Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blood Diamond

the cost of love

Blood Diamond. It's a movie (one I watched last night) and a story worn secretly on the feminine fingers of women in the supermarket, teaching Sunday school, caressing someone on a Saturday night. I thought persistently about the images of brainwashed children shooting one another in a culture of violence fed by diamond dealers in black suits accented with slick, cologne smelling skin.

I was thinking about the diamonds themselves as I strode toward my car, distracted only by the voice of my neighbor Alissa calling from her bright red pickup, "Look!" Alissa grinned, happily gesticulating her hand, which touted a huge sparkling rock easily visible from my parking spot. I went over and told her how happy I was for her, as she recounted the proposal, fanning her fingers before my wide eyes. The diamond was stunning -- a gigantic jewel in the middle, cherished between two amethysts, bracketed with smaller diamonds on each side.

A man saves his money for months to prove himself worthy of her love...to prove his love.

A diamond for her hand.

It is expected. If you are engaged and you're finger is naked, you could practically get arrested for indecent exposure. People look at you confused and disappointed -- not exactly the reaction you were hoping for when you leapt with faith toward a life together. Perhaps onlookers think less of you, like he couldn't afford it, or didn't think you were worth it, or he just isn't the romantic type. you didn't play according to the rules and people feel unnerved. Is it possibly easier to get excited about a sparkling stone than a marriage, with all its buried light and rough edges?

What of the more important sacrifices later in the marriage? A man who turns down a promotion may be mocked as "whipped," or honored as a hero. But such sacrifice is hardly expected. A man who gets promoted out of family life is accomodated by society and women, at least until it's too late for everyone.

Would it not be better for a man to give himself for her than to give her a pretty stone to glitter as a placeholder while he's away on business? Which is a more worthy sacrifice of love?

For some men, no saving is necessary to buy a diamond capable of eliciting jokes about the size of the rock. Except maybe he could have saved a child by not buying into this diamond myth; a myth creating by the diamond industry, and not by tradition passed among generations, nor invented by Hans Christian Anderson, God, Hallmark or Disney.

A diamond.

Symbol of eternal love. Bloody, not with the loving, life-giving blood of Christ, but stained and dripping globs of childhood blood into red African earth.

Children. A great gift, welcomed into the arms of couples newly wedded, one in flesh and love, wishing peace, wonder and safekeeping for a tiny gift.

What curse have we bought that a diamond is equated with love even at cost of tiny gifts? And another shot down a minute later, his soul ripped from him long ago. We've confused status with love, symbol with reality. Where is the love for those who extract the gems in a kill or be killed competition promoted by the diamond industry's desire to keep diamonds rare and pricey -- feeding into killing sprees in origin countries, and illusory ideas about romantic love among young American wives; milking the cattiness among western girls who show off their rocks like some guys who off trophy wives. It seems we've all been sold out for sparkling studs.

Isn't it time to stop objectifying love?


Lydia said...

It's interesting - all of these were among the reasons why Drew never bought an engagement ring for me.

That was 2 years ago, and you're the first person I've seen/read since then who has brought up this issue. Most people don't even seem to think about it.

Amy said...

Jemila, Eddie and I watched that movie several months ago. I cried the whole weekend following.

I have a diamond, purchased 2nd hand. I still get a sick feeling at times when I look at it, though. I had no idea. Absolutely no idea. At that time of my life, I was pretty naive, in most cases by my own choice.

Sensuous Wife said...

Good points, Jemila. When we designed my engagement/wedding rings I chose another gemstone.
There are plenty of other gemstones that can go on a ring that says to the world "hey I've chosen this woman and she chose me back and we vow to love each other forever." -SW

Alisha said...

Wonderful post!
When my husband proposed to me, I told him to use his money for school rather than buying me some silly bauble...but people really harassed me about not having it. Even my (hippie, free-love) mother told me, "You're not really engaged if you don't have the ring."

Finally, my grandma gave me a ring that belonged to her great-aunt. It's very pretty and I don't feel any guilt wearing it.

Jemila Kwon said...

It sounds like alot of you gals opted for other love symbols - or would have if you had known. I had a grandmother's (diamond) engagement ring the first time around and now David and I have simple, matching gold rings carved with a plumeria flower, which symbolizes love, respect and friendship. I wonder how many women are naive (by choice or by chance,) and how many women know and choose not to dwell on it because it would spoil the tradition that has become important to them. What can each of us do to create healthy attitudes toward love and its expressions in engagement and marriage?

Anonymous said...

I also gave my first wife a diamond from my (deceased) grandmother. After we divorced I sold it at a pawn shop since I wanted some extra cash and was feeling rather unsentimental about, well, everything.

Later I regretted that decision because I thought I "had to" buy another one if I got married again. But now I think I'll ponder a little harder before just going with what I'm "supposed" to do.

Makes one wonder how much else of what we're sold by our lovely American culture are insidious falsehoods oppressing millions of people (and pocketbooks) every day.

Jemila Kwon said...

Anonymous, I would commend to you, that you may have had trouble finding a woman who would want a diamond already given to a previous wife...add that to the situation of what a diamond is all about and where it may or may not have come from (25 percent of diamonds are believed to be smuggled today,) and you have good reason to be imagining alternative expressions of love for your future bride :) I hope you find her out there!