Why Love is Not the Answer

Why Love is Not the Answer


(What Creates Social Transformation?)

We seem to be fond of the notion that love will cure all our ills.  I do not believe this is the case.  Here is why.

I hear people saying how much they love their partners, certain music, ball games, pets, and hot dogs. The word has become almost meaningless in terms of what we require it to embrace.  But a lot of important terms get watered down through trivialization.  So, it is context that implies the desired definition.  The notion that love is the answer to human ills implies a profound devotion that compels a profound commitment. This kind of love impacts with the power that invites social transformation.  And it is only social transformation that will solve our relational problems.

However, while I thrill to and embrace the imperatives that love implies, I do not believe it possible to love everybody in such a manner.  It is too personal, too intense, and too time demanding. We only have the capacity to embrace a limited number of people with such profoundness.  If love is not the answer, then what is the answer? What can transform the social environment so that we humans can live in harmony and collaboration?  How can we relate to each other in a way that impacts with life-giving power, even in a casual manner and even if we have never met?

I believe that agent is respect for each other’s innate worth.  To love a person I have to respect that person.  But to respect a person I do not have to love that person.  Nor do I have to agree with them.  I only have to honor their worth as I honor mine. Whatever the relationship, people want their worth affirmed.  They wish to be accepted as equals. This is the common ground that bridges differences.  This is the embrace that creates community. This is the action that induces transformation. This bridging, creating, and inducing are the potential harvest of mutual respect.

If we wish to transform the social environment so that our differences are bridged into uniting community and transforming power, it begins with respecting the worth of everyone we encounter and behaving accordingly.  Even though I have never met most of the people who inhabit the globe I can still invest in their equal worth. There is no human relation problem that cannot be solved through such mutual respect.

Robert T. Latham


  • The only practical definition of love is when the security and well-being of others becomes as important as our own. It seems to me that there is something more needed than respect for transformation to happen. I would suggest that compassion is what brings about transformation – for both the one suffering and the oppressor. More than respect, to be compassionate is to recognize and to collaborate in our utter interdependence with one another and the Source of all being. Being compassionate may enable us to live our way into the answer. Now, what was the question?…

  • I agree with your thought process about innate worth, but I think a lot of people are not able to give it due to fear and ignorance. Fear of anything that is different from their comfort zone makes a lot of people leery of those who may appear different, even though they may have similar beliefs. Ignorance of history, present day oppression and occurrences, and different belief systems, combined with social stigma (which in itself is a combination of fear and ignorance) leave some bewildered and unable to see those different others as having the same worth. And then of course there are those who have to put others below them in order to feel worthy themselves. Unfortunately I think most, in America, are living in an “I come first, I want everything to be easy (and not have to do any research), I don’t want to change anything that takes me out of my comfort zone society. As far as innate worth between different countries, there is the “Our country is the best” patriotism. Then there is the racial stigma, which I think goes back again to fear and ignorance. I do not suggest this applies to all humans, May some day there be more of us who believe in innate worth!

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