Friday Night at 8: Love

In the Wilhelm translation of the I-Ching, in the hexagram of “Grace,” there’s a line that always fascinated me.

Love is the content, justice the form.

I’m probably paraphrasing that, but am too dulled out from the Big Apple Cold Snap of 2009 to go look it up.

Love is the content, justice the form.

I’ve written a lot about justice, about social justice, about accountability for the crooks who stole power in the US, all that.

Haven’t written a lot about love, though, about why justice has anything to do with love.  What it is we’re trying to create in our culture, our society, our government, that we can love?  Hard to even imagine loving anything right now about our laws and how they are enforced, about politicians, the media, so hard to see through the “chatter” of our corporate run discourse what is really going on, what there is to love.

And why is it, I wonder, that I can be so moved in my heart by love, by caring about my neighbors, my brothers, my sisters, and then someone says something hateful or does something destructive and that bright light of love is so easily overshadowed and replaced by pain and rage?

Love is the content, justice the form.

And why is it, I wonder, that such a seemingly small thing as that bright point of love, surrounded too often in a sea of hatred and destructiveness, why does it keep returning just as I despair of ever feeling it again?  How can something be that strong, so strong against even annihilation, destruction?

I think it’s good that we’ve all been writing and talking about justice in all of its forms, from politicial to ideal to the horrible feeling of justice denied.

The Constitution of the United States of America is a marvelous form, I think.  In Something The Dog Said’s essay Friday Constitutional 14 – Amendments 7-10, he wrote something I found very illuminating:

We will stop here for the week, as the 11th Amendment (Sovereign Immunity) is going to take a lot of explanation. Over the last three months that Dog has really learned a lot and has begun to form some, if not new opinions, perhaps revitalized ones; the biggest of these is that the Constitution can not be treated like a buffet.

It is like a net where the strands wrap around each other to form the structure, cut any of the individual strands, and the integrity of the entire net suffers. The way that it works to balance the powers needed to govern versus the need for the people to be at liberty to follow their own path is one that can’t be unwound without damaging the whole. If you any of these rights for yourself, you must be ready to defend all of them, even the ones that are inconvenient or unpleasant to you.

This is the major tragedy of the fact that most of our fellow citizens were where the Dog was before he started this project. They know some of the Amendments, a few of the Articles, but do not know the entire document, and so miss out on the interconnectedness of it.

So, what are your thoughts thus far, citizens?

I think we are trying not only to restore the form of the Constitution, but the content as well, not merely dry legal words and citations but the emotions and insights that inspired revolutionaries to weave this net to begin with, love of freedom, love of dignity, and a love of liberty that is endangered by any kind of tyranny.

We know now that the protections in the Constitution were not for everyone when this nation was founded.  Yet this “net” has expanded over the centuries to include ever more groups of people — even as ever more groups wait in the wings, hoping and praying they will see in their lifetimes freedom, dignity, liberty.

I apologize for this fragment of an essay.  The changes in the past several weeks have often crashed over me in waves that make it difficult to write at all, as I just take it in and experience it.

But that is what is on my mind on this cold February evening.

Happy Friday to all and I hope everyone is doing well.


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  1. Etc.

    • Robyn on February 7, 2009 at 02:23

  2. I wonder if its possible to “love” freedom, dignity or liberty?

    When I read that quote from the I-Ching, my thoughts went to a love of people, and therefore an insistence on justice for them.

    • Edger on February 7, 2009 at 02:40

    3.5. The Cosmic Cycle

    According to Empedocles, the cosmos is a sphere and is divine (Hippolytus, Ref. 7. 17). It began in a state of unity in which Love has brought the four elements together into complete homogenization; Strife was relegated to outmost boundary of the cosmic sphere. He explains,

    But now I shall retrace my steps over the paths of song that I have traveled before, drawing from my saying a new saying. When Strife was fallen to the lowest depth of the vortex, and Love had reached to the center of the whirl, in it do all things come together so as to be one only; not all at once, but coming together at their will each from different quarters; and, as they mingled, strife began to pass out to the furthest limit. Yet many things remained unmixed, alternating with the things that were being mixed, namely, all that Strife not fallen yet retained; for it had not yet altogether retired perfectly from them to the outermost boundaries of the circle. Some of it still remained within, and some had passed out from the limbs of the All. But in proportion as it kept rushing out, a soft, immortal stream of blameless Love kept running in, and straightway those things became mortal which had been immortal before, those things were mixed that had before been un-mixed, each changing its path. And, as they mingled, countless tribes of mortal creatures were scattered abroad endowed with all manner of forms, a wonder to behold. (35, 36) R. P. 169.

    The next stage in cosmic cycle state sees Strife beginning to affect the sphere from its banishment to outmost boundary: “But when Strife was grown great in the limbs of the god and sprang forth to claim his prerogatives, in the fulness of the alternate time set for them by the mighty oath,…. for all the limbs of the god in turn quaked” (Fr. 31). Simplicius interprets this statement to mean, “As Strife begins to gain once more, motion begins again in the Sphere” (Phys. 1184. 2). Strife disturbs the motionless unity of the divine sphere, the complete homogenization of the four elements effected by Love; thereby the elements begin to move are then free to become all things by recombining under the influence of Love. Aristotle points out therefore that, for Empedocles, Strife is as much a cause of existence as of destruction, because without Strife there would be only eternal, motionless homogeneity; he also points out that Empedocles nowhere explains why this cosmic cycle is necessary beyond saying that it is the nature of Love and Strife to do what they do (Metaphysics, 3.4; 1000a 22-1000b 22). Eventually, Strife gains full ascendancy over Love, so that the four elements are separated from one another presumably into four motionless groups. The cycle then begins again with a new advance of Love.

    • RUKind on February 7, 2009 at 02:44

    Need to get the patient’s heart pumping again. Get some fresh air into the lungs. Get aware and stand up.

    More we, less me.

  3. is love. Justice is what? It so easily merges with revenge, it so easily is arguable. The frame of reference varies, and even the words ‘justice is mine’ sounds so authoritarian. Whose justice? In my life time I have seen justice used as a football. justice stands alone and apparently blind. Why is it blind? Is it an eye for an eye? Is it retribution? WTF is it? Some kind of justice, some weighing of love, compassion, karma, cause and effect, payment? No i think it is when humans step outside the bounds of all the laws written in our hearts and love, people must weight the enormity of the transgressions and judge these wrong. Their are certain laws that cannot be broken. We all know them through love. Punishment is a whole different issue. I just wish we could all agree about the laws the ones we all know deep inside are self evident.      

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