Friday, 14 September 2007

Who Has The Universal Concept Of Love ?

Born into a fairly conservative Chinese family, it has always been a problem grappling with the concept of Love as the west and western-oriented writers/influential personalities would go at great length to enlighten us on.

The word, Love, as we casually and commonly used it in our daily lives; has been obscured or adulterated beyond recognition - either commercially, romantically, lyrically, etceteras.

In my traditional Chinese family, we seldom, if any talked about Love; let alone reflected on each and every cause and effect from the perspective of genuine love as painstakingly defined by some writers.
My father succumbed to cancer when I was barely a year-old. My lecturer was right when he remarked during his Q & A session; that, if the inevitable had to happen, it would be better for the person to lose the parent before he could realise the Love from his parent.

In my case, I never will fully appreciate what is fatherly Love. Mother had to work to support my brother and I. My uncles had volunteered to see us through our growing up, but mother felt that we had to pull through together and independently.

Indirectly, my mother had fostered in me the need to be independent at a tender age. My brother and I were left very much on our own during the daytime when my mother had to work in the factory.

I was forced by circumstance to remain strong and independent, and not by genuine love……..There was no grandparents’ Love as they were either residing in China or had already passed on. What was mother’s Love like then ?

Well, I remember more occasions of beating; especially when examinations’ results were out, then when there was showering of Love. There were instances when I cursed at her for severely beating me up when I felt strongly that I was wrongly and mistakenly dealt with.

But, those were moments of great injustice as I felt it then. I never held it to mind. My mother was overly concerned that I might go astray if I was not severely dealt with for any apparent misbehaviour.

That was the harsh environment that I had during my growing up years. My mother firmly believed that sparing the rod, and you spoiled the child. Writers might argue that this is an Asian instance of genuine love.

Stretched to its limits, one may also argue that using the rod is a means to an end - my mother loved me so much that she had to endure the pain at heart when she inflicted the physical pain on me to ensure that I take the right path in my life. Is it a case of genuine love to see me grow up to be a good son ?

Whichever it is, it would be interesting to understand what crossed my mother’s mind when she lifted the rod and brought it down on me. Was it genuine love or an act of responsibility from a mother to see her child behaved responsibly and obediently as Confucius’ Teachings would have it. How am I to know ?

My mother had passed on in 2003. Academically, it would be great intellectual stimulation to reconcile the different approaches. But, I would rather let it rest, because I trust that my mother had my well-being at heart even though she might not be thinking along the same line as some westerners.
A western writer was right in concluding that there were probably other dimensions of Love that had yet to be uncovered as there were some who had grown up to be loving beings even though they were deprived of genuine love in their growing up years.

On reflection, I was able to transcend the negativism to become a stronger and loving character. My childhood’s loneliness transformed me into a caring and highly independent personality.

Often, I was surprised with my own spontaneity and readiness to help others in despair and in grief. I thrived on new and unfamiliar scenarios, and would be bored by routines and unchallenging ventures. What I found wanting during my growing up years, I ensured that others did not suffer likewise - be it justice, welfare, or well-being.

At times, so fervent was the drive within me that it was detrimental to my own career development and survival in the commercial wilderness.

I have no regrets for the setbacks. I am committed to the well-being and progress of those around me, be it at work or otherwise. It is not a situation of realising through others what I was deprived of.

Rather, it has to do with the fostering and inculcating of the right virtues and values within my immediate and extended families. These are virtues and values that have been widely personified by popular characters and heroes in the Chinese classics and legendary anecdotes.

For instance, my mother made much self-sacrifice for my sake; and I reciprocated by incessantly making efforts to bring her the joys and glories to vindicate her selfless determination to see me through during my growing up years.

Some might argue that this is guilt. Maybe and maybe not! As of now, my conscience is clear; and it must be that great virtue of filial piety that I uphold.

These well-entrenched virtues and values are not without their negative impact either. The risk of confronting elders and those in authority did not come easy for me. How was I to reconcile with the need to respect all elders?

To circumvent this odd-ward situation, I had to be mindful of the choice of words used in conveying my messages, instructions, and/or recommendations. It worked well for me.

Love was in the air as we celebrated yet another Valentine’s Day on 14 February 2007. Love messages and intriguing write-ups abound in the local media.

While I detest the senseless exorbitant prices and commercial extravaganza associated with the occasion, I am all in favour of some romance in one’s Love life.

Romantic Love may not be genuine love, but genuine love for a couple in Love need not necessarily be devoid of romance. I am all in favour of spicing up one’s Love life.

I am into the fourth year of my marriage, and my only regret is my inability to find more time to smell the roses with my wife. We have no children, but I strongly believe that my childhood’s experience would not preclude me from giving my Love as a loving father would to his children.

Devoid of my father’s Love need not necessarily mean that I could not give Love to my children. It may not be identical to the experience that I gained from my father, but I could always find ways to Love my children in my own way.
Love as I experienced it in my own unique ways and circumstances, is certainly more intricate and intriguing than some westerners’ mystery of Love.

Besides the misconceptions identified by some western writers, there is the complication brought about by a shift in paradigm over cultural boundaries.

Whether or not it was genuine love that saw me through my growing-up years, and my disposition of it in my grown-up years is immaterial. Why quarrel over nomenclature ? After all, I have entered a new life; and am nurturing an intimate relationship with my Lord.

I have a new role-model in Jesus Christ to look up to for guidance, grace and blessings in abundance.

In witnessing for Him, I must be naturally loving to all others; and be perceived as such by all others. It is God’s Love that prevails above all others.

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