Love equals relationships. To experience love you must be in a relationship, either with yourself, your lover, your spouse, your children, your friends, your family, nature, the universe or your creator, to name a few of the most common love relationships.
Love has been named the glue that holds people together. Some even say that it holds the universe together. A child that receives no touch and no love when newly born can actually wither away and die. Love is the most spoken about, written about, sung about and in other ways expressed feeling in the world.
Many Types of Love
Anyone speaking of love must realize that there are many types of love. There is the excitement at the beginning of a relationship (closely related to the second human need for excitement and sex), a mothers love for her child, the love of a married couple, the love for a friend, the master’s love for his student, Gods love for his children and so on.
Here are three distinct types of love:
1) Vividly expressed romantic love, often based on selfish desires, wants and needs.
2) An ethnic love for a family, spouse or nation, where a person’s love is confined to the group the person relates to. Within the confines of a personal relationship, it could also be called “a give to get” kind of love.
3) A mature and often spiritual love relationship, in which a person gives of his/her time and energy with no expectation of return to help another person grow and mature to reach a higher potential. In a personal relationship, this is called unconditional love. In a larger context, this third kind of love can also manifest as an example of selfless service for the benefit of mankind. It is closely related to the need for a spiritual connection and can often be seen in the actions of spiritual masters. Recent examples include Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, the Peace Pilgrim, the Dalai Lama and a few others.
Moral Development and Love
According to research in developmental psychology, especially the research of moral development in women by Carol Gilligan, there seems to be a growth pattern of at least three stages that are closely related to the three kinds of love. Carol Gilligan named these three stages selfish, care and universal care. Some research shows that there can be higher stages than universal care, but the goal of anyone working for love and world peace should at least be to grow to the stage of universal care.
From Wishful Thinking to Personal Gardening
Many people say that they want world peace. That is a beautiful sentiment… but people rarely talk about such peace in a personal context. They want those in power to declare peace while they continue on with their ways.
Meaningful peace begins at home. If more people would focus on personal gardening, nurturing the type of selfless love described above, we would automatically start moving in the direction of world peace.
Picture: CC0 License
Column curated from The Seven Human Needs © Gudjon Bergmann, 2006