With a few good friends every other Wednesday, I spend some time at night in reflection about a previously-assigned piece of philosophy or knowledge-consideration. Though the blog won’t involve any of the group discussion, the materials are fantastic and simply must be shared.
I will think of a clever title later. For now, here is the assignment for this week’s meet-up:
In a related FB post, I discussed the role of love in our lives, definitionally speaking…
Let’s talk about Love! I’m of the opinion that this can only be done in a religious sense (but you’re welcome to try and convince me otherwise!).
The best definition I have heard of love is “truly willing the Good for the other, as other.” Every word of the definition is important. Besides altering the usual interpretation of love from a feeling to a choice, this meaning requires a much different course of action than its common usage entails. Specifically, love is not about being as nice/likeable as you can; it is not about primarily encouraging the id of others or libertinism; and it doesn’t need to be moralizing to be thoughtful and fruitful. Love also entails a teleology, in the word “Good,” which directs toward the Ultimate Good, not some earthly and temporary end. This requires knowledge and reflection of what the Good is. Most of all, the selflessness that love requires may be uncomfortable, especially where speaking Truth to Power is concerned.
You cannot be loving toward another while you watch them destroy themselves. Actions have consequences, and there is a certain inevitability to the things we do, just as gravity applies to all bodies in the universe. Apathy is the opposite of love – especially the deliberate apathy that I see in “liberal” religious folk with a “live and let live” ideal of society. “what is important is loveing people no matter what,” these types say, “not judging them.” But love isn’t judgment of an individual, and this argument confuses love with libertinism. Actual love is discernment of a path roward the good.
This is where I think we are so often confused. Definitions have meaning, and the definition of love is essential to understanding how we should interact with others.
To round it out, “…for the other, as other” should be clarified. Among other things, this must mean that loving someone is interested but detached and unselfish, and with the understanding that all people simply are not at the same level of intellectual, spiritual, interpersonal, social, or moral development. Meeting people where they are is essential to this definition. That’s why it is SO GOOD.
And a recently-surfacing post by my good friend Dan speaks to this in tangent, regarding atonement and the proper role of sacrifice. It can be found here. I would link this to the above by explaining what love would mean in the context of covenant with God. God created it all, from matter to natural law – and loving Him involves a curiosity about this creation. The beloved should be known – we should seek to understand God and His purposes more fully for us, just as we would seek knowledge of a lover or friend. It is not enough to simply “be”…
Until next time…