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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 Involves Responsibility

            Before man can love all men or any man, his first responsibility in love is, and always will be, to himself. The Gospel statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," presupposes self -love and suggests that man "shall" love others to the extent to which he loves himself. We have already discussed this love of self in a previous section, so we shall not belabor the fact. Suffice it to say that only to the depth and the extent to which one feels responsibility to grow in self love, so can he feel this toward helping others to do so. All men are related to a greater or smaller extent, interconnected, and each man who comes closer to himself in any way comes closer to others.

            Albert Schweitzer said repeatedly that as long as there was a man in the world who was hungry, sick, lonely or living in fear, he was his responsibility. He affirmed this by living a life in this belief; a life of the loftiest order, the highest fulfillment, the greatest joy, the most elevated dignity and, therefore, the most towering love.

            Society has not produced many Schweitzer's, but all of us know and accept some level of responsibility to ourselves and to others. The fact is, to be human is to be responsible.

            Many men find it difficult to assume full responsibility for even themselves, let alone for another individual, or a group of individuals. Therefore, the idea of being accountable for a "family of man" seems to them inconceivable, unrealistic, idealistic nonsense.

            When love is truly responsible, it is one's duty or need to love all men. Man has no choice but to accept this duty, for when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair. To assume this responsibility is for him to become is involved in delight in mystery and in growth. It is to dedicate himself to the process of helping others to realize their love through him. simply speaking, to be responsible in love is to help other men to love. To be helped toward realizing your love is to be loved by other men.

            Men have been known to approach this responsibility to love from different means, but the ends are always the same, universal love. Some begin with a deep personal involvement with another individual. From this, they learn to love cannot be exclusive. They learn that if love is to grow, it will need diverse minds, innumerable individuals, and the exploration of varied paths. No one human being can afford him all of these things, so he must enlarge his love to include all mankind in his love. The more all encompassing his love, the greater his growth. The love of humanity is the natural outgrowth of love for a single individual. From one man to all men.

            Herbert Otto state: "Only in a continuing relationship is there a possibility for love to become deeper and fuller so that it envelops all of our life and extends into the community." For only a deep relationship offers "the adventure of uncovering the depth of our love, the height of our humanity. It means risking ourselves physically and emotionally; leaving old habit patterns and developing new ones; being able to express our desires fully, while sensitive to the needs of the other; being aware that each changes at his own rate, and unafraid to ask for help when needed."

            Others have felt that anything less than love of all men is not love at all. They argue that who does not love all men sincerely cannot love even a single person deeply, since all men are one. Loving all men is the same as loving each man.

            Kierkegaard is one of the chief proponents of this idea. He says, "It is, in fact, Christian love which discovers and know that one's neighbors exist and that.it is one and the same thing.everyone is one's neighbor. If it were not a duty to love, then, there would be no concept of neighbor at all. But only when one loves his neighbor, only then is the selfishness of preferential love rooted out and the equality of the eternal preserved."

            In dedicating himself to humanity, Schweitzer, on the one hand, finds it to be only an extension of the love he felt for each living thing. through loving a single person, Herbert Otto feels that one acquires enough strength to assume the responsibility for the community of man. No matter which way it is approached, one finds that love is not selfish and exclusive, but selfless and inclusive. The fact remains that the world still finds it difficult to accept universal truth. If one loves only himself, he's labeled egocentric, self-centered and selfish. If he loves himself and a small community, including a wife and family in his love, society will call him a true lover and praise him as a sound man. But, if he loves all men in an extremely high -minded manner, he's often ridiculed by the world as na´ve, fanciful and foolish.

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