From my point of view, love — or the lack thereof — is at the center of everything. Its chemical attraction is an intoxicating bond bound by moral law and passionate principles that we sometimes have difficulty compromising. The bonds that we consequently forge for one another expand and reduce the scope of what we determine more or less permissible in our will to live and let live.
But how does this work in an ever-changing society?
Like peering through a kaleidoscope in a cyclone, our society does overlap and contradict itself with impetuous indeterminacy. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, houselessness and even the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic are prime examples of an intentional and unintentional lack of love trivializing the plight of another — for “the psychology of love says that when we care about people, we do our best not to harm them,” according to writer Michael Arangua. Hence, if we unequivocally love and respect the nature of another, we can refrain from the selfish and harmful act of persecuting one’s will that exists outside the periphery of our own understanding and experience.
Stanford psychologist Steven O. Roberts supports this claim when saying that “racism systematically advantages White Americans and disadvantages Americans of color.” However, he clarifies, “it does not have to.” Just as we allow acts of racism to prevail, we also have the choice to exercise love and kindness and fight back against the hateful agendas that have allowed a cascade of harm to ensue.
We see the harm in how society allows sexist attitudes to prevail in many ways: the harassment and assault of women online and in real life, the shame women experience for wanting to have a career, women of color grappling with higher standards of work and denied leadership opportunities, Eurocentric and sizeist beauty standards in media messaging and the war against women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom with abortion rights.
We see the harm of a lack of love through xenophobic sentiments “poisoning our societies,” according to Secretary-General António Guterres. People from other places such as the Middle East, Mexico and Asia among many others are subject to the prejudiced American political, social, economic and legal discourse that determines the very nature of citizenship, rights and belonging.
We see the harm in the mistreatment of individuals afflicted by poverty. The National Coalition for the Homeless emphasizes that this occurs when individuals are “an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets” due to a lack of resources and inability to obtain basic necessities of life.
We even see the harm in how less than half of Americans reported always wearing a mask during high points of COVID-19 transmission. This is a violation of the psychology of love, since many people are choosing to prioritize their personal desires above recommendations by medical professionals who work to save immunocompromised Americans who have a higher likelihood of complications and fatality.
As a result of this suffocating lack of love and harm from remnants and lessons of the past, many people believe that love is the greatest illusion.
You aren’t wrong to feel apathetic toward love’s monotonous undertakings. Instead of sharpening the human appetite for knowledge and contrition, disrespect and misunderstanding grease the air with hubris, further stifling the latent potential for love to flourish. But if you look close enough, I think you’ll see that love is all around you.
We see it when we acknowledge beauty, joy and spiritual nutrients that cleanse the body of impurities. We feel it when we hear the tales of our families and those we care for, forging a way out of no way. We understand it when we forgive ourselves and others but still actively hold ourselves accountable.
Fortunately, we are privileged to live in a diverse country where free speech is an inalienable right, so we can engage in open-minded conversation with competent people from different walks of life who hold values similar to and different from our own. Exposure to this multitude of perspectives not only reinforces our foundation of democracy, but also prioritizes love and inclusion in collective decision-making.
Unfortunately, all of this is easier said than done.
But we can all take measures to alleviate ourselves from the harm of misinformed assumptions. It starts with understanding love’s immeasurable process as the perfection of imperfection, because everyone has flaws in need of correction. Although the best of us may disappoint due to our respective flaws, failure does not mean that there cannot be corrected behavior. Holding ourselves responsible for our mistakes is the first step toward remediation.
Understanding this selfless principle is a small price to pay for maintaining coexistence in a make-it-or-break-it world full of hierarchical antics. And this redemptive understanding is made possible not by accepting each other for what we think someone should be and do, but rather by acknowledging struggles others face and humanity for what they hope to be.
It takes a conscious decision to deconstruct the world around us and be vulnerable for us to galvanize change and truly appreciate the love within each one of us. I implore each one of you to have faith in love so that there is no longer as much of a lack thereof.