Speaking the Language of Love
Language is fascinating to me. I’m no expert on the subject, but I think it’s absolutely incredible that I can type away this evening on my computer in Verona, Wisconsin, plop some weird looking symbols (which we call letters) onto this computer screen in certain combinations, and – by doing so – effectively transfer thoughts and feelings from my brain to yours. What’s even cooler is that my thoughts and feelings make the leap whenever you happen to be reading this post, whether that’s on this post’s publish date (July 11, 2017) or one hundred years from now. That means that language empowers me to transfer my thoughts and feelings to you even after I’m long dead and gone from this earth – which is admittedly a little grim, but it’s part of the reason why I think language is fascinating.
Another aspect of language that I find fascinating is its organic nature. Language is constantly developing and evolving to meet our ever-changing needs to communicate our thoughts and feelings in new ways. By and large, that’s a great thing. But one thing that bothers me about our use of language in America today is how we use the word love.
We Americans use the word love to describe our thoughts and feelings for lots of things – and sometimes we use it accurately. For example, I really do I love my wife, my children, my parents, and my extended family. As a Christian, I really do love my Creator – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And yes, despite his doofus tendencies, I really do love my dog.
But think about the other ways you hear the word love used in America today. Do you really love pepperoni pizza or your new car? Do you really love “this song” or travelling to Europe? Do you really love the last thing you “loved” on Facebook? Probably not.
What is Love? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me…)
My concern about we Americans’ use of the word love is rooted neither in mere semantics nor in early onset of crotchety-old-man-syndrome, but rather in my genuine interest to empower us to love one another locally and across the globe. The more we water down the word love with our loose use of the term, the more confused we become about what love is, what love is not, and how we can effectively love one another in the 21st century. So let’s clarify a few things.
Love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” and “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.” It is patient and kind, and always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. It is voluntary. It tells the truth and joyfully keeps promises.
Love Is Not…
Love is not envious, boastful, or proud, nor does it dishonor others. It is not self-seeking, nor is it easily angered, nor does it keep record of wrongs. There is no fear in love; it is not coercive – for coerced “love” is not love at all, but rather abuse. Love does not enable destructive behavior. Love does not lie, nor does it make promises it cannot keep.
Love one another
How are we to love one another locally and across the globe in the 21st century? Our confusion about love often leads us to (foolishly) enmesh love with government force – and we set ourselves up for inevitable heartbreak when we do so.
Because really, consider what love is, then consider the institution of government. And consider what love is not, then consider – again – the institution of government.
Tell me if you see it differently, but I’m not exactly breaking any news by recognizing that government and its politicians are envious, boastful, and proud. They dishonor others 140 characters at a time without hesitation. They are fully self-seeking, most easily angered, and profound record keepers of wrongdoings. By definition, government is coercive force which regularly incentivizes destructive behaviors, despite its (perhaps) best intentions. And with its debt quickly approaching $20 trillion dollars – and its unfunded liabilities now topping $100 trillion – our federal government has lied and made promises it cannot keep at a truly unprecedented scale: it is the sweet-talking, promise-making, completely-unloving, real-life version of The Office‘s Michael Scott – and we’re all Scott’s Tots.
All politics aside, an honest evaluation of love and government yields one conclusion. Government is scale, power, and force. It is, at times, a practical instrument to wield when universal conformity (i.e. the elimination of individual liberty) is required to achieve desired ends. But of all things that government is, surely government is not love. It’s time we break off this ‘government love’ affair in American culture so that We the People can reveal our love for one another in true and meaningful ways.Of all things that #government is, surely government is not #love. Click To Tweet
Haste Makes Waste
The methods by which we attempt to implement our love one another matter. When we understand what love is, and when we understand that government is not love, we come to see the intersection between love and liberty. We are free to love one another directly, person-to-person, and we are free to organize ourselves through private charity to scale our loving efforts without tainting our love with coercive government force.
It is natural for us to love, and it is both morally and practically right for us to love one another. But let us heed the advice offered by Mumford and Sons: let us “love with urgency, but not with haste.” Hasteful ‘government love’ makes waste (to the tune of $20 trillion of public debt and another $100 trillion of public promises to be broken in our future), but urgent ‘liberty love’ builds stronger societies and a better world – one loving, voluntary interaction at a time.