Love is subversive. Recently, Sagarika Ghose wrote eloquently on her blog, Bloody Mary, that “…in our country [India] love has always been a socially revolutionary force destroying taboos of caste, class and religion.” She is by no means the first to notice that peculiar fact about love.
When the notion of romantic love entered Western Culture around 1200 C.E., the Catholic Church adamantly opposed it on the grounds that love was subversive of the medieval social order. And today, in India, reactionary groups like the Sri Ram Sena are just as set against love as was once the Catholic Church, and for pretty much the same reasons.
Those who think the established social order is usually more important than the needs of the individuals who make up society quite often support artificial limits on love. They try to bind the hearts of men and women, legislating such things as, “You can love someone of your own race, but not someone of another race”, or “You can love someone of another gender, but not someone of your own gender”, or “You can love someone of your own religion, but not someone of another religion.” But such rules are not laws of the heart.
Yet, as many of us know, love is subversive of much more than the social order. Our love for someone can, in the right circumstances, lead us to question the whole range of our core values and beliefs. It can lead us to question who we are, and to even inquire into the very nature of the self. If water can be called the universal solvent of the chemical world, love can be called the universal solvent of the psychological world.
It is love, perhaps more than anything else in this world, that offers us rebirth. Human nature is such that, without periodic rebirth, we stagnate and psychologically die: As Dylan sang, “He’s not busy being born is busy dying”. Those who fear too much the subversive powers of love, often wind up stagnating.