Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is Love?

What is love?

Our modern Western world, especially we Americans, has a rather simplistic interpretation of love. When many here in America speak of love and God, they say God is Love, and that Love is some kind of supremely sublime state of being that is wholly pure and beneficent. But, their own theology points to something different, and that is that love is not always beneficent.

Love can be selfish and dangerous. It is capricious, unpredictable, and painful. To love one must sometimes hurt the object of that love, and sometimes one must be hurt by it. It can make us blind to reality, or force us to see it so clearly that we can no longer view ourselves in a healthy way.

It can make us paranoid, jealous, and angry. It can make us thoughtful and vengeful, and in none of these is love ever truly inconsistent. All of these things, from the basest of lusts to the purity of that love you feel for your newborn child, love is actually very consistent. At least consistent in its utter chaos and unpredictability.

Where the Christian masses view God as Love and Love as a pure, almost passive thing, the Ancient Greeks did not see love that way at all. They understood, perhaps not always in philosophical terms, but they understood it none the less, that the deity we call love, that glorious Aphrodite, is and always will be a temptress that is capricious and not always out to give us fuzzy pink feelings inside. Sometimes we need to fear her, because sometimes love is more than we can handle, and it hurts.

Love is a precious suffering that we human beings surrender to willingly because love is also full of rewards that outweigh the negatives. That teen who is making your life miserable right now, will one day fill your life with joy when they grow into a human being of great character and bring you grandchildren. That man or woman who too often makes you want to strangle them also gives you a shoulder to cry on and that feeling that you belong. In that bond of love there is both joy and pain, and we accept both willingly because that is how the goddess wants it. Because getting into her graces is never going to be an easy thing. You don’t just walk in and have her like your whore, you court her and spend your life savings on her, because you know in the end, misery and all, she is worth it.

That is love. The willingness to accept it, for all that it is, and know it is worth it anyway.

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