What's This - Love?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

Questioning the use of the word - love.

Language is a living, almost breathing thing, changing with usage and whatever happens to be trendy at any given time. As far as English goes, Shakespeare would probably have some difficulty conversing with today’s younger generation here in our fair and slightly tainted land. That’s not a bad thing though, because Shakespeare isn’t using the language today, young Kiwi kids are and is them who have to understand each other.

Perhaps my opinion reeks of a set-in-his-ways septuagenarian who happens to like the Oxford dictionary, butchering the words therein to suit himself and making a few up of his own just for fun. Perhaps Swahili spoilt me, because you spell Swahili as it sounds, which is much easier than English, and is probably why I usually write the way I speak. I admit to being a lazy speaker, using they’re or I’d with smatterings of Kiwi slang or forestry jargon – I know, it’s not a good example for my grandkids, but I’m not in the slightest bit apologetic! However, I do enjoy proper English and applaud the use of it.

With reference to the Mosque massacres in Christchurch, I didn’t like being included as showing love to the Islam community. I seldom use the word, because for me, love, when referring to people, is something shared within a family or those who are close. Teenagers are entitled to it because they fall in and out of it easily - it’s important phase in life to them. But I don’t love the Islam community, how can I? I don’t even know any of them! I have every sympathy for the people effected by the awful event, I even have empathy for them, and I remain horrified that it all happened in my home town, but I feel no outpouring of love for them. And that’s not singling out Islam by the way, I would feel the same way if it happened to any group, or even Bob from down the road.

The murders were based on hate, and love is associated as being the opposite hate, but the word in this instance doesn’t quite fit the situation, so I took the time to look it up. Hate is an emotion with no truly equal opposite. Further, the love in ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ is a slightly different concept to love within a family. Maybe it’s a philosophical argument and debatable, but basically I’m stick by my, ‘How can you love anyone you don’t actually know?’ Maybe we need a new word.  

The so-called love shown in the tributes lead by our prime minister was a genuine show of empathy from a mainly different generation to mine. And a good thing. Younger people use the heart emoji as a natural and often-used signoff for a text message, the meaning of which may be significant or merely a sign of affection. We see these love-heats all over the place, which gives and impression that love is all around, but I wonder... I’ve had a taste of being a newcomer, having recently moved into town. None of our neighbours arrived to introduce themselves, which is vastly different to the rural setting I came from where there is always celebration of and for new arrivals. Everyone comes to know everyone. I walk down the street every day to stretch my legs and I find most people I pass will avoid eye contact. It’s my natural habit to greet people as I pass, but most in town decline to respond, which seems a long way from ‘loving thy neighbour’.

In the wake of the Mosque massacres there has been a genuine effort to make women wearing a hijab more comfortable, causing some folk to promote the idea of hugging, as a show of love and inclusiveness to the Islam community. There are certainly cultures where hugging and even kissing is the normal way of greeting, but personally I prefer a metre of space around me thank you - unless you’re family. But I’m perfectly happy shaking hands with anyone. I have no idea how Muslim women would react to hugs, and even if it’s appropriate.

So what’s the appropriate thing to say or write as a message in such cases? My father used to ask me to phone the florist when one of his customers or friends died. He wanted a wreath sent with the words, With Deepest Sympathy. Wouldn’t those words have been sufficient? Or what about, Sorry for your loss, or With sorrow? More than anything, I think what people were trying to convey was empathy but writing on a card, With Empathy just doesn’t have the right ring to it.

On the other hand, perhaps I should just close my battered old dictionary and celebrate yet another minor change in our language. Evolution rules!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: April 24, 2019

© Copyright 2022 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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Comments

hullabaloo22

Thought-provoking, Moa. Language gets really challenged these days.

Thu, April 25th, 2019 9:02pm

Author
Reply

It sure does Mama Hullabaloo, and the older you get the less you like change. Usianguke

Thu, April 25th, 2019 2:12pm

jaylisbeth

This is definitely one for the books, Moa. Very well told :)

Mon, April 29th, 2019 2:12pm

Author
Reply

Thank you Jay. Precise English is good, but I'm fond of our own Kiwi slang too. Usianguke

Mon, April 29th, 2019 1:46pm

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