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Forward To Love

Love As a Learned Phenomenon

Man Needs to Loved and Be Loved

A Questions of Definition

Love Knows No Age

Love Has Many Deterrents

To Love Other You Must First Love Yourself

To Love You Must Free Yourself Of Labels

Love Involves Responsibility

Love Recognizes Needs

Love Requires One to Be Strong

Love Offers No Apology

Love Has Many Deterrents

            Loving is never easy ad the man who has decided to live in love is liable to find many barriers to his growing in love. There is a man need to be loved and be loved But if he analyzes them carefully and astutely, he will be likely to discover that they are all artificial obstacles and mostly of his own making. In reality, they do not exist. They are, for the most part, simply excuses for not accepting the challenge of love. The man who falls a dupe to these deterrents condemns himself forever to remain much less than a total human being.

            There is a simple reason for man to blame his inability to love on factors apart from himself. He can insist, for example, that others are basically corrupt, depraved and unable to change. Therefore, would he not be foolish to try to influence them in any way? He can accuse man of being hostile by nature. Then isn't his decision to avoid contact with others well formulated, unless he is a fool, seeking to be hurt? He can point up that the endless obstructions which lie in the way of love are insurmountable and historically have always been. Would not his trying to remove these barriers be like an insect trying to change the course of a giant river? A waste of time and energy! Or he may sit back comfortably in the assurance that he is already a lover, satisfied with his ability to love and be loved. Would he not be foolish, then, to gamble his present security for a doubtful future?

            Man often hides comfortably behind these easily reinforced rationalizations for his entire life. He never sees their relationship to his inability to form serious, meaningful relationships or feel peak experiences.

            If he creates an image of man as basically hostile and evil, for example, he is wise to be hesitant to reveal himself, much less reveal his love for him, for in doing so, he becomes susceptible to hurt. It's easier and safer for him to sit alone, even if he feels a natural urge to relate to others, than run the risk of being shunned. His first assumption, of course, is that others will reject him. He seldom considers the fact that he runs an equal chance of being accepted. It does not seem possible to him that the person at the next table or across the room may have as great a need for him as he has for them. He elects to remain silent, alone and lonely and states as his basic defense, "What if I approach him and he turns away?" He seldom asks, "What if I extend my hand to another and he reciprocates with, 'Yes, please join me.'"

            I recall an evening in a bar in San Francisco. I was with several good friends. The conversation was animated. We were all sharing reactions to a wondrous day's diversions. I saw a gentleman at a nearby table, sitting alone, staring at his half-filled cocktail glass. "Why don't we ask him to join us? He seems so alone," I said. "I know what it means to be alone in a room full of people."

            "Leave him be," was the consensus of the others. "Perhaps he wants to be alone." "That's fine, but if I ask him, he'll have a choice." I approached the gentleman and questioned whether he would like to join us or if he would prefer being alone. His eyes lit up with surprise. He accepted happily. He was a visitor from Germany. As he joined our table, he told us that he had traveled the entire length of the United States without speaking to anyone except hotel receptionists, tour guides and waiters. Our invitation was a most welcome change.

            Of course, it must be admitted that some of the fault rested with the German gentleman, for part of the responsibility lies with each of us to reach out. If we take the risk, it is true that we may be rejected, but we must also remember that all men are also prospective friends and lovers.

            We tend to suspect man of evil more readily than of good. The evil about him makes the news media, the good seldom does. Considering the world's population, there are relatively few murders, robberies, rapes or major crimes. But when a crime does occur, we are certain to hear of it. Not simply because it's news, but rather because it sells news- papers. People seem to enjoy the sensational and find some pleasure in revulsion. But, in reality, the greater number of men are like ourselves. They do not voluntarily hurt another human being, steal from him or kill him. They can usually be trusted, are concerned and are friendly. Most live their lives without having to deal with police, courts of law or lawyers. This fact is taken, rather, as what is to be expected of man. The evil he does, on the other hand, is magnified. It is of interest for it is the deviation. But we act, often, as if the deviation is the rule. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the good in man was paid by the young Anne Frank, a Jewess who literally spent most of her short life hiding from the Nazis in a small apartment in Amsterdam and finally met her death at their hands. She was still able to write in her diary shortly before her murder: "No matter. I still believe that at heart man is good."

            Man learns evil in the same manner in which he learns good. If he believes in a world of evil he will respond suspiciously, fearfully and be constantly searching for and assuredly finding the evil he seeks. If, on the other hand, he believes in a world of good, he will remain confident, trusting, vulnerable and hopeful. To discern only the evil in the world and live willingly in its shadow, is to set up another obstacle to love.

            Another deterrent to love is the rationalization that there are too many forces prohibiting a sane person from loving. Though man, by nature, is a creator, he creates life and builds upon knowledge. He is often taught from an early age that his very survival depends upon his ability to destroy. He is pictured as being constantly at the mercy of a series of possible destructive forces. In fact, it is made to seem as if destroyers are those who actually thrive in the culture. It is understandable, then, that he has little incentive to use his creative strength to battle the forces of destruction. It seems so hopeless. Man is happiest when he is creating. In fact, the highest state of which man is capable lies in the creative act. man also need to be loved. Love always creates, it never destroys and it not offers apology. In this lies man's only promise.

            Thornton Wilder ends his amazing little philosophical novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, with the following statement: "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead. The bridge is love; the only truth, the only survival." it means that the love involves responsibility and truth.

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