Something happened yesterday, insignificant to the regular the American or Western culture citizen, but enough for me to notice. I was having a very pleasant phone conversation with a female friend of mine, and as we were closing it she said "I love you" and I replied back "I love you". You may be rolling your eyes now, but let me explain. Where I come from, a beautiful country called Cameroon, we don't say "I love you", parents don't teach their kids to say that, and they, the parents don't say it to their children. I mean literally say it, of course there are gestures that imply the "I love you" sentence such as a hug, a large smile, giving gifts but the phrase herself is rarely if not never pronounced. The contrast with the United States is definitely flagrant, saying "I love You" is the closing key note between family members. "I love you" has replaced "see you later" or "goodbye". Now, after a heptad spent here, I've observed some children in our little Cameroonian community, and they say "I love you" to their parents. And honestly, I believe it's a good thing. Nevertheless, I can't help myself but ask, what prohibit us from saying it to the people (aside the ones in our family) that are closed to us? Pride? I really can't find a good argument, may be it's the fear of what the other person may say or think about us. Perhaps, we're afraid that they may not say it back to us and we may take it as a sign of rejection, or perhaps we just don't want to get to close. Saying "I love you" is not just about those little three words, it does imply, "I'm available to you if you may need me", "I'll support you if you may need me", "I'll never betray you", "I trust you'll never hurt me". There are those implicit expectations we put out there, and just so not to risk our heart, we keep ourselves in our carapace.
On a Christian perspective, Jesus was a BIG fan of love, "Peter, do you love me?", "I'll give you a new commandment, love the Lord your God...", "People will recognize you belong to me by the love you have for one another..." and it goes on and on. Sometimes in church, the pastor will say "turn to your neighbor and tell them I love you or I'm happy to see you", I mean common, if one is honest with oneself, s/he will not trust that coming from a total stranger, especially the one while getting to his/her seat, stepped on your toes or bag or made you dropped your bible. When was the last you said I love you to s.o who is not related to you, and really meant it? Maybe it could be today if by stopping here, you leave me an "I love you" note, ;).