Is It Possible to Love Thy Neighbour in the 21st Century?

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"
Book of Leviticus

One of the most beautifully furnished phrases reflecting the fundamental idea of the Golden rule, this phrase expounds the significance of love in a faith that considers love like no different from God. The phrase captivates the many layers of philosophical, psychological and sociological motives and meanings. It complements our need for affiliation while cleverly building the foundations of a social system. It cultivates a sense of responsibility while upgrading us in the need hierarchy.

But in our world, love is one of the most easily misunderstood, misused commodities. All the crimes, betrayals, ruins and wounds, all in the name of love have shaken our faith in love so much that we, as humans are afraid to love, even ourselves. This is our basis to stare scornfully at a stranger, instead of giving them a warm smile, backstabbing people and fermenting hatred and bookending our days in the dim lights of our phones, corked bottles, and burnt ashes.

Survival of the fittest 

Love's bounty is boundless yet it is often not quite profitable. When you love your neighbour like yourselves, how would you be able to love your children and family? After all, even the righteous often do not really have a happy ending, like the story of Job. In a world where the ways are forked between grace and nature and where none escapes suffering, what's the point in loving one's neighbour as oneself, when all of it is a game of thrones in the hierarchy of nature?

But it's paradoxical to see the intricate intricacies embedded in our lives. It is rather queer to see how much we value validation, how much we need another soul to cling on to, so as to quote Sylvia Plath.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none

So that's a better deal. But again, how can we love those who hurt us to the core? How do we love those people who played games with us? We all know how much we detest them in our hearts. But then who is really suffering there? 

It's better to remind ourselves how Buddha defined anger. Anger is like placing a burning piece of coal in your hand. Well, so is hatred.

There are as many loves as there are hearts

Now love being inevitable, it's intriguing to note that none of us knows what love is. In other words, there are many kinds of love. Passionate love, consummate love, fatuous love, companionship love says Sternberg, while Lee (1980s) divides it up into eros, ludos, storge, pragma, mania, and agape. Stendhal talked about the seven stages of love. Poets drew from the inexhaustible source of inspiration, love.

In the course of time, love got extremely romanticized, objectified and became an idea. Being an idea, it had people, rather than people having love. Love got commercialised, bought and sold. In all of its glossy labels, somewhere in time, we forgot about love. What will we do in the face of a delirious dilemma like that?

Love me tender...Love me, sweet...

All we can do is to know about love, know how to love.  None of us can ever be experts in love. Life is short for that. All we can do is to love without fear. In our love, we would make sure that none is hurt. If in love, you are hurt, then that isn't love, said Oprah Winfrey. That's a lie wrapped up in a glossy label of love. Love liberates.

Love is an open door...

Love, in its highest form, is beyond restrictions. Love is blind, says, wise men. Love makes you a fortune's fool. But it's worth being a fool in love than being wasted as a wise cynic. Love is beyond sex. Love intensifies the pleasures of the body, not just sex, but almost every activity. In this way, love, as Tolstoy famously observed, becomes the sole and legitimate manifestation of life.

God is love

Love is the only hope. It is the Holy Spirit that broods over the bleak and miserable lives of the flawed and imperfect beings that we all are. Love is the only thing that makes life worth living. This is why visionaries like Mother Teresa, described a lack of love to be the greatest poverty of all. This is why inspiring souls like Princess Diana, committed herself to a life of love and service.

It is thus not only possible but also the only option for a better life- that we should love our neighbours like ourselves. It is when the difference between oneself and the other is unlearned, that we get the true essence of self. Love towards such a self is how we feel and experience “the still, small voice of calm.”

- Ananda Krishnan

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Is It Possible to Love Thy Neighbour in the 21st Century?  Is It Possible to Love Thy Neighbour in the 21st Century? Reviewed by EMN on June 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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