The Enlarging of Love to Liberty

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J. William Lloyd

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Love between man and woman is the sweetest of the divine forces, the central good of life, and around its desires have ever been and must ever be fought the most painful of life's battles.

Here separateness reaches its acme of selfishness, and largeness its fulness of generosity, and the war between them puts every nerve on the rack, for a thing potent for good is just as potent for evil; therefore, hell and heaven are alike potential in the pelvis of sex.

The battle of life is first for supremacy and then for liberty, and in love this is peculiarly evident. The old battle to subdue and possess the loved one has always been in the past, is everywhere around us to-day, but the new battle for personal liberty and to emancipate in all things the loved one has only just begun. We are on the transition line between the old and the new.

The weight of the world is upon those who dare advance the new ideals and every man's weapon is against them, but the sure laws of evolution are fighting for them and the result may be predicted as certainly as the procession of the seasons.

The vocabulary of lovers has the most abundant, unconscious, internal evidence that present love-ideals are those of supremacy. Such terms as "commanding," "captivating," "winning," "alluring," "fascinating," "ravishing," "taking," and a hundred others, point to ideals of capture and possession as the spirit and purpose of the love that has been and is. "All's fair in love and war," we are told. By blinding passion and physical force the man would subdue the woman, and by subtle fascinations, artful wiles and slavish catering, the woman would weave spells over and hold the man: selfishness at the heart of each, and each setting self as a bait; each using the law to lock the trap when sprung; each tangled in his own net, at last, and each caught with his victim in the jaws of his own gin. Marriage now means mutual slavery, not mutual liberty.

The general history of love in the past has been one of merciless farce and shameless deceit, delirious bliss, reckless excess, slavish devotion, selfish cruelty, bitter jealousy, and the natural reactions of disillusion, loathing, dead indifference, intrigues treacherous and lies unthinkable.

There is no darker chapter in the human record, and its darkest spot is the criminal carelessness of the misbegetting of unloved, undesired progeny. Of course the pain and agony of it all is teaching the true lesson, and the nobler souls fit to receive this are rising for the work, and to-day there are those who dimly or clearly see that true humanhood must utterly refuse bonds and the crime of binding, and that true love must utterly emancipate and refuse even voluntary slaver)' from the beloved. Never till this comes shall love be free from soul-suffering, scorching sin, and agonies unspeakable.

Search yourself, and unless you would rather a thousand times that your beloved should be utterly lost to you than held a moment unwillingly, unless you would rather a thousand times help your beloved to win the heart's desire than by any shade of selfishness supplant a rival, you do not truly love and are not truly worthy of love. The great heart asks only for its own, only for the love that comes to it with utterly spontaneous, unbought, unforced, undeceived giving, released even in the embrace of the closest clinging.

The large heart yearns ever to bring all warm hearts into ripeness of expression, cost what it may to self.

The higher jealousy is not that the beloved should be kept from the love of others, but that these should not fail to appreciate and contribute to the joy of the one held dearest, and that no meanness of greed should mar the perfection of one's own love-bloom.

Nothing less than this will one day be accounted true love or loveliness.

  • J. William Lloyd, “The Enlarging of Love to Liberty,” Mind 16, no. 4 (October 1905): 898-899.