Friday, January 11, 2013

More Thoughts on Love

Love is a dangerous thing, always. It almost always brings (and certainly always offers) hatred (and jealousy, and possessiveness, and recrimination, with the looming possibility of betrayal). This is something many prophets of unconditional love simply don't get (no matter whether they are in or out of Mormonism or any -ism), I think, so the discussion is always worth having.

Personally, I am ambivalent about love. On the one hand, I think we need it. It must be part of all our lives. On the other hand, I think it is dangerous to lean on it too much, too naively, too uncritically. I would rather be trusted than loved any day. Love makes a wonderful servant, and a terrible master. Too many people have offered me love as though it were only something good, as though it would be an unforgivable offense if I were to respond demurely, "No thanks! Not for me right now!" I fear the love that does not know its own capacity for destruction (as integral to it as its capacity for generation).

I am especially leery of love in the context of a large group. Here the word too often becomes a noble cloak for something really mean and often worthless (something that it would be more honest to call "social approval," e.g. when we all "love" the latest American Idol or some politician or sports hero). Institutions never love people in a way that is helpful, in my experience. I would rather one or more individual people love me truly than that all the companies and churches and governments in the world profess love for me in their way (which is usually big on nice talk and small in every other way). I don't care what the group thinks: what matter the (stupid) opinions of Nietzsche's mob to me? As long as I don't get them too angry at me (the way I can if they notice me long enough to vow their love, dangerous bastards), I am safe. Better to escape their notice than to earn their praise (which so easily turns into contempt, and is always irrational: you cannot reason with or predict the behavior of a mob).

Love. It has many faces. Not all of them I like. Not at all. Honesty is much better, and trust. That I like in a group, even when it is witheld (because I have not earned it, whether because I am genuinely unworthy or because my reputation is unfairly tarnished, as will always happen in certain situations). Love I prefer to keep for a few choice people, people close enough to me that I can speak with them honestly, openly, personally, and at length.

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