Powerful word “love” often squandered on amusements, by Goldwin Emerson

                             Powerful word “love” often squandered on amusements

                                 Goldwin Emerson, gandjemerson@rogers.com 

                                   London Free Press, Sept. 21, 2019 , page A 11                      


 Nearly 65 years ago the movie, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, won an AcademyAward for the best original song within that movie. The song,Love is a ManySplendored Thing, still holds true about the complexity of love. In its simplest terms, love often refers to our likes and dislikes and sometimes, perhaps too frequently, we hear people say “I love ice cream” or “I would love a cool drink of water on this hot day” or “I love to shop.” We know that such use of the term, love, is an overuse of a word that can mean so much more in different circumstances. Love is a very special term that deserves more respect than these simple sentences indicate. It ought to mean more than its reference to whatever pleases me. It should mean more than saying “I like the things that I like.” I may be stimulated by watching sports or observing new fashions but the use of the word love ought to mean much more than saying I am interested or amused by such events. 


The term romantic love elevates the everyday level of the word love. As we grow from childhood to becoming adults, if we are fortunate enough to observe respect and admiration our parents had for each other, we may notice that romantic love has a reciprocal component. In its best sense there is a giving and taking for mutual reward. As children and adolescents we are forming a mental framework of how love can work for the benefit of those involved. Our observance of good marriage begins to form, perhaps sometimes unconsciously in our brains, and it becomes a frame work or map for future use. And then when we meet our perspective partner, we observe that our new acquaintance fits the map we have already formed. There is a grand awareness that our new friend is right for us. It is a eureka moment! We are ready to become romantically in love. Of course there is love in marriages that goes beyond reciprocity as when one partner becomes terminally ill or permanently injured. In marriage there is also sexual attraction which can enhance love but which sometimes unfortunately can complicate the best feelings of closeness and complexity. Love relationships need not always depend upon sexual compatibility. 


There is still a more elevated concept of love. It goes beyond experiencing what pleases us and it goes beyond a kind of give and take that satisfies both ourselves and others. It exceeds reciprocity. Humans can go further than thinking “I will give you this if you give me what pleases me.” Love can be given without rewards for one's self by those who have good concepts of self worth. They are confident people who already have a feeling of self dignity without being jealous or judgmental of others nor do they have feelings of narcissistic grandeur. Such exceptional people are concerned about fulfilling the needs of others. They are people who look at the value of the whole human species without judgments regarding ethnicity, formal levels of education, wealth, sexual orientation or the geographic location of one's birth.

Such special people encompass an inclusive overview of humanity. They may find their generosity of spirit and their view of humanism at its best because they are rational,  caring individuals who may hold either secularist roots or they hold commitments from their deep religious persuasions. In my list of special people whose lives are driven by a deep love of humanity, I include Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. For  balance let's include Confucius, Thomas Jefferson and Canada's Tommy Douglas. The list could be much longer but all of the above cared deeply about their love of humanity and their willingness to sacrifice much for the care, love and welfare of all humans. 


Let us respect the term love by using it with reference to caring and a depth of meaning that encompasses overall beneficial human welfare.