“Why are we so afraid to commit ourselves to loving each other?” Angie read in the nice looking old book in front of her and wondered more about the question than about the answer to this question. Umm… she thought, we are afraid to commit ourselves to anything that has to do with love because we have no idea what love is. I mean, Angie said to herself, definitions – especially readymade definitions – are everywhere, you only need to go online or open a dictionary to find a meaning to any word, but love isn’t just a simple word, it is a feeling. So how do we commit ourselves to something that we hardly can understand? How do we try to believe that we can actually throw ourselves – body and especially soul – in something that we hardly can decipher? Aren’t we afraid of getting hurt? Of being disappointed? Of appearing stupid? Of being made fun of? Of failing? Of being taken advantage of? Anyway… she thought to herself again and continued reading.
“This is a book about love, tenderness, compassion, caring, sharing, and relating – the most vital of human behaviors. Without these qualities life is empty though we may have the best of health, the most comfortable of homes, the most impressive of bank balances. Even knowing this, we spend so little time developing these behaviors. In fact, we are living in a society in which such words as love and commitment have been relegated to sentimental, old-fashioned nonsense. Skeptics are only too ready and capable with quick wit and stinging phrases to ridicule those who continue to speak of broken hearts, of devastating loneliness and the mystical ways and power of love.”
“If you love, you are considered naïve.” Oh, yes, Angie thought, tell me about it.
“If happy, you are considered frivolous and simple.” Yes, absolutely, people will do everything to convince you that happiness doesn’t exist, that you should grow up, wake up, start seeing the world from a “realistic” point of view.
“If generous and altruistic, you are considered suspect. If forgiving, you are considered weak. If trusting, you are considered a fool. If you try to be all of these things, people are sure you phony. This flippant attitude has had much to do with the breeding of a society of detached, noncommitted persons too sophisticated to admit to their confusion and unhappiness and too caught up in ego to risk doing anything about it. It has perpetuated isolation and devaluated basic human values. This, in spite of the fact that over the past years there has been amassed a vast scientific literature which proves that relationships do matter, that intimacy is necessary to sustain a good, productive life, that a loving touch or a hearty laugh can heal, that positive relating brings physical, physiological and mental well being. […] many contemporary philosophers and scientists […] have persisted in their writings and research, in spite of their critics, in affirming that a society devoid of these basic human needs is doomed.”
“Our growing inability to relate one with another is reaching frightening proportions. Soon the two-parent family will be considered the exception. Notions of marriage, of extended families and long-lasting friendships are more and more being considered outmoded. Meaningless sexual promiscuity is accepted as the norm and even being advocated as useful behavior for solving problems in failing marriages. Emotional detachment, maintaining our distance from others, is being prescribed as a solution for avoiding pain. Neglect and abuse of children and the aged is a growing problem. Social and religious institutions, which in the past helped to set standards of behavior and brought people together in companionship, are actively downgraded. Individualism, independence and personal freedom are valued above love, commitment, and cooperation.”
“Examining the complex nature involved in loving each other (the dynamic and everchanging nature of two or more unique and whole individuals agreeing to emerge and blend in long-term commitment) is not an easy task. Nevertheless, that is the purpose of this book. It seems to me vital and necessary, since material dealing with the dynamics of loving each other is rare. Without this knowledge we end only by living together in hate, fear, loneliness, and continuing to hurt each other in ignorance. Happily, the choice is still ours to make.”
(The text in italic is from the amazing book by Leo Buscaglia, “Loving Each Other: The Challenge of Human Relationships (1984) p. 11-13. The rest is by Zeina Gabriel)