Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unconditional Love

Leon Wieseltier in a fantastic interview here, said essentially that unconditional love from any person but your parents is paternalistic. We've 'grown' not merely to expect unconditional love, to see it as a developed, higher form than love that love that is "earned" (expressed like that, it's clear that love that is not unconditional is not "love with personal interest" - it's conditional love). Love grows as knowledge and relationship grows. this is conditioned...unconditional love is for parent and child, because it is not merely from your first days to now, it is from the people who made you. When such is claimed by those not in the relationship (as in not God or your parents), or expected of them, there is a real risk of paternalism, of seeking that role over the 'loved', or wanting seeking submission to such from others.

At times, I taste this tendency in the Orthodox calls for "unconditional love" to counter "sinat chinam", which is characterized as "unconditional hate". That's not the opposite of unconditional love!! Conditional love would be the opposite of "unconditional hate". And to follow the above logic, 'unconditional love" on the part of non-parent mortals doesn't entail actually coming to know the loved or understand them!! This is praiseworthy?! and when adopted by mortals, it can indeed entail unconscious paternalism or claims of divinity. think about it. I would also add that Sinat Chinam was not the only reason the temple was destroyed; emphasis on something as abstract as "unconditional love", averts us from addressing the question of faulty but zealous leadership gone awry - another reason the temple was destroyed.


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