That all people are drawn to God is evident in the saying: God is Love. In one way or another, at some time or another, each one of us evidences that they love Love itself. We are the product of Love itself, by our love of things, namely beauty. We are in love with beauty, and at the same time we are attracted to love because of its own beauty. It’s almost become a cliché to say that Love is an action. But love really is a work, the highest expression of human dignity and to negate it is to extinguish a very real part of our humanity in who we are essentially.
One of the greatest temptations in modern society is the temptation to negate work while obtaining its ends. It’s a paradoxical problem, for love in particular, because while it is yet so concomitant to the formal and essential existence of mankind and the individual person we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking that the act of love can be left aside while getting at things such as sexuality which in truth is a beautiful expression of love. In reality, love, while being a labor in itself to various goods and ends, is not merely sought for these ends but for the sake of itself. And here is the proof of it: What is family without love? What is friendship with out love? What is sex without love? What is work without love? What is patriotism, or religion, or anything besides without love? We all know the very simple answer, which is that it is all vain drudgery. There is no enlightening that takes place in any of these apart from love. They become purposeless and base, essentially aimless, when existing only for the sake of themselves. Love alone is that which in existing for itself, exists for all things.
We cannot have things like family, friendship, sex, or vocation, as we really desire them, apart from love. Love itself is essential to the fabric of what we desire as human creatures. Therefore, apart from love, we cannot hope to obtain those things which make us human. It’s really quite profound that we cannot realize our humanity without the presence of love in society and in our own individuality. That’s why we call that which lacks love, inhumane, in the schema of human relations. Just as profound, while realizing our own humanity in love, our individualism and our communal identity bleed into one in the context of love. We are willing to do more than guard the integrity of our individual identity, sacrificing ourselves for that which would sacrifice itself for us, even aside from the knowledge that it is the case. In other words, we are loving before it is requited, when loving purely. This is where the greatest magnanimity of the human spirit is seen: unconditional and selfless love.
Much of man’s pain arises from the fact that he is awash with internal and communal paradoxes. It’s often said that people do the most horrible and senseless acts because they are afraid. That can be a difficult concept to grasp, and at first may not ring completely true. However, upon examination, we can unravel a perhaps a more articulate exposition of this truth, which is that man is in a state of seemingly hopeless despair. His despair comes from his inability to reconcile these paradoxes with each other and with what he knows and believes to be right and true. His despair comes from his quest to find himself, as he really is and to provide for that real man in accordance with his real needs. As stated early, man cannot realize himself as he truly is apart from love as it truly is.
Imagine the great psychosis we are all under to some degree. How often does time reveal our needs to only have been wants? How many things have we and do we view as essential that later prove only to be ancillary? In the course of life, how often do we cast ourselves upon fashion hoping to find ourselves therein, only to realize as we get older how shallow of a substitute those fashions were to something more real? This species of bewilderment and beguilement which man labors under also stems to greater things, such as ideology, politics, and economical systems. In a great irony, we begin to see clearly how hardly man sees at all. We are suddenly inclined to say with Socrates,” I am only [truly] aware of the fact of my own ignorance.”
There is one paradox in which man can hope to be lost in addition to the knowledge of his own ignorance, however, and that is his ability to while receiving divine love and attempting to share it in its fullness as he receives it, to give something genuinely to activate that participation; that ‘something’ is his very self. Participation with this divine love must be more than active, just as it must be more than an emotion. It must be active as an extension of something real within him. That is to say, love acted out in the form of charity and compassion, must be love from man’s inner intention finding extension in the world.
Herein, we see that practiced love is only half the matter. No amount of self giving or communal giving for the temporal and psychological needs of our neighbor could ever replace the true intention of the inner man. This is where love becomes hard. Man co-suffers with his neighbor when he truly loves, and he obtains this schematic from God who is Love. For this reason, it could not have been any other way, except that God override his justice with his mercy, to fulfill love, to co-suffer with his beloved, mankind. So, just as he as Love itself was called to co-suffering with his beloved, we are required by love to co-suffer. This engages our whole being, which is why Christ commands us,” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Naturally, we put at the disposal of our own pursuit of happiness all of our faculties. If we are to belong to God, we admit that we belong to love, and in belonging to love it is incumbent upon us to obey this command of co-suffering.
It is an arduous path to choose to love, over and over, because in light of our concern for self, which is ever present, it does not appear to us initially as the choice to love. On the contrary! This choice appears to us as the choice to suffer, and in such a fashion that it is to someone else’ good, or perhaps more pertinently that we do not suffer to our good. Similarly, we see ourselves suffering if we are selfish. This, however, is at least to what our own psychosis esteems as our pleasure and our good. Therefore, essentially the decision to act becomes the decision to suffer for someone else’ good or our own.
Much of mans inner dialogue centers around this very choice of preferment. In reality the choice is to suffer for the real good of others or the imagined good of ourselves. The only real good we can hope to achieve for ourselves comes from suffering for others. It’s a great mystery, but a very present and clear one. It’s a part of the paradox man may rightly hope to lose himself in. The conversation between mans passions and his conscience is evidence of his great nobility and dignity, and wherever his conscience is rightly informed and wins out he is noble and dignified. However, wherever his conscience surrenders to his passions he experiences degradation, while inflicting degradation upon his community as well, because at least in himself he is a part thereof.
In many ways, modern society has compounded mans proclivity to find the easiest route to pleasure and success. His genius, intellect and cleverness are part of his identity, and when in conjunction with his conscience and selfless love, do manifest the most noble of paradigms. But when out of the context of morality and conscience his genius loses its inherent nobility. It is important to note that the nobility of mans genius is inherent to its goodness, and that the divine meaning of his genius is more important than the genius itself. We see that love is the source of life, and not only, but good and abundant life. The nobility of genius, which it gets in the context of conscience and morality, subordinates it to love. Apart from love, the ends of genius become the bait of proverbial rat traps.
Without love, genius is dehumanized. If we look back to a time when the field of psychology had no substantive ethics, we see human genius misguided. In the attempt to understand himself and to gain knowledge that would be advantageous for mankind, we see psychologists engaging with some frequency and notoriety in positively atrocious experiments which degraded human beings into mere objects of experimentation. We see these victims of inhumane genius offered up, as it were, to so-called progress. We see the same sort of depraved medical experimentation, even more dramatically and horrifically, carried out by Nazi doctors in concentrations camps. In the attempt to obtain scientific and medical progress, these intellectuals who represent the apex of society made shipwreck of conscience in the name of society’s welfare.
We do the same thing as individuals when we choose to degrade other human being for our own pleasure, profit, and welfare. For instance, abortion, pornography, child labor, and unjust wages to name a few prime examples. The love which we owe our fellow man, the love which is incumbent upon us to give to our neighbor, our family, is negated in these. Humans are very adept at identifying goods, and I use that term not only in a tangible sense, but also psychosocially and metaphysically. These goods drive us, as an incentive to participate in the excellence of love. One of the most exemplary models of love, sex itself, is one such good. In the modern time, when man has been lead to believe that through various means he may obtain the ends of work, the goods, without work he is particularly susceptible in his sexuality. He is prone to believe that apart from the work of love, sex can be his. It’s the cheese on the rat trap, a trap that can only contribute to the destruction of who he really is, because who he really is can only be realized through the work of love.
Hitherto, we seem reaffirmed in the notion that the arduous path of love in which man realizes his true self is a choice. Not only, but that it is the highest expression of his dignity and that all things pertaining to him are concomitant to it. The only way to love, then, is in the context of this notion that all things are subordinate to love, making all life subordinate to love. How sad then that love has been turned into a game, that people, the young especially, are encouraged to treat it like a game. Even worse that they are given license by modern society to love with gravity as many as they see fit, capitulating the most sacred part of themselves in dating. Herein, whether or not sex is present, a confusion and obfuscation of love, of an immense order, is fomented. All this under the pretense that some how they will learn how to love, or the true meaning of love, through exercising their sexuality in perennial relationships with members of the sex to which they are attracted.
Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. ~Aristotle~