Love doesn’t only thrive between you and someone you already know. The ability to be affectionate, to create a connection with another person, to empathize with a complete stranger or even an animal, is also love, and it is one of the most powerful and most lacking aspects of our modern world.
Growing up, my sister and I weren’t allowed to say hateful words and we were expected to treat others the way we’d want to be treated. My mother would never allow us to use the word ‘fat’. There was no such thing as a fat person, only a chubby person. We weren’t allowed to refer to someone as being ugly, because that also meant we were setting the standard for beauty, and who were we to decide that standard? If you don’t have something loving to say, then don’t say it at all.
As an adolescent, I struggled with my body image. I hated everything about myself. I remember going years without ever showing my legs because I hated them. My mother asked me, “would you rather not have legs?” I paused, and with a sigh answered, “no.” It was important for her to instill self-love in her daughters. I soon understood that the relationship I had with myself was equally as important as the relationships I would build with others.
One day, we were bike riding through a nearby park and a child was getting bullied by a group of boys. He was getting tossed around violently and the situation was beginning to escalate. My mother instantly turned her bicycle around and got involved. She stood up for that child, scolding his bullies and then placed him on the back of her bicycle to ride him home to his parents. It was pure love; an act of compassion for someone she didn’t know.
Love has an important role in our lives: life is just better when we are loved and when we love others. I mean, without it, or at least the potential for love, we would be somehow less than human. And yet, here we are amidst a global war, with no love in sight. Poverty, famine, deaths—these are the consequences of a world that lacks love, that lacks empathy, that lacks humanity.
The unconditional selflessness that accompanies love, is what makes it such a noble and admirable thing. We don’t necessarily have to ‘fall’ into love, to feel love. We don’t need to identify with a person or animal in a personal way, to be loving towards them. And we don’t need to be given love, to give love back.
Peace & Love,
Anna & Nishia