Why “Love Conquers All” Isn’t an Airy Quote Reserved for Dreamers and the Religious
The saying that ‘love conquers all’ might be known as a feel-good statement, but really—selfless love is everlasting and can overcome all.
How Virgil’s words are ever-relevant in a world coping with the murder of George Floyd and mass killings globally.
The saying that ‘love conquers all’ might be known as a feel-good statement that women offer their best friend after a bad breakup or an optimistically tone-deaf quote that suggests there is nothing that a smile and hug can’t fix. Some feel that because relationships founded by ‘true love’ can end from sexual incompatibility or because familial bonds break apart over heated arguments, that these words cannot be true.
The issue with this type of thinking is that it misses the invaluable lesson hidden beneath those postcard-worthy words. It fails to comprehend what love truly means. Skimming through Quora you’ll be met with debates over the sincerity of one-sided love. Many posit that if you’ve been cheated on, it means love wasn’t enough. It’s true—the person who cheated on their partner didn’t love enough, and neither did the person who couldn’t forgive—because true love is selfless. This isn’t a new concept, either. In the words of Martin Luther King Junior, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.” These words ring as true today as they did in the 1960s. And with the recent reignition of Black Lives Matter protests and political debates—
The value of love, as a weapon for revolution, should not be underestimated.
Whether you look at it from a Christian or scientific perspective—the underlying foundation points to the same message. Selfless love is everlasting and can overcome all—especially the inhumane actions that inhabit our world. Here are snippets from both perspectives on the definition of true love. Belief.net shares the bible scripture Corinthians 13: 4-8, which states: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy… it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” PsychAlive likewise shares the characteristics of true love, being: openness, understanding, non-defensiveness, and respect for boundaries. What do they share in common? Selflessness. It is not allowing one’s emotional reactions (such as cheating or killing) to get in the way of being the bigger person.
When we look at recent tragedies like the brutal killing of George Floyd, the Nova Scotia shootings, or terrorist incidents, we ask the question:
What is lacking? Love.
If Derek Chauvin had more love in his heart for all races—if he put love over his fear of the unknown, George Floyd would still be alive today. The victims of the Nova Scotia shootings, likewise. We wouldn’t have massive economic inequality with children working for rice on one end of the world and celebrities purchasing mansions on the other.
That simply wouldn’t happen in a world full of only pure love and choosing to put others above ourselves. I’m not here to say it’s simple, but I am here to say that change is possible.
So yes. Love does conquer all. Are we capable of it? Yes. Will we rise to the challenge? I hope so. But in a world that applauds self-centered tendencies-like excessive consumerism and rat-race competition—more than acts of selflessness, well perhaps, we aren’t off to a good start.
Our world needs us to be brave, to be kind, to be forgiving. Our world needs us to not forget that hate forged in our past (collectively and individually) continues to drag us into a deeper and darker hole. If we start climbing, towards what we know in our hearts is the better way, we might be able to start anew.
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