Technology exists today that you can monitor brain activity associated with being in love. However, up until recently, most of the studies have been done in the Western world, which is only a minor part of the world. So is love truly universal as the idealists would have you believe, or is it cross-cultural and different among cultures like so many things are? I mean, different cultures don’t express love the same ways. They don’t court mates in the same ways. They don’t assign roles or values in love the same ways. In fact, I doubt you could find anything universal about love across all cultures.
But good news. No. Great news!
Love is truly universal!
Dr Art Aron, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook university in New York, and graduate student Xiaomeng Xu, have shown love to be universal by brain activity (Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times blog). Brain activity is the thing that counts when it comes to being able to scientifically define love. For all the talk of feelings and the heart, that’s all metaphors. Brain activity is where it’s at.
They measured and mapped brain activity of people in different cultures claiming to be in love, shown pictures of their loved ones, and did this for some over an 18 month period as relationships sometimes changed. What they got were some “very clear patterns”, according to Dr Aron. However, he cautions against being able to predict the future of relationships on differences on brain patterns seen among those who stayed in and fell out of love during the time they were monitored. Seems the patterns were an indicator of the present state, and not good enough to predict whether the state would persist or degrade in the future.
Still, it is great to be able to scientifically say love is truly universal among humanity!
Yet, despite all this, I cannot help but think of the paradoxes of racism and interracial relationships which I had seen and felt ever since I was a Vietnamese refugee child in Canada. Interracial relationships have generally been taboo in North America. Sure, there are enough people who accept it, though I will save stories of experiments I’ve done which have shown far fewer would embrace it than accept it in others in some places. In other words, I don’t care if someone else does it but not me. But interracial relationships are still taboo. In Nova Scotia, where I live, an interracial couple has been twice subject to hate crimes in early 2010 (CBC). It was the actions of a few, not representative of a community who rallied around the couple, but those actions don’t come out of nowhere without others someone having propagated the sentiments in the guilty in the first place.
Anyhow, what I’ve long wondered is this. I see people cooing and getting giddy over cross-breeds of dogs, cats and other animals all the time. It’s exotic and prized. Yet, two people of the same species, and we are all homo sapiens, who differ in skin colour, aren’t approved to be able to love each other and be with each other?
You tell me how this makes sense.
It’s just as paradoxical as why tanning is so cool, but being brown naturally and longer than a few weeks at a time is not.
Tell me how that also makes sense.
But tragically, that’s what makes us human and not Vulcans.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.9