A Misanthrope on Love

Robert Heinlein once wrote, in the persona of Lazarus Long, “The more you love, the more you can love–and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had Time Enough, he could Love all of the majority who are decent and just.”

I’ve always loved that thinking. In my experience, love really is infinite, and we can learn to love almost anyone, though it comes more naturally to some than others. The thing is, our time is finite. We not only have only so long a life to devote to the task, but so few of us can make learning to love our whole life’s work.

For many, the harder part is learning to be loved. I have that problem, because I know I am flawed. It is hard to accept that anyone else accepts those things about you that you cannot accept about yourself.

I love. I love so hard that it hurts. I love so hard that I can’t express it. I love so hard that it infuriates me. I want to be able to make things right for people. I want to be able to help everyone to be their best. One of the things I dislike most about myself is that I often don’t feel like I am making things better for the people I love. It makes it hard to love, and it makes it hard to be loved.

That is a pretty hard thing to write about, but I think it is important background, because it is the root of my philosophy and my theology. I love people. I love what people are capable of at their best. I also hate when people fail. I hate when they give in to greed, or racism, or anger, or fear. I hate when people forget that we are all people, and we will all fail. That we are all people, and we all want to succeed if given the chance. I hate myself for forgetting that when I read hate, fear, prejudice, or ignorance. My biggest failing is wanting others to be their best, all the time.

I want to love the whole world. I just want the whole world to deserve it. There is a part of me that knows that this is no failure on the part of the rest of the world. I want things from humanity that I, as a human, am incapable of. I want people to always be their best, and that desire brings out the worst in me.

I believe, almost completely, in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I believe that we are all capable of making the choice to be a positive influence on the world around us, and that the recognition of our worth and the worth of those around us is all that it takes to make the whole world a little better. What I have to keep reminding myself is that we all, from time to time, myself included, forget that we are part of an interdependent web. None of us are at our best all the time, but that is no reason to stop trying, or to give up on others.

I am a misanthrope, not because I think poorly of people, but because I often think more highly of them than they seem to think of themselves. Because I think more highly of the people they interact with than their outward expression indicates. I dislike people, because I want more from them. And I am coming to terms with the fact that the fault lies more in my desire than in their action much of the time.

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One Response

  1. I recommend Heraclitus, he was a misanthrope and had some great insights on reality. As to love, a child said love is “live, be happy, have fun”.

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