Do you have the impression that our society is experiencing a shortage of love? It’s possible that I shouldn’t even pose this question because just contemplating the possibility that we may not have as much love to give as we once did can bring on feelings of melancholy. The thought that we may not have as much love as we once did diminishes our hope in humanity.
Despite the fact that I do not believe there is a tangible way to quantify love, there are clear indications that it is gradually losing its significance in a society. The far greater significance that we assign to money over human beings and to power over human beings is, in my opinion, one of the symptoms that our society may genuinely be running out of love.
However, these are the obvious warning signs. There are thousands of other subtle indications that we may be in danger of losing one of the most important things that is required for humans to exist. Love, care, and affection are things that everyone requires, but it’s possible that many of us aren’t getting enough of them.
One of the topics that has been brought up in recent conversations among my family members is the observation that the connection that used to exist between families and friends when we were younger and in our formative years has weakened.
My family was small; there were only my parents and one sibling in the house when I was growing up. You could say that it was a nucleus family. Even in my own extended family, I have memories of family members showing up at our house completely unexpectedly and staying with us for a week or two at a time. Nobody was required to let anyone know in advance that they would be coming. Even inside our own family, distant family members came to see us rather frequently for no discernible reason.
The majority of Ethiopian households currently include or have previously included extended family members either permanently residing with them or visiting them for extended periods of time. You might find out that they are leaving on the same day that they depart.
Is that something that we still have today? Perhaps this is the case in rural areas.
However, I am almost confident that this culture is becoming extinct, particularly in newly created metropolitan households. This is because this culture has become almost obsolete. Even our parents have grown more and further apart from the members of their extended family in recent years.
Why is this the case? Is it possible that this is a result of the high cost of living, or is it more likely that our affection for one another is diminishing?
My spouse even said, “During funerals, only the most immediate members of the family shed tears for the person who has died. The rest simply put on a poker face and attend the funeral. But neighbors used to sob loudly and continuously when one of their neighbors passed away, and they would spend a number of days staying at the house of the mourner.”
It causes one to ponder the possibility that we are, in fact, running out of love. And the worst thing is when institutions like a church, which are supposed to be the ultimate symbol of love and forgiveness, run out of love for their members and for those they serve.
The fact that the glue that has held Ethiopian society together for generations is progressively losing its potency is perhaps the clearest indication that the country’s population is running out of love.
One thing is certain: all religious organizations should be built on a basis of love, forgiveness, and compassion, as this is what love teaches us. When it is discovered, however, that the foundation upon which these institutions are built is anything other than love, we should be concerned as a society.
When the shepherds lose their way, we need to be worried about what will happen to the herd.