Monday, 13 September 2010

The Beginnings of a Long Discussion

More than likely, I'll never articulate this argument fully here, because there's little time for it. But from the things I've seen, learned, experienced, and felt over the past several years of my life, here are a few (hopefully) coherent thoughts, and arguments, that explain my position on Love. It is, what I like to call, "Mankind's Biggest Emotional Fraud: Love"

There are several camps on this issue. There is the first one, which says love is purely an emotion. The second argues it is both an emotion and something else. The third would cry that love is merely a decision. And then there's me, and a somewhat small minority, who call love a fact. Whatever other camps exist, I'm unaware of them. Feel free to educate me if I've left a large idea out.

I come from the camp, a camp of my own making though others may have reached the same conclusion separately, that states Love is a Fact. I want to point something out to you that I found intensely interesting, though I do not use it as an argument for my belief but merely complimentary. Think about what people consider emotions. Sad, glad, mad, angry, frustrated, worried, resentful, happy, emotional and the rest. These are adjectives, or verbs; "Don't be sad, be glad. Don't be mad or angry at me!" "I am frustrated. I am worried. I am resentful." I am love? Don't be love? Be love? Love is a noun. Subliminally, the language recognises it's not the same.

But once again, not an argument. I'll begin with some obvious things. While most will concede love is an emotion that far exceeds the others, few will separate it entirely from being an emotion as I do. We all might say, well, buddy, what am I feeling then, this being in love? And my response is quite rudimentary: a feeling and an emotion are not the same things. Quibbling? No, I don't think so. While most of our emotions bring feelings with them, emotions are far from the only feelings we get. We feel physical pain, we feel emotional pain; sometimes certain emotions bring physical feelings as well as emotional feelings. The feeling is a result of the emotion, not the actual emotion.

Now that we've established that feelings are not always the same things as emotions, we can get a little deeper. One of my biggest arguments is that of reason. When you are feeling sad or angry or happy and I happen to ask you why, whether it is immediately obvious to you (and it usually is) or whether it is something you must search briefly for, the end result is the same: I'm sad because my father passed away; I'm angry because someone pulled out in front of me in traffic; I'm happy because it's my birthday. Well. "I'm in love." "Why?" What are you going to say? Think about either the person you are in love with, or any person you love. Now tell me the exact reason for that love.

A man might say, "Well, my wife is an excellent cook." Or perhaps, "She's sexy in a nightgown," or, "She makes me laugh, she makes me cry, she makes me feel myself." Those are reasons to be attracted to someone. They are not reasons for love. I'll ask you this. What if your wife loses the ability of her hands in a car accident? What are you going to do, search and see if you can come up with another reason for love and if you can't you'll file for divorce, or perhaps even worse, not file for divorce but continue in a marital relationship in which you have absolutely not love for her? What if she, heaven forbid, gets a little more plump than perhaps you'd like, or gets old, or loses in some other way her "ability" to look sexy in a nightgown? To get extreme, and perhaps somewhat frighteningly so to some of you, what happens if your husband or wife or family member suffers a serious brain injury that alters his personality?

As humans, we somehow think it's more noble to love a character trait or a personality posture over physical attractiveness and talent. Is this actually true? When it comes down to it, you're still loving for a reason, and the most fundamental thing about love is that it never, ever, ever needs a reason. Being attracted to someone brings you in close proximity with them in which you begin to love. It does not provide the reason.

Maybe you don't agree with me that people don't just love without a reason. Well, a lot of time it's for carnal desires or prideful reasons that love is given; that's not actually love. Being sexually attracted to someone isn't loving them, because it's not being attracted to them for their own good. Loving someone because he or she is a movie star and has great talent and fame isn't a reason for love; it's a reason to get famous and be associated with talented people without doing anything. Selfish to the core. Think, oppositely, about family. How many of you were born into a family you didn't choose? How many of you have relatives that you didn't go out and pick? Well that's the thing. Obviously you didn't pick. God picked.

Consider, briefly, love for family. My immediate and extended family is very large. I love each and every member of them. Most of them are amazing, great people; they are all that way in some aspects. But not all of them have personalities that are compatible with mine, and unless we were family, we would neither associate with each other or even get along at all. But we do, often seamlessly. Because we're family and...wait for it...you love your family. The only true reason for love that I will accept as valid is love for someone or something for simply and only what it is, whatever it is. The last three words are very important. If I ever get married, I may love her for who she is; but if she is in an accident that alters her completely, or takes away her talents and abilities, my love isn't going to go away if I actually love her.

I will add to this that loving someone makes things they are or do attractive. It's wonderful to love your wife because she's a good cook; but you have to understand that if she weren't your wife and you didn't love her, you might not actually enjoy her cooking. Why do you? Love makes people lovely.

God is love. He is not in love, He is not "an enjoyer of love" (though he may be those things to some extent), He IS love. Love is a fact. You can decide to make that fact happen; you can even get some good feelings to go along with it depending on the person you love. You can sometimes make the decision without knowing it because it's so easy. But let me tell you this, when the going gets rough, if you don't make that decision every moment, you'll stop loving not because the emotion died, but because you weren't dedicated enough to keep it alive.

The only reason couples, married or not, break up, or even friends for that matter, is that one or the other is unwilling to make a commitment to love. It's only unwillingness that keeps people apart. Is this wrong? Well, no, of course not. Many people are unsuited to each other; this doesn't mean they couldn't be happy in life for decades. It does mean they may want to find someone whose dreams follow theirs a little more.

Have I made a convincing argument for love being a fact? Probably not for most of you. But I have to go eat supper, so I'll leave this dreadfully long post here and wonder if anyone ever reads it. Maybe soon I'll get to the rest of my arguments.

6 comments:

  1. Good deal…I'm not sure exactly what love being a fact actually entails so I'm not sure if you've convinced me, but this is interesting stuff nonetheless.

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  2. I agree- very interesting. I enjoyed reading it here, and I also enjoyed listening to you talk at lunch about it. :)

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  3. :) Very well written layout of your ideas. You should write a book - hehe

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  4. How does factual love manifest itself? Just as faith without works is dead, so too, would love be without feeling or emotion. Would not making a commitment or a decision to love be the same?

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  5. Love manifests itself factually by the continual giving up of our desires for the sake of another, by willingly sacrificing the selfish urges in our own hearts for the good of the object of our love (in the case of factual love being given to a person; love changes depending on what it is bestowed upon).

    Love without emotion is no less real or living, though the true love for another will, over time, show itself most fully in the verb "to care". When we decide to love, it is not a decision to want what is best for someone based solely on the condition that we continually feel emotionally attracted to them or feel some sort of glowing rapture towards them. Romantic love may include those things from time to time; familial love rarely shows itself in the same way. Making a commitment to love is a commitment to want what is best for someone, not signing an agreement to "feel". We cannot always control feelings; whatever people say, it is impossible to summon, at will, whatever feeling we desire to obtain. In the midst of sadness, we cannot snap our fingers and say, "Be happy", so, too, can we not, when feeling less enraptured and "in love" with whatever object of our affections it may be, simply decide to feel. Love is more than actions, and often entails feelings; it is not, however, limited to the small world of emotion at all. I would argue that it is not only not just emotion, it is not emotion period. More to come later.

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  6. The difference between "decision" and "commitment" is not clear. Either circumstance may include the conditions of our choice. And either may be as devoid of emotion or feeling as our personalities dictate and therefore as full of those precious manifestations as our hearts will allow.
    Taking into consideration that on whom the love is bestowed has a great influence on the way it is shown, the questions here are more directly related to romantic love. Although sacrifice is one way of communicating love, as the object of continual sacrifice without emotion or romantic expression, one may begin to feel a separation from the lover who elevates him or her to a lonely, empty position of emotional vacancy. There are few who relish continually being worshipped from afar without the warmth of a tender embrace, a frivolous whisper, a passionate kiss. Could not love be described as a combination of emotions, feelings, commitments, decisions, sacrifice and perhaps even fact? Without the romance I fear love would be quite dull, even boring. Without the decisive commitments to carry through the periods of emotional lows or other hardships, I fear it is doomed to fail. Perhaps the "fact" of love is merely the determination, a continuity, a partnership to maintain a relationship through all seasons, come what may.

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