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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 Recognizes Needs

            Man has both physical and emotional needs. His physical needs, though he spends most of his time - indeed, most of his life- meeting them, are the simplest to satisfy. Man requires but a small quantity of food- most of us eat far too mush- some shelter from the elements- we hardly need the large homes we live in- clothing winter- many still use a fig leaf in parts of the world - and, of course, nurturing and water. Everything beyond this is luxury, fine to have, of course, for comfort's sake, but not necessary for his survival. Two-thirds of today's world attest to this.

            But man has other needs as well: emotional needs. These, too, are few, but every bit as important as his physical requirements, yet not so simple. They aren't met, they can be as devastating as physical hunger, as uncomfortable as lack of shelter, as in- capacitating as thirst. The frustration, isolation and anxiety brought about by unmet emotional needs can, like physical privation, produce death or a degree of living death neurosis and psychosis.

            Still, aware of this, man continues to spend only a small portion of his time in the activities involved in meeting his emotional needs and in the process of aiding others toward the satisfaction of their needs. Certainly, there are few people who would consider their emotional needs important enough to warrant the equal time spent earning the wages with which their physical necessities are satisfied.

           Man's basic psychological needs are these. He requires to be seen, recognized, appreciated, heard, fondled, sexually satisfied. He must be allowed the freedom to choose his own way, to grow at his own rate and to make his own mistakes, to learn a love . He needs to accept himself and other human beings and be accepted by them. He desires to be an "I" as well as a "we." He strives to grow into the unique individual he is.

            Love recognizes all these needs or it isn't love. If any are unmet, the individual can never be totally realized and will remain hidden, in part, even from himself. It is much like a tree, certain branches of which have been kept from the sun while the remainder of the tree grows; the parts which have been deprived of sunshine will never develop in the normal way.

            The bank president, for example, may be a highly efficient, intelligent, accepted, respected, contributing member of the community. In all ways, it seems, he's like the strong growing tree. But his wife knows that when it comes to eating habits he has the limited tastes of a child, and in the bedroom, he is as impotent as one. Somewhere along in his emotional growth, he needed. The needs were unmet. In order to continue to grow, he put the need aside psychologically speaking and his eating and sexual habits remained at a childish level while the rest of him went on toward maturity. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the dynamics involved, which are far more complex and subtle. But the main point I wish to make here is the fact that man will suffer for unmet needs.

            Man has a need to be seen, heard and fondled. Love recognizes these needs. Each individual seems to be far too busy these days to Stop and look at or listen to anyone, even his own family. This, I call the "invisible man" syndrome. One is directly before you each day, at meals, in the living room, even in bed. You know he's there, but you don't see him, you don't look at him.

            If you love someone, you'll look at him carefully. He is changing each day through a beautiful, gradual process which you will surely miss if you do not learn to watch. When is the last time you looked at your wife or husband's face, your child's face, your mother's face? For that matter, how long has it been since you looked deeply at yourself, not while shaving or washing or putting on eye shadow, but at a moment of peace, just looking?

            The American black man has known this feeling of being invisible for years. So much so that he has called himself the "Invisible Man." The existentialist has formed a whole philosophy around the idea of the futility of man's personal Struggle for recognition, for his search for affiliation of his real existence and the meaning of that existence. A lover recognizes the need of others to be seen. He looks.

            Man needs to loved just as surely to be heard. I refer to the lack of this as the "cocktail party" syndrome. Here there are great mobs of people all gaily chatting at one another, exchanging what has been called "small talk." Much is spoken, but little is heard or listened to. It might be said that it is merely the setting of air into vibration does not become sound until it's picked up by the ear and the vibrations are translated and interpreted into symbols by the brain. The brain plays little part at the usual cocktail party except as an organ to be numbed.

            Even when one person does listen to another, he often hears what he wishes to hear. He has a capacity to choose or screen out what is uncomfortable for him.

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