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The Love Challenge - the love of those we care for

Updated: Jan 26, 2020

We have started the year by posting a post about a different kind of love on Facebook each day, just to remind us, how many types of love are out there for us to give and be grateful for! This is Installment number 4!

The Love Challenge - The Love for those we take care of Initially, I wanted to call it the love for children, but then I realized that while children are one way to create and procreate, it is not the only way, and it also excludes some who are loved just as unconditionally and with as much devotion as people are meant to love their children. Then I wanted to call it the love of creation or procreation, but that reminds more of the act - which we'll come briefly to one other day - then the loving outcome, it also excludes some who are very relevant and just as loved, and the discussion gets very metaphysical at some point and may upset some for no reason and be totally irrelevant to others. So I went for the emotion I am really after, which is the unconditional love for those in our care. This may indeed be our physical children, and for a lot of people they are of course a tremendous source of love, security, and significance, although just as in all other forms of love, if we are out to get rather than to give unconditionally, no matter what comes back, we will sooner or later be in trouble, certainly when teenagers go through the normal stages of development. If we are unhappy with our children it is sometimes a good test to ask ourselves why - are we unhappy because we want the best for our children, because we don't want them to get hurt, because we want them to be joyful, healthy, and happy and to develop into the best they can be, and we see that the path they are on doesn't lead them there, or is it really about us? If your first thought is "What will the neighbour's think of ME if my child does "x", then you may want to take a good look if the benefit of your child is really your priority. Don't get me wrong, I am not telling anyone to upset neighbours deliberately or not be respectful of their feelings, but shushing, or hitting, or ignoring a crying child without finding out the cause of the pain, simply to avoid one's own embarrassment may not necessarily be an expression of unconditional love. There is a place for (the appropriate form of) discipline, but there is also a place to defend those we love, even if it does not make us look good

Honor can be a good value, but if one's own honor and self-worth is tied to one's children behaving a certain way, it can be very hard on the children and it can be the antithesis of love. A father punishing his daughter for HAVING BEEN raped, because he thinks she brought shame on him, is the obvious extreme form of this kind of selfishness (and if anyone feels upset about this comment, feel free to be upset - there are selfish fathers and fathers who love unconditionally in all cultures, so this is not a cultural comment), but there are more subtle forms of this, which, if you pay close attention, you can see in every day life all the time. However, if we truly love our children unconditionally, it can give us tremendous joy. The same goes for adopted children who know even more than physical children that they were chosen, that they weren't an accident, that their parents oftentimes went to tremendous lengths to be approved to be their parents, parents who oftentimes have to prove that unconditional love even more, especially when there was previous trauma involved. For others it is the children of neighbours and friends they take care of, when the parents don't have time, they are they official aunties of the generation, without which a lot of families could not exist, or nuns, who take care of orphans, while yet others open their doors and houses to the abandoned of other species. The same as above applies, though, not everyone who has a pet in his home may be motivated by unconditional love. If you have a pet in your home because you see it as some sort of appliance to service you, or worse, something weaker to bully, or something to bully the weaker with, you will have a very different experience than if you genuinely open your home to a pet or wildlife out of unconditional love, and in some cases, Karma can end up being quite obvious. But if you do it out of unconditional love, it can be one of the most joyful experiences you will ever have. The last group, the group without human children has a special place in society, and by no means an unimportant one. Some research I read a while ago mentioned that no matter the cultural values, or the financial standing of a culture as a whole, or the time period, there are always about 11% of the population who remain without physical children and instead take care of important functions in society that those with physical children cannot take care of in the same way, because they are busy with their own family. Some with physical children do take care of these things, but then neglect their own children, which is when the aunties and second parents come in. A group that stable suggests that it is a biological function, and for those who wanted children but who remained childless it may be comforting to know that the reason was not that they were not needed - they ARE needed, they just have to figure out where and in which form, and how to give that unconditional love or who or what to care for, and if they remember that, in addition, procreation does not have to be physical but can take many forms, they may find that they have just as much to give and contribute in the life they have as in the life they envisioned. Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa all created something which makes a huge difference in lots of people's lives today - but whether the men had children or not, and what impact they had, most people may not even know, except those who were directly impacted, and it is doubtful that mother Teresa would have had the time to take the risks she took, had she had her own children. That doesn't mean that everyone who is childless can or will become like one of these 4, but not everyone with children becomes like one of these 4 either. We all have unconditional love to give, and we can all find someone who needs that love, if we look hard enough. And if you can't find anyone who appreciates what you have to contribute - move or get creative! This type of love, along with the previous ones, can be a true test but also one of the highest forms of being alive - as anything truly great and magnificent, it can be abused, but if we develop it to its peek, it will take us with it!

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