Have you ever had to distance yourself from someone that you care about? Sometimes in life we are exposed to something referred to as a “toxic relationship”. A toxic relationship as defined by the term coiner Dr. Lillian Glass, is “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, or where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness”. Toxic relationships are birthed out of a discrepancy between two or more party’s understanding of the concept of love.
Love is the same no matter how you encounter it, and we all demonstrate it in our lives to a varying degree. What happens is we become desensitized to what love really is because we live in a world where people declare that they “love” everyone and everything. The Bible tells us exactly what love is:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Ask yourself, did you really love that cup of coffee that you had, or did you just enjoy it? Do you love your phone or are you just grateful for it? Did you truly love that movie or did you just like how it made you feel? People are falling more in love with things and less in love with each other. The Bible also tells us that the love of many is growing cold as the years continue.
This implies two things, that one, there is a base level of love that we all individually and instinctively have, and two, people in the 1800s arguably had a higher capacity of love than we do today in the 2000s. I would argue that a possible reason for this, if it were found to be scientifically accurate through research and experimentation would be because people are simply just not as intertwined with each other as they once were.
In today’s world you are not obligated to know your neighbor. In fact, to a more or less degree, you are encouraged to not know your neighbor. The flavor of the day is isolation. We are constantly propagandized and radicalized to distance ourselves from our fellow human beings; and I am not talking about any old joe schmo, I am talking about your literal next-door neighbor, the person in front of you on the grocery line, or the person standing next to you as you wait for your deli sandwich. The fear of ‘stranger danger’ is at an all-time high.
And not to conflate two issues but I also think that it is interesting to note that at the same time, the United Sates in particular is experiencing a spike in crime like never before, and unhealthy conversations about race are being held in some of the highest institutions in the land.
Growing up, I was exposed to people being friendly with one another. It was never an event to strike up a conversation with someone that you did not know. Neighbors introduced themselves to one another and being actively engaged in a community was a desire and not a luxury.
Now obviously times have changed (as they do) and society just inherently functions differently, however, the question that I am posing is, what are the ramifications and implications of a society that is falling out of love with their fellow man (human) and falling in love with its merchandise?