While I was working on my masters in Liberal Arts I took a theater class. The professor was great. Not just because of his experience, knowledge and passion about theater, but also because of the tangents he would take during class. One time he went off on love. His main argument was that no one can define love (certainly not a new idea). He spoke of how we “love” everything. I love those shoes. I love that movie. I love this restaurant. I love that TV show. I love this weather. I love that song. I love you. His complaint here is that we adulterate love by applying it to everything we like. He pointed out that any parent who ever abused or even murdered their own children contended all along they loved their children. Many may scoff at that notion, but who are we say whether they did, or did not? Just because we think the outcome is appalling?
I say this to you. We know exactly what love is. Anyone who says they love shoes or a movie knows exactly what love is. Love is not some complex unexplainable concept that can differ from person to person. Love is one simple thing: it means you care. That’s it. You care. And not necessarily in a good way, as evidenced by those who hurt the ones they love.
I care about those shoes. I care about that movie. I care about this restaurant. I care about that TV show. I care about this weather. I care about that song. I care about you.
Love is most definitely not all you need (with apologizes to John Lennon). Loving, or caring, is important, but it is only the start. In tandem with love is devotion, which results in committed, persistent behavior (of whatever nature). Love and devotion combine to form the foundation of behavior. Think of love as the spark and devotion as the fuel, and together you have the flame (how is that for cheesy analogies!!). Caring and devotion will motivate you to act, but your behavior might be good or bad. Other factors determine whether your behavior is actually loving and caring, and not mean and hurtful.
Love (to care for) and devotion are the foundation. Together they spur you into action. But what action? Will your behavior lift someone up, or break them down? Now we get to character. Your character determines whether your “flame” will be warm and nurturing, or burning and destructive. You can find combinations of the following in all people, and they determine how they use their love and devotion, and to what end. Selfish or unselfish? Kind or mean? Hold a grudge or forgiving? Compassionate or cruel? Generous or spiteful? Open-minded or closed-minded?
To hear someone say they love you is uplifting. But of more importance is their behavior toward you.