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July 06, 2017

All I need is: more than love.

LoveIt's gotten a lot easier over the last couple of decades but honestly, I feel awkward when someone says "I love you" to me and even more awkward when I say "I love you" back to someone. Which is why I rarely say it.  I'm pretty sure it's a cultural thing.

Most people who are culturally Korean don't really say "I love you." We experience this other thing called jeong that we sometimes admit is happening to us ... but not very loudly nor publicly (unlike the Pharisees), and never in ALL CAPS. The definition of jeong is multifaceted and can include esteem, regard, affection, respect, attachment, and more ... including strands of love.

The reason I bring this up is because when our society is debating a delicate and complex matter I notice there's frequently someone who says "all we need is love." And though I respect the intent, I find that after that sentiment is spoken, the critical  thinking, contemplation, analysis, and debate slow down ... not in a good way.

It reminds me of when I was at this event and engaged in an important discussion with a person. We were interrupted by a third person who came up and put a piece of paper into my hand and then left. The paper said "dream big." It could have just as well said "all you need is love" or "be brave" or "shine bright" or "live love laugh." Lordy.

I do love love. Especially the compassionate-for-the-disenfranchized-and-poor-strand. But I need more than love on a strip of paper. I need tenacious audacity of those willing to speak truth to power, I need scientists and academics who research and study things for years and then share their findings, I need analysis, I need discipline, I need practice, I need competence, I need expertise, I need room for doubt, I need freedom to dissent ... I need a culture sensitive enough to realize that "I love you" doesn't make everyone feel exactly the same.


This was terrific. I stumbled on it when a friend of mine posted on Facebook.
Love is overrated. I don't mean to put the concept down at all, but as an introvert, the concept of love is something that resonates with me in a different way than it does with others.

As I said to others, in sharing this on FB, "love they neighbor as thyself" is a great guideline - it assumes positive intent. But if we were to look at the words Jesus said literally, we could come away with a very different understanding than we have today because of how the word 'love' is used.
The words 'serve', 'respect' and 'admire' are among many other words which could work equally well here, and the meaning would shift, but not dramatically so. 'Love' just happens to work well.

But the word 'love' in Aramaic (assuming you choose the right one Jesus used) could have many other meanings than it has today. We also have to assume we haven't lost something in translation.

I also pointed out that in a market-based society, we encourage 'love' through exchange. It doesn't matter if it's an exchange of ideas, goods, services, or physical activity. Engaging others effectively means a mutually beneficial relationship is about to take place. The outcome aside (sometimes these are one-sided), most of these exchanges ARE mutually beneficial, and that's why we enjoy exchanging with each other and promote market-based solutions!

Love is a great starting point, but it ain't the whole package. And for people like me, sometimes using that term makes it an uncomfortable package to carry when it is used and defined in the socially-acceptable terms it is today.

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