Forgotten Love | Vox Populi
The young minds of today have been trained to focus on two aspects of life. The first being a focus on utility. Those of us in more recent generations have been told, from an early age, to concentrate on our own happiness and pleasure, and more importantly, the means for obtaining these. As a result, we are told to start thinking of our grades, careers, and futures from an early age. What will I make of myself? What will I achieve? What will I accomplish? This mode of thinking also creates the second lens that we view life through. An obsession with ourselves. Rather than looking externally, we begin to see ourselves as the world, rather than a part of it. We place ourselves at the centre. Our sense of happiness and fulfilment have been warped as a consequence of this. Short lived career achievements which never seem to sustain us for long or immediate material pleasures have redefined what it means to be gratified.
Romantic love has lost its place in the world as the pinnacle of what it means to be happy. Love opposes this world view. It forces us to look outside of the realm of utility. It does not attend to our individual survival. Rather, it is one of those things which gives value to it. Whether it be for better, or for worse, for richer, or for poorer, or in sickness or health, love endures regardless of our condition. Love does not enable our individual survival, instead, it will see us through when we are not surviving.
Some of you may disagree with me – assuming that love is still strived for and prioritised by the majority of the population. Sadly it is a secondary thought, with happiness being redefined and now created from within ourselves. Love is no longer seen as a necessary part of life. Generations X and Y are getting married later, or not at all. Divorces are easier to attain, and on the rise. Our priorities and expectations have changed. We focus on our own individual lives outside of the confines of relation. The focus being on our individual experience. This is seen in the phrases often uttered on social media “living my best life” or “you only live once”. Our relationships have become the object of utility. Commitment and sacrifice are seen as words from a dead language. We no longer do “bumps in the road” or have “hard times”. In this day and age we do not wait to see what may be, but simply judge a relationship against our own individual criteria. If it does not work out then our next fix will be easily obtained with a swipe right. It is a cheap disfigured form of love and happiness – one could label it “consumer love”.
If you have reached this point in the article, do not fear. I am no doomer. If you look outside the confines of career, or tinder, then you can find something that endures. I know this to be true, for I have found it myself. Love transcends our individual needs and desires. The key message that I want to convey from my own experience of love is the hidden nature of it. It is not only filled with joy, but responsibility. It requires us to think of more than ourselves and this enables us to serve the needs of others. Psychologist Susan Forward makes this case. Declaring that ‘love is a verb, not a noun. It is active. Love is not just feelings of passion and romance. It is behaviour’.
Love does not look to achievement, accomplishment, or to our own individual need. It looks outwards to the other. It is a daily act of devotion. It looks to your partner’s needs, wants, and desires. It is a mutual companionship where you share each other’s lives. It elevates you and makes you become more than an individual. People are feeling lonelier than ever before. It is time for us to change our mindsets. To stop thinking of ourselves as atomised individuals and to stop looking for or our relations or maintaining them through a sense of individual utility. I believe the secret to love and happiness is found not in ourselves, but others. This is not limited to our personal relations but extends to the building and maintenance of any community or society. Do not forget love, make it part of your daily life. When I say that love endures, this is not because I am an old romantic. This is because I am a hard worker willing to complete acts of daily devotion and sacrifice. I have been blessed to find someone who is equally willing to do this for me. As a society, we need to recognise responsibility and not shy away from it.