Agape, Human Nature, Life, Love, Spirituality, Unconditional Love

How Do We Know Unconditional Love Exists?

SUMMARY:  I attempt to answer three questions about unconditional love including how we know it exists.

(About a 5 minute read)

We humans are a strange animal.  For one thing, we seem to be, in about equal measures, a social species and an individualistic species.

Put differently, we have contradictory needs.  On the one hand, we feel an emotional need for companionship and to get along with each other.  On the other hand, we feel just as much of an emotional need for independence and not to be bothered by each other.

Perhaps because we are a social species, we often feel a need for people to share our beliefs, and perhaps because we are an individualistic species, we often resent it when others try to make us believe as they do.

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Abuse, Adolescent Sexuality, Advice, Courtship, Erotic Love, Ethics, Human Nature, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Mature Love, Morals, New Love, Relationships, Romantic Love, Sex, Sexuality

How Young is Too Young to Love?

SUMMARY:  I discuss two separate questions.  First, how old must someone be to feel love? Second, how mature should someone be to handle love?  I address the first question — which is a factual question — through science.  I address the second question — which is a matter of opinion or judgement — through five measures or standards for maturity.

(About a 12 minute read)

After I had reached puberty, a number of adults — including my mother and some of my teachers — cautioned me and others my age that we were “too young to love”.  No explanation was ever given for why we were too young for romantic love.  It was just so.  Lucky for me, I bought into the idea.

I say I was lucky because during high school I became deeply infatuated with a girl in my class.  Had I not bought into the notion I was too young to love, I might have fancied myself in love with her — which would not only have been factually untrue, but I can only image the trouble it would have caused me at the time to think I was in love with her.

Yet, the question of whether I was too young to love is ambiguous.  It can be interpreted in at least two ways.  First, was I too young to feel love (had I actually felt it)?  Second, was I too young to cope with love?

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Absolutist Thinking, Human Nature, Ideas, Life, Living, Probabilistic Thinking, Thinking

Thinking in Absolutes vs. Thinking in Probabilities

SUMMARY:  There seem to be two basic ways of thinking.  That is, thinking in absolutist terms or thinking in probabilistic terms.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps wisdom consists in knowing when to use one or the other.

(About a 5 minute read)

When I became a fire fighter, I had to change some deeply ingrained ways of thinking.  For instance, growing up, I had thought largely in terms of absolutes.  Something either was or it was not the case.  My teachers were either good or they were bad.  An idea was either true or it was false.  A classmate was either nice or he or she was not.

Yet, few things are absolutely certain in a fire, and absolutely counting on something is a good way to get yourself — or your fellow fire fighters — injured or killed.  In fact, fire fighting requires realism perhaps more than anything else — including courage.  And realism often enough boils down to thinking in terms of the odds something will or will not happen.

That is, realism requires you to largely think in terms of probabilities.  The man in front of you on the hose line is not going to advance.  He is likely to advance.  The nine foot high wall of flames in front of you is not going to be knocked down by your stream of water.  It might be knocked down.  The room is not safe to enter.  It is possibly safe.

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Abuse, Human Nature, Ideas, Learning, Life, Living, New Idea, Self-determination, Self-Knowledge

Familiar Suffering

SUMMARY:  Why does it seem so many of us prefer to suffer, rather than do what seems obvious to others will bring about an end to our particular suffering?  Perhaps one reason is that we fear the unknown.  Perhaps another reason is that it is generally difficult to understand what would be better than our current circumstances if we are unfamiliar with what would be better.

(About a 3 minute read)

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I think many of us — especially when we’re young — now and then come across someone we believe we can save.  That is, someone who is recognizably messed up, but not so messed up that we deem them beyond “straightening out”.

Sadly, you cannot save, you cannot straighten out, someone.  They have to do it themselves. The most you yourself can provide is encouragement and — if you’re lucky — wise guidance.  But how many of us understand that about people before we ourselves have tried — often more than once or twice — to save someone?

I know that was a hard lesson for me to learn.  One of the hardest parts of it was to grasp that so many of us prefer the misery we know to the happiness we don’t know.

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Authoritarianism, Bad Ideas, Conservative, Democracy, Freedom, Human Nature, Idealism, Ideas, Ideologies, Liberal, Oppression, Political Ideologies, Political Issues, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Society, Village Idiots

Traditional Conservatives vs Today’s Conservatives

SUMMARY: I make a sharp distinction between true conservatism and today’s most popular conservatism.  I then draw the conclusion that, while true conservatism is both necessary and good, today’s most popular conservatism is a radical and dangerous departure from it.

(About a 6 minute read) 

A curious thing about human politics is that it seems everywhere on earth to be roughly divided between “liberals and conservatives”.   That is, between people who are more or less inclined to experiment with new things, and people who are more or less disinclined to do so.

In recent years, there have been a number of scientific studies to see if there is some kind of biological or psychological basis for the division of human politics into those two camps.  A number of hypotheses have been proposed — such that conservatives lack empathy compared to liberals, or that conservatives are more likely to see the world as a hostile place compared to liberals — but so far as I know, none of those hypotheses has been backed up by a solid weight of studies except for one of them.

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Belief, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Free Spirit, Human Nature, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Memes, Mysticism, Quality of Life, Satori, Self-determination, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Transformative Experience

New Eyes

SUMMARY:  A look at maximizing our freedom by freeing us from our cultural assumptions so that we might pick and choose which aspects of our culture are of value to us and which aspects are not.  Life experiences (including travel), education, love, and mystical experiences are all considered as means of freeing us.

(About a 6 minute read)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust

My first wife, Jana, was born in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia under the Soviet occupation.  At age 9, she escaped with her family to West Germany.  Two years later, they immigrated to the US.

Her mother and father, both being doctors, were able to send her back to Europe to attend a private Swiss boarding school for her high school education.  After high school, she lived in England for awhile, before returning to the US to attend university, where I met her.

By the time I met her, she was a confirmed traveler.  But travel was much more to her than an exciting adventure.  It was a way of learning new things, new ways of doing and thinking.  Or, as Proust might have it, travel was Jana’s way of gaining “new eyes”.

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Art, Human Nature, Life, Living, Passion, Quality of Life, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Spirituality, Writing

The Human Need for a Discipline

(About a 5 minute read)

Earlier today, Alice Gristle put up an original, intelligent, and insightful post on her blog about the relationship between a writer and his or her story.  In it, she notes that, when we write a story:

We’re tempted, every one of us, to somehow include ourselves in the story. To make that gibe at the politician we hate, to get our comeuppance on the girl who slighted us in junior high, to put a little salve on our hearts after that smarting breakup.

She notes, however:

Your story is more important than you. You will die and be wormfood, a lump of bones, a smear of ash. Well, your story might be, too – but it might not. Alone of you two, it has the chance to live, to stay aloft on the hours of history, in order to live and teach hundreds of years in the future.

The strong implication is that, for a story to live on past us, we must “get out of the way”. That is, we must put aside our natural tendency to insert too much of our own views, concerns, behaviors, and personalities into the story, least we distract from it and thus weaken it.

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