I taught English and English Literature for a lot of years. And for many of those years I worked with students who had to read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet--usually freshmen in high school who, of course, know everything there is to know about love both real and imagined. So many of them had (HAVE) posters on their bedroom walls with their latest celebrity crush. Once those youngsters could get beyond the foreign language Shakespeare wrote in, they certainly could understand the story. They were able to identify with the term "unrequited love" and by the time we were done could see how timeless the tale of Romeo and Juliet is and in final papers were able to identify parts of the tale in their own lives.
The point they rarely could make sense of was that of unconditional love no matter how I tried to explain it. I mean, heck, Juliet still loved Romeo desperately even after he killed her cousin and in a speech, Romeo spoke to Tybalt in his tomb and spoke of loving him even though Romeo would have died if Tybalt had the better luck. Teenagers are too selfish to understand love with no strings attached.
I'm thinking of family units right now. I wrote a blog years ago on MySpace that discussed family units and defined them in circles--the core family, the inner circle and so on. Family is so very important, especially in times such as these when money's tight and the extra put away has already been spent. Family (and I don't necessarily mean blood-related family here) is the best support group we have. Those are the people who love us unconditionally, who will share what they have be it food, knowledge or just support when things go sour without expecting anything in return. This is the concept that teens don't understand (and some adults as well).
We've had many young people in our lives. Most felt (or feel) the world revolves around them. We have literally had instances where two teenage girls vied for our attention and love so much they almost came to fisticuffs. They didn't understand that love has no limits. My daughter, Brianna, often points out that my golden retriever, Randy, is jealous of the puppy and the attention I give him. She doesn't see that Randy is secure in his knowledge of how I feel about him. I adore him and he knows it. He gets his special time or attention. The puppy, on the other hand, has to have my attention and I can't, in his peanut brain, give any other animal here (or humans for that matter) any affection or love without barging in. Like the young folks in our world, it's all about him. Like Randy, and like those teenagers, the puppy will eventually grow up and discover that they get out of the world and life what they put into it.
I'm a romantic. According to Dictionary.com, that means I'm "fanciful, impractical and unrealistic." But, I'm also "imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc." I'm not sure how I can be both but doing a bit of soul searching and I find, yes, I am. That romanticism permeates my life--especially the idealistic part. I find myself imagining a world thoroughly filled with unconditional love for our fellow man. Selflessness or altruism has been something I've wanted to define myself with for a long time. When I'm in my bipolar stages, I've often described myself as a doormat. That may be taking altruism a bit too far but I've often thought that I was placed on this earth to help people, to hold them up, to make them smile. Just typing that last I am smiling to myself.
The tale of two star-crossed lovers: one Capulet, one Montague reeks of romanticism. That tale has been analyzed to death but it all boiled down to two dead teenagers who were idealistic, in love, and were selfless--they sacrificed themselves for love unrequited and unconditional. Our world today lacks love, respect and selflessness. Ayn Rand (an author especially popular in the 1960's and 1970's who preached a philosophy called Objectivism) claimed that "If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject." Her feelings that man has to have his own happiness and personal productive achievement as a primary goal is a guiding principal for many today. This is evident in business, politics, and many individual lives.
These blogs I write will often be focused on personal achievement and the reaching of goals. But the motivation behind them will be to become the best you can be--not to make the most money or to be the most successful but the satisfaction and pride of accomplishing something to be better. And all will have a thread of love that runs through them.