A Harsh and Dreadful Love: Part 2, While We Are Alone We Could Believe We Loved Everyone

Before moving on to other passages in the chapter "A Lady of Little Faith" from Dostoevsky's The Brother's Karamazov, a few reflections from the passage I shared yesterday.

Recall the sentiment that was shared in that passage: "I love mankind...[but] the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular."

There's a passage from Jean Vanier that I've shared here many times before that talks about this very thing: 
Community is the place where our limitations, our fears and our egotism are revealed to us. We discover our poverty and our weaknesses, our inability to get on with some people, our mental and emotional blocks, our affective and sexual disturbances, our seemingly insatiable desires, our frustrations and jealousies, our hatred and our wish to destroy. While we are alone, we could believe we loved everyone. Now that we are with others, living with them all the time, we realise how incapable we are of loving, how much we deny to others, how closed in on ourselves we are.
The passage is haunting, especially the mention of "sexual disturbances," given what we've so sadly and tragically learned about Vanier's history of perpetrating sexual abuse. 

The line I've quoted so often is, "While we are alone, we could believe we loved everyone." When we're alone, we can love humanity in the abstract. And that really demands nothing of us. But in community love becomes real, love becomes work. And as Vanier's own life reveals, it's in community were our love so often tragically and abusively fails.

I think there a two main ways we convince ourselves that we love everyone: Politics and social media.

First, it's easy to love humanity on social media. All you need to do is post on social media all the causes and issues you care about. You pour out all this virtual love and never have to do any of the hard work of loving actual people.

Second, you can love issues rather than actual people. You can get very politically engaged and go on marches and do all the political things to help people. But political action, while very important, still isn't living with and loving actual people.

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