What's Love Got To Do With It?
Ah, me. I planned to write about "love" for Valentine's Day but, alas, that date has come and gone. I didn't forgot; I simply realized that I have no idea how to write, or talk about, love. I am in an actual love tunnel; it is dark and I can't perceive light at either end!
Perhaps the problem was Valentine's Day itself; perhaps that is the worst time to write thoughtfully about love. As many would argue, it has nothing to do with love at all, but commercialism. We are all well versed in actual commerical messages that co-opt love to represent a car or a soft drink.
To move love out of the commercial realm, I know that often people say "God is love", and I sometimes relate to this better than to the imposing visual figures we know from Michelangelo, say. But then this gets tricky when ideas of who or what God is veer drastically from religious beliefs to secular understandings. Recently I had a break though of sorts, I thought, when I had a conversation with a pastor friend. In a recent sermon, I thought I heard him say that "Love is Justice" and I jumped on board! This seemed like love at its best and most concrete: don't send me flowers, just treat me fairly!
When I followed up by actually reading the comments, I found out the message really was, "Justice is Love" and I was lost in my love tunnel again! Once again, LOVE is the standard, and everything else is judged in our understanding of what that is. But what are we actually talking about when we talk about love? Unfortunately, we are privy every day to the damage we can do to ourselves and to others in the name of "love"; it is a word, like every other, that can be used to manipulate and divert and hurt. So what are we to do with this word of immense power and so many disguises?
With the deadline for my "Love Column" looming, on the morning of Valentine's Day, I was reading obituaries in the paper, which is as good a diversion from writing as anything else! And here was a tribute to the life of one Walter Dill Scott, a total stranger to me from Evanston, IL. He was a success by all of our cultural norms: a significant career in business, a husband, father and grandfather. Nothing about his politics; nothing about his religion. And then this: "He asked that he be remembered by his friends by their reaching out to someone in need for an hour, a day, or a lifetime."
In Prayer Soup lingo, this would be to "do a prayer". For Mr. Scott, I suspect this was his message and definition of love. I I can't do any better than this.
Thank you, Mr. Scott, and rest in peace.