While reading bell hooks’ article about love ethic, I found myself highlighting a lot of excerpts: “awakening to love can happen only as we let go of our obsession with power and domination”; “living by a love ethic we learn to value loyalty and a commitment to sustained bonds over material advancement”; “many prophets of doom who tell us that racism will never end, sexism is here to stay, the rich will never share their resources… but in keeping with a capitalist-based notion of well-being, they really believe there is not enough to go around, that the good life can be had by only a few”. Many of these excerpts seemed like they could’ve been published in a self- help book. Some of the quotes even reminded me of one of my favorite books in this vein, The Four Agreements. There are similarities between hooks’ writings about a love ethic and its transformative powers and that book, which suggests personal agreements with oneself like “trying your best” and “not taking anything personally”. hook’s proposition that the world needs more love is surely something we could all agree on, on at least some level. Similarly, the prescription of fear being eradicated through love, and therefore getting us one step closer towards the ends we all seek to achieve, I think that these are universally comprehensible agreements. However, as we have discussed in class, it is difficult to abide by an ethic of such an abstract and subjective nature. I feel that the difficulty in achieving life led by a love ethic is due to the fact that everyone has a different conceptualization of love, experiences of love, and histories with how they apply this concept to their lives.
Looking up “love” online will result you with an interesting array of results. There are the dictionary definitions:
The next results are wikipedia pages for the Netflix show, Love. Love was created by Judd Apatow and now has two seasons exclusive to Netflix’s library. View the trailer below.
I’ve watched both of the seasons on Netflix, and for the most part I enjoyed the show. I think it reflects well the ways that people can approach and begin relationships, however they are defined to you, in very different ways– and in ways that may cause confusion, and conflict (and a lot of awkwardness– yay, there’s the plot). There’s definitely intersectional issues within the show, like their reliance on heteronormative sexual relationships, and an emphasis on whiteness, but it is a good example for the context of this discussion of love. Love helps to show how love is understood in very different ways. This is all, of course, in the context of a relationship or potential relationship building, but realizing this differing and abstract understanding of love from person to person to hooks’ love ethic suggestion may help explain why transformative or reformative progress is difficult to reach.
Similar to hooks’ prescription for living by a love ethic, Sandoval discusses the potentially transformative powers: “love as a “breaking” through whatever controls in order to find “under- standing and community”: it is described as “hope” and “faith” in the potential goodness of some promised land”. These suggestions are almost “easier said than done” types of things; where the notion seems almost too obvious to have to be stated, something that people can typically agree we all “should” be doing– but actually making these conceptualizations translate into action, personal philosophies of daily life, and even a transformative practice is where stumbling can occur. We can love things and people, and while it’s a different thing to be in love with people, places, or things, I think what hooks is really getting at in her article is that practicing a lifestyle of empathy, care, support, and respect (values of love in a traditional sense) can help bridge gaps between us;help produce a way of understanding and approaching people and their experiences, oppressions, thoughts, lives, and feelings in a way that can be beneficial for society as a whole. There’s the transformative power. It may sound a bit cliché, but hooks seems to be suggesting that big change starts with one person; one person taking on a personal ethic of love in their life, and by proxy helping to bring that to society overall.
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