It’s the month of love, and I just thought of writing something about it since I’m in love with writing and speaking out. We all have heard of unconditional love, but I’m not here to talk about it, since most of us already know and talk enough about it. I’ll talk about conditional love, which has been more realistic and pragmatic than the unconditional one in Indian society.
I don’t think there is a universal concept or idea around love. Love has always been left open to interpretation on different levels. What is love for me, might not be the love for someone else and vice-versa. Eventually, everyone loves to be loved, then what leads many to misunderstand what exactly love is and how it should be? I don’t have any straight forward answer to that and I guess neither do you.
However, we need to understand that there is some clear-cut line that should not be undermined, misunderstood and violated, and that can only happen when we are open enough to talk about the inherited cultural, religious, or for that matter, every aspect of love. Love has been influenced, motivated and driven by several historical as well as contemporary factors. Although love is an individual interpretation and idea, that interpretation and idea could be based on one’s prejudices, bigotry, or it can be market-driven — which could be insanely problematic and that’s where love fails.
The harsh reality is that love is primarily socially, culturally and religiously constructed in our society. Majority of us are heavily bound by religious, cultural and economic fundamentalism. Love cannot be understood in isolation with this fundamentalism.
What we see in our society is, that rather than challenging prejudices and fundamentalism, we use fantastical, unrealistic and imaginary love as a proxy to convince someone to be loved. When it comes to love, everyone, including the so-called progressives and liberals, has their prejudices in some or the other ways. The only difference is that some express their prejudices directly, while others do it in a mysterious way. Some behave in a prejudiced way, while others in a patronising way.
Now, I am going to point out some of the prejudices that majority of us still abide by. I prefer to call them conditions, but simultaneously, I am also going to call out these prejudices.
Caste and religion as a condition for love: Caste and religion still play a crucial role in every walk and aspect of the lives of a majority of the people, and love cannot be seen in isolation with it. We tend to say that love overcomes hate, but very often, caste and religion overcome love. So, should we call it love, fantasy, or just a myth associated with love?
Making love unconditional by breaking the caste prejudice: Everyone, especially the ones who are against casteism, should strongly come forward to challenge the caste and religious prejudices not just for themselves, but for others as well. As Dr B.R. Ambedkar very rightly pointed out, inter-caste marriage is the best way to eliminate caste and it’s up to us to let this happen in real.
Skin color and body image as a condition for love: Racism and body shaming is very much persistent in our society. Which color skin is considered fair & lovely, is very well known to us. Love is also based on, and driven by, certain beauty standards and body types established by our patriarchal society, and promoted by the market, entertainment industry, corporate houses, media, etc.
Making love unconditional by breaking the color prejudice: Unless we overcome certain stigmas and stereotypes that shape our idea around love, ideally we’re not fully in love with a person. We might be in love with the body, color skin, caste, and class, but not in love with the person. Not in love with someone for who exactly they are. People say that love happens organically. It’s exceptionally not like that.
Heterosexuality as a condition for love: We live in a very homophobic society. The fact is that the society we are living in is still struggling with caste and religious prejudices. So, in order to break stigmas and stereotypes around homosexuality, we need to go a very long way.
“Chand taron ko tod kar laana” (I’ll bring the moon and stars to you) isn’t unconditional love; it is a fantasy. Breaking stereotypes and challenging patriarchal agencies for the one you love is unconditional love. Love is indeed a very powerful tool to bring a functional change in the society.
Let’s love unconditionally by breaking the conditionings!!