The philosophy of love and friendship: a social need | Dominic Garcia

Dr Dominic Garca | A philosophy of love and friendship is undoubtedly a social need and can become a therapy for all of us if only we consider to refrain from employing unpalatably odious discourse

When I come across stories of hatred, the kind of stories that bring to light patently racist conduct, the kind that speak of vendetta or report contentious accusations, the kind, in fact, that may also illustrate how society plays the blame game time and again, I imagine the person who has been sitting pretty all this time, sipping tea behind the window on a rainy day, enjoying every little bit of comfort whilst observing the daily grind from a distance.

I am not at all comfortable with this person’s modus operandi. It is as if this person lacks much of what a human being is, a deficit that is unsettlingly evident in the individual’s cold-eyed detachment from the predicament of others. While this person devours stories and news reports, it bears considering why these narratives are deemed so compelling. It is often the case that they depict human beings and their stories in a stereotypical fashion. These tidy narratives are shorn of their complexity and uniqueness. The end result is a parody of sorts, one that panders to a black-and-white vision of perceiving the world, as well as, perhaps, an underlying streak of schadenfreude.

The time has come to re-think the self and others in a deeper light, to choose our discourse and actions with care.

By closing in on appalling discourse and behaviour that propagates hate, we become human. We become, in other words, loving humans. The reader may find all this a bit naïve or bafflingly innocent. But this is not the case. On the contrary, this is precisely about not being naïve or innocent. It is about becoming human; it is about ridding ourselves of the metanarrative of bitterness and repulsiveness that characterises our social exchanges.

This all-encompassing way of interpreting the world has, unfortunately, made us numb to the plight of others, numb to the extent that we invariably construct, consume and reconstruct narratives of negativity.

Most of the time we are made to think (courtesy of another metanarrative that has constructed the self) that philosophy is the kind of subject only suitable for a few. This, in my view, betrays a frustratingly shallow grasp of the subject’s concerns. Philosophy is for one and all: its priority is to ponder the nature of that elusive essence which makes us human. We should be aware that we are all philosophers. Great philosophers tried to do away with dogmas and introduced rationality, rationality being a key trait of what it is to be a human being. It would make sense, therefore, to do away with the lop-sided dogma of negativity, a lamentable way of seeing that we have succumbed to, in part, during our forays into social media.

The wisdom of love and friendship is a better attitude to adopt. I strongly believe that every human being is essentially good and loving. I say this with some conviction although I too have been on the receiving end of negativity, where I have been labelled and pigeon-holed, my story reduced to a mere shadow of its genuine self.

So let us not read the person in a chronological way but hypertextually. Let us try to connect in a way that espouses love and friendship.

This is no mean feat. Our daily lives are being weighed down by an overload of negative and odious discourse. We may, as a consequence, have little experience in the discourse of positivity – by shaping the ways in which we live, our culture may have also influenced us to prioritise negative narratives.

However, once we start to experience this philosophy of love and friendship, we slowly gain access to the authentic self. We discover new avenues of being, freeing ourselves from the institutions that have moulded us and from, therefore, the conformity they have forced us to adopt. A philosophy of love and friendship is undoubtedly a social need and can become a therapy for all of us if only we consider to refrain from employing unpalatably odious discourse.

It is only then that we can revive and rebuild a positive future for our young ones.

Dr Domenic Garcia is a teacher of philosophy and a researcher in hypertextual expression