Friday, October 16, 2015

Could I have Maroon 5 and JPII over for dinner?

You know how sometimes different people create their "dream dinner party lists" of individuals they would love to have over, no matter when those people lived? Recently, I was thinking about this trend, and I decided that it would be marvelous to have St. John Paul II and the members of Maroon 5 over for a dinner party with my husband and I. We could all bond and become friends over bierocks and cheesecake, and in the course of our  conversations, Maroon 5 may pick up some cool wisdom from JPII. Wouldn't that be great? 

Earlier this fall, I was driving to an outdoor vintage market with my window rolled down and the radio turned up. The DJ announced a song I had never heard of before.'s by Maroon 5? Most of their stuff has terrible morals.. But maybe this time, just this once, they will FINALLY have a good message!  You can always hope, right? 

What followed was a classic exhibit of why I shouldn't listen to Maroon 5 while driving. 
Inevitably, I will start scolding the radio.
I may even raise my voice while doing so, shouting down the lyrics of the song. 
I may also gesture wildly in the air while invoking the wisdom and  common sense of St. John Paul II. 
What got me so riled up?  
If you want me take me home and let me use you
I know he doesn't satisfy you like I do
And does he know that there's nobody quite like you
So let me tell you all the things he never told you
I got these feelings for you
And I can't help myself no more
Can't fight these feelings for you
No, I can't help myself no more ("Feelings," by Maroon 5)
 Maybe we've gotten to the point where we are so desensitized that our culture doesn't experience shock anymore. I mean, there are plenty of people that are entertained by objectively dangerous relationships (ahem, Fifty Shades of Gray). And last year, Maroon 5's song "Animals" (you can see my take on that song here) was topping the charts as well. 
Can we please stop for a minute and think about all of these things? Is there anything wrong with the messages portrayed in so many songs and movies? 
If you want me take me home and let me use you.
So...if I desire my husband, does this mean that I should let him use me? 
Are utilitarian relationships going to fulfill us? 
Should we just settle with letting others use us? 
Is this love????

Nope, nope, nope, and definitely not. Ergo, if St. John Paul II could attend a dinner party with Maroon 5 (and maybe several dinner parties after that, to develop a bond of friendship and receptivity with the band) perhaps he would share some of his wonderful wisdom, so that they can portray a new message in their songs: 
"The longing for true happiness for another person, a sincere devotion to that person's good, puts the priceless imprint of altruism on love. But none of this will happen if the love between a man and a woman is dominated by an ambition to possess, or more specifically by concupiscence born of sensual reactions, even if these are accompanied by intense emotion." (Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility 145)
You know what that relationship based off of desire and use is? Individualistic, imprisoning, and manipulative. The two people in this song aren't joined as a communion of persons. The man is telling the woman that if she desires him, then she better let him do what he wants with her! (sounds a bit like slavery to me...) And we're fine with a song that promotes this on the radio???? This man is not invested in the woman's good, and he's not even invested in the woman as a person. He only wants the pleasure that she gives him. This isn't just a male thing; this kind of model is played out in so many relationships by men and women. I honestly think that if people realize that don't deserve this, and long for a fulfilling relationship of love, perhaps they think never will be treated in this way. Otherwise, why are these songs filling our airwaves? 

Guess what? There is hope. We aren't fulfilled by those selfish, utilitarian relationships. We don't need to despair and settle for being used by our boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses. Deep down, we can know that we are made for more than a casual hook-up. You and I are not made to be some other person's object of use and pleasure, even if we may occasionally feel happy or satisfied by it. We are called to so much more, to something even greater: we are called to communion with another. This communion with another person may happen in the form of a romantic relationship, or it may happen in a platonic way as you reach out to another person in care and concern. Love isn't just feeling warm fuzzies as you hold hands, but it is brutally sacrificing and giving of yourself for the good of another, even if you are not romantically attracted to him or her! "The structure of Love is that of an interpersonal communion," writes Karol Wojtyla (now St. JPII) in Love and Responsibility. Love is not becoming isolated and withdrawing into oneself. Love is not selfishly trying to get the ultimate pleasure our of others. Love is reaching out in this beautiful community of persons, giving selflessly to each other. 

John Paul II is in Heaven, so I can't exactly invite him over to a dinner party with Maroon 5, as awesome as that could be. Still, I can pray for Maroon 5 (since I believe that praying for celebrities is important!), and I truly desire that they-and other entertainers-wake up to the beauty of loving, self-giving relationships. Furthermore, I pray for all of us, that we wake up to this beautiful reality. We may point our fingers at songs like "Feelings" or "Animals" and become rightly horrified-but how many times do we objectify others, use them, or resist forming an interpersonal communion of love? How many times do we treat others with a consumer attitude? How can we do better today? 

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