Love, the noun, is easily the best thing going around. Though it sounds like a New Age feel-good cliché, or an evergreen pop song, it is love that makes the world go round. In physics, the force between the sun and the planets is called attraction. And like a perfectly maintained relationship, romantic or otherwise, the solar system works on the premise of a precisely calibrated force of attraction, held in check to balance the system ad nauseam.
Love holds within itself great fragility and resilience. The reasons for love to bloom are obscure. Very often, with the impossible hardiness of weeds, love encroaches and takes over the full garden. It is able to survive lack of nurture, harsh frosts, even harmful digs quite well. Then comes a sudden breeze and the lush growth is suddenly, inexplicably dead. Unlike other plant debris, a dead love does not serve as a fertiliser patch for future loves. It just dries up and dissipates as harsh dust in the breeze, its memory carried to different and distant directions, with no hope of ever coming together. Even a dodo is more alive than a dead love.
Science has proven that love gives a feeling of a high, akin to that of eating chocolate and exercising. This gives rise to the adage that the whole world loves a lover. A person in love is a super being. All human beings have a sense of clan in our DNA. It is this sense of belonging which is the basis of society. Culture, as we know it is the insistent offspring of this sense of collective identity.
All systems run on a set of pre-agreed tenets. Love is one of the most important links of a functioning group, be it an animal or a human. The instinctive (and some say highest form of) love that a child experiences through its parent/caretaker ensures its survival. This vast love sees to it that the basic survival needs of the totally helpless kid, like food and shelter, is gladly extracted out of those responsible for it.
The common upbringing, circumstances, interests and memories build family love. Financial advantage that of business groups, political ones of nations, love of books, films, art, etcetera, clubs extreme love of self, narcissists, with their automatically attendant group of flatterers. The servile ones pretend to less-love themselves, as they are sure of the benefits that such alleged self-depreciation will win them.
Very much like science, the end result of love, depends upon the user. When clear demarcations blur between individuals and institutions, what started out as true love starts to go rancid and rogue. Love forgives and forgets much. Yet to use love as a correction fluid to cover up all mistakes on the script of life will not work in the long run. While it is true that love is strong and forgives many mistakes, the converse, that mistakes, often deliberate, can be lumped under the generic banner of forgiveness of love is never true. One does not abuse a privilege; one enjoys it and treats it with respect.
To have a fondness for the place of one’s birth, the language that punctuated our first heard baby-talk, the almost unquestioned value systems that are inherited and therefore familiar is quite natural. To build on it, even to be manipulated by that to a certain extent, is unavoidable, even with the strictest of mind sentries. Very often people with vested interests, try to use this warm, amorphous love, for their own purposes. Since we have all been conditioned to accept that ‘ love ‘ is a positive thing, this ploy works extremely well for a while.
But when love is invoked merely as a feel-good word, the reaction kicks in slowly but thoroughly. The politician’s ‘love for the people he serves’ becomes suspect as does the completely financially-advantageous moves of the business shark.
Deployed positively, we see ordinary people achieve the impossible—the physically handicapped win medals for a loving parent, a kid studying under streetlights to top the exams because of a teacher’s faith and a burnt out druggie coming back to life because of a supportive friend. Most of us have been exposed to both the energising and the manipulative forms of love at some stage or the other in our life. It is up to each of us to accept or reject either forms as is our right to love either in a way that love can be used as a synonym for freedom, joy, strength or as a cruel chain that strangle holds us to pain, guilt and that threat word, duty.
Whether love is a blessed or a filthy four-letter word, depends on the way it is accepted, assimilated and given out for love, like money, stays healthy only when circulated.