17 Feb What’s Love Gotta Do With It
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This week’s article is about various forms of love. There are many different kinds of love that have been cataloged over the millennia. Here are four that have come down to us from ancient Greece and Rome. As you read this, think of where/when you’ve experienced each type. It may stretch your memory or viewing point. However, I’ll bet that you can find yourself in each of these types.
- Eros: erotic, passionate love. This is where our hormones begin to dictate our experience. Do you remember when you first experienced Eros? It lives in the land of Cupid, where we see the sun and stars in the face of our beloved. Eros can sometimes cloud our judgment, especially when the emotion is substantial. In addition, no one can accurately predict when “Cupid’s Arrow” will strike. Or with whom. But when it does, we are often at the mercy of our emotions. We’ve pretty much lost our ability to “logic” ourselves out of it. Especially when the object of our romantic desires is inappropriate in a host of different ways.
- Philia: is about the love of friends and equals. Some of the most powerful relationships have been forged in the fire of Philia. This is where we encounter empowering friendships. People we can count on to engage in a give-and-take of mutual support. One example is that of soldiers who experience the battles of war together, and who come to trust each other with their lives. Less dramatic examples of Philia occur in almost everyone’s life, one of those being the experience of having a best friend. Someone who you’d do almost anything for. Where have you experienced Philia? This form of friendship usually is longer-lasting than Eros, because here the brain isn’t bathed in hormones that may subside over time.
- Storge: This form of love is experienced by those who are in a parental role. In its purest form, Storge is self-sacrificing. Witness the plight of immigrant mothers “handing over” their infants to Border Patrol police at the border of Mexico and California. Or German Jewish parents putting their children on a rescuing Kindertransport train that would take them to the UK, where they may never see them again. Of course, less dramatic examples of Storge are all around us, and need not be limited to people who have biological children. The teacher who takes a special interest in a particular student who is brilliant but not getting the support they need to advance into a well-educated life. The mentor who takes their mentee “under their wing” in order to introduce them to people of influence. Where have you experienced Storge with someone who wasn’t your child?
- Agape: And then there is Agape, the generalized love of humankind. This form of love has guided the lives of those who inspire us. Helen Keller, Barack Obama, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela: these are but a few of the people we know whose love of everyone guided them, and others, to reach across the barriers that seem to separate us from each other. Who gave us inspirational examples of how to open our hearts to virtually everyone living on this planet. I say “virtually” everyone because almost every one of us has some people around whom we draw a line, as in “Everyone but this person.” However, people who are masterful in this practice encourage us to grow and spread our hearts to include larger and more dissimilar groups of people in our “cloak of Agape.”
One of the biggest questions facing us all today is: how might I develop the capacity to see people as just like me? People traveling down their own hero’s journey? With goals and dreams and a desire to make a difference? To see the similarities instead of the differences that exist?
The questions generated by a sincere desire to increase our experience of Agape will help us build a world dedicated to making life better for everyone. A place where equity, justice, diversity, and inclusion are not just words, but a living, breathing experience for everyone on this “mud-ball” we call the planet earth.
That’s the kind of love that I am dedicated to growing here. And I’ll bet that’s true for you as well. Isn’t it?
So, what’s love gotta do with it? The answer is simple: EVERYTHING!
Wishing you all my best,