Feature Article - Real Love
by Denis Jenkins
REAL LOVE: NOT ONLY A FEELING, BUT A PRINCIPLE
M. Scot Peck writes in his book "The Road Less Travelled" [see footnote] that love is not an emotion, but a state of mind. Genuine love is commitment and wisdom, and wisdom can only be attained through clear critical thinking. Clear critical thinking can only be achieved with good and efficient tools of basic cognition.
THE FEELING OF LOVE
The feeling that many call "love" often leads an individual to do most harmful and hurtful acts to people. Dr. Peck sights a case where a mother would not allow her son to travel to school by bus, or to socially mix with his peers until he was in his final years of school. She dwarfed the boy's development and caused him to head toward social incompetence. Thus her feeling for her son was not matched with wisdom and best interest for her son's ability to cope in life.
The feeling of so-called "love" has caused many young men to make the lives of a large number of young women very unhappy. In fact they have ruined lives through unwanted pregnancy outside a supportive on-going relationship. The feeling of "love" can be very selfish. Such individuals want to possess another person without any freedom in return. This feeling is an emotional connection that can be motivated by many reasons, but has no guarantee of wisdom.
When people talk about the feeling of love it is often stated that love is blind. "Love" is only blind to these people in that it is not love, but purely impulsive emotion. Within the setting of love, emotion is the opening of oneself to another person, setting aside reason, and allowing oneself to be moved by the force of the adrenaline experience. Thus it is important that the highly emotional acts of love are preceded by clear thought and strategy in order to set boundaries so that one will not hurt or emotionally disturb the other person.
It is for this reason that highly emotional encounters should only be dedicated to intimate relationship rather than to casual friendship. The experience of physical intimacy belongs between those who fully understand the philosophies, goals and boundaries that are important to the other person. Such intimacy is only safe in the marriage environment. Here commitment will safeguard against selfish desire that is likely to take advantage of a person when they are in the most vulnerable emotional condition.
From his experience as a psychiatrist, Dr. Peck defines genuine love as commitment and the exercise of wisdom. Committed love is one that works for the other person's good and benefit, even when there is no pleasure in doing what has to be done.
A mother does not enjoy changing a baby's nappy, but she does it for the good and well being of the child. A mother does not like the yelling and screaming of a colic ridden child, but she attends to the child throughout the night even if it debilitates her for the next day. She does not like this, but she is committed to the well being of her child. She loves this child unconditionally. In wisdom and commitment she works for the child's good.
While I was writing this morning, a father visited me. Both physically and emotionally his son had become a most obnoxious and hurtful individual. He had been placed in jail for a crime. Even though the father does not like his son, he has expended an enormous amount of time visiting him; trying to help him develop as a person by assisting him to advance his education. This father was here today, gaining advice on how to help his son improve in his thinking and reasoning. The father's care for his son was commitment, whether he liked it or not.
It is no different in marriage. Real love is a commitment through both enjoyable and decidedly unenjoyable situations so that each member of the couple can be guaranteed a constant and stable ally.
"The Road Less Travelled", M. Scot Peck, Arrow Books Ltd, Random House, London 1990
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