Is it Possible to Love Indiscriminately?

I was watching Mike Wallace’s 1959 interview of Ayn Rand recently.  Concerning government and economics, I find myself in much agreement with Rand’s philosophy, but many of her views on love and selflessness are intolerable.  Yet, she makes an interesting point in this section of the interview: it is impossible to love indiscriminately.  To love without standards, for her, would be a meaningless kind of love.  In particular, those without virtue cannot be loved.  Her interviewer, Wallace, found this view problematic because, human nature being what it is, only very few people would deserve to be loved.

Jesus teaches the People

Of course, such a view neglects that most people–probably all people in reality–are loved in spite of their defects.  What causes one person to love another is often rather mysterious, isn’t it?  But, Rand was onto something when she said that loving indiscriminately is impossible.  You see, love requires the lover at least to know his beloved.  Also, of the many kinds of sympathies, love is unique that it can only exist where there is intimacy and knowledge of a person’s individuality.  Max Scheler (whose work I connected to Attack on Titan) classifies five kinds of sympathy:

  1. Identification
  2. Vicarious
  3. Fellow-Feeling
  4. Benevolence
  5. Love

Max Scheler

The other four kinds of sympathy or affection don’t require knowledge of someone’s individuality.  One can identify with someone merely through their humanity, vicariously place oneself in another’s shoes with whom one’s never spoken, have a degree of fellow-feeling in regard to people who’ve experienced similar events, and it is perfectly possible to feel benevolent toward a Mongolian shepherd, though one has no intention of ever meeting a Mongolian let alone visiting Mongolia.  No one can love that Mongolian shepherd unless they meet him or become pen pals or something.  Some kind of self-revelation is necessary in order to love a distinct personality!

Can't say that I love him, but owning a tame eagle is pretty cool.

Can’t say that I love him, but owning a tame eagle is pretty cool.

How can we square this with Christ’s command in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  You can be sure that Christ did not only mean that we should love people we know personally: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt. 5:46)  Of course, you can say that Christ wished for us to love one another on the order of benevolence–“willing the good” for one another.  Often, the word charity is treated as a kind of love based on action or willing the good.  But, in the Greek version of the above texts, the verb αγαπαω is employed, from which the word agape is derived in English.  I have seen the word agape defined as the love of God for man and the love each Christian should have for one another.  Having a great goodwill is essential to the concept of agape, but this kind of love goes beyond willing and doing good for them.  So, how can we αγαπωμεν all men?

sacredheartjesus

The solution lies in meditating on the nature of the Word–or rather, Christ’s two natures, human and divine, united in His Person–and the nature of mankind.  Each human being is created in the divine image and likeness.  Each one of us reflects God in our own unique way.  If a soul is lost and falls into hell, a singular and never again to be created reflection of God is lost forever.  But, what can we say about the humanity of Christ, which is so perfectly united to his divinity?  What sort of human being is not only the image and likeness of the divine, but divinity itself?  O divine humanity!  Jesus Christ perforce has all the perfections of mankind within Himself and is the very source and foundation of our own goodness.

Since Jesus Christ has whatever goodness we find in ourselves in Himself, we are led to the inescapable conclusion that we find ourselves–our true selves–in Christ.  Apart from Christ, we shall never find our true originality.  But extension, we cannot perceive the true individuality of others unless we see them in Christ.

Jesus on Trial

Now, you see the solution to how to love all men unconditionally: to love Christ in loving His brothers and sisters–all mankind.  An individual’s personality may be unknown to us, but we can see the person as God, whom we love in loving that person.  Even people who irritate us or do us harm may be loved in this way.  And who knows but that by loving the naturally unlovable, they may become great human beings?  St. Stephen loved the people who stoned him to death because he loved Christ who desired their salvation.  St. Stephen’s prayer “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60) perhaps gained for St. Paul the gift of his conversion on the road to Damascus.

So, in order to love all mankind, we must love one individual: Jesus Christ.  One need not stop short at a general feeling of goodwill toward all men, but we may love them all as we love Christ.  So, in a curious way, I agree with Ayn Rand that we cannot love indiscriminately; yet, this proves no obstacle to loving all in Christ, that unique individual who united all mankind within Himself.

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Kiba and Cheza’s Love as Symbolic of Jesus and Mary’s

While watching Wolf’s Rain this time, the utter delight Kiba and Cheza had in each other’s company struck me.  Those of my dear readers familiar with Wolf’s Rain know that this show is essentially a Christian allegory.  Though, I must confess to being so obtuse that I actually missed on this obvious connection the first time; but, this only proves how well it works as an allegory: the symbolism works such that it falls short of being blatant, which marks a perfect allegory.

Of course, one of this pair of characters might be conceived of as the Church rather than Mary, as the love of Our Lord for the Church is unfathomable; but, traditionally, many places in Scripture which some say refers to the Church, others say refer to Mary–the Song of Songs being a perfect example.  This is due to Mary being the most perfect disciple of Our Lord.  (Feminists please note that this honor was not given to a man, nor the honor of being the most powerful intercessor among the saints, nor did any other saint have as important a role in the history of salvation, nor is anyone else’s heart so like the Sacred Heart.)

I wrote “one of this pair” above because I hesitate to name either Kiba or Cheza as definitely Jesus or Mary.  If we were to assign them by gender, Kiba would symbolize Jesus and Cheza Mary; yet, Cheza has healing powers, is the one being sought by the pack, and is depicted as if crucified.  On the other hand, Kiba needs to save Cheza, is gravely wounded especially toward the end, and is the obvious leader of the pack–despite his unwillingness to be recognized in that role.  But this similarity brings out a fine point: the better a believer becomes, the closer he approximates Our Lord.  We have the examples of those people who seem so sweet and filled with goodness that we never wish to leave them.  Some people approach Christ-likeness so perfectly that they become an image of Him, as in the Orthodox idea that icons of Christ point to the Father as icons of the saints point to Christ.  Once when someone saw Padre Pio at prayer, he believed he saw Jesus Christ praying.

Also, I remember Louis de Montfort’s claim that it is easier to separate Our Lord from all created beings and things than to separate Him from Mary.  This is similar to Kiba and Cheza’s love.  When Cheza is present, Kiba is always at her side.  When she is absent, she’s all Kiba thinks about.  When Cheza thinks about the pack or feels that the wolves are near, Kiba is the first name that comes to her mind.  At the end of the series, when everyone else has perished, Kiba and Cheza hold each other in a firm embrace.

But that last scene reminds me of a symbol of how Christ is united to his Church, which I cannot pass without remarking: the blood pouring from Kiba and Cheza’s wounds changes into water as it flows out into the sea.  At Mass, a little water is mingled with the wine before consecration.  The water symbolizes the Church, and the mingling with the wine means that Christ is always united with His Church.  And this perpetual union I wish for you all.

Seeing this show again also makes me wonder whether it would have been better to have ended the show at episode 26 rather than creating another four episodes.  After all, the person symbolizing the devil has been destroyed and good victorious.  Even though one may say that the show doesn’t seem complete since the wolves haven’t found paradise, do we not experience the same thing in our lives?  Christ has conquered sin and death, but we still struggle with living virtuously, and, though we possess the Kingdom (“The Kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21), we do not yet enjoy the Beatific Vision.

So, what do you think?  Would it have been better to have ended Wolf’s Rain at episode 26 or does the addition of four more episodes make for a superior ending?

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus This Friday

Dear Readers, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs this Friday. Even though it’s not a holy day of obligation, it would be good if you could find some way to attend Mass. If not, try to spend some time meditating on the great love this Heart has for us, particularly how He loved us so much that He endured terrible suffering and death for our sakes.

This is how the Sacred Heart is traditionally depicted. The Flames indicate the burning Love which this Heart has for all mankind, the thorns symbolize the insults, contempt, ingratitude, and sins with which so many men grieve the Sacred Heart, and the Cross reminds us to often meditate on His Passion, in which He showed us the depth of His Love. So, I encourage everyone to read an account of His Passion and meditate on it, particularly by praying through the Stations of the Cross.

The following day is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I already have a page dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, so you may read that for ideas about how to honor her on this day–besides attending Mass, of course.

By the way, devoutly praying “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee” carries an indulgence of three hundred days.  So, if any of you are worried about having too much time in purgatory, say it often!