Sunday, August 23, 2009

What is Love?

Awhile ago I posted something on love. I have, not surprisingly, further and more refined thoughts. This is based on Plato's Symposium (it was the bonus question of an assignment for my Theory of Knowledge class)

What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more. This is not love.

Love is a kind of bond that occurs from a person's acceptance of someone or something. It could also be called interpersonal peace, and comes simultaneously with inner peace. When one is in a state of acceptance, love abounds.

People have very little idea of what love is these days, but one fundamental way we do understand love is the idea of “love you for who you are”. However, this isn't quite right. Rather, love is when somebody “loves you – and you are”. Loving somebody for who they are implies that you might not love them if they were were different. This means that you are attracted to their characteristics, not to them.

Trying to change somebody is alright, and can still fall within the boundaries of love. Most of the time, though, it does not. This is because we typically try to change people without any respect or acceptance that they're in the current state they're in. This means, simply, that we are trying to fix them, for we have labeled their condition a problem without coming to terms with the situation. With love, one first accepts that the person is how they are, and this love allows the person to change.

As Diotima says, eventually one will develop a love for all beautiful things. This is easy. What is more difficult is to also love things that are not beautiful, or even things that are ugly, for they are much harder to accept. When we live without love we live in a state of denial, ascribing random value to things based on their perceived beauty. This is inaccurate and is fundamentally flawed. Somewhat like Descartes says in Meditations, facets of objects are not the objects themselves. This is a basic part of the deceit of the senses. We look at things and perceive them, but frequently we are not looking at an object itself, but merely examining some qualities it happens to possess. Love is beyond this.

However, there is a place for physical form in love, it is just not that of beauty. Anything that has a physical form is presenting itself to us openly. At each moment, we are bombarded sensually by everything. To not accept and love everything is to create hell. There is far too much coming to individually address everything, but with love one can take some moments to accept a few things. Loving in this way will allow you to move freely through life. If one stops at each moment and hates things (or does not accept them) then there is far too much resistance on the journey of life.

“If you love someone, set them free.” Richard Bach, in saying this, makes a very good point about acceptance and love – that if you love something you will also accept its departure. However, he continues to say “If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were” which is not at all true. The very nature of love is incompatible with ownership.

It has also been said that “love is an verb”. This is somewhat true, but not entirely. Love certainly is not an adjective, and the term “in love” almost infallibly refers to infatuation. However, love is not a verb, because there really is no sole action that is “love”. If I said “I love you”, does that inherently mean that there is any specific action I'm performing toward you? There may be some general actions that go along with love, but really,

love is an attitude.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Distinction between Race and Nationality (and Ancestry)

I realized something really neat a few days ago. It was kindof an a-ha moment, really. I forget why, but a bunch of people were sharing their ancestry. I'm from Scotland mostly, with a bit of Ireland. My Aunt has French ancestry, and some people had Finnish and German.

One said "It may not look like it, but I have African-American roots" (he's quite pale and has reddish hair).

At that moment I realized that "African-American" isn't a race at all. (This term, I won't lie, used to bother me, because it seemed to really be getting very vague about race. Personally, if I'm going to talk about skin colour, I use the colour words - "black" and "white". I feel they're neutral enough.)

"African-American", I realized, is a nationality. When the slaves were brought over they were separated from their true African nationality (which may not have even been a country name we'd recognize today) and when they final got rights and equality, they had no other roots to trace. All they can say is "I'm African-American", and that's quite different than being African.