Angels on the sideline,
Puzzled and amused.
Why did Father give these humans free will?
Now they’re all confused.
Don’t these talking monkeys know that Eden has enough to go around?
Plenty in this holy garden, silly monkeys
Where there’s one you’re bound to divide it
Right in two
Angels on the sideline,
Baffled and confused.
Father blessed them all with reason,
And this is what they choose?
Tool, Right in Two
So now we come to agape. In its original context, agape is the love of god, which enables, by diffusion, a love of mankind. However, I think from the very beginning the concept of agape has been divided, reduced, cut in two.
As human animals, we are part of the total life force of planet earth. We depend upon that life force for our own lives, and in turn, gaia is dependent upon us (and every other living thing). So agape, I believe, is a love of life. Not in the sense of a being alive, but the joy spontaneously experienced in living things.
Agape is a wondrous and glorious thing, but unfortunately, too often, it is used as a rational for individual persons to functionally love, care about, actively feel for, other individual persons that they have never and will never know on the other side of the world. Compassion stretched to its utmost in the drive for humans to be ‘better’, and therefore solve all of the world’s problems.
However, this is impossible. Dunbar’s Number (aka ‘The Monkeysphere’) tells us that our primate brains are limited. We can only fully comprehend 150 discreet persons, beyond that, our brain switches to ‘short hand’, clumping individuals together into stereotypes. If philia and eros are founded upon getting to know and understand another person as discreet from the fantasy (or stereotype), then agape is perhaps founded upon the stereotype itself.
There is nothing wrong with this, however, if agape is conceived of as functionally similar to philia, then it will lead to expectations and assumptions that it will never be able to live up to. This is the foundation of most ‘liberal’ thinking. If we just teach people to open their hearts, open their minds, and open their wallets, then the whole world will be a better place because we will have created ‘better humans.’
(Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.)
(Originally posted August 8, 2006)