Rootsie's European Roots  

Unconditional Love  
By Rootsie
November 02, 2003

I woke to a voice on my radio, one of the flock of 'self-help' gurus, saying, "Unconditional love is an unconditional acceptance of an imperfect person." It just did not sit right with me, because I am realizing that perfection is a CHOICE. I reflect on where it has gotten me all these years to throw up my hands in certain areas of my life and just accept my own imperfections, and the shock I have received of late by encountering a person who, while demonstrating love for me in countless ways, absolutely will NOT accept anything less than my best, and so calls me to my best in all things.

What does 'perfect' mean? I remember sitting across the table from my friend Dwight, who a few months later was murdered, his body found floating in the Mississippi River. As usual, he was excited by a new idea.

"Cynthia I was looking at the dictionary. You know what 'perfect' means? It just means 'complete'! Now we should be able to pull THAT off, don't you think?"

Dwight had the habit of letting 'strays' sleep on his couch: street addicts and such. One of those to whom he offered unconditional love killed him. I think Dwight will get it next time around.

We are indoctrinated into the Christian idea of blanket forgiveness. "Jesus died for you sins. What would Jesus do? Who did Jesus hang out with?" I engaged in behavior similar to Dwight's for many years, under the illusion that my flabby version of 'love,' the unconditional extension of myself to suffering people, would help them, heal them…well yes them, but especially me. My motives were not as clean as I believe Dwight's had been, but that is for another essay.

It turned out that supporting addicts in their addictions, thieves in their thievery, and fools in their folly didn't help them at all, much less me, except for the fact that by exploring the realms of all that love is NOT, I have apparently stumbled upon what it IS. And unlike my friend Dwight, I have survived to tell about it.

'Unconditional love' as most understand it is synonymous with blind support. Blind support, as I discovered, is not love at all. Accepting poor conduct again and again from another person is neither loving nor supportive, even if in this squishy feel-good world it is seen so. I think of my own children, and all the children I have taught. Surely, if any in this world deserve 'unconditional love' it would be them. But what I have discovered is that calling others to their own perfection is what helps them. I expect certain kinds of conduct from my children, and because of their love for me, they strive to meet the challenge.

This is the realm in which unconditional love has reality. My unconditional love for someone who calls me to be my best, to my perfection, to a complete expression of who I am, is what improves me. And I love that person because of his impeccable conduct towards me, because of the merit he has demonstrated. I used to allow all sorts of nonsense from my children, as I accepted it from others. That allowed them to disrespect me and persist in conduct that was harmful to them. I am learning that the ones who truly love me will not allow me to persist in incomplete ideas about who I am. Not if love is what I am after. Love calls to love only, and is cold when it meets less.

I am part and parcel one with God, composed entirely of the Divine Essence of the Universe, with the capacity to truly experience in this life what that means. If my conduct is not in alignment with that truth, I experience the pain of what I perceive as 'rejection' from the one who holds me to the highest standard. But that person is not rejecting 'me.' That person is rejecting behavior based on partial and harmful views I hold of my true self.

What good is 'forgiveness' if it allows others to continue in their illusions? If, as we say, our motivation in our relationships with others is to 'help,' perhaps we should reflect about what it really means to help. The sort of 'unconditional love' that most humans practice may feel good in the moment, but it helps nothing. If I see, as I do, other human beings as God incarnate on this earth, why should I support behavior that blinds them to this fact about themselves? "That's just the way I am. People just have to accept me as I am." What if I see their greatness, and they do not? The way to truly help is not to indulge their partial understandings, but to call them to a higher understanding. And this is not achieved by a blanket 'unconditional love' which covers their folly with warm fuzzies so they don't have to examine themselves and the effects of poor behavior. I've tried it. Believe me, it does not work.

I help by being the standard, holding the standard, and if ones out of love for me, which is really love for their highest selves, wish to stand in love with me, then they must rise to the standard. I demand nothing, for this is truly their choice. But I will not lower my standard to meet them on common ground and lie around in the muck and the mire with them. If I am truly a being of love, I represent the alternative. This appears to the world as arrogant, as 'demanding,' as cold and unloving and unforgiving. Indeed, it is demanding. I demand your perfection because I know this is possible for you. And one who truly loves you and truly sees you will demand nothing less.

We are very much accustomed to being sloppy and careless in our lives, collecting people around us who have similar issues, and then giving each other false emotional strokes so that we need not improve. Anyone who is concerned for the world just has to look around and see how this blanket acceptance of 'less' plays out everywhere to the detriment of everyone.

And here is another example of the harm that has ensued from many accepted 'Christian' teachings: divine intervention to save the world at the last minute, 'the fallen state of man', human imperfection with no hope of better, 'forgiveness' even at the last moment of life for a life lived in folly and wickedness, and 'Agape love,' love for those who hurt you, scorn you, disrespect you. All may, and do at times, "sin and fall short," but this should not be accepted as the unchangeable human condition. When we live with the knowledge that 'perfection,' i.e. our human/divine completeness, is possible, we strive for that, we rise to that, and in that rising, THERE is the true 'unconditional love' waiting for us, as it has all along.


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