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Insight... [Oct. 6th, 2002|09:23 am]
In Christianity, Jesus talks about the two great commandments: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Palmer's corollary: Love yourself, or you won't be very good to your neighbor)

A long time ago (at least a few years) I figured out something interesting about that. How can you love God? How could you love this being who you can't see, touch, hear, smell, taste, or otherwise sense in an objective manner?

By loving what God is. And, the most lovable feature about God is "goodness". Sure, God is said to be powerful, and wise, but those don't inspire love nearly so much as goodness.

Love that which is good; love those around you. Nice commands, right?

Today, I realized there's a better statement of them.

See, one of the foundations of my moral reasoning is that morality is based upon interactions with other living creatures. "That which you do to unimportant rocks is unimportant" is something of a basis for this. If you spit on, kick, throw, or grind into powder, a rock that no one needs or wants for anything, you can't be doing something immoral.

Ultimately, morality comes down to what you do that affects others (people, and animals to some extent). And, love, in this sense, is not a passive, warm fuzzy feeling. It means to treat people right. (What "Treating people right" entails is something I won't touch here.)

And that's when I realized another way to restate these commandments.

Love what's right; do what's right.

I then realized that this didn't really *DO* anything. It didn't answer any questions, it didn't create any new knowledge. But I *STILL* think that the insight is important.

[User Picture]From: kightp
2002-10-06 12:04 pm (UTC)
Love what's right; do what's right.

"What's right" seems to me a better choice of words than "what's good," if only because "right" seems to have more complex connotations thant "good."

God may, as we said in the '60s, be love. But as you so wisely point out, love isn't (merely) passive, warm and fuzzy (although it can encompass all of those elements.) Love is bigger than that, and stronger, and more difficult.

I'm reminded of I Corinthians 13:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

I've always found it remarkable that Paul put love above even faith and hope.
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