Paul E. Schoen - July 15, 1996
My definition of love would be unconditional caring. This could be for
another person, a group of people, a cause, a nation, or God. The unconditional
part is very important. Love is diminished when one expects something in
return. The more we expect, the less we love. It is the ultimate expression
We may hope for a positive result, but we should not be disappointed
if we do not see it. If we hope for some good to come from our caring,
it should be in the greater sense. When one performs an act of love, the
result may not be directly returned to its source. However, if the act
is genuinely good, results may manifest themselves in many subtle ways
that eventually return in a surprisingly powerful way.
If one should meet another person with a similar outlook, it should
be possible to establish a highly cooperative and satisfying relationship.
If each person has only the other's best interests at heart, strives to
satisfy their needs, and keeps communication open, there is probably no
Sadly, it is very rare for a person to adhere to and act upon this definition
of love. We are, after all, only human, and it is natural to expect some
immediate response to our efforts. It seems that it takes superhuman powers
to give so unselfishly. Perhaps we can never achieve the full extent of
this ideal, but it seems that many of us would benefit immeasurably by
at least striving toward this goal.
Personally, I do try to love in an unselfish way, and constantly try
to expand and improve on my efforts. I have achieved a level of inner peace
that seems to make me feel satisfied with my lot in life, and able to deal
with its many difficulties. However, I have so far been unable to find
other people with similar philosophies, or perhaps I am unable to recognize
it. I do not openly advertise my quest for finding like-minded individuals,
but I would hope that my actions would speak for themselves.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the people with whom I almost exclusively
interact are those with the most problems in expressing the type of unselfish
love that I espouse. The Singles community is full of people with varying
degrees of difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Those who have
never married often have sociological, psychological, or physical problems
that prevent long term relationships with people of the opposite sex. Many
separated and divorced people have probably been damaged by years of trying
to make a relationship work on terms that are impossible. When such people
actively enter the singles scene, they are often highly frustrated and
anxious to find a quick solution to their loneliness and hunger.
Love in the form that I suggest is very rare, perhaps, especially in
the Singles community. Many people may be seeking that which is unrealistic
or unhealthy, because they have psychological problems or essentially selfish
expectations. Since this type of love is such that it tends to form long-lasting
unions, perhaps most like-minded individuals are happily married.
Love is many things to many people. It is an extremely overused word,
and may have lost much of its meaning due to its misapplication. It is
used in such diverse ways as "falling in love", "making
love", "loving to eat", "puppy love", "love
slaves", "free love", "love child", "love
handles", "love machine", and "for the love of God".
A person may say "I love you" just for the hope of being able
to "make love".
Our humanity often clashes with our animal instincts when our sexual
needs are not satisfied, and we compromise ourselves for physical gratification.
Desire and having the means to satisfy it often play out in games between
people, which escalates in a pattern of greed and selfishness, which, to
me, has nothing to do with love. Animals have clearly defined instinctual
procedures for sexual interaction. People have built up many layers of
tradition, taboos, and intellectualizations to complicate this process.
Most people are very materialistic, and social institutions relating to
sex often reflect this fact. Preoccupation with ownership of material goods
sometimes extends to marital or relationship partners as well, and may
lead to jealousy, distrust, and physical or mental abuse.
The subject of love is potentially extensive, and I do not pretend to
have covered more a portion of the surface. I do hope, however, that some
of the ideas I have presented scratch a bit of new ground, and touch upon
something that has not been said before, at least not in the same way.
I think my viewpoint on love, although not acceptable to everyone, may
at least help a few people think about their own views and make some positive