I saw a sticker on a car that said, “All You Need Is Love.” It was printed with a tie-dye design, with lettering circa 1970’s. A very nostalgic, Magic Mushroom, vibe was attached to the meme like design. At first glance, it is a neat saying. But like most bumper sticker/meme tag lines, it falls down when logic is applied.
First of all, to whom or what does the “you” in the incomplete sentence apply? Me? People? Dogs? Aliens? What kind of love is needed? Is it needed, or wanted, and how will it change anything? Exactly what is the expected outcome of the love? How will it change or complete the life of the “you” mentioned in the blurb? I don’t know about most people, but I need a lot more than love in my life to exist, survive, be at peace, and live a healthy life.
To begin with, I need all the basics of survival. I need air, water, food, and shelter. Without those, love isn’t going to do me a bit of good. It won’t replace the need to breathe, and it sure won’t give me the moisture I need to replace what my body has to have to live. Water is one of those things that is more important that love. I can’t live without food either. Love won’t replace the energy I need to do things like walk and hunt for food and water. I can do without shelter as long as it isn’t too hot or cold. But if the weather changes, I need a place to get warm, and a fire will trump love in a contest of survival.
Love is a luxury when it comes to survival in the harsh reality of life. Before love became a “thing” everyone strives for, people came together who were compatible to survive together. A woman looked for a man who was strong, capable of protecting and hunting for the survival of the woman and offspring. It didn’t matter if he was sensitive and understanding, it didn’t matter if he was as ugly as a mud fence. It didn’t matter how well spoken, or how well dressed he was, what mattered was if he could do his share of work for the family. A man looked for a woman who could gather or grow food, medicine, and herbs that she would use to feed the family. She needed to know how to help dress out the animals he killed, build a fire and keep it going, cook, and take care of the illnesses that might come along. She didn’t have to be sexy, pretty, or wear the hottest new clothes. She needed to know how to nurture the family and the man who helped provide for her. They bonded by surviving and bearing children together. They took care of each other, and love wasn’t even a word in their vocabulary.
Love was a luxury between men and women who mated with each other via marriage and ceremony right up until the twentieth century. Only once survival wasn’t tied to living from hand to mouth, hunting and gathering, did love become part of the lexicon for couples. Oh, yes, it was bandied about for centuries, but when it came right down to it, survival was always more important. Women married successful men or married into successful families, men married for social advantages, and often for money. Love was for mistresses and lovers, not the spouse. Fidelity was a fluid commodity, often something that applied legally, but not morally, throughout many societies.
Then along came modern love. No longer did men and women need to marry or mate for survival, Movies, books, advertisements, media all made love a glowing part of finding a spouse or mate. Linked to that love was romance and sexual attraction. Suddenly the way a woman looked was more important than how she acted and what she could do. Men needed not only to be successful, they needed to be handsome, well built, and oh, my, sexy. When the two of them met, they had to be eye-crossing sexually attracted to one another. Then boom, love was in the air. That trend has continued since.
However, human beings cannot survive on love alone. We still must work together as a couple, whatever that looks like, to have air, food, water, and shelter today just as we have from the beginning of time. The way we get those may have changed, but we still have to support our partner and they have to support us in those endeavors. Many people still marry for protection, many join each other to maintain a healthy way of life. Some people marry because they are lonely, some because it is expected. At the end of the day, love is still a luxury, even a necessity, but everyone needs much more to survive and thrive.
This is one of my favorite love songs, from Fiddler on the Roof, Do You Love Me? Enjoy.