If you lack responsibility, you lack love (real love, anyway)
I'm not just spouting philosophical hippy talk about everyone holding hands, doing the right thing and singing a great big song about love (that sounds awfully lazy and irresponsible to me). I'm expressing my own deep frustration with the way people throw around the word "love". If someone (like me) says they're doing something out of "love", that should mean something beyond just a warm and fuzzy feeling wrapped around a vague statement.
If I say I'm cooking with love or that food should be approached with love or that food is a way of showing love, what does any of that really mean? When I talk about love, love does not equal romance and love does not equal kindness - I can do romantic things for someone without showing love and I can do kind things for someone with unkind ulterior motives. So before I write even one more post about love or about food, let me give you the working definitions I have for love:
- In the most basic sense, love is doing the right thing (and not just the right thing for you!) with the right motives (i.e. not motivated by selfishness or self-gratification)
- As a direct result, love leads to responsibility (i.e. embracing and following-through on what you know you can and should do to fulfill a need or demand made known to you)
I say no, you are not a loving person because your irresponsibility is hurting someone around you. Hurting someone through irresponsibility is not the same as unintentionally hurting someone despite doing the right things with the right motives. Irresponsibility means you knew what the right action was, you were capable of doing it, yet you neglected to do it - and if you neglected to do something you knew you should do, this shows you can't be bothered to care which means you're not showing love.
But this is a blog so you can disagree with me. You can write comments in all caps and extol the virtues of responsibility-free love. You can even tweet passionate rebuttals my way.
The below scenarios are heavy-handed, clearly biased to make you draw specific conclusions and likely to trigger intense negative reactions from a lot of people, so consider yourself warned. If you make it to the end, you'll no doubt be shaking your fist and sputtering the phrase "how dare you!" But I'm just questioning responsibility (in a very structured and biased way).
Just because I might know how I should behave (responsibly), it doesn't mean I always follow my own advice. A lot of the time, I'm the douche bag not behaving responsibly (not showing love). But I should recognize where I fall short and take responsibility for my shortfalls and do the right thing from here on out. You know - love more.
So here's my rather biased scenario(s) for your consideration:
Meet my fictitious cousin, Alex. He's 26 years old, he's in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend of 5 years and his job is a plant supervisor at a major tire company. He's about to be a new dad and he says his greatest priority is his family.
- My cousin knows alcohol and smoke is particularly bad during pregnancy, so he tries to limit his girlfriend's exposure to either. For example, he leaves his girlfriend to safely rest at home while he goes to the bar with his friends. He says he needs to get away from the hormones. (Responsible or irresponsible?)
- My cousin also knows transfats are likely to lead to obesity, heart disease and other health-related issues, so he makes sure his girlfriend has a transfat-free diet. He wants the baby to be healthy. But my cousin continues to eat McDonald's at lunch and twinkies for snacks. (Responsible or irresponsible?)
- My cousin feels he should provide for his girlfriend and baby, so he gets a second job so he can afford new furniture for the baby's room (instead of his parents' used stuff) and an SUV with more airbags. My cousin isn't worried about saving for the baby's college years or medical emergencies - his girlfriend has government-paid health care and he never needed a college education. (Responsible or irresponsible?)
- My cousin says he wants to lose weight (around 75 lbs) so he'll have the energy to play with the baby. He decides on a low carb, high protein diet to help him shed weight fast because he (and his whole family) has always had weight issues and he's never liked vegetables. He still drinks but only light beer (or diet soda mixers), he still eats McDonald's for lunch but discards the bun, and he still eats twinkies but just the cream filling. He says a complete dietary change (i.e. more fiber, more nutrient-rich foods, less processed food, less transfats) would never work for him because he wouldn't be able to stick with it for 50+ years. Besides, it's unnecessary because he's already lost about 15 lbs in one month - by the time the baby arrives, he'll be at his goal weight. (Responsible or irresponsible?)
Ok, the horse is dead. Love is defined my way. Moving on. But do you think my cousin is doing the right things with the right motives? Do you think he's a responsible chap? Is he (truly) a loving chap?