Sunday, August 21, 2011

Once a Flower Child ...

... always a flower child, I guess.  On my birthday this year as I enter my sixth decade, I'm ruminating on love and its many definitions.  In The Four Loves, C S Lewis wrote that there are four types of love (affection, friendship, eros & charity).  As much as I admire his writings, I suspect there are many more than four if we really think about it.

My very favorite type of love is charity, which I believe can be expressed as forgiveness, compassion, generosity, empathy, sympathy ... and I bet you can think of others I forgot.  Charity-love is for me the hardest to practice consistently, and the most lacking in our world today.  Mother Teresa is my model for perfect charity-love.  While I know I'll never approach her saintliness, I read from her book No Greater Love and try to grow through her wisdom almost every day.  I still have a very long way to go.  :)

The Sixties was about free love, anti-war love, loving change, but with the Sixties came a concept that I fear we have overdone a bit, and that's self-love.  As parents and teachers, it seems to me we have placed too much focus on self-love for a couple of generations, and the societal results are clear: materialism; hate-mongering for those who aren't just like us; hero worship for athletes & celebrities who haven't earned our respect but reflect how we want to envision ourselves; churches where we demand entertainment instead of soul-searching and reflection.  Maybe I'm just getting old, but it looks to me like this whole self-love thing isn't working out well for mankind as a species, and particularly for American society.

So, my annual reflection on where I stand and what I plan for the coming year leads me to this resulting resolution - I am going to concentrate on sending my love-energy outward and see how that goes.  I will try not to miss an opportunity to display through my actions that I believe every living creature is deserving of my love.  I will try to have more empathy for people who aren't just like me, people who make mistakes, people who may be harder for me to love than myself.

I guess you can take the sixties away from the flower child, but you can't keep the flower child out of her sixties.  Peace, man! 


Linda P. said...

I'm a boomer diagnosed with RA about ten months ago. I wanted to thank you for the blog that expresses so many things I'm feeling as I struggle to accept the sudden and radical changes in my life. Perhaps your resolution pinpoints one task that we can still accomplish as we have to give up so many other abilities: we can still display through our actions that all deserve love and empathy. That is, maybe we can display those traits when the pain and fatigue don't make us earn the Type II rabies moniker that you mentioned in an earlier post, making me laugh for the first time in what's been a tough week.

The Rheuminator said...

Linda - thanks for your comments. I've been out-of-pocket this week with a minor RA crisis, so just catching up. I have to believe the first year is the hardest, because we have to find acceptance. Stay tuned - I'm going to try to post more next week after I get through a few dr's appts.