Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Love and responsibility

Some years ago I read the book "Love and responsibility" by Karol Wojtyla, written shortly before he was elected to the Papacy. The book is an in depth treatise on the experience of human love and relationships; it is an extraordinary work. The book is written in a very philosophical style, so in order to be able to convey its content to other people, who may never get to read the original, I made some simplified notes on the first half of the book. By way of tribute to JPII I will post these notes in ten short sections. This first segment compares love with desire.

When we look at humanity we see that it is neither complete nor finished-off; it is lacking something. We encounter ourselves as people who are looking, listening, enquiring, searching for fulfillment. Each one of us experiences this in our freedom of will; our desire for fulfillment. Everyone has his or her own freedom of will and so, at its root, the experience of desire is an intensely personal one. Desire is the experience of need. Is love the same as desire? No, love is much greater than desire. Desires come naturally to human beings, whereas we have the capacity for love, but love must be nurtured.
The capacity for love depends on a person’s willingness to seek something in common with others – he or she must subordinate him or herself to that thing for the sake of others. For instance, to make the roads safer places, drivers are called to respect a common code of driving. In doing so a driver subordinates his own way of driving to the needs of other road users. Now love is a deeply human capacity in which my freedom is placed at the disposition of others. Love is not something ready made – it has to be chosen. Love, at its root, is a decision.

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