Is Love The Answer – Part II
Another ride home from Greg’s, and that same old song plays, “Love will find an answer. Love will find a way.” There’s always more to say about love…
I suppose if I’m to label myself as a philosopher and follow in my proper stereotype, I should spend some time talking about what I think love really is.
Love is one of those subjects all philosophers and sages talk about, isn’t it?
In ‘Is Love the Answer’, part I, I basically said that most people’s conception of love is vague, but did not go into any detail about what a decent conception of love would be. This time I’ll offer what I believe is a good conception of love, or at least, the best I’ve found so far.
First off, I do not believe Love is solely the answer to the world’s problems. I have seen people who are very loving, and very kind, but who still cannot solve the problems I, or others, are facing. A lot of people would like to help, but there’s still nothing they can do for you. Also, oftentimes, kind people do stupid things, even when they mean well, and end up hurting people regardless of their intentions.
This leads to our first note of distinction: The good life, which leads to happiness, needs more than just love. What is lacking? Knowledge.
The good life is an indissoluble union of love combined with knowledge. Love in and of itself is nice, but will not produce the effects required to bring about human happiness.
I remember reading a book by Bertrand Russell, and he was talking about this same topic. He gave several examples of this. Imagine if you were sick with a terrible disease. You can have all the friends in the world who will come by your side, stay with you, and encourage you, but in the end, what the person really needs to be happy once again is a physician who knows how to cure his disease.
Another example of love without knowledge could come from history. During the Middle Ages, whenever a plague would break out in a community, the priests would order that all the people come together in the church and pray to God that the plague end. This in turn made the plague worse, and the community was nearly wiped out. This is an example where knowledge was lacking, but the priests meant well.
We’ve been speaking vaguely about love so far, but could we define it decently? I think we can. Love is a union of delight and well wishing for the object in question. I’ll elaborate on this.
We’ve heard of beautiful women marrying rich men. There’s always the question, “Do they really love each other?” It depends. I think there’s delight there, no question. The woman delights in the money, and the man in the sex, but is there well-wishing to one another? That’s between them, and not for us to judge. If you see the two seperate over something silly, or fighting, etc, then no, true love was not there. This is an example of delight without well-wishing.
You can also have well-wishing without delight. How I view others sometimes falls in this category. Oftentimes, when I encounter people who are rather unintelligent, I wish them well, but I do not particularly enjoy conversing with them. Well-wishing without delight makes a person come across as cold, but the love is genuine. I’d still wish them well regardless of how dumb they are. Those who delight in you, conversely come across as warm, but the love is oftentimes ingeniune without well-wishing. Delight can come and go with the wind.
Some say knowledge brings with it sorrow. To a large extent this is true. All the faults that you before did not see, now start to manifest themselves right before your eyes. Delight in anything but the excellent becomes harder and harder. You start to see all the lack all around you.
To me, this sort of thing has been painful. Knowledge brings with it a closer and more vivid conception of perfection. This ideal shines in front of you and when you leave your mind and look behind you, over your shoulder, you see just how short the world is of all it could be.
It’s particularly painful to me when I see men delighting in physical attraction. It’s too delicate. Sexual attraction is so hard to maintain, and it is so easy to off balance. A person can burn themselves in the face, acquire a scar, a disease, etc., and beauty can be gone in the snap of the fingers. I hate seeing men delight in beautiful women. I feel sorry for the women because they’re walking on a tight rope, high in the sky between two buildings, with strong winds blowing in every direction. They’re inevitably going to fall. Either they’re going to get sick, injure themselves in some way, or get old. Beauty will leave them, one way or the other.
I wonder if this is the reason why you see so many attractive women, unwilling to do anything active besides sex. They always want to go experience passive entertainment, where they basically stand or sit there, look pretty, and move very little. They won’t play sports with you, won’t wrestle you, and won’t do anything where their body could be damaged. They all label this as being “feminine”, but the underlying motive may likely be rooted in not wanting to tarnish their beauty.
Delighting in sexual attraction also leaves many women to be judged on things they have no control over. Some women are born pretty. Others are not. (All this applies to men as well). I’ve settled in my own heart never to judge a woman by her looks. I admit, I find delight in nice looking women as much as any other man, but I have cultivated my mind enough to find delight in other things, which are far more important, and actually capture to essence or the “self” of the person. Unintelligent people neccessarily have to delight in sexual attraction and instinctive feelings aroused by the other’s presence.
Existentialism has a concept which they call authenticity. It’s a concept I’ve been meaning to write a solid journal entry on, but have not yet. I wrote a journal entry on the ‘higher principles of women’ a while back, where I set down three qualities I found most important: 1) listening, 2) love of life, and 3) intelligence. Authenticity is a huge factor.
What is authenticity? I’ll give a few examples.
I don’t believe a girl’s hair says who she is, but how she styles her hair does. How well a girl is curved does not reflect who she is, but what she’s chosen to wear does. How pretty a girl’s face is does not reflect who she is, but how she’s chosen to animate herself does.
Some people say not to judge a woman by her weight, but I do. I won’t judge her on her base looks, but if a woman is heavy set, that reflects who she is, her habits, what she eats, self-discipline, etc.
They say not to judge a girl by how much money she has, but I will judge her on her view toward money. How spend-happy or wise a woman will be with any resources placed under her direction is a huge issue in a relationship
Even organization captures an essence of a person’s identity. They’ve chosen to be messy, or they’ve chosen to be a very neat and organized person.
Authenticity captures a person’s decisions. The “self” of a person is the summation of all their decisions, including future decisions they’re going to make. This is why goals, written or unwritten also form the self. People form their self. They have limited control of things like their body, or their family, but the decisions they choose, and how they choose to think, and what they plan to do with the rest of their life does reflect who they are.
You should always delight in the authentic aspects of someone. Judging people on something other than their decisions is not judging them, it’s judging God. Or if you don’t believe God created the universe, then you’re judging the universe. Either way, you can’t blame the person in question for things they had no control over.
That covers delight, now to well wishing.
I was one time talking with a young girl (14 or 15 yrs old), and the conversation was related to relationships at her age. I made the statement that relationships are not real at her age, and do not have the components neccessary to make them successful. She, of course, objected, but I didn’t bother arguing with her.
Most young people’s love is simply in delight. It’s an instinctive feeling they get when around someone else. Normally they find the other person attractive, either in personality, or sexually. It’s always inexplicable, because it is irrational. This is, I suppose, half of what love is, though it’s inauthentic delight. It’s delight in things that both they, or the person they “love” had little or no control over. They seem to me to be more or less puppets with embedded, unseen magnets pulling them toward one another. It seems all very shallow to me, though you do have to remember, all ethics, and all thinking is to bring about happiness, not authenticity.
Even if they are puppets, being pulled toward one another by fate, if they’re happy, they’re happy. The point to be made here though, is that these unseen magnets are unreliable and based in shallow things, and oftentimes leave people unhappy with what they’re pulled into. This is why you need to delight in better things than these default magnets.
Oftentimes, however, well-wishing is added to this delight and we have a type of full love for one another. In my experiences seeing relationships, this is rarely exhibited, but it does happen from time to time. What I most typically see is well-wishing as long as the delight is there. When the delight is gone, the well-wishing goes right along with it.
I don’t myself believe you can have a successful relationship at all without knowledge. Knowledge of each other mainly, but also knowledge of the human dynamic in general. This is where well-wishing comes into play.
You can’t have well-wishes for somebody without understanding them. I don’t see how you can love someone you don’t understand. How are you supposed to know what’s “well” for them? You can only wish what you can envision, and if you don’t know them, you can’t envision them in the place they want to be, nor even remotely help them get there.
However, it’s still commonly believed by many that you can love people without understanding them. This leads to what I call “generic” love. Ever hear lines like “I’ll be there for you”, or “I’ll take care of you”, and the person saying these things barely even knows you? Love at first sight also embodies this same line of thought.
I’ve had this happen before. It’s an interesting phenomenon. To people like me, I immediately become sceptical and do not believe it in the least. You may think it makes you come across as a nice person, but really, at least with me, you come across as a liar not to be trusted. It actually works against you, not for you.
Where is this coming from? Most of the time it’s coming from motherly instinct. Women want to be this support. This foundation. Someone you can fall down onto when you’re needing a friend or someone to talk to. They want to take care of you. They also want to be needed. They want to be this corner-stone of the home. They have their saying, “Behind every man’s success is a woman”.
This is probably sometimes true, sometimes false. What successful men want is an intelligent woman, who knows how to handle difficult situations. When the man is in a rage of fury, after someone doesn’t do their end of a bargain, lies to them, or some other dreadful thing, and is on the verge of doing something stupid, the woman comes in and calms him down and tells him to be reasonable. She starts going over his interests, all he’d lose if he did the stupid thing he’s talking about doing, and then she offers the calm good counsel that intelligent people have to offer.
Generic women, with their generic love, do not work like this. Generic women have this generic role they wish to play. Instead of hearing wisdom come out of her mouth, you instead hear only the concluding remarks of what a real quality women would say:
“We’ll make it through this.”
“we can do this, together.”
“No matter what happens, I’ll still love you.”
Then she comes up to you, and hugs you.
I can’t say I think very highly of this. Where is the content? I don’t find this sort of thing helpful at all. I start to think about a terrible situation. Say you’re dealing with a tragic business situation. Maybe the IRS is trying to pin fake allegations against your business, and here’s your woman, saying “We’ll make it through this”, and gives you a hug. That’s ridiculous. What she’s really saying is, “You’ll make it through this.”
It’s incredibly easy to be generic. Anyone can. Generic women are worthless. She’s not helping. She’s no foundation. She’s not anything. She’s this mass of flesh in front of you, like a highly realistic tickle me Elmo with pre-recorded sayings. Squeeze her hand, “Nothing will ever come between us!”. Another squeeze, “We’ve been through much worse!” Final squeeze, “I loovvveeee yyyooouuuuuuu.”
The generic woman is highly mistaken. YOU’VE made it through much worse. SHE’S going to sit back, as she always does, while you take care of the formidable difficulties.
I hate cookie cutter, generic relationships. No authenticity. I could see a personals ad for such a couple: Purely instinctive male seeking purely instinctive female. Make sure to be pretty and know all the generic condolences, love-one-liners, and commiserations.
Love at first sight is nonsense. I see Hollywood movies hyping this all the time. You can’t love someone you don’t know. I saw some Sandra Bullock movie, where she fell in love with some business man whom she would see day after day as he boarded the train. She had never talked to the man. The movie played this uplifting, almost magical music as she finally made her way to talk to him for the first time. I suppose this is when you’re supposed to go, “Awwwwww.. Go Sandraaaaa!” I was thinking, “Poor teenagers and other people, who believe in this sort of thing. They’re going to get hurt, and bad.”
Sandra had been fantasizing about this event for some time, and thinking in her mind over and over what she was going to say. This is exactly what NOT to do. You’ll be all weird to the person you’re going to talk to, and show an unduly affection which will confuse and repulse them away. Also, the possible rejection which shouldn’t bother you if realized, will become a catosphre because now the man you’ve dreamed about for so long isn’t going to work out like you dreamed he would. You’ve set yourself up for both pain and failure.
I was glad to see one thing, however. The movie portrayed the outcome realistically. She made a complete idiot out of herself, basically froze, and lost her train of thought. I can speak from experience on this one: that is what happens. I still don’t see why the movie was playing the uplifting music. The Jaws theme would’ve been much more appropriate.
Whatever feelings you may have for the “first sight” person must neccessarily be in sexual delight. What else could it possibly be? It certainly has no well-wishing. You can’t wish well for someone you don’t know. You don’t know what they’re wishing to happen in their lives! It has to initially start from some sort of initial attraction, but this needs to be viewed as the initial upstart. You don’t walk into the full bliss of the relationship from the start.
I believe that love, like contentment (appreciation), is something you only acquire over time. Most relationships flow in the opposite direction. I always hear about men dating women, and how the men would treat the women well initially, but after marriage, they start to slack up, the romance dies, and things start to go downhill. What died is delight, and the delight was rooted in sexual, and instinctive attraction. Intellectual delight, in wanting to understand one another, and mutual knowledge pursuits never dies. The complete opposite effect will happen to those who are attracted to the other’s more authentic mental aspects. As you learn more and more about each other, you become good friends, who understand each other, and that understanding becomes a foundation of both of your lives. You become a team, mutually working together toward goals you both want to accomplish.
I don’t think this line of advice will ever be popular, however. It’s just like get rich quick schemes. People want to believe the rich people out there just got lucky, and that it had nothing to do with determination and work. They want to believe that love is easy, and that they can just fall into a blissful relationship. They want to believe that happiness is some thing that comes by chance, and those who have found it just got lucky.
Sorry folks, that’s not how it works. You can experience a sort of instant bliss at the start of a relationship, due to instinctive God-given beginnings, but it seems nature has started a timer off with every relationship. You have a short period where the sexual and instinctive will carry you, but eventually God wants you to step up and admire more authentic things, the greatest being knowledge and wisdom.