ so much!”). The relationships. (___ is now in a relationship with ____. Congratulate them! Buy them a present!). The ever-expanding Twitter feed. (“Ugh, I’m such a horrible person.”, “I look so terrible, but…”, “look at this news article!”, “100% on my exam!”) At least some small part of each of us wants to be paid attention to, because in some way that makes us feel like we mean something to others around us. In this success-based world, meaning something to others often equates to meaning something to ourselves. If others don’t love us, we can’t love ourselves. We can’t bear the thought of defeat because somehow, others would think less of us, and our security and self-confidence would come crashing down around us.
Has love become such a commodity that we automatically withhold it from others we (do or should) care about because they haven’t earned it? We’re misers on the other side of our screens, through our devices, withholding each like, each comment for fear of being too outspoken, because the action represented doesn’t really deserve that like or comment. We judiciously dish out our communication, and in the process, become something far more mechanical than we’d like to imagine ourselves.
When was the last time you walked up to an old friend and gave them a hug, or tried to reach out to them outside of those social media sites that are so useful, but oh-so shallow? When did you last look at someone and instead of silently judging them, openly love them? It is so easy to “deal out death and judgement” (Tolkien), but it is so difficult to withhold it and instead just love on them. It doesn’t matter what that person has done, what battles have been won or lost. You need no excuse to love someone.
Take the challenge. Love isn’t a salable item, but it is something that you have the power to give. Give, and don’t hold back.
**pictures are totally unrelated**