disordered loves in america

“And so I go to Augustine’s concept of “disordered loves” which is we all love a lot of things, and we all know some loves are higher than others. Our love of truth should be higher than our love of money, but because of some screw-up in our nature, we get our loves out of order all the time. So if a friend blabs to you a secret and you tell it at a dinner party, you’re putting your love of popularity above your love of friendship, and that’s a sin. And I think, in this world, which doesn’t like to peer darkly into brokenness, it’s easier to swallow the concept of two positive things that are out of order.” — david brooks, on being: sinfulness, hopefulness, and the possibility of politics

unsurprisingly (because i love st. augustine and was once torn between an augustinian and franciscan monk), i love this idea of “disordered loves.” i grew up in a religious household and the idea of sin was everywhere. but because of how the american progressives (older white people and younger poc & white people alike) have, by and large, rejected religion, sin isn’t really a useful construct.

however, disordered love seems very useful. it’s a concept that helps explain why things are broken. examples brooks gave: love for money over love for people. love of popularity over love of friendship. another one i see often is love of comfort over love of planet.

this concept is easier to understand in our society because we struggle to think of things we like as bad. it makes us feel bad. and, unfortunately, feeling bad is a trigger for shutdown of engagement for most of us. of course, that is a problem all its own that needs change, but let’s take it as a given for now.

if “putting our loves in order” is a useful frame for making things better, i’m into it. i really like that idea. it even allows for tough love as a mechanism for helping each other put our loves in better order. when we allow tough love or “fierce compassion” as buddhists might say (mentioned by robert thurman in the on being episode called meeting our enemies and our suffering), we get new opportunities for engagement. loving fiercely (in that cornell west “just is what love looks like in public” sort of way) gives us new ways of bringing different people into our work. because as a call to action, who  doesn’t want to love more?

and this isn’t the watered down version of love fed to us by destructive media sources. this is the type of love that makes us understand and hold each other as we open our eyes and have our world views shattered. this is the type of love that makes us put some skin in the game for each other. this is the type of love that makes us really understand that our liberation is bound up with people different from us.

maybe that’ll be my frame for 2017: getting these loves in order…

writing: 21:22
​spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 11:12