A definition for love, and a definition for care.
What is love?
Love is an abstract word. In the absence of direct sensory or experiential meaning, you are left grasping in your mind to form meanings. Socrates attempted to define love, and he ended up with a dozen definitions but no definite answer.
Conditional and unconditional love.
A Christian can come up to you and say “Jesus loves you”, the meaning to the Christian is that Jesus will love you, “conditional upon”, which is to say you obey the rules of Jesus, he loves you then gives you a golden ticket to paradise, and if you break the rules, he wont love you and you are going to burn. Another common idea of love is that it is “unconditional”, you get the love with no strings attached.
A child’s definition of love.
For years I have struggled with the definition for love. Then via WordPress a child gave their definition of love:
“Have fun, be happy, live.”
Wisdom can come from many unexpected sources, even from the mouth of a child, recorded on WordPress. Thanks Augustus, I like this definition.
In the context of how Augustus uses love it is our purpose for living, it is the meaning of life. To Augustus this is an ongoing individual experience, the consequence of its lack is unhappiness, and such people “kill” themselves.
What is care?
Augustus appears to define love as an individual experience in self. What of the relationship of friends, or husband to wife, or mother to son? Whereas love is a spiritual state of personal experience, the type assumed to be love between mother and son is a shared activity between two people, and I looked for a second word – care.
If a mother feeds a son, cuddle a son, provides toys to the son, this is a state of giving, a type of caring activity. For definitions it was again WordPress that assisted. The blog called “Awareness” drives home amongst its core messages the idea of “giving attention.”
I attended a philosophy day in Colchester run by the East Anglian School of Philosophy, a philosophy group, which like the “Awareness” blog has been influenced by the Hindu philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. They taught that you should be in control of your attention, give your attention to those things that matter in life. When our attention is captured, for instance by television, then we have lost control of our minds to the market men on television, who then can proceed to upload their toxic junk directly into our brains. As an example of giving attention, in a conversation with another person, when you listen to the other person talk, you give them your attention fully; when it is your turn to speak, you take back attention, the other person gives you their attention; so this becomes a backwards and forwards activity of attention giving, with you always in control of your attention.
Children and attention giving
Taking this idea of attention giving further, when you are the parent to a child, the child could be considered an important aspect of your life. You give attention to that child, you feed them, play with them, protect them. What happens if your attention is instead captured by another activity, say partying all night at a nightclub? There are parents out there who leave their baby alone at home, and spend the night at a party; the baby may be crying, frightened, hungry and in need of comfort, yet it is totally alone. The baby suffers through lack of attention.
The baby example is an extreme, but lack of giving attention to their children is a common situation for parents. The demands of modern life often forces the parent to give attention to something else, like work, and the child suffers through the lack of attention, which is partly the reason for crime, mental illness and poor discipline in children.
Definition of care
Here follows then a definition for care:
“Giving attention to what is important.”