Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On Love, Obsession, Selfishness & Caring

In the Mishnah, (the precursor to the Talmud) it states in Ethics of the Fathers (5:19):
"Any love which is dependent on something, when the 'something' ceases, the love ceases. Any love which is not dependent on anything will never cease."
This Talmudic statement has become somewhat famous in our day and age. It deals with the endless discussions and obsession with that that word "love" and its definition throughout the ages of mankind on this earth. The Talmud was clear in its perspective on love. When love is dependent upon something, it is mortal. When it is beyond dependency it will endure.

As humans we always strive to create and nourish a love that will endure. It is the search for the "holy grail"; the need to find the "golden fleece"; the effort we make to find "the end of the rainbow". All cliches. All true. All desperately and sorrowfully at times, very true.

We often mix up the terms "sex" and "love" and we discuss and ruminate about them endlessly. I am not free of this human condition as well. In a recent short story published at TD (The Deepening) entitled "Addiction, Obsession, Love" I also tried to delve deep into this phenomena from one person's point of view.

In a thread over at Absolute Write, which started out as a discussion on premarital sex, "Premarital Sex - Does it have moral implications?" not surprisingly, the posts quickly deviated to a discussion of love.

It is never ending this discussion on love and our need to find its true essence.

The other day a friend of mine sent me via email something she wrote in 2001. It is yet another perspective on the meaning of love which I found incredibly interesting. She is a writer and I thought that perhaps sharing this piece with all the readers of Cobwebs Of The Mind would be interesting. (Of course I have her permission to reproduce the whole piece here.) Since Cobwebs Of The Mind is about writing and publishing, this piece does have a place here.

What is thought provoking about this work, In Defense of Love, is that B.E. Meissner takes no captives nor prisoners. She is clear about what the word should mean and all that it should represent. If you are in the mood for something serious, read on. If nothing else, I think you will be forced to think about the author's perspective.

In Defense of Love

By: B.E. Meissner – 2001.

Throughout history, love has been both praised and shunned by man, but at no other time has a worse injustice been wrought against love. Love – once reserved as a response to the highest values of Man – has been perverted by philosophers to mean a kind of selfless duty; as consequence, men have come to view the simple phrase, “I love you” as meaning: “You owe me.”

Equating love with duty demands that everyone love his fellow man without cause. Under this demand, Man is supposed to love with equal fervor his wife and a thief; his child and a killer; the productive and the bum on the corner begging for change. He is never to consider each person’s value or lack thereof. In loving everyone, Man loves nothing. It is only value that makes love possible. Where value is lacking, love cannot exist. No amount of duty will make that fact any different.

Although it is often used as such, the phrase “I love you” is not a whip with which to beat a similar proclamation from a loved one nor is the phrase a salve for easing pain. Love is too valuable to be used as such. If one says to his wife that he loves her in an attempt to avoid disappointing her, one is guilty of devaluing love. If one says to her husband, “I love you” in order to force him to profess his love, one is devaluing love. Love is not a debt owed to anyone without cause. When someone says, “I love you,” one is not duty bound to repeat it back to them like a parrot – one is duty bound to oneself to say those words only to those who have earned it.

On the other hand, expressions of sincere love have been lost to milquetoast terms uttered by people afraid to express themselves for fear that the simple act of saying “I love you” will somehow indenture them to the person they love. ‘I love you’ is simply man’s way of telling another man that he is vitally important -- that the other person represents a mirror of his own values and that he enjoys having the other person’s presence in his life. Man’s ability to proclaim or accept true emotion where it exists has become atrophied and this is as a result of the dilution and misuse of the word Love by equating it with duty.

One cannot truly love an unknown panhandler or some starving child in another country; one can only love that which one values. Love is the deepest emotion one man can feel for another. Love is based on value and to love everyone or everything devalues everyone and everything. Only when Man refuses to either give or receive causeless love can ‘Love’ reclaim its place as the just response to the highest of his values.
I wish to thank B.E. Meissner for her permission to reprint this here.

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

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