The second chapter of Works of Love talks about loving your neighbor as yourself. I haven’t fully digested what I’ve read so far, but he’s going around how “as yourself” doesn’t mean “more than yourself”. I think this gets at the problem I have with getting in the back of the line, or letting others have what I need. These actually mean, I deserve to be at the front, and I deserve that thing which I am deprived of but am giving to you. I make myself envious of them by giving it to them. But what if I am being envious about and giving of something I neither deserve nor need. What if I am spoiling them by giving it to them instead?

I have also been puzzled by how I like “selfish” people. People who say they play music, for example, for themselves, and introspective books, like Persuasion, or those written in the first person. By letting me eavesdrop, they let me vicariously enjoy and learn from these experiences as if they were mine. There is a human connection that allows “as yourself”.

Furthermore it seems that giving can be more effective if there is a real connection that suffers with the other person so that burden bearing becomes natural and mutual. Not mutual as in you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, which may happen, but in that I mutually experience what you are and any alleviation available helps us both, no matter if I lifted my finger or watched someone lift theirs in our proximity.

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