What’s Love Got to Do With It?
As an NVC conscious human, parent and learning facilitator, and self-proclaimed fierce lover, I thoroughly appreciate the definition of affective equality put forth by Lynch, Baker & Lyons in their book titled Equality: From Theory to Action. Defined as one of “four major social systems within and through which equality and inequality can be produced,” affective equality explains that relations of love, care and solidarity are essential to healthy human development by illuminating our innate interdependence as a species. The authors describe a phenomenon that I have intuitively sensed for quite some time as a “deep ambivalence” held towards love and care in Western society whereby love is most often considered a private matter not intended for public or institutional purposes.
Your feelings are hurt?
Suck it up.
I love you?
To make matters worse, structural injustices actually intensify affective deprivations and one unfortunate example can be found in disproportionate number of people in prison who come from poverty, and who were more likely to have been severely deprived of love, and care resulting from inadequate access to resources. Another disheartening example of this can be found in the mounting research on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) which ultimately indicate that when children are neglected or deprived of love and care when they are young, they face a significantly increased risk of physical and emotional health impairments which result in continued inequality in many other facets of their lives as they continue into adulthood.
Diving deeper into the concept of affective equality, its applications to both macro and micro systems of equality as an overarching “mobilizing narrative” are evident. Although the extent to which “emotional engagement and interdependence” exists within each sphere of life varies greatly, affective equality has the capacity to inform issues of inequality within all existing systems and structures by offering an alternative to the hegemonic neo-liberal, capitalist agenda.
My newfound understanding of affective equality has left me feeling quite optimistic. The children’s advocate in me truly believes that establishing affective equality through respectful and child-honouring, care, schooling and parenting, is both necessary and possible to pull matters of love and care from the private realm of our lives and embrace it in the public domain so that we may start to honour our humanness in all spheres of modern life. This is when the true magic will begin! When we all realize that no matter the similarities or the differences, our quirks or our gifting, EVERYONE has an innate need to love, to be loved and to be seen.
By Chelsea Bonhert