Love is simply not an option.
Love is a word in every language. It has a lot of meanings and covers a lot of ground. It’s a universal.
We make love but what we’re actually doing is expressing our love by giving mutual physical pleasure to each other and of course, it’s the best fun. Where there’s no emotional love there, it’s never as good; sure, there’s physical release and that’s not bad but there’s no real contact. English has an unusual number of words or expressions for this pastime but I suppose it’s because we speak such a mongrel language; too many words for anything. They cover the entire spectrum of graduations of meanings and only a native speaker could arrange them from the roughest sex to the most sublime love.
That’s love in the sexual sense but there are a lot of other meanings that don’t involve any physical contact at all but they’re still essentially sensual. It’s that time you saw her from afar and were gobsmacked and will never forget her, striding along so confidently in that pale blue short skirt that showed her hips off so well. That’s my woman.
Some things we love in people have no sensual element. It’s the way she can laugh and the way she unconsciously reaches out and touches people with her hand who’ve made her laugh. She always does that. It’s those slightly chubby cheeks and that gorgeous long neck that makes such beautiful lines when she turns her head. With simple things like that, which she’s not even aware of, she had you from the start. You’re her man and she’s your woman and that’s that. That’s the way it is and you’ve both never seen why it should not be any more complex than that.
Simple things. You wake up afraid in the night from some strange and frightening dream and put your arm out and she rolls into you even though she’s fast asleep. You’re half asleep yourself. That’s the way the thing works.
We pair up to have children because we’re supposed to be driven to do so by the “selfish gene”. We’re just blind unthinking automata with a payload of genes. But wait a moment. We all know couples who can’t have children and yet they stay together and are happy and loving. Surely the one capable of fathering a child or bearing one should desert the other? According to the theory, it’s illogical that they should stay together.
There’s the love we have for our children. The moment they’re born, your life changes. You look into those sleepy dark eyes and for an instant, they look back at you and you’re theirs, body and soul. A big switch inside you that you never ever suspected existed, goes clunk and you’re immediately ready to walk into traffic to protect that little baby. It’s a terminal condition, there is no cure. From then on, it’s no longer about just you two, it’s about the kids too and it can be hard work. The easy bit is when they’re younger because it’s just hard physical grind but it gets harder in a different way as they grow older and approach maturity. The dynamics of the relationship have to become more complex but the love is still there.
Out of all the species that have ever existed on the Earth, the offspring of humans are unique. They are born totally defenceless, totally dependent on us and that lasts for years. We invest the best part of two decades seeing them safely through to maturity. Strict evolutionists tell us the reason we do this is to ensure the survival of our individual genes and yet on several occasions I’ve seen adults put themselves in harm’s way to protect children to whom they have no blood relationship at all; they didn’t even know them. From an evolutionary viewpoint, that’s not logical but we’ve all seen it at one point or another.
There are other sorts of love which are not confined to our families. We love our friends. When times are good, they’re the people you want to share them with because that makes them even better. You help each other with the difficult times as well. There are real benefits to having a network of friends but we’ve all got friends who would be termed “high maintenance”. You go to some trouble to look after them and you always know you won’t be getting much tangible back in return because for various reasons, they don’t function well in the world but we keep on doing it anyway. That’s not logical. Where’s the benefit for you?
There are many people who spend their entire working lives helping other people. It may be in developing a life saving medicine or developing a better strain of rice for humanity but the vast majority of them are helping the less well able, the handicapped or chronically ill, the homeless or deprived. They are rarely paid exorbitantly (usually the reverse) for their efforts and yet they persist in helping. If they put the same amount of commitment and dedication into an “ordinary” job, their circumstances and those of their dependants would be so much better. Not only are they not getting any tangible benefit out of it, they’re actually losing out on benefits. It’s illogical.
I have no problem with the theory of evolution and indeed, I see and acknowledge its effects all around me. The problem I have is with its level of application to us. It’s a particular instance of the larger problem of applying science to reality. Science by its nature simplifies reality in order to cope with it but therein lays the problem; it’s no longer accurate but people still believe it to be and act accordingly and that’s always dangerous.
A map is useful but it’s not the territory. A landscape painting is in some ways better than a map but walking around there yourself is the most accurate way of finding out what’s really there. Reality has a granularity and unpredictability which cannot be captured in its entirety by science. Science is a good tool but it’s a bad master. It’s a useful part of our life but it’s not life. People who think it is are in the position of someone who has only one tool and it’s a hammer. Pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail to them.
Of course we’re subject to evolutionary pressure, just like everything else and while it goes some way to explaining how we’ve come about, it falls well short of explaining what we actually are, never mind how we behave. It’s nice to develop a theory but unless you get off your butt and actually test it against the real world, you’re in danger of becoming just another idiot with their one big idea and waving their hammer.
All the holes pointed out here are a classic example of a good but over extended theory being directly contradicted by simple real world data. I could go on for thousands of words more pointing out the illogicalities. Sure, the theory is being bent to breaking point at times to explain away what’s termed our altruism but the explanation is really quite simple.
Not only are people real world beings, with all the unpredictable granularity which that implies, but they also possess uniquely conscious minds. People are not programmed ants. We’re so much more than that. Any attempt to simplify us, draw a ring around us, put us in a pigeon-hole or computer model our behaviour is doomed to failure. We are different and fundamentally different to anything that has ever existed on this planet.
Over thousands of years, love has been ruthlessly selected for and is now deeply embedded in our DNA. If you don’t love and care for your children then they, like your genes, stand a much smaller chance of surviving. Those individuals incapable of love were long ago selected out of the gene pool but the occasional throwback or defective appears. They’ve no understanding of love on any level, are totally selfish and see other people as simply objects, which is why they’ve absolutely no remorse in harming them. We call such people psychopaths.
We’re driven at various times by different emotions but the one that’s always there is love. It is the thread that runs through our entire life. It’s why we don’t abandon our children; it’s why we look after the ill, the handicapped and the infirm, it’s why we help each other. It is the single essential prerequisite for the two unique attributes which have enabled us to thrive as a species; our initial non-specialised helplessness and our high degree of cooperation. Without it, a species like us wouldn’t be possible. It is us and it drives us.
Love is simply not an option, it’s a necessity.
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