We talk alot about what we think is wrong, what we dislike, what we think should change, what we piously hate. But when do we talk about what we love? What we really, really love?
I asked a friend why, as university teachers, we teach history as a story of one crime after another, powergrab on powergrab on war on war on genocide on genocide, one after another. Why don’t we, as the ill-fitting clumsy bards of the 21st century, sing of the things that were good and true and lovely?
“It’s easier for us to agree on what is bad, then what is good,” he explained. If we tried to remember heroes, scholars will conflict too much about which one was actually good. Much better to teach another genocide, where we can all agree it was bad.
But what do we love?
Love brings life. Pious hatred does not. My own pious hatred, well-intentioned and all, makes my siblings cry. I hurt people.
It’s love that brings life. I mean real love, for an actual person, place, or thing. Not what is often called love, just pious hatred repackaged, or vague loyalty to another damned ——ism or ——tion. That isn’t love. Love is something you can taste and breathe, something real. Real love must love something. Something you can touch, or remember, or sing of, or carry in your heart.
When our vague love has no object, but our pious hatred does…. what does that say about us?
I’m someone who resorts to pious hatred alot. For things that are bad, of course — oppression of the weak, neglect of the vulnerable, objectification of women, mockery of the fragile, contempt for humanity, injustice, abuse, the sex trade, nihilism. The list can go on. But see, that is still me with my pious hatred.
And I do believe that God himself was killed, by a group that did it for the sake of pious hatred. They thought he was a blasphemer. They thought they were right. It was pious hatred that condemned him before the Sanhedrin, and nailed him to the stake of wood.
Love, love, love. What does it mean? If it is just the antidote to pious hatred, with the latter all spelled out and the former all vague…. then what?
Love means nothing but a chemical state, if it lacks an object. Love must love something.
I am going to sit in silence, and ask, what do I love? Duty and pretensions and moralisms aside, what do I love?
What do you love?
I watched “A Quiet Place” last night. It’s marketted as a horror film, but it is really a survival film. Oh I was on the edge of my seat terrified, but there are no thrills of evil here. It’s a film that really doesn’t have a villain. The baddies are faceless, mindless monsters. They might as well be forces of nature, or impersonal lions and tigers and wolves. This isn’t a movie about the baddies, who don’t make much sense as villains. That is the point. This isn’t a villain versus hero movie — those only work by contrasts and intrigue, where there would be no good without evil (disturbing implications, if you think about it). No, this is a bare story. Simple and plain: it’s about what you really, really love.
So it made me think. So much of our identity, our worldview, our ‘let me tell you what i think about current events’, is all about the (according to us) baddies. I drove past a car this morning with about four renditions of Donald Trump plastered to the bumper. The woman driving the car appeared to not like him….and yet, she (like myself!) derives her identity, her sense of purpose from her own pious hatred. I do this too — what I piously hate (for all the right reasons!) is, nevertheless, what defines me. I think most of us do.
Let’s not do this any more. Let’s remember what we love.