Friday, September 20, 2013

The Mystery of Love

     In a previous entry, I concluded that the foundation of heroism is love. But what is love, exactly? I've held several different views on love, ranging from one side of the argument to the other. In exploring those arguments, I stumbled upon a conclusion that comes closer to the truth than any of the other beliefs that I've encountered. I don't think I've figured love out completely, but I do think I found a missing piece of the puzzle.

     Most people will tell you that love is an emotion, like anger or happiness. It's a fickle, capricious thing that flits from one person to another. It may burn strongly for one person for a long time, but after a while the "magic" departs and settles on someone or something else. But that's not the whole story, because there are hundreds of examples of what everyone would agree is love in which there is not that caprice, that changeable unpredictability. Do parents ever stop loving their children? Do dedicated husbands ever stop loving their wives? What about good friends who stay by your side over hill and through valley? Their love doesn't just float away after it has remained planted for years. There's another element to love.

     There's another side of this coin. One side says love is an emotion, the other that it's a choice. An intellectual choice, a decision. Love is deciding to give altruistically for another's good. You could feel nothing toward the person you're giving to, but as long as you remain dedicated to that person's good, you're loving him. Until very recently I thought that way was correct. There is an element of choice in love, but that's not all there is to it. Even if you choose to dedicate yourself to the good of others, you could still not love, or even hate them.

     This, then, is the idea that I stumbled across. Love is the estimation, the evaluation, of the worth of a person or thing. The more worthy the person is, the more you love that person. This conviction is reached through choice or through emotion, or both. Devoted parents feel emotionally the worth of their children, and therefore they choose to love them, protect them, and nourish them. A man could be at war with a bitter enemy, but if at some point he decides that his enemy does have worth, some value, then if he truly believes it, he will begin to love his enemy, both by choice and emotion. This belief leads ultimately to the conviction that the person loved deserves something from the person loving. It results in the self-sacrificing care that everyone longs for.

     Love is a mysterious thing, one that can't be figured out completely. But it is a good mystery. We see the fruits of it in daily nobility, in humility and self-sacrifice, in the grand heroism of our dreams. Love is a dark well from which countless good things spring.

     And by the way, if you, readers, happen to have any good insights into the roots and nature of love, I would be glad to hear them. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I've often pondered what love is, especially in reference to "God is Love". I think the reason God is love is because with God, when He loves its always an outflow. He chooses to love us knowing that He recieves absolutely nothing in return. Well, you may say He would recieve our love and gratitude in return. That's true but was that His motivation for loving us in the first place as if He was in need of love and gratitude from us? I think not. Why would God with nothing to gain love a people who don't deserve it, usually don't want it, and don't return it? If I could answer that, then I think I would know what love really is.