As I was finishing my undergraduate studies in the city of London a few years ago, I sat with him over a coffee. Back then I had them white and with sugar. He was doing his PhD, a very smart man. He was talking to me about love. I listened with a respectful grin on my face. Back then love between a man and a woman in my narrow view was no more than a physical attraction backed with respect and common future goals, such a scientific way of looking at it. I have come a long way from that plain understanding. People don’t change; it’s their understanding of how they see the world that does. After all if we are not continuously developing, it’s either because we’re dead, or we are ignorant beyond limits.
I asked him “How can a man forgive a woman for the pain that she had caused him? If it was happening to me, I would never forget nor forgive, I would strike with an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. I am a man with pride and self respect”. I told you I was foolish, my mind did not see but rage and anger back then. For what it’s worth sometimes that’s what’s required to find peace.
He responded, with a gentle smile in brief words “You will redefine self respect and manhood, when you become a self respected man. Your age and experiences are young, everything will happen when the time is right, all I advice you is to keep an open mind”.
At the time I was thinking, is this guy out of his mind, “become a self respected man!!!” I am an educated adult, I have the freedom to do what I want and I would punch him down to the ground for that disrespectful comment if he wasn’t twice my age.
He couldn’t have been more right, my inner reactions were evidentially the behaviour of a child. I couldn’t see past the cloud of ignorance and that just killed my thoughts and behaviour leaving them disabled.
But the answer eventually came. Why should a true gentleman never repay his lady for her pain with pain? Simply, it's love. I had the understanding of the word completely misunderstood, thus the foundation to answering the question in the first time around was false, resulting in every other conclusion to be false. Love is an emotion, its existence is apparent to all that lives. Yet it has many levels. For two people to say “I am in love” does not mean by any means that they have experienced the same emotion. It just means that they both think they hold the same emotion. The purity of the emotion will vary, and so would the sacrifice that comes with it. So I started to wonder, when a son is bad to his mother, why is she never able to repay him with pain? And the answer was hidden right there. The purity of her love is independent of how he acted or reacted.
So the next question I had to answer to myself was: If I love a woman purely would I allow her to cut my heart and permit it, where is the self respect?
The truth is No. You don’t permit it; it’s just that you won’t allow it either. Controlling your anger, being patient, and to walk away till you have control of the situation, to react accordingly without the influence of rage. See self respect is held in a man’s pride of his actions. A real man with a pure emotion is like that mother, can never hurt that he purely loves, for doing so will destruct his pride in his actions at a later point resulting in regret . Thus self respect will be to do the honourable thing. “An eye for an eye” is a concept you use against your enemies not those you hold your love for. To see the reasons for what their misbehaviour is and to contain them when no other human can.
Love comes at a price, the price of putting that you love before yourself. But when it becomes self torture, there are many possibilities as to how you react, depending on the situation, but as a worst case scenario you walk away. Making sure you would never inflict pain on them. Eventually it will come back and inflect pain on you. The thoughts of memories live a life time; they will be your jury judge and executer.
In love, self respect and dignity is in protecting that you love from everything, but most importantly the fire of your own reactions at any price necessary. The strong can and will survive the pain to draw a smile on others, not everyone is looking for a reward, but even those who are, that self respect will be a reward within itself.
Why would anyone go through this complicated emotion called love? Because it’s worth our entire existence.
I have a role model in my life; a man from the Arabian Desert called Mohammed (PBUH), a man that taught me love and patience, a man who when the opportunity came to avenge his enemies he chose to forgive them. Can you imagine what would he have done to those he loved?
To conclude, a man who truly loves could never hurt those that he loves. It’s a sign of strength and wisdom, yet most perceive it as weakness simply because they fail to see the deep logic behind it.
Newcastle - 11/4/2012