All my social media feeds are awash with videos, advertisements and lamentations about romantic love, with only a few days left until the Big Day of Love and Chocolates. I consider this not shocking. What struck me, however, are the answers I received to a question I posted on my WhatsApp status,” What does love require of us ?” , especially when we commit to its true transformative potential.
The answer, to say the least, has been enthusiastic. And, without exception, everyone agreed with me to my amazement as I often do not get people to agree with me unanimously especially on my philosophies surrounding love. Yet on the issue of progressive, transformative love, a good number of people–perhaps even most –would seem to be in agreement.
”Love as a feeling is overrated. You have to work love out. Commitment and realization is the hardest bit but it takes the deepest sense of discipline to achieve them”, wrote Obiri-Tete a friend who responded to my question
”Love is a decision. There are so many things that influence the emotions”, Akorfa Dawson’s response to my question.
When surprise proposals go viral, why do we see so often the kind that feels performative, materialistic and even dishonest, but rarely the kind that displays deep care, attention to detail and sensitivity to emotion? Why do we seem more open to helping people in far-flung places than supporting those in our own communities that are hurting?
I think it’s because, despite what we know of love, we still approach it as if it is a (pleasant) feeling rather than as a commitment to generosity and care.
Commitment is not easy of course. There is one explanation, after all, why an approximate half of all marriages end in divorce. Somehow, we have unconsciously bought into the idea of romantic feelings as the truest form of love, contributing to an increasingly widespread belief that love is something that happens to us, triggers flutters in our bellies, and is no longer real if we stop feeling.
Yet love is not an emotion. Love is a way of being, and doing so prioritizes the well-being of ourselves and others, whether we’re associated with them romantically or not. And it is a commitment to love, in all its reach, that transforms it from a simple feeling in our bellies to a fire in our hearts; sometimes burning softly, raging fiercely at others, but always fueling, enlightening and purifying us.
Commitment asks us to feel what we feel, then do what love asks of us regardless. Even – maybe especially – when what love asks is the difficult thing. It is a commitment that activates the transformative potential of love. A heartwarming number of you have agreed with me that we need to see more of that in the world. So let’s commit to making it happen, shall we?
The author, Kayleb Ahinkwah is a freelance content writer and part-time broadcast journalist with Radio Univers