affectivity love

Love Listens

9:49:00 AMMeredith Kuzma

Emotions, as every teenager knows, are unpredictable and nearly impossible to control. Dietrich von Hildebrand opens the first chapter of his book The Heart with “The affective sphere, and the heart at its center, have been more or less under a cloud in the entire course of the history of philosophy” (p25). The central problem surrounding the heart involves the difficulty of always doing good acts with a good attitude, because emotions cannot be directly controlled.


From a moral viewpoint this issue is also interesting because we are called explicitly to do the right thing despite contradictory emotions. I've heard many sermons by priests who define love not as warm fuzzy feelings but rather as treating people with kindness and respect no matter the circumstance. Recently I came across the “love your neighbor as yourself” passage in the bible. I thought of Rocco Buttiglione's friendship with John Paul II and Buttiglione's first impression of the Pope: Karol Wojtyla was a person who showed such immense love to others that it changed them, in some important, central way. We desire to be recognized for our uniqueness, and Karol Wotjyla was able to do this.
We desire to be recognized for our uniqueness.

But I think sometimes we have the tendency to think that you have to be a saint to love that way. Love itself is a largely misunderstood word. In English we only have the one word to include romantic love, friendship love, familial love, and sacrificial love. Love, confined to a feeling, produces a fair amount of navel-gazing. For von Hildebrand, love should not be confined to a bodily passion. However, for him, love is a spiritual affection, a feeling with a meaningful relation to an object - the beloved. This way of thinking leads to acts which seek to bring the other to life through love.

Putting this kind of love into practice can be as simple as listening to another person; for Hildebrand this is an appropriate response to the intrinsic importance of the other. Shutting off any interior agenda and just focusing on what the other person wants to express. An act this simple can reveal to another human being  their true importance and dignity.

  
John Paul II Image Source

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