can love be violent? can love be angry?

a few days ago, my friend ambroise and i were talking about things we’d learned about love this year. one of the things he mentioned was learning about different types of love. i, too, have been reading, experiencing, and learning about different kinds of love.

one interesting point was that as he has been exploring, his new experiences are having the effect of expanding and/or destroying his previous ideas about love. there are some types of love that, once experienced, make you realize that something you previous thought was love actually was not. sometimes this is a difficult experience (because learning is), but in the end the lessons are always valuable.

we also discussed whether or not love could be violent.

i learned a lot from reading bell hooks’ all about love earlier this year so a couple points on that question.

  1. a good working definition of love is this one from m. scott peck: “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” - the road less traveled: a new psychology of love, traditional values, and spiritual growth 
  2. based on that definition, love cannot be violent.
  3. anyone who is saying or framing violence as love is either being oppressive or being oppressed. by calling something bad (violence) as good (love), power can be held over someone by claiming that they aren’t being good (loving) and that is oppressive. this oppression can (and is) happen on levels from the individual up to the societal.

now, can love be angry? absolutely. i was just listening to the recent ruby sales on being interview on the radio at stitchdown and a few points either came to me or were given by ruby.

  1. anger and love are not opposed; in fact, they often go together (point from ruby). 
  2. anger and violence are different things.
  3. ruby believes there are two different types of anger: redemptive anger and non-redemptive anger. non-redemptive anger is destructive and unproductive. redemptive anger moves you to productive action, based on love. for example, non-redemptive anger is what white supremacy is based on. redemptive anger, driven by love of a fellow human, can cause you to take action (creating an intervention, protesting, using resources) on their behalf.
  4. anger, anchored in love, is a powerful force that, if channeled properly, brings justice to life. this idea is from an audre lorde essay on the uses of anger. (see the book “love that does justice" by thomas schubeck).