Anyone who knows me has heard me at least once proclaim my suspicion toward love. So, naturally, when a book called All About Love crossed my path, I had to know: what is there to say about this phenomenon?
Table of Contents
A Fairy Tale
Love is something that is. A sphere separated from everything else. Once it appears, you can’t control it. So, for me, it is the least important part of a relationship. You don’t decide it. It’s there, and then it isn’t. Respect and trust are much more important, and you can (and have to) work on them. They (should) stay even after love is gone.
That’s how I see it. Love is something more foreign than the Divine. Or maybe it’s just foreign to me, not reserved for me. It’s easier to pretend it doesn’t even exist.
But it’s not that I don’t believe in it. It’s just that I don’t believe in it for myself. Or maybe it’s a circle of denial. Growing up, all of the relationships that I witnessed, those essential to me, were without it. And then the unloving home and unloving father made me deny authority. Any authority.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we still accept that the family is the primary school for love. Those of us who do not learn how to love among family are expected to experience love in romantic relationships. However, this love often eludes us. And we spend a lifetime undoing the damage caused by cruelty, neglect, and all manner of lovelessness experienced in our families of origin and in relationships where we simply did not know what to do.
The mistrust I had in my father made it impossible for me to trust Heavenly Father because that figure meant nothing to me. That led to a lot of confusion because I believe in God, but I’m also afraid.
Then, out of the same notion, I don’t trust men. Never once have I been able to form an emotional connection with a man. I don’t trust them. (To make my words less confusing, I’m not saying they are not deserving of trust. “It’s not you, it’s me.”)
Broken trust, broken religion, broken every pillar at the basis of life, it all came from fear. I’m scared I’ll get hurt, both emotionally and physically. Love doesn’t live in fear. So, see? I made sure I blocked it from every aspect.
That’s why I need love to be something temporary, an evaporating feeling, because only then can I find comfort in knowing it will never find me. If I downplay it, then the lack of it is not that big of a loss. Being told it doesn’t exist, that it’s a fairy tale I’m asking for, doesn’t help my skepticism.
All About Love
Being the doubting Thomas for love, I tried to make it into this complicated thing that’s not worth trying. Whenever I saw any spark of it, I would look for an extinguisher to put it out. In it, I only saw a forest fire that would do damage if not contained on time.
If someone said they fell in love at first sight, I would be the first to jump and say: “You can’t develop feelings immediately. You don’t even know them. You’re just physically attracted to them.” And was I right? Maybe to some extent, but the issue doesn’t lie there. It’s in my rejection of love so great that I denied it to others.
There’s also this theory about self-love before giving it to others. It’s not about whether you’re capable of feeling it, even when you don’t love yourself. It’s the toxic and destructive mechanisms you use on yourself that will affect your relationship with someone else. That’s why you “can’t love others if you don’t give yourself love first.”
We base all our talks on love in romantic relationships. And I ponder on it a lot like I’m some kind of expert on it. But anyway, that brings up another issue.
I voiced my opinions on this loudly. To my sister and my friends, like I didn’t know that there were many forms of love, and they were all sitting in front of me. I said: “It doesn’t exist.” I told it to my sister, knowing full well that love has to exist because I love her, and she loves me.
And I believe in soulmates. She’s mine. So, maybe the conclusion is that I don’t believe in one form of love, but I don’t refuse them all.
A Product Of Mass Media
People are motivated by mass suggestion.
In this part I’ll rely more closely on the book itself. This point of view is particularly interesting because it brought together two things I wanted to discuss more. Although the main idea is love and how mass media shapes those values, giving love almost no space in favor of violence and sensation, it also made me think about the current situation in the world and the media.
Since individuals committed to advancing patriarchy are producing most of the images we see, they have an investment in providing us with representations that reflect their values and the social institutions they wish to uphold.
Now, I stray from the main topic, but not really. Bear with me. It’s about the patriarchy, male dominance, and what I want to highlight, the representation. Isn’t this exactly what we see now with the situation in Palestine, for example?
Just one example that comes to mind is the bombing of the church in Gaza. The media’s portrayal of that versus all the previous bombings of mosques, schools, or neighborhoods was very different. I myself am a Christian, taught that we are all the same children of God. It scratched my ear when I heard everyone say: “We didn’t think it would happen to us.”
Mass media’s production and promotion of violence isn’t just based on violence itself, but the “representatives” of those values, who are, in the vast majority of cases, Muslim.
When we are taught that safety lies always with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat.
What I’ve noticed, though, in this time is the shift in the media’s (not mass media, but the social media) stance on it.
People are getting de-influenced by the previous stereotypes. We witness Muslims’ kindness, heartiness, faith, and devotion (with no filters and no third-party intervention). Something that was always there but covered with the cloak that the Western media costume department assigned to them. This goes particularly for Muslim men.
About The Book
In all my trying to decide whether I believe in love or not, I left little space to talk about the actual book that ignited my idea to write about this. All About Love is a book you could dedicate a whole series to discussing. It touches on all aspects of love, all that goes into it, all types of it, and the links it has to other things in our lives.
I highlighted and underlined the whole copy. Usually, I don’t read about this topic, especially not non-fiction, but I gave this one a go, not knowing anything about it or expecting anything.
I’m so glad I did, as this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read, and I highly recommend you read it, too.
I’ve always found love complicated and myself contradictory. Both related to the book and the concept in general, I didn’t say enough. But it’s interesting to think about. What do you say? What is love to you?
To me, it’s my sister including me in every plan she has for the future. It’s my best friend and I’s late-night sessions about helping each other grow. It’s my other friend sending me photos or videos of whatever has made her think of me. It’s my grandma listening to me, no matter what age I was, like I was her equal because she valued my opinion.
It’s the traces people leave in your life, even though they are no longer in it. Like the spiced coffee my friend from Jordan made for me or her stories about her culture said with so much fondness. Or another friend’s crocheted roses I strapped to my tote bag and carry everywhere.
Look at me, a non-believer contradicting herself.
Before I go, I want to share one more quote with you, again being an arrow glowing in neon.
While the contemporary feminist movement has done much to intervene with this kind of thinking, challenging and changing it, and by so doing offering women and men a chance to lead more fulfilling lives, patriarchal thinking is still the norm for those in power. This does not mean we do not have the right to demand change. We have power as consumers. We can exercise that power all the time by not choosing to invest time, energy, or funds to support the production and dissemination of mass media images that do not reflect life-enhancing values, that undermine a love ethic.
And indulge me some more. Click on THIS POST to find links to watch movies about Palestine for free.
Okay, thanks, bye!