I don’t mean to go all Haddaway on you by asking what love is, but I guess it’s no surprise that he and I both find ourselves asking the same question. We were both born in Latin America, moved to the US, and then relocated to Germany (I always find conveniently crazy patterns like these so let’s just do a collective eye-roll and say “o god, there he goes again ?”). Rather than singing a song about it (not my thing), I’m gonna publish my thoughts from this little fortress that I’m building in Munich. This relationship between love and power is something I’ve been pondering deeply for perhaps two decades and in every human relationship I have entered, so I suppose it’s time to start melting the tip of the iceberg #globalwarming?
If you’ve ever been curious about the way I think about things, or the way my mind works, I can honestly tell you the exact blueprint. It goes a little something like this: I take a thought, concept or idea, figure out its opposite and triangulate an answer that is somewhere in the middle. That way I can figure out how two things are identical and/or polar opposites. Take a look at the silly little logo for my blog, it says it all. I take a red dot, pin it against a blue dot, and I figure out where purple is. Once I have a purple concept/solution that is somewhere in the middle, I conjure up a third thing that is “connected but different” and call it “yellow”, which I then use to zero in on the [white] answer/clarity that I want to find (please don’t get caught up on the fact that it is “purple and not yellow!” it’s a thought experiment not a trial by jury).
Alright, that’s as nerdy as I’m gonna get before I lose 110% of the people reading this. Now let’s get philosophical so that we only lose 85% (lol).
Throughout my 30 years, I have fallen in love more times than I can count. I’ve recently told a couple of colleagues that I could genuinely fall for someone every other day if I’m not careful (and once a week even if I am careful). Given the recent rage about that FaceApp that shows you what you will look like when you’re old, then I’m gonna step it up a notch. To the right you can see a gif of how I picture myself when I am 80 and someone says: “Psst, hey kid, wanna fall in love?“
And yet, any good introvert will tell you that falling in love is dangerous. If you want do it right, you essentially have to surrender yourself to someone else [for a time, not forever]. You give up your power (which I will get to in a minute), because love is all about empowering others. That’s also why we don’t associate psychopaths or egomaniacs with love: the only person they seem to love/empower is themselves. If you really want to start a debate with me about love and empowering others, by all means go ahead. As I said at the outset, I’ve been pondering this for two decades and in every human relationship I’ve entered, regardless of how temporary it was or still is. And if you know me well, you should know better than to argue with me about something I am passionate about, so tread carefully because I am not sure if my philo brain can be more passionate about anything than passion itself.
This whole dichotomy between love and power is precisely at the crux of why I get intense about the primitiveness of nationalism or the lunacy of how we arbitrarily assign people to competing teams (i.e, citizenship). So before you open up this can of worms in a debate, just know that the other debates that I get intense about pale in comparison to this one. This is the topic and question that forms the basis of most of my sociopolitical opinions (including religion). So I’m not sure you really want to dive into that black hole, but by all means go ahead if you really want to.
I know I didn’t cover a lot of ground in the field of love before I switched topics. Again: red circle-blue circle; I don’t want to dive too deeply into a definition of red before we can discuss blue. So the only factor I’ve introduced and the only relationship I’ve established here is love = power (purple). So how do I distinguish the two? How do I split purple into two so I can figure out what’s red and what’s blue?
The simplest way to do this (at least for me) is by flipping the direction of the one and only relationship I posed:
Love = empowering others [sometimes at the expense of self]
Power =empowering self [sometimes at the expense of others]
I know, I know: “but you’re using the very word that you are trying to define within the definition!” First of all, sue me. I said this was a thought experiment, not a trial by jury. Second of all, yes, that’s the key: the relationship. And how do I define “empowering“? I personally define it as the moment-to-moment decisions we make which will result in a benefit to either ourselves or to someone else. Technically not everything is about cost-benefit or about winning and losing (though if you’re crazy enough it might be). But if you take the time to think through consequences [or you build a habit out of it], you start noticing that “alles ist verbunden” (everything is interconnected) and sometimes a decision of yours will benefit or hurt someone else even if to you it was meaningless. I’ve realized this when I randomly message someone and they say “it made my day” or when I was just being [stupidly] honest and someone says “ouch, that hurt”.
Personally, I think that’s why love and power are so complicated. It’s borderline impossible to understand how every one of your actions (or inactions) will have a positive or negative cost or benefit to someone else. But I suppose the one thing we can always control and explain is our intention. Our will. And we can build a track record for this based on how many times we expressed love for someone else or for ourselves.
Wait a second!
Notice that I just flipped the wording there.
The Event Horizon
My definitions were using “empowering others” vs “empowering ourselves”, and yet I just said “express love for someone else”… “or for ourselves”. For the politicians in the room, I guess this is your legal loophole (ugh, I guess it is always gonna be a trial by jury, even when it comes to love). If Donald Trump were any smart(err? lol), he would strategically explain away every racist or hateful comment as “I’m not empowering myself at the expense of others! This is just your misguided perception when I choose to express love for myself and my country.” He tries to implicitly pull this off, but… well… no comment, just re-read the way I introduced him into this.
The point here is that I promised [in my last post] to dive into my own black hole. Again, everyone is a black hole. Intimately, everyone wants and needs love, and yet deep down everyone desires power. The question is who we love and how we empower. Or maybe it’s how we love and who we empower? What is gonna come out, the light or the darkness? Honestly, I don’t know, man (or woman, of course). I guess that’s the event horizon. It’s that little purple area that gets you all confused and you don’t know if you’re in the land of love or the realm of power. It’s that concept or state of mind where there are traces of blue and traces of red, so you can’t really be sure what to make of it. Although as I said from the beginning: if it has traces of one and bits of the other, but it is identical to neither, then why can’t we just conjure up a third thing and call it yellow? I guess that would be weird. That would be like saying love + power = something else. Sort of like saying 1 + 1 = 1. Or essentially 2 = 1.
But that’s crazy talk.
Good thing this was just for fun anyway.