A long time ago, I was introduced to the story of The Lovings. It’s a love story, so their last name couldn’t be more fitting. They were a couple like any other, a man named Richard and a woman named Mildred who wanted to spend the rest of their waking days together. They wanted to raise a family and live peacefully together in their home state of Virginia. So they did what any couple in love does and recited their vows to form a legal and loving union. And it all was lovely and as it should be, except the year was 1958, Richard was white, Mildred was black and in their home state of Virginia, interracial marriage was illegal.
Many of you have not heard of Loving v. Virginia, and the fight one couple battled so they could remain in a blessed and legal union in a place they both resided. In fact, they had traveled to Washington DC just to get married and, upon returning home, were arrested for living together and convicted and sentenced to one year in prison. This sentence was suspended only under the condition – that neither could return to their home state of Virginia for 25 years.
I know some of you may be thinking, ‘What was Virginia thinking? How could they possibly enforce such a law?’. But the simple fact is that similar laws were in place in more than half of our 50 states throughout the 1950s and remained intact in 16 states (16 states!) in our country up until the year 1967. Until that year, marrying a person ‘of color’ was illegal. It was the case of Loving v. Virginia that finally overturned this law. 1967. That is less than 50 years ago. Less than 50 years ago, we were preventing human beings from marrying and ARRESTING them because of their love for one another.
I know this all sounds familiar in a very apparent parallel today. We have the same battle of people loving each other and wanting to commit their lives to each other while being told they cannot do so. The repercussions are different, but the idea is similar. Whether you agree or disagree on this current issue is not for me to judge or say, but it did get me thinking.
What does love look like? I know this may seem a silly question, but clearly we, as a people, have a history of basing opinions off of what love looks like. So, what does love LOOK like? You may argue it doesn’t look like anything; it’s a feeling, an emotion. But I don’t believe that to be fully true. So I’m posing this question: What does love look like to you?
Is it a sound? A color? A voice? A thought? An action? Is it in the entwined hands of an elderly couple on a park bench? Is it the dropping of change into a homeless person’s cup? Is it taking a sick friend to chemotherapy? Is it a phone call to say ‘I’m thinking about you’? Is it the sound of your baby breathing in his or her crib? Is it the wagging of your dog’s tail? Is it anger towards a family member (because you wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t care)? Is it the will to live? Is it two men adopting their first child together? Is it best friends up all night giggling? Is it the ability to accept ourselves with all of our imperfections? Is it in your words? Is it in your hugs? Is it in a listening ear?
So think about it. I’d love to know. What does love look like to you? And while you’re at it, what do you hope your love looks like to others?
Image via astrologyandkarma.com