On Fromm’s Theory Of Love

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone…”

These lyrics are as relevant now as when written by Hal David in the turbulent ’60s. At the time our society was consumed with consumerism, in danger of nuclear war, embroiled in the effects of racial tension, and was struggling with the safety and health effects of pollution and environmental irresponsibility. Generally speaking, world issues then were the same as they are today.

These four brief lyrics address a basic conflict between capitalism and the concept of love. They likewise reference the scope of love, which I would suggest is inherent to the concept itself. For love as I comprehend the concept is an objective care and concern for the well being of others. The ideal of objective concern is negated if the sentiment and the evident exercise thereof is either partial or less than universal as perceived or practiced. Hence, whatever love may be, it should be “not just for some but for everyone.”

In his 1956 masterpiece “The Art Of Loving”, German-American sociologist and psychologist Erich Fromm identified four basic elements which are fundamental to the very concept of love. For while discussing the theory of love therein Fromm referenced care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge as the basic elements which are common to all forms of love. Among the examples of such were the natural maternal care for a child, and the habitual tending to vegetation and plants of the horticulturist and the home gardener. Conversely, Fromm utilized the biblical tale of Jonah as an example of one whose lack of objectivity serves as an example of a failure to love. For although best known as the biblical character who is alleged to have spent three nights in the whale’s belly, Jonah actually serves as a great example of a bad example with regards to social relations.

As the tale goes, Jonah was commanded by God to go to the city of Ninevah and preach the message of repentance to the inhabitants there. Instead he boarded a ship headed the opposite direction. He did so because he did not want the Assyrians to repent, for the simple reason that he did not want them to be spared from the wrath of God. When a fierce storm endangered the ship due to Jonah’s disobedience, Jonah was voluntarily thrown overboard in order to spare the crew. It was at this time that he was allegedly swallowed by a great fish, where he remained for three days until the fish spat him out. Predictably enough, Jonah then went to Ninevah where he successfully persuaded the people of Ninevah to repent of their alleged wrong doings. Oddly enough, Jonah was angry that the people responded positively to his message. Jonah was so hung up on the concepts of justice and punishment that he merely could not rejoice in the well being of the Assyrian people.

Fromm rightly observes that though Jonah was a man of law and order, that he was deficient with regards to the concept of love. This is evidenced by his prejudiced attitude and partial perspective towards the Assyrians. Jonah did not maintain an objective concern for the well being of the inhabitants of Ninevah. Thus Jonah did not love the Assyrian people.

Fromm furthermore notes that by not taking responsibility for the well being of the Ninevites when the opportunity originally availed itself that Jonah had already manifested his deficiency with regards to the concept of love. In other words, when Jonah disobeyed God’s directive he revealed a lack of willingness to be responsible for the well being of the Assyrian people. And according to Fromm, one of the basic qualities of love is to be ready and willing to respond to the needs of others as per circumstantial situations.

To feel a sense of responsibility for the well being of all people then is to love objectively. And an objective care and concern for the well being of others is manifested when people respond actively to the needs of others. Jonah’s refusal to respond to the needs of the people of Ninevah then revealed his lack of objective concern for the well being of the Assyrian people. Hence, the tale of Jonah serves as a prime example of one who was deficient as to the concept of love.

A third element of love as noted by Fromm is respect. Respect being a consistent recognition that each person has rights, feelings, and needs which are unique to that particular individual. Though such qualities are unique to the individual person, objective recognition of such as innate qualities shared by everyone is the basis for having respect for others. In essence, respect entails recognizing and supporting any given individual person as an autonomous being who has the right to freedom and liberty, so long as the exercise thereof does not disrespect another.

Fromm notes that respect then naturally means a lack of exploitation. Liberty which in practice exploits another actually disrespects that individual as a means to an end. A mere commodity. A tool for one’s use rather than as a person with dignity and feelings. The exploitation of another is to disregard that person’s humanity. Exploitation then is to transparently disrespect another individual, which evidently demonstrates a deficiency with regards to the concept of love.

The fourth element of love as noted by Fromm is knowledge. By knowledge he seems to mean an insight into the psyche of human needs and feelings. An understanding of what makes a person tick, what moves us to feel, the inner angst which covets acceptance. An understanding then of humanity which is based on empathy and which is experienced through an empathetic union with others. A soul fusion and a mind meld of sorts.

This empathetic union with others is of course a more natural experience with our familiars than with strangers. Yet the principles translate to people with whom we are not acquainted, or to individuals who we do not even realize exist. When one’s empathy for humanity is consistently objective, then care and concern for the well being of each and every living person becomes a natural element of that person’s worldview. A subsequently sincere respect for people as people then motivates us to respond to the needs of others out of a sense of responsibility for the general welfare for all humanity. In essence, Fromm’s theory of love was that the concept itself is founded upon an empathetic understanding of the needs of the human being, motivated by a sincere care and concern for the well being of all, and is manifested by a sincere response to those needs out of respect for people in general.

In this day and age of endless wars, nuclear madness, climate catastrophes, rampant racism, conditioned consumerism, intoxicated illusions of self importance; and in a culture whose economic system is sustained and maintained by exploitation and domination; Fromm’s theory of empathetic love would serve as an antidote for a world plagued with apathy and disregard for human welfare.

What the world needs now is love sweet love.
It is truly the one thing that there is just too little of.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

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Bigots Babbling In A Bar

(NOTE: If you are offended by the content of this Poem; then please do not feel alone. I likewise am offended by the content of this Poem; and I wrote it myself. Dave)

A Commie around every corner,
A Terrorist upon every terrace.
The dark skinned and non-Christian,
You know man, they’re such a social menace.

The slaves that we imported,
They may cause an insurrection.
Preacherman says if you don’t pray,
You get tortured after the Resurrection.

Got to watch them Mexicans man,
They got this weird notion.
That this land is theirs,
It’s ours man, from ocean to ocean!

Got to watch them Indians man,
They got this weird notion.
That this land is theirs,
It’s ours man, from ocean to ocean!

It was us that did the work man,
It was we that developed Western Civilization.
It was Divine Providence man,
That made this here great nation!

It was we that brought the Blacks here,
To work and pick our Cotton.
Look away, look away man,
Old times there are not forgotten!

It was we that fought hard,
To kill them heathen Injuns!
It was we that Industrialized,
We made electricity and mechanical engines!

It was we that invaded foreign lands,
And overthrew foreign governments.
To make for ourselves a better life,
To live in high rises; instead of dusty old tents.

And it was we that brought Christ,
To those heathen dark skinned heathens.
Did I say heathens twice?
O well, at least now they can go to Heaven.

Yeah, we saved them dark skinned heathens,
Gave ‘em a land of opportunity.
Now them dark skinned heathens,
Can live like you and me!

And how do they thank us man?
I ask you if this ain’t ungrateful.
They owe us for their way of life,
They owe us for every plate full.

Now them dark skinned heathens,
And the Gays and the Liberals too.
They want to blame us for their hard times,
Yeah man, they blame me and you!

They whine, cry, and complain,
Bout poisoned water up in Flint.
And they moan and go on,
Bout killer Cops and dead bodies on the pavement.

We got to watch out man,
Trust in our President to protect us from all harm.
Cause they’re all out to get us man,
Stay alert and stay armed.

It ain’t gonna be easy man,
To make America great again.
But it’s the folk who think like you and me,
Who will protect our women and our kids.

A Commie around every corner,
A Terrorist upon every terrace.
The dark skinned and non-Christian,
You know man, they’re such a social menace.

The Threat of Hate to We North Americans

The recent murder of several Muslims who were peacefully assembled in a Canadian Mosque, and the similar mass murder a few years ago by Dylan Roof of African American Christians who were peacefully assembled in a church here in the USA, are each indicative of the danger of hate crimes committed by North American white extremist terrorists.

White extremist terrorism is an issue which we North Americans simply must take seriously and address swiftly, for these are times of white extremist xenophobic hate, and there is no indication that the trend of such will dissipate any time soon.

If anything, white xenophobic hate is being stirred up and incited in a social climate of strategic Islamophobia, racism, bigotry, and homophobia by those who are feeding the fears of white supremacist Christofascism by addressing fantasy terrorism while ignoring and minimizing factual terrorism.

The threat of ongoing extremist White xenophobic terrorism is too real to be ignored and denied, and the impact and social implications of such are too horrific to be taken lightly.

While good and peaceful family people who are fleeing war torn regions are being detained and deported, and while decent families are being torn apart by knee jerk Fascist policies; extremist White xenophobic terrorist activity remains a very real and practical threat for all North Americans who lead peaceful lives and who worship in peaceful assemblies.

We cannot deport hate.
Nor can we North Americans afford to deny its horrific implications.

Make America Great. Eventually.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I love these words. These words, commonly known as “The Preamble”, serve as the introduction to our Constitution, and hence any reading of, interpretation of, or attempted application of our written law of the land should be filtered through the prism of this preamble if you will.

In these words I read the potential for a harmonious and peaceful society.

In these words I read the potential for a society which puts the needs of people before the greed of profiteers.

In these words I read the potential for a society which wants to share the blessings of liberty not only with their own generation, but which also wishes to secure those benefits for future generations.

In essence, in these words I read the potential for America to become great. And I sincerely hope that one day we may actually aspire to such greatness.

The potential of these words notwithstanding, the fact is that due to their limited social perspectives, the intent of the authors of the preamble was to limit the scope of its application to an elitist few.

As unpleasant as it is to acknowledge, the fact is that our “founding Fathers” were the leading Aristocrats of a bigoted era, and as such our Constitution was written by those who assumed White Superiority and the subjugate role of women.

The considerations of “the general welfare” certainly did not apply to the American Indian, whose presence upon the land of rich resources was an obstruction to the greedy golddiggers from whom our nation descended.

Nor for that matter were “the blessings of liberty” to be secured for the Africans who were a product of profiteering for Northern businessmen, and all the while primarily the utility of exploitive labor for the wealthy businessmen of the South.

In essence, the scope of beneficiaries of these great words which introduce our nation’s Constitution was limited primarily to the white, landowning males of that era, and there is no reason to assume that our “founding Fathers” ever envisioned a change in the status quo for their respective posterity to follow.

And so it is that we the American people have these wonderful words as an introduction to our national law of the land, and yet we have had to struggle these past 229 years to mature and develop beyond the bigoted perspective of our own social ancestry.

To our “founding Fathers” then we owe a debt of gratitude for penning such words of potential, though we owe it to our generation and to our posterity to expand the scope of the application of the principles so documented beyond the limited scope of our bigoted past.

In essence, we the American people, may one day become a great society, when and only when, we think and operate beyond the limitations of our bigoted ancestry, by applying the potential of the Preamble of our Constitution to each and every person; with prejudice against nor preference for anyone or any class of persons; in hopes of truly securing “the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”; hopefully henceforth and forevermore.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas
November 6, 2016

On Peaceful Demonstrations

Bullies with badges and guns;
In Baton Rouge were dressed to fight.
They antagonized and intimidated the people;
It was such a frightful sight.

Peace Officers in Inglewood, California;
Simply allowed the people to have their say.
It was a Black Lives Matter demonstration;
And it was such a peaceful day.

A lesson to be learned;
Regarding public demonstrations.
There can be peace in the streets;
When there is collective communication.

In Memory of Muhammad Ali

He floated like a butterfly,
He stung like a bee.
But there was more than boxing,
To Muhammad Ali.

He had the courage of his convictions,
And he thought for himself.
Rather than merely doing what he was told,
Like most everyone else.

According to George Foreman,
Muhammad was the greatest human being he knew.
And coming from a great human being himself,
That gives Ali his just dues.

Though it costs Ali his title,
And midst intense racist slurs.
He refused to fight and murder others,
Such conviction rarely occurs.

Among the bravest words,
Are those of Muhammad Ali.
In the quote immediately following,
This poem in his memory.

I watched Ali box when I was a teen,
And have grown to respect him as an adult.
He was an outspoken social activist,
I believe that goodness was the result.

Thank you Muhammad Ali,
May your cause live on,
Thanks for being truly human,
Farewell, and so long.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

June 4, 2016

In memory of Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016)

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape or kill my mother and father…. How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

On the TPP: A Human Rights and Environmental Disaster

It is my personal opinion that we the public need to be aware of and actively oppose the TPP. This is a human rights violation and environmental disaster plan in the making.

The TPP would further enable American profiteers to outsource jobs overseas to sweat shops; in order to exploit people for even less wages and expose workers to even worse and unsafe working conditions than our workers are exploited by and exposed to already here in USA. Furthermore, the TPP would allow companies to sue governments (foreign and their own) over even the potential loss of profits if laws passed by such countries could potentially reduce those companies’ profits. Thus; if a country attempts to legally raise the minimum wages for working people, or attempts to legally raise the standards for working conditions, or attempts to legally regulate carbon emissions; then any given company can sue such a government for potential profit losses based upon such laws. Sweatshops, unsafe working conditions, ongoing human induced global warming resulting in even further catastrophic climate change are all issues that the world will be dealing with if the predatory Capitalists of this generation are able to get this TPP into effective operation.

Sadly enough, it seems that we would have already learned our lessons about the social digression of multi company trade agreements which enable and empower Corporate profiteers in the exercise of exploitation of people for gain and profit. We certainly did no favors for our own generation and that of our children by way of the original multi company trade agreement which enabled and encouraged the fabrication of American products by sweatshop labor; that being the NAFTA agreement passed in 1994 during the Clinton Administration. And we are surely only compounding our disservice to this and future generations by considering ratcheting up that process by way of the TPP.

That said; if you have an ounce of decency or compassion in your hearts, please become aware of and actively oppose the exploitation of people and the human rights violations exercised in sweatshops worldwide, and which are enabled by such trade agreements as NAFTA, and the pending TPP.

The Capacity to Care

Social justice for all;
Is the way to peaceful relations.
Predatory Capitalism,
Is a social abomination.

War has become the norm;
Regarded as a means to peace.
We trivialize human suffering,
And accept such with mere ease.

We should be ashamed,
Appalled and humiliated.
At the pain and suffering,
Caused by our very nation.

We are human beings,
With the natural capacity to care.
We should speak out against injustice,
If only we would dare.

Social justice for all;
Is the way to peaceful relations.
Predatory Capitalism,
Is a social abomination.

Hero With A Cell Phone

I have read this morning that the McKinney, Texas Policeman who was filmed over the weekend terrorizing a group of teens, tackling and bullying an unarmed teen girl, and pulling a gun on unarmed youths has resigned from the McKinney Police force.

This is wonderful news, and I hope that he seeks another line of work, for he has demonstrated that he is certainly not qualified to be a peace officer.

The true hero in this scenario is the youth who had the guts and the integrity to pull his cell phone and film what was happening. The fact of the matter is that without the video, that foul mouthed bully would still be patrolling the streets of McKinney with the false impression that he was still “the man”.

“The man” in this case was the young man filming yet another case of police brutality which would have gone unchecked had that video not been posted to You Tube on Saturday. Young man who did the filming, and then posted to You Tube: YOU DA MAN!!

In this regards, chalk up another social victory scored with a phone video. Let’s keep this up!! We have got to rid our streets of the “thugs in Blue” one by one until our streets are protected by peace officers instead of being patrolled by bullies with badges and guns. Our way to fight back is with videos.

Keep up the good work you social heroes with the cell phone cameras!!!!!

Content and Discreet

Content to be a wage slave,
I sing praises to the USA.
Better to be like everyone else,
Than to seek a better way.

Content to pledge allegiance,
To the flag of imperial rule.
If not brain washed at home,
What better place than in school?

Content to defend the rights,
Of plutocrats to exploit the rest.
Better that the poor stay hungry,
Than that there be social unrest.

Content that the few have the most,
And that the many provide for the elite.
Best to lower your eyes and submit,
And to be quiet and discreet.

Just who was Herbert Marcuse,
To critique one dimensional man?
Better to let as is be,
Than to think out a more humane plan.

Content to be a wage slave,
I sing praises to the USA.
Better to conform and comply,
Than to seek a more humane way.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas