What is Love?

One of my favorite phrases is “I’m not smart. I’m internet smart.” So instead of trying to answer this question on my own, let’s see what the internet has to say about love. A quick search for “what is love” gives me the following: “A strong positive emotion of regard and affection,” “A sensation that magically generates when the right person appears,” and “One of the most difficult questions for mankind.” Of course there’s a variety of videos, and a lot of songs offered up as well. But there’s no easy answer on the internet, not even the beginning of an answer.

At this point many would say that we don’t need a definition. Others would say that everyone already knows what love is, so there’s no need to waste time trying to define it again. Maybe they’re right. But I’ve never taken someone else’s word as truth, or not even question what they’ve assumed, without testing. The worst case is when everyone thinks they’re talking about the same thing, and it turns out they really aren’t. And there are so many factors that influence what we see as love: How you were brought up, your ideals, your ethnic background, your drives and your previous loving encounters; all of these influence what you see as love. And the same is true for me. The problem is that we have different ideals, ethnicities, drives and very different loving encounters. The definition is important because it’s the foundation to our building. The better the foundation, the stronger the house. It helps us move to a consensus on what is love, even if we don’t agree.

So, let’s start again. What is this thing called love? It covers quite a bit of territory. From a single glance to a lifetime of commitment. From a single searing touch to the ultimate offering; sacrificing yourself in defense of your country. There is the commitment one may have to an animal, or group of animals. There is the attachment to an organization such as a school, or hospital, or sports team. There are those who are deeply involved with inanimate objects, or their art. Finally, there is the most intimate and possibly unhealthiest of all relationships in the broadest sense of the word – those who are in love with themselves.

Love covers a substantial range of relationships, and in such a variety of intensities that it’s no surprise it’s difficult to nail down. Maybe one of the other reasons it’s hard for us to understand is that we call them all by the same name. Why don’t we have different names for them, like the Eskimo have for all the different types of snow?

I’m going to take another stab at defining love as others do in our pop culture: Love is a many splendored thing, Love is all around us, Love is letting someone go, knowing they’ll come back, Love is eternal, Love is like a rock. Unfortunately, no matter how good these phrases and the music make us feel, they are all clichés. They sound good in a song or poem, but aren’t going to do us any good if we’re trying to develop useful tools. Some say that it’s impossible to talk about love without becoming a poet or lover. Perhaps everything I’ve said above is proof of this sentiment?

That’s a load of crap. It only looks hard because no one has taken the time to really nail down one specific thing that people do and call it by the romantic name of “love.” Since you and I are mavericks, we don’t have that problem.

The meaning of love here is an attachment between two people that lasts for a lifetime. That’s it. Not too hard, and it doesn’t matter whose life we’re talking about, because when one half of the couple dies, you don’t have two people any more. I’ll identify this special kind of love by capitalizing it: Love.

Now, some romantics are going to ask, what about the family? What about parents and kids? What about really close siblings, three or more? Why can’t they all be in Love? The answer is that they can! As far as we’re concerned, the Love that they share is only between two of them at a time. The Love that exists between a mother, father, and child is three-fold. That between mother and father, that between mother and child, and that of father and child. Each one must be treated separately for what we’re going to do.

Love is a lifelong attachment between two people. Now, where does Love come from?

 

Hate. Part 5.

Hello there. Yes, you’re reading an essay about hate. No, I’m not a fringe lunatic, I promise. It’s an exploration of something we are all familiar with, but don’t talk about much. This is the fifth experiment in this series, and I’d appreciate your feedback as to whether it works. A good subtitle for this essay is, Understand hate and make more money, today!

Hate isn’t one of those things we joke about often. Don Rickles was great at making fun of hate, because his audience knew he was joking when he said that he hated everyone. He would then call them by every pejorative name known to man, and the audience would laugh.  He was a comedian during the Civil War.  Look him up.

Today, even though we live in an age of comedy, hate gets short shrift. Why is that? Are we afraid of it? Will the very mention of its name give it power, like Voldemort? Or are we paranoid? Let’s do a thought experiment and find out.

Got your lab coat on? No, not the one with long arms that nurses buckle in the back, the regular one. Alright, here we go.

Hello, Hate? How do you do. Let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Reader. Gentle Reader. Gentle, this is Hate.

At this point you shake hands, and we all sit down for a drink. By the end of our chat you and he discover that you’re old friends! Turns out that we’ve all known each other for a long time. Well, perhaps not you and I, but we have Hate as a mutual acquaintance. Though I dare say, you and I certainly seem to becoming fast friends as well. But I digress.

It turns out that Hate has been with us since we were born! Surely, as wee babes we didn’t need his services much, Mum and Dad sheltered us enough. But as we grew and became mobile, more independent, and curious, his services were needed more. Mum had to prepare us infants for the real world.

She would say: Don’t touch that! Don’t go in there! Don’t put your fingers in the socket! Why, Mum, why? She’d explain, Because terrible things will happen. In the simplest of ways, Mum prepared us for survival. She taught us, in direct terms, to stay away from hot stoves, the stairs, electrical outlets, or trying to put pencils into our baby sister’s nose. Mum was brainwashing us! Some Mums continue even while we’re adults, but it’s particualrly important for a child to be properly brainwashed. Our brain is open and unorganized. We don’t know danger’s face.

Mum and Dad altered the way we think, without us having to know why. That’s the very essence of hate.

Hate, as we talk about him today, dresses like a Hollywood vampire (black or white hoodie, take your pick) and always has a darker side with a predilection for the dramatic and violent. Not so! This is not who Hate really is! Hate is a different animal than that charicature. Hate has depth and nuance, a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side, much like anyone else once you get to know them well enough.

Let’s go back to that electrical outlet, figuratively. To make this more exciting, you and I are toddlers, and you found a paper clip! First off, the paper clip was tested for edibility. Yuck! Double yuck! So, paperclip edibility test has been performed AND replicated. This is very important in science, even babies know this! That’s why you often see them repeating their experiments, like dropping the spoon off their high chair. Conclusion – not tasty! But now I’m holding the paperclip, dust-free and dripping with saliva.

Ooh! I spot the electrical outlet. Exciting! We share the joy of discovery as we toddle closer. We go towards the outlet because we like it. It looks interesting, and what we like we are drawn towards.

But wait. You remember a lesson from Mum. “No” she said. “Bad” she said, along with many other words we don’t understand. Even No and Bad are meaningless to us, because we’re still learning the lingo. But Mum looked upset, angry, even agitated. And even as a newborn we know when Mum is upset. It’s one of many instructions we receive from the DNA machine as it’s putting us together. It’s part of our toolkit as soon as we’re out of the womb. We HATE to see our Mum upset, it’s part of our genetic makeup!

So, we no longer like the outlet. In fact, our Mum’s remonstrations have convinced you to stay away from the outlet. I give you the greater share of common sense throughout this, Gentle Reader, because history proves that I would always be the one most likely to put something into an electrical outlet. You stop. You scream. I stop, bewildered. What’s wrong with you?, I think.

In that moment you have turned from liking the outlet to hating it. Your hate, without reason, says “avoid the outlet!” You communicate that information to me in your inimitable voice, I ponder. I still like the outlet, and head towards it. At that moment, our stalwart Mum appears, instantly seeing what happened, and saves the day. Along the way, she gives both of us yet another lecture on why we hate outlets, and paperclips. Of course, baby lectures are nothing like college lectures. For one thing, they are very short, and usually entail one word, “No!” Then again, a bably lecture is very much like a college lecture in that none of us take notes, and our retention is about 5 minutes, or until dinner is served, which ever comes first.

Hate, by its very nature, means to avoid something without reason. It is a way to influence our thinking in the most basic of ways. Stay away! Bad! Don’t ask questions! These are the slogans of the Hate family. And we all have friends in this family, whether we admit to it or not.

In the next essay, we’ll explore our deeper relationship with hate. Why? Because there’s a good chance you’ve grown up and , by way of example, are no longer afraid of electrical outlets. In fact, I’m willling to bet you’re sticking things into outlets all the time. Go on! Tell me it’s not true. See? Your ealiest introduction to hate is gone.

But other members of the Hate family are still your friends, perhaps without you even knowing that they’re still living in your mental house. We’ll talk about some of them next, so that we can get a better picture of how hate still lives with us in society.

Now, lest you forget, Gentle Reader, the real reason we need to get re-familiar with the family of Hate is because it is one of our most powerful emotions. And understanding how it plays out in our own minds is crucial in making good business decisions. Good writers, directors, and politicians know this and use our hate as a tool for their own success. Isn’t it time you capitalized on their secret? Step right up and make some money off your hate! Master it and make a fortune! Are you ready? Can you handle the truth?

Hate. Part 4.

My dreams of humanity’s future include limitless energies, space-faring families, a ravenous curiosity for the unknown, boundless optimism, ceaseless enthusiasm, confidence just short of arrogance, elimination of hunger and control of disease. Most importantly, my dreams for future generations includes eliminating hate. In many ways this one component of behavior is the single greatest obstacle between today’s civilization and the future of my dreams.

Why is hate important? More to the point, why is hate a monumental obstacle? Because, by its very definition, hate influences the way we think, the way we see, hear, and how we feel. It is hatred of “the others” keeping many children of Sudan, Angola, or Ethiopia impoverished, malnourished and mistreated. Such children become soldiers who, by rote, hate “the others” enough to continue the cycle anew. It is hatred of science keeping otherwise intelligent people away from knowledge. Such knowledge deniers are more likely to be swayed by peer pressure and lax logic. It is only by learning to see clearly that we can create the future of our dreams.

Then, why does hate exist? And, if we recognize hate as evil, why do we allow it to persist? There must be a strong biological reason for hate to be with us since the dawn of history. However, this essay is not going to explore that reason. Suffice it to say that, in certain primitive settings, hate can improve your chances for survival and reproduction.

Why then does it persist? Buddha, Jesus, and other prophets have recognized and warned us against hate. Why then do we keep it? Perhaps it’s because we like it? No, it is not the same like as liking ice cream, but the kind of like that is only recognized for the indirect impact it has upon our lives. Allow me to elaborate.

We are emotional creatures. This is not a choice, but how we are made. We can, and do, fight our emotions to some extent, but in truth our mental organism requires emotion as food. Witness the onslaught of both fictional and real drama bombarding us. Who likes whom? Who hates whom? Who has made up and made love to whom? The popularity of romance novels, mysteries and thrillers are ample evidence that we, as humans, require exposed emotions as our major source of entertainment.

If you accept that premise, please now consider this; hate is the most potent emotion driving most other strong emotions. [1] Hate makes drama. Imagine the Big Brother house [2] in which there is no conflict, no hate. Nothing happens. Everyone gets along. You would never watch such a boring show. You would never have the chance, because the producers would never air such a show. Good producers choose contestants who are strong emoters, and likely to conflict with others. They lock the contestants in a house together, turn cameras on, and Presto, you have instant entertainment.

Hate drives our conflicts. We love to watch conflict, that’s why hollywood produces so many. But to make our future dreams become real, hate must be abandoned, buried. How can this be shown in a simple book?

I don’t know. Emotions are not the answer. People want emotions for entertainment, not for serious study. Dry philosophical analysis? Doubtful, for even mention of the ‘ph’ word glazes the eyes of most, including me. What if there were a way to wrap a study of hate into its more nascent biological state, fear? And from our study of fear, we wrap again the entire package into a form of self-help and get-rich book? It may be that this is the best way to show the average person that their hate hurts themselves more than anyone else. And that by understanding and controlling their hate, their fear, it will be possible to see business opportunities that were hidden.

Perhaps we can create a future without hate after all, not by clamoring about how evil it is, or how the world will be a better place without it. No, perhaps the only way to get rid of hate in all of us is to show each one of us how much more money we can make without it in our lives!

 

[1] Love being the great exception.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(TV_series)

 

Hate. Part 3.

Are you angry? What does it take to make you angry, Gentle Reader? Not so angry as to hurt someone. Angry enough to want to change the direction of humanity?

Will it take your loss of income? How about the loss of some of your civil rights? Perhaps they aren’t tangible enough to inspire you. What about the fate of a child who is not yet born? Or the death of a foreign child? What about the death of my child? Or will it take the death of your child?

If you were Trayvon Martin’s father, how angry would you be right now? [1] Would you be angry at Zimmerman? Would you want to hurt him? Would you be angry at neighborhood watch programs and want to stop them? Would you be angry at the gun lobby that allows self-appointed vigilantes to roam with insufficient training or background checks? Would you work to make them illegal? Or would you work to hold them to higher standards? Would you be angry enough to appeal the court ruling within the justice system? Or would you be so angry as to want to change the justice system itself?

How angry would you be? Think about it and answer yourself. It’s important that you know how angry you can become before you read the next paragraph.

Now that you know how angry you are, being the parent of a murdered child who died for no reason, ask yourself this; How far removed can you become and still be angry? For instance, you are now the aunt of young Trayvon Martin. How angry are you now? Next, you’re a family friend. Now, how angry are you? Next, you’re a neighbor, several streets away. Finally, you are yourself, reading about events so far removed that they could be fictional. Can you still be angry?

How I wish that you would be angry. Not violence angry, but angry enough to want to change the world. Angry enough to want a better future for all children. Angry enough to question the why and how of everything we think and do. Finally, angry enough so that you read these words, consider the import of these ideas in pages to come, and incorporate them into your own life. Only by doing this in some small way can you influence the course of humanity’s future. And it’s only if enough of us join together that we will make a difference.

Oh, how tolerant and accepting you must be, for I am angry all the time. My anger is expressed in words, in grand philosophical concepts designed to preserve humanity. How do you express your anger? What does it take to make you angry? You know hate exists in the world. Do you tacitly accept it as inevitable and move on?

Gentle Reader, I want to energize you. Not only to read these words but adopt their intent and help move our world away from hate. What does it take to make you so angry that you take action? Action enough to voice dissatisfaction with injustice, ineptitude, or laziness? Action enough to right a wrong. Action enough to change the world.

It all begins with you. Are you angry?

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin

 

Thoughts on Love: What, How, and Who

Here are some of my thoughts about love.  Not a story, not a poem or metaphor, but about the very special thing we know as love.  This is about people attaching themselves to another person.  Sometimes the attachment lasts an hour, sometimes a lifetime.  All of these attachments, no matter how long they last, are what we call love.

Such a big thing in our lives, and there’s much to say.  This is a tiny slice about one aspect of love.  What I offer is a set of tools to help you understand and enhance love in your life. Real tools.  Nothing to buy, nothing to ‘believe’ and no special religions or brands.

There are too many facets of love to choose from, and way too much to say about each that the choice is hard.  The one and only one that I will focus on here is love that lasts a long time.  This can be the attachment of lovers, or more likely, the bond between mother and child.  In many ways they are the same, and the tools I will provide you help explain how they work, why they work, and how you can make them work for you.

How will these tools help you with love?  To start, they give you a way to understand love; a subject in which everyone is an expert, and yet one that nobody knows anything about, and most people continue to pursue.  Second, these tools allow you to better understand yourself, so that the more you use them, the better person you become.  Third, these tools allow you to better understand the ‘other,’ the person that is your partner.  In its greatest sense, love means a lifelong adventure learning about another person.  When it’s done right, you will have learned about your partner, and also learned about yourself.

Who am I to make such bold claims about what you will learn?  This implies I already know these things.  I am a humble person, probably like you, who has lived and desired love.  I’m fortunate in that I have been deeply loved by parents, and even more fortunate that I have found a partner and a child with whom I’ve lived and loved more completely than anything I could have imagined.

How does this make me any more qualified to write such a thing?  After all, there have also been millions of other lucky souls who have wonderful life partners.  What gives me the guts to take on the ultimate subject?  Not only have I been lucky, but I’ve been closely studying what makes people tick.  I’ve been quite the geek, a sponge of information and a follower in the ways of logic and science.  Last, I’ve been cheeky, because I don’t buy into the usual easy explanations or nonsense most gurus want us to believe.  As a result, I’ve put together a set of tools that work for anyone, anywhere, at no cost to you.  All you have to do is use them.

Who should read this, and who are these tools meant for?  Truly, anyone who is in pursuit of love will find something of interest.  Whether you wish to understand it in a new way, or whether you’re looking for yourself, or enhancing what you have. More specifically, these tools were designed for young adults.  Those who have new hormones screaming for action, and are just exercising the morals that ask them to wait and choose wisely.  Even more precisely, it’s for young adults living in an instantaneous world where machines do most of the work and almost all of the thinking.  It’s for young adults who expect to be entertained.  Finally, and tellingly, these young people must belong to a society that isn’t afraid to change.  This is important, because even though we may find love and become a couple, we still have to contend with the forces of our culture, many of which are pulling us apart.