What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do…? – Friedrich Nietzsche
The key word here is otherwise.
And to be clear, I’m not just talking about romantic love, though that is included in the larger subject, one which I will tackle in a longer piece in the future. We are talking about every kind of love – familial love, the love for humankind many religions ask us to have, love of friends, of the love as kindness we extend to strangers…
What is being asked here is for an understanding of love as the love of diversity.
It is much easier to love those who have the same values and beliefs we have. People who look and act like we do are familiar, we find less conflict, its easier to understand their motives and choices.
Real conflict in any type of relationship usually arises over our different points of view, different priorities and perspectives.
What’s important to understand here is that love is choice, it is an action, it is not something passive that comes out of nowhere and hits us in the head like a sack of bricks – something our culture has claimed it is for a long time now.
Yes, infatuation and sexual attraction can lead to love, open the door for love, but it is not love it self.
Love is something we choose to give, a trusting and warm embrace, not because someone has done something for us or shares our beliefs, but because, as the man states above, we want to rejoice in something other than ourselves, to connect to the world and our fellow humans, to celebrate life itself and all its possibilities.
In many ways love is faith, a hope that by accepting some fundamental connection to something bigger, greater, and other than our own self interest, we will find freedom and relief from our fears and anxieties.
In this case, love is not always easy.
Love is an action as much as it can be a feeling. Love is a verb. It is something we do or don’t do. There is a reason the poets and prophets that inspire us often have such longevity in our cultural awareness, and it is this, they tell us love is a gift and that it can overcome.
Its a choice and always a practice.