Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"owning love
is like trying to take possession
of the air."

rodney smith


Brad said...

Hi Roberta! This quote really got me going, as you'll see. I assume it's from Rodney Smith the former Buddhist monk, not Rodney Smith the famous photographer. Anyway, I know what he's trying to say but this quote, at least out of context, oversimplifies one of life's very complex issues. First of all, about air -- people DO take possession of the air, in one sense. In some situations, staking a claim to a piece of real property includes "air rights," in that nobody can build anything that intrudes above the property. Countries are recognized by international law as having "air space" and the right to exert some controls over who is in that space. Yet the seaplane from Victoria can fly over my house at 3000 feet and that does not intrude, either actually or legally, on "my" space. When it comes to the air itself, I can't try to "own" the actual mix of oxygen, nitrogen and other stuff over our property right now, but I do have a legal right to take action if someone else pollutes that air to the point that I can't breathe it properly. So, even though in a general sense the air belongs to everybody, there is a whole complex set of partial claims on it.
Now love -- both the ancient Greeks who are still seen as great thinkers, and the modern Greeks who mostly are not, differentiate between kinds of love. Modern Greek has kept the three words for love that were used in New Testament theology. First is Agape, which today means the kind of love I have for you, or Russ, or in a deeper form for my daughter; that love also expresses what Christ talked about most of the time. Then there's Philia or Filia, which has no connection with the word "filial." Philia is the love one has for a true friend, and it mixes in with Agape. E.g., I also feel Philia for my daughter. It takes years for a relationship to develop into true Philia - I feel both Philia and Agape for my friend Niko. I see Philia developing toward you, but we don't know one another deeply enough yet for it to be "all there." Last is Erotas, which is sexual love but goes way beyond that. I feel all three loves for Sandy. And of course even this is an oversimplification, because there are so many shades and nuances of love.
In all of this, love makes claims on me and I make claims on it. Niko and I have obligations to each other because we are true friends. I do not own all of his Philia, and he can have that love for others, but if he takes it away from me, it is as devastating as taking away the air I breathe.
In short, I wish Mr. Smith had chosen another way to say what I think he meant - that we do not control love and we are not its masters.
So I really mean it when I say:
Love, Brad

ROBERTA said...

so when you tell sandy that you love her do you go into this much detail? :)

Brad said...

Roberta, I certainly do, but don't forget that actions speak louder than words... 8-)
Love, Brad