Nurturing is the Nature of Love
A less abstract understanding of love
Love is a tangible thing. Those who have experienced it know they have experienced it. Still, it’s an overly used and sometimes abused word. Manipulative people can talk of ‘love’ to yank your chains. For example, ‘if you really loved me, you’d…’
Cult leaders and bliss-ninny’s of positive psychology can talk of unconditional love (boundary-less love) that becomes so idealized, so abstracted and so undiscerning that it becomes distorted into an abusive form of thought-policing and/or self-destruction.
With all thought-policing, control of language is essential. Language is intimately tied to how we think. So how might we simply, succinctly, demystify the concept of love?
While we can try to define what love is and isn’t, investigate its etymology or its more specific definitions among Ancient Greek culture, I think there is another perfectly good English word that can serve as a less abstract substitute for the word love. That word is nurture.
What is nurturing is truly loving. I believe this applies throughout all of the Greek conceptions of love: agape, philos and, yes, eros.
‘Nurture’ is defined as:
The fostering or overseeing of the development of something
To encourage or help develop; cultivate
To provide sustenance for; nourish
Nurturing is an act, and as such it’s much more concrete. It’s an easier framework for our mind’s to make sense of. We can run in circles all day asking questions about what true love is, and what love is all about. But to nurture is a basic, healthy instinct. We all have the instinct. And we don’t really need heaps of books, poets and philosophers to understand it.
The opposite of nurturing - to deprive, neglect, subdue, repress or destroy - are also more concrete ways of understand love’s opposite.
So, love yourself. Nurture your mind, body and soul. Pursue your passions and curiosities. Nurture those around you. Nurture the environment you find yourself in. Life will never be a sunny utopia of sunshine and rainbows. We will be confronted with many crises. But we must never give in to helplessness. We can still grow and mature in this lifetime, and help others on their way.