Love, Amor, Yêu , Leibe.
What do all of these have in common?
They are displays of emotion. Care. Comforting.
It is natural for us as human beings to want to find it.
To be entrapped by it, surrounded by it’s warmth, yet the pursuit of it scares us to death.
The words themselves in question are able to bring anxiety, great pride, or even create a bridge towards a beautiful tomorrow. However, the power of love doesn’t truly come in the form of the words themselves. Actions speak louder than words.
As a young man who’s had the incredible privilege to travel to many different countries, I get to see how truly amazing and loving people are.
Actions of love transcend any barrier of language. Each country I’ve gone to has taken me in with open arms, whether or not I look like a local or the prized foreigner.
All across the world, people are warm, caring, charming. As simplified by the phrase “A La Orden” in Coastal Colombia. It translates to, at your service. I don’t want to go in depth into each of my experiences, but just to summarize, each country shares their best selves with the visitor, always caring and ensuring that you are having a great time, if you are comfortable, you are at home.
Back home at Merrimack, it was the smallest gestures of kindness during the cold winter days or blistering summer days, a random meal swipe by a classmate who’s name you don’t remember, a door being held open by someone you’ve never met, the long car rides to and from the pitch darkness of I-95, the deep talks over card games, and the tears shared over solidarity in weakness.
In Ireland, it was on a random night. We had a classmate who wandered off, and with the help of a security guard from our favorite bar, were able to find the classmate in a country in which we just arrived into.
In Nicaragua, it was the comfort of sharing a meal with the hosts which took us in at Mustard Seed Community and the love of the children who had nothing but smiles and hugs to offer to us outsiders.
In Vietnam, it’s the constant hospitality and efforts to speak English when people do not understand Vietnamese, the constant need to help and go give 110% despite not even knowing your name.
And now here in Colombia, every person on the street will offer to help you, each person on the street will greet you, ask you how you are, and finally, offer their home to you as a shelter during a storm or a hot day.
Love, in all forms, is something that is missing in today’s world. We cherish it so deeply, and share it and make it seem almighty and powerful, display it on full blast via our news sources, as a silver lining in what seems like a never ending storm. After hours and hours of news of war, hunger, poverty, hatred, there’s always a small snippet of people doing good, people loving each other. As if this sliver of hope is supposed to let us carry on until the next time we are fed this great news.
As the Beatles once sang, “All You Need Is Love”, while that might not be entirely true, it is a step towards a better world, one in which we can create stronger relationships and allow ourselves to define our humanity by what brings us together, rather what divides While there is still hate in our world, love has the ability to prevail. Sure, this doesn’t really help people’s perception of me as a “flower child” and a person who is naive. But I would rather be naive than cold and jaded. I find comfort in believing in a cup half full rather than convincing myself that the cup is half empty.
There’s a great childhood story about “Warm and Fuzzies” that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. It revolves around the theme of people being scared to love, scared to give themselves to others without reservation. Love costs nothing, but can be priceless to others going through a hard time. Any small action could create a ripple effect, to become a ray of sunshine on someone’s cloudy day, to inspire, to give hope. Love doesn’t have to be romantic. It’s innate in all of us, we were born to love, yet taught to be cautious and nervous. With many things, rather than to let society and media mold us and take away what makes us so special, let’s take it back into our hands. Let’s care for one another, love, and do what we can for our fellow brothers and sisters.
This Valentine’s day, maybe for us not being involved in romantic love, maybe we can start to learn the greatest love of all, the love for our fellow human, and learn to love them as we hopefully love ourselves.