Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Alfie Kohn and Kierkegaard

I picked up Works of Love by Kierkegaard last night, because after reading Alfie Kohn some more I had a feeling I would look at it in a new light. And sure enough:
"Only when it is a duty to love, only then is love eternally and happily
secured against despair."

Now, most folks would find it offensive to suggest that they love their children as a matter of duty. That makes it sound ingenuine or cold. But that's not what Kierkegaard is talking about. He is saying that any love that is conditional (urp! urp! Kohn alert!) will inevitably succumb to despair. Any love that can be lost is, well, not really love at all. In fact, any love that can be lost is always sensed as unstable ground. Anyone caught up in conditional love knows in their bones that they are headed for a fall, and so they live in insecurity.

Kierkegaard contrasts this with the Christian ethic of "you shall love thy neighbor as thyself," which is a divine command and, according to Jesus, THE divine command. When you think about it, it is a clear directive to unconditional love. You don't love people because you like them or are fond of them or because they are your kinsmen. You love them because that's what you're supposed to do. And if that seems like such a strange concept, just stop and think about how you love your kids.

Sometimes I think the only reason we have kids, in the cosmic perspective, is to guide us into the experience of loving unconditionally. How else will we learn it?


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