Love Is..

Paul E. Schoen - July 15, 1996

My definition of love would be unconditional caring. This could be for another person, a group of people, a cause, a nation, or God. The unconditional part is very important. Love is diminished when one expects something in return. The more we expect, the less we love. It is the ultimate expression of unselfishness.

We may hope for a positive result, but we should not be disappointed if we do not see it. If we hope for some good to come from our caring, it should be in the greater sense. When one performs an act of love, the result may not be directly returned to its source. However, if the act is genuinely good, results may manifest themselves in many subtle ways that eventually return in a surprisingly powerful way.

If one should meet another person with a similar outlook, it should be possible to establish a highly cooperative and satisfying relationship. If each person has only the other's best interests at heart, strives to satisfy their needs, and keeps communication open, there is probably no better situation.

Sadly, it is very rare for a person to adhere to and act upon this definition of love. We are, after all, only human, and it is natural to expect some immediate response to our efforts. It seems that it takes superhuman powers to give so unselfishly. Perhaps we can never achieve the full extent of this ideal, but it seems that many of us would benefit immeasurably by at least striving toward this goal.

Personally, I do try to love in an unselfish way, and constantly try to expand and improve on my efforts. I have achieved a level of inner peace that seems to make me feel satisfied with my lot in life, and able to deal with its many difficulties. However, I have so far been unable to find other people with similar philosophies, or perhaps I am unable to recognize it. I do not openly advertise my quest for finding like-minded individuals, but I would hope that my actions would speak for themselves.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the people with whom I almost exclusively interact are those with the most problems in expressing the type of unselfish love that I espouse. The Singles community is full of people with varying degrees of difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Those who have never married often have sociological, psychological, or physical problems that prevent long term relationships with people of the opposite sex. Many separated and divorced people have probably been damaged by years of trying to make a relationship work on terms that are impossible. When such people actively enter the singles scene, they are often highly frustrated and anxious to find a quick solution to their loneliness and hunger.

Love in the form that I suggest is very rare, perhaps, especially in the Singles community. Many people may be seeking that which is unrealistic or unhealthy, because they have psychological problems or essentially selfish expectations. Since this type of love is such that it tends to form long-lasting unions, perhaps most like-minded individuals are happily married.

Love is many things to many people. It is an extremely overused word, and may have lost much of its meaning due to its misapplication. It is used in such diverse ways as "falling in love", "making love", "loving to eat", "puppy love", "love slaves", "free love", "love child", "love handles", "love machine", and "for the love of God". A person may say "I love you" just for the hope of being able to "make love".

Our humanity often clashes with our animal instincts when our sexual needs are not satisfied, and we compromise ourselves for physical gratification. Desire and having the means to satisfy it often play out in games between people, which escalates in a pattern of greed and selfishness, which, to me, has nothing to do with love. Animals have clearly defined instinctual procedures for sexual interaction. People have built up many layers of tradition, taboos, and intellectualizations to complicate this process. Most people are very materialistic, and social institutions relating to sex often reflect this fact. Preoccupation with ownership of material goods sometimes extends to marital or relationship partners as well, and may lead to jealousy, distrust, and physical or mental abuse.

The subject of love is potentially extensive, and I do not pretend to have covered more a portion of the surface. I do hope, however, that some of the ideas I have presented scratch a bit of new ground, and touch upon something that has not been said before, at least not in the same way. I think my viewpoint on love, although not acceptable to everyone, may at least help a few people think about their own views and make some positive changes.

I would enjoy hearing feedback about my opinions.

Paul E. Schoen
July 15, 1996
have read this since October 22, 1996