Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about unconditional love and whether external circumstances could turn that love into hate, disgust, or regret? I had always believed that the real thing couldn’t be swayed by infidelity, abuse, or lying. My sentiments were of the opinion that if it was real nothing or no one could ever make it disappear.
Lately, I’ve been noticing how my ideas and thoughts are a progression of an extended ideology, and that this extended ideology could easily be traced back a few hundred years. I had been thinking that unconditional love was an altruistic experience that only the few could achieve. And such ideas left me feeling more powerful when I was able to forgive or turn the other cheek.
However, my experience has taught me that people are unpredictable, sad, and fascinating. The harm that is often done toward another human being can at times seem unforgivable and unforgettable. Just maybe… some people don’t need or want to be forgiven.
The conversation with my friend left me pondering whether or not unconditional love was a realistic response to people who chose to behave in an unkind fashion. Was turning the other cheek just a way of not responding in kind to violence, or abuse but not quite the same as saying that no matter what I will continue to love you.
I suppose that turning the other cheek when your husband has knowingly infected you with the HIV virus is admirable and to many, the right thing to do. My friend says that you can turn your cheek until your head does a 360 degree turn but unconditional love is a myth in certain circumstances.
What about the stranger who has managed to destroy your world of peace? How do you forgive the person who killed your child, raped your daughter, or murdered your husband? But even more so, how do you forgive the person who claims to love you but instead hurts you beyond measure?
If you can’t do the unconditional thing, does that make you somehow less of an evolved human being? If you can only turn the other cheek but refuse to forgive or love someone who has hurt you beyond repair, does that make you wrong or put you in the same class as them?
I suppose my friend had a valid point. I tried to think of the worse thing that could be done unto me and to determine whether or not I could continue with a loving feeling and attitude despite circumstances. I reflected on how my own life had been changed and marked by tragedy. Horrific things had been done unto me. I have seen and felt and know to this day that evil spreads through the actions and thoughts of people.
My life has been a consistent turning of the cheek. Not so much due to Godliness as it has been to powerlessness. Living as a woman in a man’s world diminishes my worth and value as an equal human being in the eyes of not only men but women as well. A world in which my body continues to define me, gives little relevance to my thoughts and opinions as a whole.
Yes. I’ve been turning my cheek, it seems, all of my life but I can’t say that I love you despite what you have done unto me … girls … and other women. I can choose to walk a different path, be a different kind of person. I can even choose to forgive you, but love is a rather big ideal for such a small reality as yours.