>> Sunday, August 16, 2009
Shakespeare asked: Does the world need LOVE most of all, or is it something else?
In short, yes, but only if we expand love to encompass all its meanings.
What I mean is, romantic love is wonderful, but it's just a small subset of the kind of loves out there. I think romantic love is a good thing, given that I always equate "real"romantic love with the kind of complete acceptance of another's failings and at least some willingness to endure self-sacrifice for the other's happiness. In fact, a driving need for the other's happiness is one of the key elements of romantic love. Just the capacity for putting someone else's needs before one's own makes someone a better person, in my opinion.
But there are other kinds of love. Like the love for your children, the kind that makes you think about the future and drives you to make sacrifices to ensure their future. This kind of love can end up translating to benefits for the environment, long term financial strategies that look beyond personal profit here and now and putting a strong emphasis on education - all things I think make the world a better place.
There's the love for your friends and extended family that reminds you that things you do to yourself have repercussions on the people around you. That kind of thinking can increase one's understanding of responsibility and appreciation for the affects of your actions on others. That kind of thinking has an effect on behavior, often salutary, so I think that's a good thing.
There's also a love of oneself. I'm not talking about the kind of selfish preoccupation that allows one to put one's own interests ahead of any and all other considerations, but a self-respect that allows one to stand up for one's own happiness when it is being sacrificed by all others and serves as an example to children and other friends. This is the kind of hard-won love that allows battered women to escape with their children from abusive relationships or drives people to educate themselves to accomplish more despite the sacrifices those efforts entail. People who respect themselves have, in my opinion, less of a drive to control or treat others with contempt.
And that self-respect leads to what I think is the last one, a respect and reverence for all humanity. In my opinion, it is insecurity that drives people to find reasons to hate others, to come up with excuses to think less of them, to find reasons to subjugate them. I'm not saying it's the only reason, but I think it's a big one. Whatever the cause, though, I think it's all but impossible to do heinous things to others, be callous to the planet we live on, get sucked in with manipulations of hatred and fear if we have a healthy love for humanity.
At least, that's what I think.