It’s that time of the year again…the time when love goes on sale and there are more than a few punters willing to invest their time, money and efforts to support their “cause”. Personally, I’ve always maintained that Valentines Day is nothing more than a commercial ploy; a term coined by the capitalists and bureaucrats, designed to exploit the masses and pilfer that which they can’t claim from taxes and essentially screw everyone out of their hard earned cash through psychological indoctrination and manipulation.
But “What is it about love that makes us so stupid?...” We’re stupid for buying into the cult practice, we’re stupid for not buying into it, we’re stupid if we’re in relationships; we’re stupid if we’re not madly in love with someone. Either way, from all perspectives, in varying opinions, we’re stupid.
What is Love anyway? Is it the roses and chocolates that he buys for you? Is it the way she looks at you? Is it the fact that he takes you out on a date? Is it those invisible heart strings that tug every time you see each other?
Call me a cynic…I’d actually like to call myself realistic and pragmatic…but I don’t believe that society’s idealistic perceptions and notions of Love exists. Sure there is lust and infatuation, two of the most common emotions that most people mistake to be love. In essence, what people actually love are the feelings and emotions that resonate within their souls when interacting with the object of their affection. It is not so much the other person’s physical existence, then it is about how that person makes you feel intrinsically when you’re in his/her company. It feeds the ego and self-esteem and in these terms Love is a very narcissistic emotion. It’s all about you, and how you feel, and what pleases you…well that is the mass produced version of Love anyway.
The one thing I do love is history. It allows you to capture moments in time before any inkling of you existed and one can even learn a few lessons from the lives of others. I recently stumbled upon a historical account of St. Augustine, and some of his works, the most notable being The Confessions, an autobiographical account of a period in his life. Augustine of Hippo, also known as St. Augustine was a philosopher and theologian, born on the 13th of November 354 in modern day Algeria to a catholic mother and pagan father. He was of Berber descent, not Roman as many believe, and lived a hedonistic lifestyle in his early years, much to the dismay of his religious mother. After undergoing an overwhelming personal crisis at the age of 32, Augustine decided to convert to Christianity, abandon any ideas of marriage and devote his life to God and priesthood. His personal friend, Possidius detailed Augustine’s personal traits and portrayed him as “a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, shunned the temptations of the flesh, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his see…and spent his final days in prayer and repentance”.
For me, the most captivating of Augustine’s thoughts are those of time and free will. Augustine believed that “God exists out of time in the ‘eternal present’; that time only exists within the created universe because only in space is time discernable through motion and change”.
Augustine also explains that “Any can be saved if they wish…while God knows who will be saved and who will not, with no possibility that one destined to be lost will be saved, this knowledge represents God’s perfect knowledge of how humans will freely choose their destinies”. These very sentiments were confirmed 200 years later, by our beloved Prophet SAW and was relayed to me a few months ago by Mufti Ebrahim Desai, when I enquired whether Dajjal (The Anti-Christ) would go to Hell (since his actions have already been pre-determined before his advent whilst the Devil consciously disobeyed The Almighty i.e. he was good and became evil).
Augustine is also famously known for his contributions to Christianity in the form of a psychological explanation of the Trinity and Original Sin of which I personally don’t accept to be true. But these aspects do not interest me as much as his views on love and lust.
“There seethed all around me a cauldron of lawless loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, in love with loving, and I hated safety…To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved. I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustfulness.” (Confessions 3.1.1)
According to Augustine, it is important to note the difference between love and lust because lust is an over indulgence whilst love is peace. He even stated that he was in love with the notion of Love and embarked on a lifelong journey to find the ever elusive Love. He eventually found Love in his relationship with God and came to the conclusion that only God can truly love you unconditionally, because human love is flawed and breeds emotions like “jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger, and contention.” Augustine believed that to love God is “to attain the peace which is yours.” (Saint Augustine Confessions)
I’ve witnessed the idealistic views of Love, often by those who have not witnessed Hate. And most who have not witnessed hatred come from nuclear families, cosy homes with married parents who bicker occasionally about matters that are as serious as dry laundry. There is a thin line between love and hate, which is called evil…and every good emotion and act, is balanced out with its evil counterpart. I’ve seen the evil side of Love, what it can do, how it can tear people, families and even countries apart. People do strange things in the name of Love. The very emotion that inflames passion can incite enough destruction and devastation that could rival a nuclear explosion.
A simple yet effective example of Love at its best and worst is evident in the television series Prison Break Seasons 1 & 2, where every single character is driven to abysmal acts and despicable behaviour…all in the name of love. Michael Scofield loves his brother and therefore plans to help him escape from prison. Lincoln was framed for a crime he didn’t commit because he was out trying to get money to support his loved ones. Sarah’s actions are motivated by her love for Michael. Veronica is inclined to help with Lincoln’s case because she still loves him. The rejection of the one he loved pushes a physically and emotionally abused T-bag to become a murderer, rapist and paedophile. Sucre was imprisoned for trying to get enough money to buy an engagement ring for the love of his life by robbing a convenience store. Abruzzi eventually dies when he goes after Fibonacci, whose testimony would have ensured that Abruzzi never saw his loved ones again. C-Note is driven by his love for his wife and daughter. Even agent Mahone’s actions are influenced by the love he has for his wife and child.
So love is not as pure, idyllic and innocent as most would like to believe. It has its dark shadows and what lurks there, no one wants to know. It’s a rather complex and intricate emotion and is not bound by restrictions and limitations. Love is capable of anything, and transcends the boundaries we set up for ourselves.
I’ve come to see Love as more than material gestures. Love is when you look in the mirror and you like what you see. Love is when a mother feeds her baby, patiently waiting for the child to swallow. Love is a friend’s unwavering support through good and tough times. Love is smiling up at the sky even when it is pouring on your face. Love is a concerned friend’s long-distance phone call to see if you’re ok. Love is a husband nursing his sick wife back to health. Love is a child’s laughter that warms your heart. Love is when your parent’s discomfort is a source of anxiety for you. Love is when you give your sister your last piece of cake even though it was so delicious and you wanted it for yourself. Love is when something positive happens in your life and you think of your Creator. Love is finding money in your pocket when you thought you had none. Love is that hug when you see a good friend after a few months. Love is the pain you feel when someone you knew has passed on. Love is the good memories shared by people.
Love is self-less and unconditional. Therefore, Valentines Day is everyday.