Monday, October 03, 2016

Love and Anger

I have heard it said that love is more powerful than hatred or anger, or that love is incompatible with hatred or anger. I do not know if love is more powerful than hatred or anger; the world has seen all sorts of hateful people rising to powerful positions and all sorts of loving people who wound up in the gulag. As for these things being incompatible with each other, that is wrong. If you love a woman, you would be angry at people who hurt her. If you love your child, you would be angry at someone who rapes your child.

I suppose the issue here is the definition of love. I cannot be expected to extend romantic love to every woman; I will extend it to woman for whom I feel it. I cannot be expected to extend parental love to every child; I extend it to my child. I have no expectations of anyone else to the contrary. Indeed I consider such expectations to be a folly.

With Christlike love, meaning extending to people compassion and understanding without partaking of their follies, it may very well be reasonably expected that one do so to everyone. However I have very rarely seen this actually done, even by many people who see this as their value. I have seen this done by some people. I regard these people to be saints. What they have is workable; however it is in no way an easy thing to achieve.

Even Christ however got angry at some people. If God is love – and God gets angry, as he has done of course many times – then love and anger are in no way incompatible. As Solomon said, there is the time for everything. If you do not feel anger at someone who rapes your child, you are not being enlightened; you are being a wuss. A loving parent would very much be angry at such a thing, and I would never expect of anyone to the contrary.

Now it may be very well valid to extend understanding even to people who do in fact do such a thing. But to expect someone to not be angry about it is ridiculous. I would be angry if such a thing were to happen; and I have no expectations of anyone else to the contrary.

When I was in my early 20s, living in the Silicon Valley with a beautiful girlfriend, a fellow came over from Louisiana. He gave me a line about love being incompatible with anger and how can I, being angry at some people, be actually loving. He got a job through me with a computer company; borrowed a Jeep on a loan from them; and then skipped off down the road in the Jeep without making the payments. What we see here obviously is not love; what we see here is conmanship. There are many guys who are seen by others as nice people, but who are actually mean and dishonest. Whereas very few people see me as a nice person, but I am actually loving.

Once again, I do not know if love is more powerful than hatred or anger. It does work to understand people, but understanding is not the same thing as love. I can understand why Germans listened to Hitler; but that does not mean that I approve of their choice to follow him. The same is the case with women who followed Catherine McKinnon or the men who followed Osama Bin Laden and Eminem. Do by all means understand where they are coming from; but do not buy into their errors.

As for the leaders of all these movements, one should be angry at them. All of them have encouraged horrendous behavior, which fell on the shoulders of all sorts of people who have done nothing wrong. The Jews in Germany were not responsible for Germany's problems; the Treaty of Versailles was. The men nearest the liberal centers of learning and culture did not invent misogyny; in fact they were the least misogynistic men out there. The girls in Islamic, right-wing and disadvantaged communities did not invent feminism; most of them are willing to treat men well. All of these movements hurt all sorts of people who had done nothing to cause either social problem, and in all cases the results have been disastrous.

I do not see why either emotional state should be more powerful than the other. But what appears to be more powerful than both is intelligence. This, of course, can be used in service of hatred, love, or anything else under the sun. That has always been the case. That always will be the case.

In my case, I am not using this in service of either hatred or love. I am using it to correct errors. I do not only use intelligence; I have had all sorts of influences – both intentionally and not intentionally – and I have empathized with many such influences, as well as with any number of people. This gives me a full picture, combining the perspective of observation with the perspective of experience. It makes it possible to understand both the experience of the participants and their effects on the rest of the world. This does away with both the error of mere observation – that of coldness and lack of compassion – and the error of mere experience – that of mindlessness. I may not be the only person who does such a thing, but I have found it to be a superior methodology than that of either experience or observation acting alone.

Should one, as Christ advised, love one's enemies? Maybe; but do not love only them. Love also the people whom they stand to hurt or deceive. When a woman told me that she was praying for the death of her ex-husband I told her that she could not do such a thing. I told her to pray both for him and for the people he stood to hurt. That way she would be doing what the Bible wants her to do, while also addressing her legitimate concerns for herself and any number of others.

Once again, I do not know if positive emotional states are more powerful than negative ones. I do however see things that are more powerful than both.

So that while I may be legitimately expected to be compassionate and understanding of others, at no point can I be expected to love them the way in which I've loved the women I've loved. Nor can I be expected to love everyone in the way in which I love my daughter. Define love precisely, then say which love is appropriate and for whom. I will not love just any woman the way I've loved the women I've loved, and I will not love just any child the way I love my daughter. But if the task is to be compassionate and understanding of others, I am game.


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