-BOLADE TITUS OJO
What a time and generation this is! What a fake, unrealistic and deceptive life people live these days! There is noise everywhere; men shout, talk about, describe, write on, publicize and even set days and moments aside for certain things, yet such things are still lacking and still in very high demand and their lack driving the world towards a certain and definite doom. Everybody strongly desires it, longs for it, search for it diligently, yet is nowhere to be found, despite the fact that it is very close by. In searching for it, some have paid heavy prices for it, some paid in cash and in kind, yet they couldnít lay their hands on it. Where it is found, it is mostly grossly inadequate. But why such a determined and rigorous search? The only reason is that it is the greatest power and most potent force available. It neutralises anything lethal and replaces such with life, peace, joy and the likes. Only men who are either made or marred, wounded or healed, killed or made alive, lifted or brought down by LOVE can and will actually give a vivid account of their pains or gains from the lack or abundance of this 4-lettered word.
What really is Love? Its definition varies according to the many attempts to define it. To break it down, four things, or experiences are summed up in the word love. They are: Care, Affection, Acceptance and Sense of Belonging.
Care: - It is neither a thing nor instantaneous; it is rather a process. It is the process of looking after someone that you consider dear, especially because you consider such a person weak and lacking in certain things, etc. Being a process, it is always clear and obvious to those to whom it is being shown. It cannot be hidden nor denied. Care is not and cannot be abstract; instead it is real, tangible, visible, enjoyed and can be built/improved on. When you care for someone, you are not involved in anything disadvantageous to the other person. Care does not dwell or come with any form of harm, danger and pains. Its goal, purpose and vision is (ultimately) good, filled with all forms of welfare packages, better living conditions and very peaceful. Care does not show sympathy but empathy.
Affection: - this is simply a gentle feeling of love shown to somebody. This is practically showing in a gentle way your love and care for a person dear to your heart. It simply means you take your time to, after a thorough thought to shower and lavish your love on someone in a kind and careful character void of anything violent and unpleasant. Affection is not about talking about love, but practically showing the love. This involves an attitude that shows you want to help the individual or make him happy. It is about making him happy without causing any form of suffering in the present or sowing seeds of future suffering or post-dated sufferings. Affection therefore involves a good and commendable character, coupled with a sense of carefulness to show your positive feeling for someone.
Acceptance: - This is a very crucial manifestation of love that is becoming extinct by the day. It is fast being eroded from the feelings of todayís old and young. It is becoming more and more difficult to find acceptance, especially by most youngsters. The reason could be because most parents of the youngsters themselves either did not experience it or experienced a corrupted and inadequate version of it in their growing years. Suffice it to say that acceptance is a process! A process of allowing an individual become part of a group (without any inhibition), then treating him as others would be treated. Acceptance is therefore a process of integration. Integrating someone into a family, group, class, church, school, organisation or even into the society at large, without the least form of discrimination. The first and most crucial initial integration, which is the foundation of other integrations and which everyone loves to enjoy is the integration into the immediate family. A child not fully integrated into his family, cannot be easily integrated into the larger society. For such a child to be later integrated into the society, it might be after he has been wounded, have failed or found an alternative shoulder to lean on outside of his immediate family. In search of integration into the society, some youngsters sold their future and destiny for peanuts, lost touch with their lives as a whole or worst still lost their lives in the process.
Sense of Belonging: - This is the feeling of happiness and comfortably in a situation (or place), because you have the same interests and ideas as others in the group. The feeling of having the same interests is often a great source of self-confidence, self-assurance and self-respect; this is often a big antidote and solution to inferiority complex. A man with a sense of belonging is always confident, bold, peaceful, unruffled, can take responsibilities, accountable, easily trusts others, have a balanced opinion of himself, nods to himself as he feels approved and thus often smiles to himself. To him, by every standard, heís always carried along, fully identified and contributes to what makes the group tick.
As common as these four things (care, affection, acceptance and a sense of belonging) seems to be in the world today, statistics shows that very many people do not have the four. In some cases, some have one or two in some measures, some have three in a little way, while some donít have any at all. A family will be adjudged functional or dysfunctional by the lack or abundance of these four ingredients. Any relationship at all, with the intent of it lasting for a considerable period of time must have love as its bedrock. Love begins with loving yourself, irrespective of what is happening and why it is happening to you; there is no man who hates himself.
In a relationship, love (its presence or absence) determines what will be obtainable. Be it in a relationship between friends, family members, groups, corporations, nations, love will either make or mar those involved in the relationship. In todayís world, love (according to most youngsters) flew out of the window years ago, some knew when, some will tell you there is nothing like love and others will painfully tell you, it left the world before they were born. As vital as love is, why has it become such a scarce and rare partner in the journey of life? Nations are on the brink of war, kids carry guns to school, as they wonder if they will stay alive in an increasingly violent world; communities are at daggers drawn, corporations are snuffing the life out of their competitors, politicians are digging up putrid and decaying past of their opponents, because they want to win elections, mudslinging is the order of the day in the print media and even on screens. Why donít men live and let others live?
Love is not bogus and boastful speeches, it is not great oratory prowess, it is not noise that men make these days; it is not some wonderful achievements or scientific/technological breakthroughs, painful sacrifices, knowledge or skills or some great acts of philanthropy. Love is the practical display of acts of selflessness which is proven by practical and ceaseless patience, kindness, never puffed up, never push self forward, never rude in any way or form, never selfish, not easily provoked, thinks no evil, never rejoice and promotes sin or anything harmful to your neighbour and defends the truth in the face of any opposition, any day, anytime and anywhere. Love doesnít wait to be reached out to; rather it reaches out to others, even when there is nothing so good in the present to those being reached out to. Love sees what others donít see; others may see today, but love sees tomorrow; love sees what you can and will become, even before you dream of becoming that thing. Love has no constraints, no limits, no barriers; this is why love tolerates everybody irrespective of their present or past weaknesses and failures; believes in people and their inherent abilities and gifts (either it is presently obvious or not); endures whatever comes its ways. Love had never failed and cannot fail. Every other thing can fail and human experiences and existence has proven and still proving that everything may and can fail, but love has stood its ground over time. Every other thing can come to an end and cease to exist or vanish away, but love will always be the last man standing so gallantly.
Where is love in the present day? Love has been so bastardized that the true meaning is difficult to come by. Self-centredness, self-indulgence, ignorance, painful past experiences, unforgiveness, bitterness of heart, hatred, empty words, greed, personal aggrandizement, search for pleasure and the easy life, Godlessness and other numerous modern day phenomena has driven love and driving love out of the present world. Until love returns to our world, peace in all its ramifications will be a dream and every attempt to bring peace into the world will be at best an attempt to build a castle in the air.