Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Brotherly Love

Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. Yet, most people believe that love is constituted by the object, not by the faculty.

In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm describes to us what brotherly love should look like;
The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further his life. This is the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it says: love thy neighbor as thyself. Brotherly love is love for all human beings; it is characterized by its very lack of exclusiveness. If I have developed the capacity for love, then I cannot help loving my brothers. In brotherly love there is the experience of union with all men, of human solidarity, of human atonement. Brotherly love is based on the experience that we all are one. The differences in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in comparison with the identity of the human core common to all men. In order to experience this identity it is necessary to penetrate from the periphery to the core. If I perceive in another person mainly the surface, I perceive mainly the differences, that which separates us. If I penetrate to the core, I perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood. This relatedness from center to center--instead of that from periphery to periphery--is "central relatedness." Or as Simone Weil expressed it so beautifully: "The same words [e.g., a man says to his wife, "I love you"] can be commonplace or extraordinary according to the manner in which they are spoken. And this manner depends on the depth of the region in a man's being from which they proceed without the will being able to do anything. And by a marvelous agreement they reach the same region in him who hears them. And by a marvelous agreement they reach the same region in him who hears them. Thus the hearer can discern, if he has any power of discernment, what is the value of the words.
Brotherly love is love between equals but, indeed, even as equals we are not always "equal"; inasmuch as we are human, we are all in need of help. Today I, tomorrow you. But this need of help does not mean that the one is helpless, the other powerful. Helplessness is a transitory condition; the ability to stand and walk on one's own feet is the permanent and common use.
Yet, love of the helpless one, love of the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love one's flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. The helpless one loves his master, since his life depends on him; the child loves his parents, since he needs them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, love begins to unfold. 
Excerpt From: Fromm, Erich. “The Art of Loving.” iBooks.
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This is the quality of brotherly love that we all hope to be met with as we journey along a common road; one that moves us toward greater liberty, justice and peace.

This is no time to be caught up in standing still.

Move, be moved and move others.

We are not here simply to take up space or evolve at the slowest possible pace.

Our time here is limited, but not the potential that abundantly lies within us.

You don't need physical wings to sore like an angel.

Simply allow your heart to be set free and go on love as if there is no tomorrow.

In this way, you, others and everything around you, including the very ground upon which you traverse, will be all the more richly nourished.

It is my strong hope that you will find your own way to both trust and more importantly practice this universal truth!

Shimmering Hope - Words meant to inspire,
Learn to move, be moved and to move others
Jonathan Dunnemann

Becker (1992) offered a comprehensive review of prior philosophical efforts to sculpt the good life. From these, he generated a list of "criterial goods" that embody lives well lived.  These begin with fundamentals, such as the material conditions necessary to sustain life, or to have basic states of consciousness and understanding, but then move upward to more complex aspects of selfhood: self-command (the ability to resolve states of consciousness into acts of will) and self-love (the self-esteem required to avoid self-destructive acts, and self-respect required to defend one's liberty and integrity).  Qualities of connection to others are also emphasized, such as mutual love (reciprocal desire, affection, empathy, and conviviality) …, along with elements of social responsibility like benevolence (concern for the well-being of others), and rectitude (morally right conduct). Reflecting enduring philosophical themes, Becker discussed the harmonization of reason, desire, and will (the unification of multiple and often conflicting elements of action); life as an aesthetic object (the life that is beautiful, sublime, a work of art); and exemplification of goodness-of-a-kind (capturing Aristotelian accounts of excellence-the perfection of a thing, be it an individual, a human community, or a tradition).[1]

My vision is to eventually establish a Center for Interspiritual Dialogue. Those involved ideally will be spiritual practioners who are able to demonstrate and teach how not to judge others, to be at ease in entering into unfamiliar cultural and religious settings, to transcend dogma, and to collaborate with others in designing and delivering spirit-filled and loving publc school, after-school and summer programs that focus on universal moral values like the Golden Rule.  I sincerely believe that this will facilitate development of acceptance, compassion, loving-kindness, positive traits, improved coping and life-skills, and resilience and tolerance in children, youth, and adolescents-in-transition to adulthood.
[1] Ryff, C. D., and Singer, B., (1998). The Contours of Positive Human Health. Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 9, NO. 1, 1-28. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Letting Go of Your Angst Leads to Personal Freedom: Flexing your will power
Jonathan Dunnemann