It’s official. I have permanently moved unconditional love over to the con column with colorblind and tolerant. People claim these traits with pride and expect me to be impressed or grateful. I’m neither. Instead, I am confused – sometimes insulted and angry. Elements of each concept hurt recipients, who often suffer in silence since our society gives a blind nod to buzz words that sound nice despite the fact that their existence proves the opposite of what their users meant to imply.
If someone tolerates me, that means he does not like or appreciate me so he will fake a smile through gritted teeth and do his best to convince the world that he is a good guy for being dishonest. He might fool a few people when he boasts about his white, middle-aged, liberal, female friend but he will not convince me – the person who matters. I will hear negativity and feel disdain, and I will know that I am included when he talks about the other white, middle-aged, liberal females he dislikes. I prefer honesty.
Colorblind drives me crazier. Unless totally blind and maybe partially deaf as well, people should recognize features and customs that identify what the self-proclaimed colorblind boast that they are unable to see. I respect people who appreciate color as part of the rainbow that decorates the world. I like people who purposely collect unique individuals instead of restricting admission to only those who meet a ridiculous colorless-blob criterion. The only honest reason for denying the ability to discern color, since that implies there must be something wrong with certain colors, would be to hide bias. Hiding the truth from others is not an act of kindness.
Unconditional love starts on the premise that others are willing to share belief in something that probably does not exist and absolutely is not verifiable, the same as belief in a god, which makes the use of God as the epitome of unconditional love both pertinent and baffling. Unconditional love is always based on a condition, which will reveal itself within a few questions if pursued. The quickest route I have discovered is to thank the person who brags about unconditional love for sharing your love of child molesters, people who eat kittens for breakfast, Jehovah’s witnesses who show up at the door bright and early on Saturday mornings, and drug dealing prostitutes. I can almost promise immediate proof that you, along with these others, are excluded from her fold of unconditional love recipients.
Unconditional love sounds good on the surface (which is why it is so popular) but no one knows for certain there will never be a breaking point. I can say love never dies since I have not stopped loving anyone but that would be the same as saying love at first sight, death, and winning lotteries do not exist because I have not yet experienced them. At best, it’s a wild guess. I can say that my child could never do anything that would change my love for her but until she drinks my last Coke, votes Republican, stabs her sister in the back, or goes on a bank-robbing spree, it’s only a guess.
Claims related to unconditional love for family are the ones that annoy me most. The obvious condition, of course, is that the recipient of this glorious gift be family. In growing numbers evidenced by fertility medicine, that would be blood family born at controlled times. Me and mine, now – the American dream.
In some families, unconditional love excuses principles, intelligence, honesty, fairness, questions, and apologies. It fails to recognize actions so, thanks to unconditional love, nothing means anything. Or everything means nothing. The person who has always been honest with everyone will receive the same respect as the pathological liar, unless the honest person points out a few lies in which case he will be labeled a troublemaker and expected to take it back. Someone who waltzes in once a decade or so when she needs something will walk out with everything, leaving empty-handed the ones who have been there every day of every year for everyone. Child abuse? Substance abuse? Elderly abuse? Doesn’t matter if calling out the abuse will shatter the image of a big, happy, unconditionally loving family. Better to lose a few to only the good die young or spend eternity scratching the head and saying, “Gotta love ‘em,” than to shatter the façade and do the hard work of saving them.
For many, the same protections spill over to politics. Only traitors doubt the country or the President. Want to abuse the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the sick? Want to kill innocent people in foreign countries? Unconditional love is the ticket.
Unpopular as it might be to admit this, I state openly now that my love comes with conditions. Everyone (including people I don’t know and drug-dealing prostitutes) gets my love from the start, but there are conditions. How I respond to the person or use that love will depend on the actions of the individuals. My love does not excuse lies, does not require me to spend time with people who mistreat me, does not mean I will defend people above principles or family over strangers. It does not guarantee my silence when I see something wrong, and it does not mean blood or birth ties trump allegiance to like-minded or kindred spirits. I can love people and find their behavior unacceptable and their company undesirable. And I don’t know that I might not wake up one day unloving half of the people I loved yesterday.
I’m okay with that.