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Loving your neighbor as yourself is a fundamental principle among Christians. This principle demands equal and just treatment to our neighbors as we could have desired. According to the bible (Martin Luther King document), Jesus described neighbor as anyone who need help. The extract form Martin Luther King’s document describes that love is demonstrated when we out of way to help someone who is dire need. As Christians, we are obliged to love one another just as Christ has loved us. This kind of love does not require credibility of its object but rather is offered on the platform of humanity. We did not deserve the love the Christ showed and so we should also give love to all without discriminating. Therefore, to live harmoniously everyone is expected to demonstrate love to their neighbor just as they do to themselves. Society would therefore live without conflicts as people would respect and care for one another.
The principle ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ really asks us to harmoniously dwell with each other as put the interests and concerns of others our first law of life. Human beings are inherently self-seeking and this is the major cause of many injustices witnessed in the world. However, with a commitment to uphold to virtue of neighbor-loving, the society can be transformed to a haven of peace and joy. Friendship and love are necessary and noble virtues. When we act in love, the rest of virtues become spontaneous.
The Value of Love in a Society
Freud argues that love must be deserved for it to be given. According to his claims, love should be given to the people who are important to you in one way or the other. He further says that one who is to be loved should be more perfect than the giver of love. Idealism is his main point of argument. Freud argues that one to be loved should be able to attract you with his worth or significance. That is, if somebody is not related to you or has no significant worth that supersedes you, then there is no point loving him. According to him, love is valuable and should only be given out in preference. A stranger should not receive similar level of treatment with your relatives or friends. Freud argues that a stranger is not worthy of love. In presenting his views of opposing neighbor-love, he says that it is injustice to love a stranger as he loves himself. He further justifies that a neighbor should be treated with more hatred and hostility. Strangely enough, Freud argues that the command of ‘love your neighbor as you love thyself ‘ should have read ‘love your neighbor as thy neighbor loves you’.
Sigmund Freud, who opposed agape type of love, based his argument on justification that strangers do not deserve this kind of love. He also stated that such kind of people may never appreciate love offered to them. Sigmund’s based his reasoning on the fact that an individual would only love another person due to the attraction of the object of love. Love could also be determined by the relationship between people since love is highly regarded by close relatives hence extending to other neighbors would jeopardize close relationships. In other words, love is to be directed to people of a common grouping.
Moreover, he also argued that men are not gentle creatures who should be loved but rather are hostile and would likely venture to exploit their neighbors as they interact. This hostility to one another hinders good relationship while compelling development of civilization within a society. Despite Sigmund’s reasoning, people can only live peacefully if love is observed amongst as wars have been fought in history due to hostility of men.
With this kind of argument, we draw conclusion that Freud equals love with gain. In other words, loving someone depends on what gain that person shall offer to you in return. Freud argument means that you treat people as they treat you. When they show consideration and forbearance, then you are obliged to act in a similar manner. Freud believes the men are not gentle beings and so they do not deserve to be treated with gentleness. In opposing neighbor-love, Freud asserts that thy neighbor is the most dangerous person that can harm you the most and so do not deserve to be loved as thyself. He also claims that human beings an inherent tendency to aggression that only awaits provocation. It is this inherent aggression that he argues makes it impossible to love thy neighbor as thyself and even hampers attempts of civilization. He argues that it is not possible for people to give up the inclination to aggression since they feel insecure without it. He concludes that the commandment is meant to counter the aggressive instincts in human.
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In Martin Luther King’s expert, it is evident that everyone needs love irrespective of where they come from. MLK argues that loving our neighbor means that we put concern for others our first priority in life. In fact, he disagrees with Freud that love should be limited to race, class, nation, or tribe. Luther explains the witness of war among nations and races is caused a group-centered love. The group-centered attitude in love makes one not to care about what happens to the people outside his group. If people are concerned only in their nation and race, they would count murder of a person of different race as a heroic virtue. This is perpetrating evil in the society. Love must be boundless for it to be considered love. Race-centered, nation-centered, or tribal-centered love only perpetrates inhuman incidents. According to MLK, Freud arguments reduce human beings to things. In bringing the biblical story of the Good Samaritan, MLK brings to our attention the need to put the concern for others our first law in life. While the priest and the Levite were concerned with their own wellbeing, the Samaritan risks his life to help the wounded man.
In reference to Martin Luther King on being a good neighbor, he states that it is of great necessity to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. However in this regard, Jesus defines neighbor as anyone who is need of our assistance. Therefore we are expected according to this kind of love to regard others without any prejudice or any sense of discrimination. In addition agape also calls for individual sacrifice for the benefit of others. This is referred to as dangerous altruism. Such kind of relationship among people would prevent conflicts and disagreement from arising.
According to Martin Luther, agape calls for sympathy and demonstration of pity on another individual who may not be of much benefit to us. The demonstration of these virtues would enable people to show humanness and thus enjoy peaceful co-existence in the society as they ensure that people relate in harmony without conflicts. Genuine sympathy will cause people to seek to find solution for the needy. Pity alone cannot propel action without sympathy. Therefore, Martin Luther recognizes that people are valued based on how they willing sacrifice their comfort for the welfare of others and not based on their comfort and conveniences to acquire their needs. People should always be concerned how their actions would positive or negatively affect the people around them. We must be ready to move out to change conditions for the betterment of the entire society. This can only happen if we choose to love people as we love ourselves. Martin Luther asserts that a man is measured by the stand he is willing to take in the face of controversy and challenges. According to MLK, love prompts to break the conformity syndrome so as to change the status quo. He asserts that human beings should learn to be neighborly. We should see others as part of us and what affects them should be our greatest concern.
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The arguments of Freud reduces love to want. Comte-Sponville counters Freud arguments by asserting that where there is love there is no duty. There are a number of ways through which we can demonstrate love. Even though love may have its roots in sexuality, it supersedes our erotic pleasures. The value of our life -private and public, professional and domestic- is dependent on how much love we invest and get back. According to Comte-Sponville, morality commands us to act in a loving manner. In other words, leading a moral life enables one to act as though he loves. This alone can promote love. Kant observes that to love one’s neighbor simply means to practice all duties towards them. He further asserts that one cannot love at command. Love is an ideal that enlightens and guides us. Even though we are not born we virtuous, we acquire virtue through morality, education, and love. Jesus says that “one who does not love have not known God since God is love’. In 1st John 4: 19-21, apostle john asserts that no one can claim to love God, whom he has not seen, and yet he hates his brother, whom he sees.
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Comte-Sponville on the other hand states that love should be regarded as a virtue and never to be treated as a duty as it is love that determines what we do. He regards love as far much beyond physical demonstration. Comte-Sponville asserts that love is quite essential for moral life since it is what dictates how we relate with each other. Morality requires that we only act as in love hence if we love our neighbors we would live in morality. In addition he also argues that its only love that frees us from obligation of the duty to relate well with others as it allows us to freely treat our neighbors as well as we could treat ourselves.
Comte-Sponville continues to identify in respect to the debates of the ancient philosophers who held different opinions in respect to love. He quotes that according to Plato, love is the desire of which we want but lack at our disposal. This argument was also advocated by Socrates but later dismisses it as not being substantive since we could love that which we possess. Comte-Sponville also considered love between friends which fosters healthy relationships in a society. He states that according to Aristotle love among friends is founded on love without which such relationship would collapse. This depicts the value of loving one’s neighbor which would cement ties in a community as a whole.
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Distinct from other kinds of love as described by Comte-Sponville is the agape type of love. This kind of love is the true mark of friendship. Agape is demonstrated in exercising virtues as an individual loves another person just like himself. However this kind of love is directed to that which one does not lack and even to them who may cause harm to an individual. According to Comte-Sponville it was this kind of love that Christ showed for dying on the cross and thereby commanding us to love our enemies as well. Moreover He also argues that if this kind of love is God then it is perfect just as God is and lacks nothing entirely.
In describing agape love Comte-Sponville states that God did not love that which deserved love, but rather that which did not have value acquired value by the fact that it was the object of God’s love.
In saying that the entire law is summarized in the law of love, Christ simply explained that love is the fulfillment of all moral requirements of the law. Sponville adds that morality is a vehicle that leads into love. Faith becomes meaningless if we do not know how to love. Sponville explains further that politeness is a semblance of morality which in turn is a semblance of love. Comte-Sponville shares a similar connotation in regard to morality. Martin Luther argues that legislative law cannot instill love but it can prevent exploitation. Similarly, Comte-Sponville also affirms that morality encourages people to act as though they love. In other words, morality and law are semblance to love.
From the above approaches it remains candid that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Despite the challenges stated by Sigmund in his discussion, any society can only thrive if people exercise this noble virtue of love. War, political violence, poverty, and diseases can be easily combatted if people can embrace each other as brothers. Humanity is devoid and doomed without love. Love is the epitome of development and human progress. Though love can be demonstrated in different ways, this can only be achieved by the application of agape kind of love. Love should not be based on what one receives but rather on what contribution one can make to improve the lives of others. Irrespective of the state of our neighbors, as reasoned by Sigmund, we are better off if we exercise this kind of love which does not demand justification or approval to be offered. In addition agape enforces all other desired moral virtues desired in a society. If everyone endeavors to go an extra mile in showing love to their neighbors, then much of the crime and violence witnessed all over the world would be eradicated.
Genuine sympathy will cause people to seek to find solution for the needy. Pity alone cannot propel action without sympathy. Therefore, Martin Luther recognizes that people are valued based on how they willing sacrifice their comfort for the welfare of others and not based on their comfort and conveniences to acquire their needs. People should always be concerned how their actions would positive or negatively affect the people around them. We must be ready to move out to change conditions for the betterment of the entire society. This can only happen if we choose to love people as we love ourselves. Loving people based on race or what worth they add to your life is mere selfishness. The argument of Freud in opposing neighbor-love only promotes segregation and disunity among people. ‘Love your neighbors as you love yourselves’ calls for an evaluation of our inner attitude and commitment to genuine person-person relations. The value of our life -private and public, professional and domestic- is dependent on how much love we invest and get back.