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Where is the love?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Let’s give love a try
Let love control, control your destiny
Owe it to ourselves, yes we do
to live happy eternally.
Sweet love is what we’re searching for
And love is what we’re looking for
Now that I’ve got it right here in my hand
I’m gonna spread it all over the land.

—Now That We Found Love, Third World


Now I was showing the mother the other day how to use Skype so that we can keep in touch when I’m away. Her immediate response is to start crying, as for her this is a sign that I have no intention of returning any time soon. I didn’t at all expect that response, although why would I expect anything else from my bizarrely awesome mother is beyond me.


As much as I pretend to resent her relentless parenting, I am relieved that I have the mother that I do. That she is an exceptional cook, has no wrinkles at her age and still finds time to be my mother is at once annoying and an absolute blessing. Which is not to say that she is infallible. Which is not to say that I am the best daughter or human being I can possibly be at all times. Whatever our shortcomings as people and my intolerance of her commitment to my continued survival, she is my mother forever.


I can’t imagine being one of those people for whom a mother is an alien thing. A weak and manipulative hand-wringing sort. I can’t imagine that a mother could be anything less than loving to the point of insanity, over-protective to the point of irrational.


I have no frame of reference for this kind of endless love that has no off switch or expiry date. As much as I love my one impressive niece and several awesome neph-ews, I didn’t carry them, they arrived whole and hearty as gifts from my sisters that I can take or leave.


But what’s not to love about children? They are like little orbs of energy dancing through our lives, assuring us that life is worth living. What’s not to love about their smiles and their constant wonder at the world? What’s not love about their experiments and their wild imaginations and their incessant naughtiness?


Here is my fear as a not-yet mother. That I will be one of those that doesn’t love my children. That I will not bond with my offspring. That I will see something revolting in this thing that I have created. That its presence might reawaken some past frustration, some deep-seated fear. And that I will destroy a whole human being because of my own shortcomings. How do you legislate such things? 


How do you legislate love for children in a country where we can even imagine doing such horrible things to the people we love? I fear that this hate disease is catching. That there is something in the air or the water that is making more and more of us so depraved. That I might be the kind of mother who sees her child getting slapped and doesn’t act.


Hate is a renewable resource in our communities. Hate is second nature for so many of us, maybe the rest of us who want to love will become the abnormal ones soon. Sometimes there are no cycles of violence that need to be broken. Sometimes poverty is not the catalyst, because I know lots of rich people’s children who are dying for some of the love that I wish I could get away from sometimes.


Sometimes race and class are non-issues. And what you are left with is the spirit of a place and a people. And if the people have no love for their own then no laws, no jail sentences, no hangman will convince them that killing their children is wrong.


For the thousands of named and unnamed children who suffer abuse everyday at the hands of adults, love is an unknown variable. And I don’t know what is more sick, that it’s taken us this long to pass legislation in the form of the Children Bill or that we need it in the first place.


For the thousands of named and unnamed children who have died because some adult violated their right to their own bodies, this legislation is too late, too little from a country that should, if it is really committed to the future, be investing everything into making the lives of children safer.


We are learning a lot about maths and lot about language and a lot about being very educated. Or about creating happiness and peace in our homes. Or about what it means to be a whole hu-man being. We have laws. But what is the point of laws that do not teach us how to love ourselves enough to ensure our own future?


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