Transcribed research question:
Can we develop a definition of love that is relevant and applicable to today’s political and social moment, and if so, what may that look like? Furthermore, what is the role of the other/self-oriented types of love in modern social justice movements – how do they compliment each other, what are their distinct functions, and why is each important?
Love has played a vital role in social justice activism throughout history but rarely receives attention today as a viable component of modern movements. While many might believe love does not have a major role in social justice, the lessons of history and modern day context indicate that it does. Based on the framework of injustice articulated in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, I propose a definition of love centered on recognizing the humanity of another person and acting in accordance with the dignity and respect that humanity inherently affords. This definition is then used to analyze the role that both self/other-oriented love has played throughout history, bringing me to a position in which I view the two forms of love as complementary pieces of an essential love ethic that should be incorporated into every social movement.
Points on definition
– Analysis of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” to establish social justice movements as struggles for humanization. This is needed because oppression produces dehumanization, which must be combatted if a community it to achieve liberation. Love, then, is proposed as the recognition of another person’s humanity and action in accordance with that recognition, in forms both small and large. In this way, love is the medium through which resistance to dehumanization takes place, the vehicle that drives liberation.
Points on other-oriented love
– Argument for other-oriented love as essential to formation of bonds of solidarity and in driving moral change. Use of Gandhi’s Satyagraha principles and MLK’s nonviolence principles, as well as comparison between the two and what that comparison reveals about nuances of other-oriented love.
– Argument that other-oriented love still has important role. Coverage of movements building off Gandhian/King principles, discussion of sources talking about love as a transformative force for the educational system, criminal justice system, leading to an imagining of what a vision of our systems built off love would look like.
Points on self-oriented love
– Argument for self-love as powerful tool of “political warfare” and resistance to dehumanization. Coverage of how self-love has been incorporated in contexts such as the LGBTQ pride movement to demonstrate identity-affirming role self-love has to play.
– Argument for extension of self-love beyond identity-building to community healing and building. Demonstrating how strength in identity/community translates to building up community resources and programs, such as happened with the Black Power Movement, to empower the community through opportunities such as quality education.