by Joshua Elahie – GrenCHAP
What is love? The force that pulls all of nature together into unity; the reason our species is still alive today; the emotion that makes you feel complete. Something so dimensionless words cannot truly grasp unless life has allowed you the privilege of experiencing it yourself. Fear, on the other hand, is simply an emotion of distress caused by danger or pain. How is it possible for a human being to experience the paradox of love and fear together? For the most part, it seems that we are participants in a dysfunctional society.
Michelle, 18 years, loves Keith, 20. They’ve dated since she was 14. He has always been ready to make love to her and now four years later she feels the same. Her family is religious, and they believe premarital sex will send her to hell. She’s afraid to tell them what she feels because they won’t approve. She wants to buy condoms because she’s heard that it’s wise to protect herself, but she’s afraid her family will find out since she lives in a small community. She wants to ask Keith to buy condoms, but she’s afraid he won’t approve since one time she heard him telling his boys that they take away the feeling. She thinks to herself that having sex without condoms will be a lot less drama, but she’s afraid she might get some incurable STI (sexually transmitted infection).
Unfortunately, Michelle isn’t the only one having a difficult time. Keith realised he’s gay and he wants to be himself, but no one can know. He wants to tell Michelle but he’s afraid she’ll out him to everyone. He’s afraid that his family will disown him and his friends will reject him because God didn’t make Adam and Steve. He’s afraid that strangers will assault him because their society only has room for real men. He wants to protect himself when he cheats on Michelle with his secret lover, but he’s afraid people will find out who he’s using them with. And now he’s afraid to get tested because he’s afraid the results are positive.
How do we change our unequal society so that all of us can love without the threat of pain or danger? Education is primary. We need to educate everyone that each individual has a different life to live, and despite the way we see and feel the world should be, we can only advance through the acceptance of all. Our society will be judged by the way we treat the people we perceive to be the least among us.
Education goes both ways, and we need to educate young people about love, sex and protecting themselves from STIs. Everyone needs to learn that love and desire is part of growing up but an STI doesn’t have to be. We need to learn to love without fear.