02 January 2008

On life, love, and the longing to survive

Over at TTMF, Jim Putnam wishes everyone a new year "...consumed with love. There is no substitute; not happiness, peace, wealth, security, or any of the conditions we wish one another."

I'd turned that over in my mind quite a bit, on and off, in between other things, throughout yesterday, before finding a response (in email) from frequent TTMF commenter Mac: "a year filled with love, peace, wealth and security - all of them!" After that response, I turned it over some more.

For many people in this world, security rates way above love as an immediate need: given the security of freedom from fear of death or worse by violence, they might find the time and psychological space for love. For those same people, security is intimately bound up with peace - and any hope of happiness requires both.

And yet ... of those three nonsubstitute alternatives suggested by Jim (wealth, like health, may well be a separate case), all are dependent upon love for more than transient existence. Hate, the most profound lack of love, lies behind the genocidal and mass homicidal attacks which deprive inhabitants of Darfur of peace, security or happiness. If we don't, when it comes down to it, do anything about the cycles of starvation in some areas of the developing world, it is because we do not love those people anything like as much as we love steak, strawberries in winter or cheap energy. If we allow our developed "first world" civil liberties to be flushed away without a whimper, it is because we love our neighbour much less than we fear the dark.

And so ... yes, after all that turning over the idea, and after all that hesitation and "yes, but" reservation: I second the motion. Both motions, in fact: Jim's and Mac's. All of the other things are important, and may have to be scraped out of what we have in the short term; but none of them are going to last very long without love, so if only one is on offer then yes, make it that one: bring it on in great quantity.

[On a lighter note, FrontPage's spelling checker wanted to change "Darfur" to "Dartford". I've now added Darfur to its dictionary but, to any readers in Dartford, I wish you as much love, peace, security ... and, yes, wealth and health ... as anyone else!]

And thanks, by the way, to Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor - both for advocacy of love and for the post title which I've stolen from the refrain of "Visionary Mountains"[1].

  1. Joan Armatrading. Whatever's For Us: "Visionary Mountains". 1972.

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