What is Love?” – a question that has no definitive answer. It seems the older we grow, the less definitive love becomes. Perhaps it is the wisdom of age and experience that has taught us more perspectives. While appreciating the various forms Love can take, we also find it harder to pinpoint what it is.

Some scientists believe that it is just a misspelt alternative for lust or a general term to describe a biochemical reaction. On the other extreme, some philosophers believe in the Platonic and Aristotelian versions of Love that is virtuous and idealistic. In Asian philosophy, the distinction between “Big Love” and “Small Love” is also explained in Buddhist teachings, where Big Love refers to the noble, altruistic ideal for human kind and Small Love is a self-centred version between human beings. Though scholars do debate if these are just varied manifestations of Love.

“Love is Duty”  – Eleanor Young v. Rachel Chu

The Asian culture seems to have adopted a more self-sacrificial interpretation of Love, where true love is altruistic, giving, and often manifested through the undertaking of duty and obligation. Clearly, it is the polar opposite of seeking hedonist pleasure, a common theory about love in the West.

This was played out in Crazy Rich Asians when Eleanor (the mother of the East) told Rachel (the girl from the West) that Love is duty. Her conviction in making personal sacrifices for the family and tradition, was a firm belief.  Yet it resounded with a lingering bitterness and unspoken compliant about the choice she had made. Was there resentment against her duty? Surely it sounds heavy and weighs against her free will.

On the other hand, when Rachel, the girl of Western culture, decided to leave Nicholas so that he would not leave his family, she made a personal sacrifice in the name of Love that was not selfish at all. In her pride and righteousness, her sacrifice was a her moral choice, not a duty or obligation owed to anyone or any culture.

Both women made sacrifices in the name of Love. So we know that Love requires sacrifice. Yet one made it with much resentment while the other more righteousness. What was the difference? It would seem that Eleanor’s belief that Love is Duty is detrimental. It destroys certain beauty in willingly making a sacrifice, hence, making one walk out defeated while the other one triumphant.

As to the question of what Love is then, we at least know that it should not be a heavy sounding thing called Duty.

Like this Article? You might also be interested in the other articles in this category of Society & Culture:

The Peculiar Realities of Asian Family Values – About Compatibility

The Peculiar Realities of Asian Family Values – About Giving Face

The Peculiar Realities of Asian Family Values – About Inheritance

Coming up next in this series of articles:

About Mother-Daughter In-Law Relationship –  Rachel v. Eleanor

About Adult Children Staying with Parents – Nicholas, Peik Lin, etc.