... 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!