“Elena, if a person desires truth and rightness above all, and he is not sure what should be, how does he know what is true and right?”

“I suppose he does the best he can.”

“That seems dissatisfying.”

“Then do you think it is possible to attain perfect love?”

“Love seems more on and off. You choose to love when you choose to.”

“So all one has to do is to attempt to love and they love as well as they ought, but truth is more difficult to discern and act upon?”

“Unless love is more complicated than I thought.”

“Say you hear a baby crying, what would love entail? Telling him you love him?”

“Probably not. You would have to determine what was the matter.”

“What if he wants to be held longer than the time you have allotted in your busy schedule of equally needful priorities and cries when he is put down? Would it be loving to withhold from him what would stop his crying?”

“I don’t know about such things.”

“So you admit loving correctly is difficult!”

“You have inserted the word, ‘correctly’. That puts it in your category of truth and rightness. Maybe love doesn’t need that additional qualification to be love. Maybe intentions are enough.”

“So if you tell a starving baby you love it and do not feed it, or do feed it but with the wrong things, that is enough, because you intended love?”

“If one was truly ignorant of how to feed a baby and loved with the best intentions, then I think they could be said to have loved. One would then need to determine why they were so ignorant.”

“Then who chooses to be unloving? Couldn’t anyone be convinced that they are loving while depriving their objects of what they really need? I choose correctness over love in that case.”

“Who knows the amount of damage done if a person gives correct things without love. Perhaps it is better to be physically unhealthy but loved.”

“We get back to intentions then. Say a person doesn’t feel love, but gives good things out of a sense of obligation, or commitment to rightness. You could say that their love is in their head instead of their heart, which may disqualify it as love. Perhaps their feelings are more sympathetic to their own situation than the other’s, but at least they know what the other person needs. They do not want that person to go without good things.”

“So you believe love is a feeling. Like warmth and desire. “

“Don’t you?”

“Warmth and desire are a type of love, and they can be present in the midst of ignorance. A commitment to truth and rightness can perhaps be another type of love. A desire for health that transcends the desire for the individual person. I suppose it would be like giving a cup of water to an enemy. If one considers them an enemy, is that love?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think it is the way the enemy would want to be loved. They may even refuse it if they think they are being patronized.”

“That would be an idealistic enemy!” Pavel said. “One that values correctness over love.”

“So a loving enemy would appreciate a cup of water given under duress?”

“Yes.”

“But would a thirsty enemy appreciate being told he was loved instead of given water?”

“If he was loving, yes, but he may go look for a more competent, unloving enemy.” Pavel smiled.

“Then you’ve proven that correctness is better than love.”

“Your statement presumes that the body’s needs are primary. How can that be the case if everyone dies? I think it is also important to feel psychologically loved.”

“I don’t think one can live on psychological love alone. They would then have to look elsewhere, even if they valued it.”

“Unless they were willing to die. Or thought it was right to die. Or love compelled them to die rather than look elsewhere.”

“Are you saying that a loving person would never leave a harmful situation?”

“No. Sometimes it is unloving to let someone hurt you.”

“How does one know the difference?”

“It is difficult to know what one should do. It is easier to know what one wants.” Pavel reclaimed his statement.

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