It was once heralded that “all you need is love.” Perhaps one of the greatest immeasurably intangible resources which one could possess and yet one of the most critical components if we are to achieve an economy solidly founded on the new rage of happiness. Love is all around us and therefore it is perceived to be an abundantly endless resource. How limitless is all the love in the world?
In the first world, it should be something which we are drowning in. After all unlike the lagging developing states of the Global South even we have found a way to make Cupid redundant. Indeed, from the lovelorn to Romeo and Juliet to Adam and Steve we Westerners realise that even romance can be a richly rewarding capitalistic cash cow.
Love, in both its verbal and abstract noun sense, is something which we have now mastered to sell in a number of ‘physical forms’. Depending on our positioning on the love radar it can be something that comforts us or consoles us, consumes us or contents us, changes us or confirms us. There is no room for sitting on the picket line, you’re either in head over your heels or love is well over your head. Requited love can seem like a gift from above while the unrequited variety can feel like a rather unwelcoming physical amputation.
Undoubtedly, love is an entity which has the power to make me fear not only for my own self-fulfilling needs but also for the needs of the others whom I’m investing my own “love” and devotion into. Love, while it can be a petite fleur of exceptionally exquisite beauty can alternatively be something which terrorises us all. We are in awe of the ones we love and driven to horrific concern by the idea of rejection, revulsion and even revolt from horror characters we’ve come to love. It is surely the pitch behind many of the more renowned Hollywood thrillers and indeed horrors that always sucks us in for more. How does the dejected lover deal with the failing to woo their love interest?
Then there are all those cheese drenched romcom gooey stories which assure us that even the biggest clown can depart the set as the romantic victor even after great bungling. Similarly, season after season of our most cherished telenovelas is founded on the interest of who loves who and who is going to date who next. Why is it that such great chunks of filming coin is devoted to a topic which has surely been so tiredly probed and tested?
The ratings would infer that love is obviously something we relish observing. Clearly, like chocolate, wine and roses, it is a fix which we just simply can’t do without. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves we would genuinely see that tv is giving us a product which they know we are likely to repetitively indulge in night after night after night season after season after season. Grown men still watching reruns of Sex and the City to find out what Mel Gibson and philosophers long past have incessantly asked “what do women want?”. Entertaining perhaps but as futile as using Big Bang Theory shows to pass your next science quiz.
Nevertheless, effective savvy marketing makes us all susceptible to buy something if it means we will feel loved or can express love more. Why wouldn’t we when love is something that is conceptually universally sought after. And for those forlorn desperados we get duped in to purchasing a substitute love in a dependably sweet chocolate bar or a dvd series showing our underdog version of ourselves triumphing over the Alpha male and scoring that Hot Babe.
These conniving and cunning advertisers and media rope us in with love layered lettering such as soul, heart, forever and other pulse teasers. With their Matrix like knowledge of us, they have access towards all of our innermost longings. Forget about what Big Brother knowing what you do he also has an idea of how you are or have feeling from the moment you had a social media account and through your Pay Pal history.
Yet, love made public can seem incredibly cheap when we attribute it to a series of acquired products. Have we become that romantically shallow now in this present day and age? Apparently, it would appear so. Love can make us easy to influence playing on our insecurities and hidden paranoias. Just one glance at the female beauty industry is evidence enough to suggest that without the “perfect” bod, you may as well kiss any opportunities of landing a lover goodbye. I’m sure there are some that will argue that many women take up crazy diets and bewildering botox shots to please themselves but aren’t even our own actions a reflection of what society demands from us. And these conventions and pressures in the game of love have always been harder on women than they have been for men.
Love may be the secret ingredient which makes us more altruistic and humane but in recent times the reinvention of love has contributed to the idea of an absence of love. In certain cases, the new idea of love sees the process as less of a lifelong courtship and more akin to a transaction. We are reduced to possessions and objectified for personal consumption much like many of the other items we have access to in the Global Village. In an ironic twist, it can often make us disinterested in the welfare of others.
A close friend of mine loved his love with a blood diamond ring that was made by someone who suffered from a severe deficiency of love in the Congo. Others have renovated their houses for their loves on fabrics which came from South Asian sweatshops. What kind of love are we practising in this age of purchasing passion?
Love is theoretically something that we can’t place a value on. And yet in the Wild West we are doing this dirty deed on the daily. How would we feel if someone didn’t say that they loved us more than gold, diamond or rubies? In spite of this the price of love in the West comes at a precariously high price for the non-Western minions servicing our consumer driven romance culture. Love is surely not worth the Price when human rights, dignity, livelihoods and indeed lives themselves are the overwhelming price for even a cheap one night hotel fling.
Thoughts of the king Midas touch narrative swiftly leap to mind of how one’s love can suffer at the price we place when we transform the abstract notion into a physically materialistic one. For what becomes of love when a gold ring and the diamond embedded in it are extracted at cost of human suffering?
And yet we are capable of loving without need for material remuneration or want. For would we not find it insulting if we demanded from the guests whom we had invited around for a meal financial reimbursement people for our time and ingredients? And in times of hardship or sorrow are we not prepared to give our time willing to our friends without them expecting them to be billed for our advice and concessions. Nor would we leave a tip for our loved ones after a particularly lovely romantic evening. This clearly shows that we can still be virtuous when it comes to the crunch.
Lamentably however, the social powers and forces that be are reconfiguring the classical foundations surrounding our traditional understandings of love forcing us to copiously consume to a capitalistic conception of amor at an alarming rate. Selling of the old and newly defined “amorous seasons and other frivolous galas and extravaganzas” from the predictable Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Day to birthdays and anniversaries.
Love is big business for whomever wishes to dabble in its rewarding waters. Whole industries depend upon us showing through the power of purchasing just how much we love one another. There is even to new ridiculous fad of turning the ordinary day into the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate everybody’s favourite four letter world. From Secretary Day to Flower Day to Give some Stranger a Hug Day to heaven’s knows what.
But in this flood of overflowing love could it just be that we are perhaps overly killing ourselves with excessive kindness. In our ever increasing equation of giving and buying with loving we are now starting to see the manifestation of some disturbing concerns.
In the matter of eating we here in the West are chowing down at a frightfully concerning rate. Killing our kids with kindness as we permit them to indulge on whatever is at their hearts desire. And as we have seen while we may have a circle of closed loved ones we barely extend our loving ethical concerns to the unjustly shackled labour force fabricating our infectious infatuations with “displaying” love.
But how could we also overlook the justifiably “un-” eco friendly” nature of our lavish loving lifestyles. One need only observe and take note of the eco destructive enterprise of the romance business which sees forests toppled at a disturbing rate and overall pilfering of other ecosystems from waterways to animal habitats and other precious natural resources and settings. Or the ever steadying fuel burned and energy we waste during “the silly seasons as we literally” shop till we drop”. In many cases, that is exactly what love is making us do as we struggle to deal with the onslaught of the year round nonstop love tsunami which seems to be pounding us from every angle imaginably conceivable.
The psychological anxiety we face in capitalistically trying to prove our big wide loving hearts is quite possibly leading to many broken hearts. In these modern times whopping mortgages, second jobs, the need to additionally take up overtime, and lack of sleep is leading to ever more broken lovers and their loved ones. Fractured families, divorces, the loss of quality family time, obesity, alcoholism, the surge in stress and depress suggest that credit card love is bringing us only short term loving joy and long term long lasting consumptive hangovers and nightmares.
While capitalism suggests that we will be happy making money and buying it is clear that this is not the forward going way to satisfy the love void or to seal the love pact. Buying a child a gift can never substitute the loving rewarding ecstasy of sharing genuine companionship with that developing being. Gifts given without the intent to engage with a/ the loved one is just a capitalistic cop out. While capitalism may empower the idea of individuality the downside is that it often comes at the price of our bond with the collective group. In essence, what we are putting first and foremost is not love as such, but the Culture of Goods and the social pressures which it entails.
From being an emotion which delivers us a host of delights, love has now morphed into something which can quite certainly cause one a concrete degree of angst and disharmony. As social beings, community and belonging are part of the integral linchpins of structural framework which bring us our greatest contentment in life, NOT THINGS.
Love is forcing us into a Matrix where advertisers, the media and even technology is instructing and telling us what love course fits us best. Algorithms in our computers, Smart Phones and tablets doing the matchmaking for us assuring us that it has made all the right and logical calculations and assuredly knows us better than anyone of our friends, family or colleagues.
And we have the nerve to mockingly lampoon arranged Eastern marriages? What is it that makes us so insecure about finding the absolute perfect match without the need to face the fear of contact yet alone the horrendous idea of love’s rejection? Why have we lost such faith in ourselves self-electing to avoid the art of conversation and dialogue? Can one really expect that a machine knows what’s best for us?
And like that great bluff of the chess playing “Turk” automaton, we continue to search and seek out the perfect simplest solution in order that we do not have to overly engage in stressful and tiresome cognitive mental processing. And what of all those other potentially perfect partnerships out there. Will we close up our Tinder or Cupid accounts after Mr or Mrs Right supposedly comes along.
Like that old psychological jam jar choice, give a person a restricted but open choice and they will leave the shop relatively content with their pottle of marmalade. However, over extend on this diversity of choice and watch them leave wondering whether strawberry jam was really what they wanted in the first place. Yes, we humans can be a miserable lot even when we are afforded the most generous choices possible.
Fearing like our confiture electum that in dating Arnah what will we be missing for having turned away Cassandra. While others complete derail in their “unfaithful” objections to try and have it all. Even then, I can’t see the clandestine life of secrecy and seduction leading to an “everlasting” joie de vivre beyond the carnal sense of the understanding of life long felicity. Still, there are those whom want to believe.
Ask the average person to share their New Year’s resolutions with you and chances are that happiness in the covert form of love was probably high on their wish list. In fact, the American constitution serves to protect the individual’s efforts to find contentment in life. The bill enforces the constitutional belief that first and foremost we have the right to life. That feels legit given that happiness needs lives to make the concept operational. Followed by life, we are entitled to the liberty to appreciate our being/existence and life. Last, but by all means certainly not least we have as free living sentient beings the right and freedom to “pursue happiness”. But this raises the inevitable dilemma that if I’m ‘momentarily’ happy am I not ultimately waiting to be sad again.
The thought of the fleeting nature of my happiness in the form of love leaves me tense, makes me feel threatened, leaves me exhausted and now a tad miserable. We live in tense times where we see unhappiness in all its shadowy downcast apparition. Misery creating further misery as we battle against its forceful ability to sink us ever deeper in a cesspool of saddening submission. While the advertising industry comes to be both our hero and villain sometimes casting out a life saver other times letting us plunge to our miserably murky fates. Oh to such deplorable deviance. At every instance guaranteeing us that things make will make us happy. Obligingly we engage even when we know that such pitched are as fancifully plausible as Greek Myths. The romanticism seduces us into succumbing to all sensibilities.
Perhaps to our defence it comes down to the awareness that the hard luck of “others” less privileged could quite easily become or be our own. Ergo, we self-train ourselves to assume that “the freedom right and ability” to material chose to consume is reason suffice to rejoice unto itself. To a degree, this view has it’s visible worth. We invest in materialism as a form of talisman or a good luck mechanism against the onset of unhappiness believing that if we buy, misery will keep its ugly head at bay. But when consumption consumes love and happiness itself, then we should be very concerned indeed.
Growing up as a child, seeing people sleeping outside shops waiting for “a once in a life time sale” came across as a rare occasionally eccentric act. Now, it is ever more becoming the standard yearlong norm. More fascinatingly than the frequency of the sales themselves is the shocking furore which often goes hand in hand with them. Worryingly, the present day sale creates a sense of violence and an orgy of buyer madness unseen previously in capitalist history. People are hunting for a bargain and by God if you happen to be the poor soul standing between them and their desires then may all the angels and the saints help you. Far from causing happiness these sales banquets contribute to social combat falling short of all-out war.
What these perturbed ritualistic deeds convey to me that this spending onslaught and carnage has less to do with happiness but more or less the “need” to fend off fears of “unhappiness”. Happiness and love is clearly a temporal enterprise and “stocking up” may be one way in which we try to fight off the “eventual” offset of the blues which never seem to be that far away.
Having been raised in the less affluent sector of our society, I am well aware that to “not” have enough money can make for an uncomfortable state which does little to serve the case of founding “happiness”. But upon closer inspection, having any more than what one sufficiently “needs” as opposed to what one additionally “Wants” doesn’t make one any more the happier. We all can adequately survive without an unfulfilled “want” but getting by without a “necessary NEED” is a totally different case in point.
Furthermore, let’s not be conned by that new age lie of the “luxury brand” with its farfetched notion that if it costs more it’s worth more. This false concept of the higher priced folly make us assume that we can’t be happy unless we have bought the best i.e. the priciest model. Yet, exuberantly overcharged goods need not equate to the secure faith that one has acquired something of the highest conceivable quality. Regardless of our finer judgements and that nagging niggling gut feeling we nonetheless briefly feel satisfied and dare I say it “happy” that we have been tricked out of a small King’s ransom of our disposal fortune. Sellers sure know how to make monkeys out of us sometimes.
Despite this, many of our primate cousins it has been found often undertake favours without keeping track of whom did what for whom. Altruism in the animal world clearly shows that even our closest cousins derive some good vibe buzz from making others feel good. The creation of positive interactions while immaterially rewarding, still accomplish an inner objective to seek love and happiness from others within the communal fold. Comparatively, studies have revealed that children who display greater levels of kindness, empathy and “love” tend to have the greater fun, more enriching friendships and satisfactorily better psychophysical health.
Just a glimpse at the gross national happiness index around the world will show you that it’s not always the Wealthy West who happily feel the best. Happiness is impermanent but the path towards it need not be lonely and hollow. The journey of love and bliss is clearly best done when we tackle it’s often rocky path with others.
During our march through love and happiness, we can view the world and its people in many ways. We could see others as threats, enemies, rivals, resource sappers and in a whole host of other negative manners. But, chances are that I’ll be undoubtedly happier if I see you as a friend, colleague, asset, partner and kindred spirit. At this instance, we should all breathe in and delight in awe at the moment that we blessedly occupy and be happy that we are able to have this “privileged” right, liberty and freedom to do so.
And as for all you lucky lovers heed my pearls of wise and worldly insight. When we have someone in life that gives meaning and purpose to our existence we should never take such relationships for granted. The passion to keep the love, lovers and loved ones in our life will duly reward us and make us feel happy. Love satisfies us more than possessions because love requires maintenance and handwork. It is an act which can leave us feeling cleansed, redeemed and inevitably fulfilled as the act of loving purifies us from a selfish narcissistic and individualistic way of regarding others.
Once in our grasp love is not just something that we aim to toss away. To keep the flames a flickering requires energy, enterprise and commitment placing the worth of others before our own immediate and distant volitions. In a metaphorical sense, love is like a light which while fragile allows us to see the real beauty of life. Love in every way is the best measure in every case of what we must do to ensure that we are not only living pleasurable lives but morally just and virtuous ones.
Love undeniably scares us but it’s something we all openly want to receive demonstrate before we reach life’s end. Even in our final moments we often use our precious last breathe to speak of our loves to the ones whom we have loved. Striving to love better before I perish makes me I believe a more humane entity freeing me not only from my flesh but its physical “material” longings. Loving ultimately reminds me of what matters most in life. If not for ourselves then for ALL whom we love. The only thing that could make me feel any happier is to hope you are also feeling happiness as we part ways leaving one another to continue in the pursuit of love and happiness in our lives.