“Society must be organized in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it.” — Erich Fromm, “The Art of Loving.”
If there ever were one gift that I could give to everyone, it would be the little book just over 100 pages long that is referred to above. This little book was written in 1956 — more than 57 years ago! If you’ve been reading my columns, you have come across the wisdom of Erich Fromm many times. It’s one of several similar books that, if read with a desire to absorb the wisdom therein, can make a positive difference in our relationships.
This book is not, as some might think, a manual of step-by-step instructions about loving — physically, emotionally or any other way. It describes what a truly loving person is like and not like, and reviews the “productive orientation” necessary to achieve such a state.
The following quotes from “The Art of Loving” are a small gift from me to you this holiday season. I hope they will motivate you to read the entire book, which, by the way, is still available.
“The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all kinds of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further his life.”
“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one ‘object of love.’ If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow man, his love is not love, but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. If I truly love one person, I love all persons. I love the world. I love life.”
“Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome his sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”
“If you love without calling forth love, that is, if your love does not produce love, if my means of an expression of life as a loving person, you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent, a misfortune.”
“If I am attached to a person because I can’t stand on my own two feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.”
“Motherly love — is the unconditional affirmation of the child’s life and his needs. Affirmation of the child’s life has two aspects; one is the care and responsibility absolutely necessary for the preservation of the child’s life and his growth. The other aspect goes farther than merely preserving. It is the attitude which instills in the child a love for living which gives him the feeling; it is good to be alive; it is good to be a little boy or girl; it is good to be on this earth.”
“The love for my own self is inseparably connected with the love for any other human being. My own self must be as much an object of love as another person. The affirmation of one’s own life, happiness, growth, freedom is rooted in one’s capacity to love; i.e. in care, respect, responsibility and knowledge. If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself, too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all.”
“While we teach knowledge, we are losing that teaching which is the most important one for human development; the teaching which can only be given by the simple presence of a mature, loving person.”
“For the productive character, giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. The experience of heightened vitality and potency fills me with joy. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.”
I hope your holidays have been happy, rewarding, and loving and 2014 will be the same.
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 700 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is email@example.com.