The Beatles famously sang "All You Need Is Love." Nice song. It's a crock of sh*t, of course. But it's a nice song. Starving people need food. Homeless people need shelter. Sick people need medicine. Jessica Simpson needs publicity.
And love is pretty useless without oxygen. Without air, we can't breathe. A more accurate song title would be something like "All You Need is Love for About a Minute and Then You'd Pass Out and Die."
"All You Need Is Love" is really just a song for rich people. Love is a product of our economic system. Money creates freedom and opportunity, which gives one the extra time to indulge in emotionally-pleasurable thoughts. Donald Trump can afford to need love. Working class people are too busy worrying about their electric bill. (It's a shame, then, that nobody will ever love Donald Trump.)
Yes, okay, I get it; the lyrics are figurative, not literal. It's about the sentiment. But it's a misguided sentiment. I suspect that the most heinous villains of the past 100 years -- Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, the Tanning Mom -- loved and were, at least by a few people, loved in return. There is no evidence to suggest that "love" plays any factor in whether or not you're an a-hole. Heck, the guy who cut me off in traffic this morning was probably on his way to see his beloved wife and his loving children. I hope he didn't make it.
And Americans have twisted love into such a self-serving, superficial, meaningless emotion, anyway. People love their new couch. They love their favorite TV shows. It's not uncommon to hear someone say, "I love my car." No, you can't love your car. You can have sex with your car, but you can't love it. Love was not meant for inanimate objects. That's why runway models look so sad.
Some people distort the meaning of "love" as a defense mechanism for their own sadness. "My husband and I fight all the time, but we're still together because we love each other." No you don't. You probably don't even like each other. You fight all the time because you dislike each other. That's why people fight all the time. That's why, a couple of years from now, you'll get divorced. I hope you love your prenup.
Oh, I might get into a little trouble for offering the great John Lennon, may he rest in peace, a little musical advice. But just this one time. (Speaking of which... have you read my rewrite of Hamlet? I left in most of Shakespeare's original prose. But I threw in some explosions... and a subplot involving flesh-eating zombies.)
Here's how I would change the song...
All you need is compassion. (Plus, I would get rid of Ringo.)
Love makes life a little nicer. But life is unbearable without compassion and caring and understanding and empathy.
Love is exciting. Compassion is boring. I get that. Love is walking the red carpet in Italy with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Compassion is shopping for paper towels at K-Mart on a Friday night with Doctor Drew Pinsky and Joy Behar. I get it. But without compassion, we're nothing but enablers to the pain and suffering that plagues the entire planet, even the places you've never heard of... like Canada.
Homeless people don't need love, nor do bullying victims or people with disabilities or the elderly or people who are just having a bad day. They just need compassion. (And as an animal-lover, I would define "they" as all living creatures.)
Certainly, there are some problems with Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. But at the law's core is a compassion for people -- usually poor -- who don't have access to good medical care. Perhaps there is a better alternative to providing health care to all Americans. Maybe we should extend National Nude Day to include more doctors walking the street? In the meantime, though, Obamacare will be tweaked and altered over the next few years. But as long as we maintain that core of compassion, the system will work itself out. (Wait -- you mean there isn't a National Nude Day?! Okay, that explains all the weird looks.)
Do you remember the Republican party presidential debate, when moderator Wolf Blitzer asked candidate Ron Paul a hypothetical question about what to do if someone without health insurance goes into a coma? Blitzer asked Paul if we should just let the guy die. And a few dicks in the audience yelled "Yes!" with such self-righteous glee. Without compassion, we're a society just letting people die... but one that feels oodles and oodles of love.
People don't need your crappy love. They just want your respect and validation as a worthwhile being. You can get through the day without love. But others just want to get through their day without being judged, mocked, degraded, assaulted, or humiliated. All you need is compassion, compassion, compassion is all you need. (Cue the trombones)
Think about it. There are a million movies, songs, poems, and irritatingly inspirational Facebook postings about love. It hasn't really helped. Michael Vick still electrocuted dogs. The majority of states still don't allow gay people to marry each other. And people aren't embarrassed to yell "Yes!" when Wolf Blitzer asks if we should let uninsured Americans die. And can't we all show a little compassion and stop making fun of Wolf Blitzer's name?
I think we should spend less time obsessing about love and we should spend more time spreading the message of compassion. Eat, Pray, Love might've been more bearable if it was Eat, Pray, Compassion. Eh, no, the movie probably still would've been unwatchable... but at least the world would be a slightly better place.
Jerry Sandusky loved kids. But he didn't have any compassion for them.
No complaints about "Let It Be," though. Perfect song.