Love is a concept that is close to losing all meaning and coherence because of its misuse, and over-use, in popular culture. The reason is clear enough: common notions of "unconditional love"—unconditional self-love, unconditional love of others, unconditional love of our enemies—have led to an idea that cannot be intelligibly defined and employed in our languages. To put it simply, the concept of love can be meaningful "only in contrast to what cannot or should not be loved." Acts of cruelty, against oneself or others, for instance, could hardly be the object of our unconditional love, nor should we love unconditionally the person who commits such acts. The same sort of distinctions could be pointed to countless times.
It's fascinating to note that we understand these distinctions "intuitively," even though many of us speak as if we don't. For instance, would you treat someone who had committed a serious injustice against you (violence, theft, deception) with the same deep level of kindness, dignity, and confidence as you would your best friend, a person who has "gained" your trust, and upon whom you could rely in both your personal and public life? The unavoidable and unalterable truth about love resides in a simple maxim: "Authentic love must be earned." The popularity of the deafening mantra that the meaning of life is somehow to love everyone unconditionally (including and especially one's self) is just another example of the "triumph of anti-intellectualism," a virulent disease that threatens the mind, body, and soul of a progressing humanity.
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