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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love and Ethics

So is Love important to a theory of ethics?

Well, what is love? Love is connected to the notion of good or desirable, the objective of human intention, behavior, fulfillment, happiness. Most would say love is an analogical concept meaning:
  • Sexual attraction or passion
  • Care for another, especially a relative, such as marital, parental, fraternal care
  • Friendship
  • Community, sense of belonging--locally, nationally, globally
  • Empathy, seeing/feeling others even in other places and times as other selves
  • Unity of Nature (physical, chemical, biological, microbial) relationships, e.g. intertwining strings in string theory, union of four forces in Unified Field Theory)
There is a more mythical, mystic, mysterious notion of love which perhaps is the ground of all our expressions and meanings of love. This is the Love we have in our experience of Wholeness or Integrity with ourselves, each other, our world, our universe, our past and our future, our inner and our outer life.

The other day we went to a Woody Gurthrie centennial celebration and heard:

This morning I was born again and a light shines on my land
I no longer look for heaven in your deathly distant land
I do not want your pearly gates don't want your streets of gold
This morning I was born again and a light shines on my soul

This morning I was born again, I was born again complete
I stood up above my troubles and I stand on my two feet
My hand it feels unlimited, my body feels like the sky
I feel at home in the universe where yonder planets fly

This morning I was born again, my past is dead and gone
This great eternal moment is my great eternal dawn
Each drop of blood within me, each breath of life I breathe
Is united with these mountains and the mountains with the seas

I feel the sun upon me, it's rays crawl through my skin
I breathe the life of Jesus and old John Henry in
I give myself, my heart, my soul to give some friend a hand
This morning I was born again, I am in the promised land

This morning I was born again and a light shines on my land
I no longer look for heaven in your deathly distant land
I do not want your pearly gates don't want your streets of gold
And I do not want your mansion for my heart is never cold.
  (Woody Guthrie, 1945)


Here is expressed the transcending Love that only poetry can point out. Given to and always with us, if we but allow and notice. Triggered by a hike up the mountain, a sunset at the sea, the hand you grasp while walking, an embrace, a public action for justice. When we live in this Love, say Saints John and Woody, we live in God and God in us whether we believe in God or not.  

This is the Love that is important to Ethics because it is the meaning, purpose, and drive of human existence and behavior.  

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