“If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question?” –Lily Tomlin
Hippie, Christian, patriotic, republican, gay, ritual, democrat, healing, spiritual, reborn, pagan, family, love. These are just a few stolen words. A word becomes stolen when one group claims it as theirs (therefore holding the definition for others) or, it is stolen when we come to agree to a limited meaning of a word taking it away from a more complex and rich meaning. Love for example. I have witnessed that word routinely misused. Does love really mean never having to say you’re sorry? Does it mean to always be in agreement with the other? Can it ever mean, “This hurts me more than it hurts you?” What are you saying when you say, “I love you?” What do you assume when it is said to you? Is love really forever, like diamonds?
One way to claim a stolen word is to use it in ways that others resist. This would include those words that some group has taken possession of and yet you want to lay some claim to it as well, such as patriotic or reborn. For example, I consider peaceful demonstrations as patriotic. This challenges the more customary use of the word. When someone mentions being reborn I no longer jump to a religious conclusion. People can be reborn in numerous ways. How about being reborn to new ideas?
The other way to lay claim to a stolen word is to find a more compelling and extraordinary word to take its place.
I would suggest that we use another word other than “love,” as a way to understand and describe our intimate relationship with another. In place of love consider having an affinity for the other person. This word suggests an accordance and harmony with the other, something you can actually measure a relationship with. It speaks more to having a kinship with some one rather than focusing on the emotionally laden concept of love.
You can claim all sorts of hideous actions as patriotic or loving when they are neither. Apparently you can “love” someone you don’t even respect. When you hold an affinity for someone, respect is part of the equation. I am not suggesting that you replace saying, “I have an affinity for you,” in place of, “I love you.” Just the same, if you did it may lead to a very intriguing and worthwhile conversation. In comparison, the words “I love you” are thrown about like compliments at a wedding. We build assumptions on the words, “I love you,” while too often lacking in an authentic connection with the other.
Don’t you care for my love? she said bitterly.
I handed her the mirror,
Please address these questions to the proper person!
Please make all requests to headquarters!
In all matters of emotional importance
Please approach the supreme authority direct!–
So I handed her the mirror. –D.H. Lawrence