Ann Landers, Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist, once wrote, “If you have love in your life it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you don’t have it, no matter what else there is, it’s not enough” (Shontz 147). The importance of love cannot be questioned, and because of this many common people and a great number of men of wisdom have always been trying to formulate a definition of love. For instance, Benedict de Spinoza offered the following definition of love: love “is pleasure, accompanied by the idea of an external cause” (136). Probably, we think that as soon as we get the definition, we will be able to control love. Still, love is everywhere, love is immense and it makes the process of formulating the definition more complicated. Though the depth of love cannot be measured and it is near impossible to define, it involves many aspects of life like appreciation, respect, and physical attraction. There are also many different types of love like godly, maternal, romantic, and love of nature.
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It is always easier to get at the root of a thing or a feeling or an event if you can picture it to yourself as a symbolic image. To picture love, it is possible to imagine it in the form of a kaleidoscope or a mosaic. Love is not homogenous; it is a complex feeling that includes numerous feelings, emotions, and attitudes. Probably, if love were a simple one-sided feeling it would lose its magic and overwhelming charm. All little shreds of feelings are gathered and form a quilt of love that is as warm as a real quilt with the only difference: love can warm not only your body but your soul as well.
To get at the beauty, it is necessary to examine each patch of a quilt or all fragments of a mosaic. Thus, it is necessary to consider the fragments that build the concept of love to figure out the meaning of the concept. Love includes appreciation as a necessary element. It means that to love an object means to ascribe great importance to it. It means that a person who loves something or somebody is scared to death by the idea that he/she can lose it. Appreciation is something like a logical element of love since it tries to explain the roots of love to a person who feels it. It explains that the loss of the object of love would bring pain and suffering to the wounded love. Sometimes the appreciation of your beloved person or favorite object reaches the vanishing point and it is impossible to live further if your love is gone. This idea can be proven by numerous examples from imaginative literature; the best example will be the love story of Romeo and Juliet whose appreciation of the beloved was so strong that life turned out to be senseless without love.
Appreciation goes hand in hand with another element of love, respect. In case, if respect is absent, love will be transformed into a desire to possess the thing or a person unconditionally. This love borders on mania and as experience has shown, it is sure to be transformed into mania and to lose all traits of love. Since money has unlimited power over many people, it can force out respect and mesmerize a person, make him/her an absolute slave of money. This happened to the Spaniards from “The Rediscovery of North America” who showed only “venal greed”, love of “gold, silver, pearls” (Lopez unpaged). Their greed and maniacal thirst for money excluded all possibilities of love.
Physical attraction is one more element of love to people. Since ancient times, people have admired the beauty of human body. This physical attractiveness was the source of inspiration for poets, sculptors, and musicians. Still, physical attraction can be a part of love only in case if other elements that are mentioned above are present. If there is neither appreciation nor respect, physical attraction can become a source of pain and violence instead of love. This is exactly what happened to the indigenous people in America when the conquistadors invaded their land. The discovery of America turned out to be the source of crime: “rape, …kidnapping, vandalism, child molestation” (Lopez unpaged). Natural beauty enchanted the Spaniards but since they were deprived of respect and appreciation, this attractiveness aroused their aggression instead of love.
As a French proverb goes, “friendship is love without wings”. It is really so, friendship is the term that borders on love and these two concepts share many common features. Friendship can be also characterized by appreciation and respect, pleasure from communication. It is also a lasting feeling if it is real, as real love, genuine friendship can accompany people during their whole lives. One more feeling that is also related to love is infatuation, but it is deprived of a necessary feature of real love, continuity. If love is immortal, infatuation is sure to fade away.
Love is a complex feeling, but it is not ultimate. It can be an element of a larger concept, harmony. To achieve harmony, a person should love everything in his/her life; he/she should be content with everything that is given to him/her by destiny. Harmony is the whole set of attitudes, feelings, and emotions that interact successfully generating positive energy.
Since this paper is devoted to multidimensional analysis of the concept of love, it is necessary to tackle the types of love according to the objects of the feeling. As it has been stated in the introduction, there are such types of love as godly, maternal, romantic, and love of nature. All of these types of love are equally important as they make their contribution to the harmonious life of a person. Love for God can work miracles; people find the source of strength and positive emotions if they feel love for God and are sure of His mutual response.
Maternal love is, definitely, the strongest of all types of love as it is born before the birth of a person. During the whole life, a mother and a child are bound by love as they used to be bound by an umbilical cord. On the one hand, maternal love can also work miracles; a mother’s word of love can cure better than any medicine. On the other hand, a mother suffers her child’s pain even more than a child does. It is impossible to feel what Indian women felt when Spaniards “loosed dogs that ‘devoured an Indian like a hog, at first sight, in less than a moment.’ They used nursing infants for dog food” (Lopez unpaged).
Romantic love is a necessary feeling that gives sense to human love. People are meant to live and to give birth to children, it is impossible to do without love. It can be a time taking process if you search for romantic love but once you find it, it will be with you till the end if you keep it.
Finally, the last important type of love is the love of nature. This is the thing that the Spaniards lacked when the foot of a first stranger stepped on the land that is called America today. The atrocities they committed against indigenous people were begotten by absence of love. The beauty of unique nature “along with the people we ignored, was a wealth that didn’t register until it was gone” (Lopez unpaged). Columbus and his conquistadors made the mistake of repudiating the love of nature and genuine beauty. The worst thing is that we commit the same mistake nowadays, wounding and hurting the Earth, our home. The rediscovery of North America and the rediscovery of the world is still possible if we wake up with all kinds of love inside our souls, love of nature included.
Concluding, it is necessary to state that the present paper presents a detailed analysis of the complex concept of love. Its understanding is necessary to awake all types of love inside us; the definition of love can make our mind search for love together with our soul. Love is a rich feeling, it is immense and immortal, and it is the feeling that can bring harmony to the life of every person.
Lopez, Barry Holstun. The Rediscovery of North America. USA: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
Shontz, Priscilla K. The Librarian’s Career Guidebook. Lanham Mayland: Scarecrow Press, 2004.
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Spinoza, Benedict. The Ethics. BiblioBazzar, LLC, 2008.