An attack on indifference and the noun “love“

Guest Writer Phillip Dunn responds to “Do not be afraid to be undecided on issues” and argues that love is solidarity, not indifference.


To paraphrase St. Paul: love is not wheedling. Love is not spineless. Love is not whining. Love is not childish. Love is not selfish. Love is not abstract. Love is not indifferent. Love requires the courage and will to take concrete action and to stake out a position. Love requires the humility and wisdom to revise or abandon a previous position when confronted with new evidence. Love exists not on the level of logos or pathos but on the level of praxis. Love is a verb, not a noun.

Recently there was an op-ed defending indecisiveness and a lack of political opinions as if it were acceptable because even if you don’t believe in a cause, you still believe in friends and family. This suggests two things to me: a fear of being wrong and an unwillingness to look outside one’s immediate circle. In short, a childish concept of love that is still based primarily on kinship and friendship.

You will be wrong at many times in your life. Being afraid of being wrong is like being afraid of exhaling. If you hold your breath too long, you will end up suffocating. Breathe and take a preliminary stance on an issue, even if you are unsure. Follow your instinct and be humble enough to change your mind, even if your instinct turns out to be wrong or if you receive new information. Do not change your opinion at the drop of a hat, but do not be overly stubborn, either.

The other problem is harder to solve. There exists at Xavier and in the United States more generally a kind of bubble that isolates many people from the greater community. If you travel to a place outside of your comfort zone you, like most people, will probably take a stance on political issues that affect them or people they love.

However, if you are only surrounded by friends and family – people who are most likely similar to you in some way – and you happen to belong to a group that benefits from the way things are, you will likely oppose any change, even if that change will benefit people outside of your circle. Your love will make you reactionary. Having no opinion means that you will tend to accept the status quo. No one you love, after all, suffers from social injustice. This results in a naïve faith in the current order. Radical change is unnecessary from this point of view. This is far from the truth.

In reality, a higher kind of love is necessary: solidarity. Solidarity is best understood as a kind of political love based on mutual respect and commitment between people and groups, genuine selflessness, patient hope, true humility and noble courage. It requires forming an opinion, constant reflection and reflective action for the common good and the liberation of all. This is the kind of love that a Jesuit university is supposed to instill. Love is a verb, not a noun.


Philip Dunn is a senior Spanish major and guest writer for the Newswire from Walton, Ky.

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