the necessary love

Carlos Zilio, ESTUDO, 1970, felt-tip pen on paper, 47x32,5 (3)
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

What is saving us in this moment of Covid-19 intrusion are precisely the values ​​that capitalism denies

We currently live in dark times of a lot of hate, lack of refinement and especially lack of love.

History is not rectilinear, nor is the evolution of the universe itself. We pass from order (cosmos) to disorder (chaos), from the symbolic (that which unites) to the diabolical (that which separates), from shadows to light, from thanatos (the negativities of life) to the Eros (the excellences of life) and from the Christ to the Anti-Christ.

Such antitheses are not distortions of reality, but the condition of all things. In the human sphere, we say that this is the condition humaine.

That is to say, there are moments of predominance of order, of social harmony, of inclusive coexistence that represent the Eros.In others, the thanatos, the dimension of death, hatred and tearing.

Note that the two moments always come together and are simultaneously present in all times and circumstances.

Currently, at a global and national level, we are experiencing the dimension of thanatos. devilish e from the shadow. There are wars in the world, racism, fundamentalism claiming countless victims, the rise of authoritarianism, populism, which are disguises of despotism. As if all this were not enough, we are under the intrusion of Covid-19, the result of systematic human aggression against nature (Anthropocene) and the counterattack that it is moving us, especially capitalism and militaristic countries with their killing machine , on your knees.

All religious and spiritual paths give centrality to love. Nor do we need to refer to Jesus for whom love is everything or to St Paul's text of incomparable beauty and truth in the first Letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 13: “love will never end..in the present remain these three, faith, hope and love, but the most excellent is (love(13.8.13).

I cannot contain myself without quoting the text on love from the “Imitation of Christ”, from 1441, the most read book in Christendom after the Bible. As a swan song of my theological activity for more than 50 years, I retranslated it from Medieval Latin, overcoming, however, the typical dualisms of the time. Let's read it:

“A great thing is love. It is a truly invaluable good that by itself makes what is painful smooth and calmly bears all adversity. Because it takes the load without feeling the weight, it makes the bitter sweet and tasty... Love wants to be free and exempt from the ties that prevent it from loving in its entirety. Nothing sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing more sublime, nothing more profound, nothing more delicious, nothing more perfect or better in heaven and on earth... all tethers. He gives everything to everyone and possesses everything in all things, because beyond all things, he rests in the Sovereign Good from which all goods derive and proceed. He does not look at gifts, but rises above all goods to the bestower. Love often knows no limits because its inner fire surpasses all measure. It is capable of anything and does things that those who do not love do not understand, those who do not love weaken and end up falling. Love always watches and even sleeps without sleeping... Only those who love understand love” (book III chapter 5)

In painful moments in which we live and suffer, we need to rescue the most important thing that truly humanizes us: simple love. He is sorely wanting in all parts and relations. But without him nothing great, memorable and heroic was built in history. It is love that makes so many doctors and doctors, male and female nurses and all those who work against Covid-19, sacrifice their lives to save lives, and many of them are victims of this. They confirm to us the excellence of unconditional love

Testimonies from life sciences, art and poetry reinforce what religions proclaim.

Convincing are the words of the brilliant painter Vincent van Goog, in a letter to his brother Théo: “You have to love to work and to become an artist, an artist who seeks to put feeling in his work: you must first feel yourself and live with your heart..It is love that qualifies our sense of duty and clearly defines our role... love is the most powerful of all forces”(Lettres à son frere Théo, Galimard 1988, 138, 144). A. Artaud who introduced van Goog's letters says that he refused to enter this society without love: "he was a suicide of society".

Let us consider what the studies on the cosmogenic process and the new biology testify. More and more it becomes clear that love is an objective datum of global and cosmic reality, a blessed event of the very being of things, in which we are included.

An example of this is what James Watson wrote, who together with Francis Crick in 1953 decoded the double helix of the genetic code in:

“Love belongs to the essence of our humanity. Love, that impulse that makes us care for each other, is what allowed our survival and success on the planet. It is this impulse, I believe, that will safeguard our future… So fundamental is the love of human nature that I am certain that the capacity to love is inscribed in our DNA; a secular São Paulo (who wrote so excellently about love) would say that love is our genes' greatest gift to humanity” (J. Watson, DNA: the secret of Life,Companhia das Letras, São Paulo 2005 p. 433-434).

Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela showed the cosmic presence of love. The beings, even the most original ones like the topquarks, they say, relate and interact with each other spontaneously, out of sheer gratuity and the joy of living together. Such a relationship does not respond to a need for survival. It is established by an impulse to create new bonds, by the affinity that emerges spontaneously and that produces delight. It is the advent of love.

In this way, the force of love traverses all stages of evolution and embraces all beings, giving them radiance and beauty.

Cosmic love accomplishes what the mystic has always intuited about the gratuitousness of beauty: “the rose has no reason. It blooms for the sake of blooming. She doesn't take care of herself or care if people admire her or not” (Angelus Silesius). So love, like a flower, loves for the sake of loving and blossoms as the fruit of a free relationship, as between two people in love and in love.

Fernando Pessoa expressed this experience well, in Poems by Alberto Caieiro:”If I speak of Nature, it is not because I know what it is,/But because I love it, and I love it for that reason,/Because those who love never know what they love/Neither know why they love, nor what it is to love/To love it is eternal innocence” (Poetic work, Aguilar 1974, p.205)

Because we are human and self-conscious, we can make love a personal and civilizing project: live it consciously, create conditions for love to happen between human beings and with all other beings in nature, even with some star in the universe.

Love is urgent in Brazil and in the world. With realism, Paulo Freire, so slandered by the drivers of hatred and ignorance, left us this mission: to forge a society where love is not so difficult. Educating, he said, is an act of love.

Let's say it with all the words: the capitalist and neoliberal world system does not love people. He loves money and material possessions; he loves the labor power of the worker, his muscles, his knowledge, his production and his capacity to consume. But he does not gratuitously love people as persons, bearers of dignity and worth. What is saving us in this moment of Covid-19 intrusion are precisely the values ​​that capitalism denies.

Preaching love and saying: “we love each other as we love ourselves”, is revolutionary. It is to be anti-dominant culture and against the prevailing hatred.

Love must be made what the great Florentine, Dante Alignieri, wrote at the end of each canticle of the Divine Comedy: “the love that moves the sky and all the stars”; and I would add, love that moves our lives, love that is the sacrosanct name of the Being that makes everything that is and that is the sacred Energy that makes our hearts pulsate with love.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist. Author, among other books by Meditation on Light: The Path of Simplicity (Voices).

 

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