Monday, December 7, 2009

Conditioning and Caboosing

"We love you no matter what and as long as you don't give in to that, everything is ok." - mom and dad

"You'll always be my brother and I'll always love you. As long as you resist that temptation, you have nothing to be ashamed of." - little sister

"Robert, I've known you for so long and I know who you are. Because I know that I know you, no matter what ever happens, I'll love you and you will never change for me." - real friend

Please don't condition your love for me - leave off the caboose. Perhaps you don't intend to, but your words betray you. The value in the words of what my "real friend" said is indescribable. I've heard it only a few times, and it always evokes emotion from deep within. I watched Harvey Milk tell a fearful young gay man, "you are not sick and you are not wrong and God does not hate you." I want to believe it so badly that I find myself needing to wipe my eyes or breathe deeply for fear of losing my composure. How can a society of "saints" indoctrinate its young disciples with such horrible messages that they believe they are sick, wrong and hated of God for being gay? Christ said that LOVE was the greatest commandment of all. If you have to put love aside to do something in the name of your deity, then haven't you missed the mark? If you condition your love, then haven't you conditioned your discipleship?

My cousins black-listed me. I've lived in their home, I was roommates with another, and I baby sat for and visited them weekly. It is more than words can convey, how horrible such reactions are. Parents that cast their gay child to the curb; brothers, sisters, or extended family that cuts them out of their lives; and universities or communities that expel them from their organizations. Is such conditional association consistent with love, compassion, or even respect?

My psychology hero is Carl Rogers. One of many tenants he had for effective counseling or therapy was that it must be non-directive. When there is unsolicited directional counsel or expectations, they hinder progress because they become interference and static. This detracts from the individual's ability to make discoveries and intrinsically motivated decisions. Each person must come to find their concept of the world and the course for their life. This requires that they are able to discover it themselves, free from the innumerable influences that are only motivated by self-benefit. Support and love is requisite - but conditions and cabooses can be fatal.

To truly love someone, you desire the best for them. With conditional love, you desire what's best for you - and so you care not whether your counsel is unsolicited or directional, because it is motivated by your interests. If I love someone, I will trust them with their life and support them with real love free of conditions. When others do this for me, I feel that their care is genuine. They become a safe place for me to open my heart and mind to explore. Only then do I become desirous of their counsel.

A post script prompted by Calvin's valid comment:

So, there is love, and love needs to truly be unconditional. As far as support, we would hope that our loved ones would be willing to support us no matter what (as long as we're not way off the mark; for instance, I don't expect that they would support me if I was robbing convenience stores). So, support is something that we hope for and I hope that my family would support me whether I had a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Regarding consequences, they are the results of our actions. They're sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes they're neither. I don't find it unjust that certain choices can lose me my membership in the church. My involvement is voluntary and it's their prerogative to set conditions for their community. If I was a member of PETA, then I'd probably need to stop hunting. Yeah? While this is the case, I really wish that things were different. I wish that familial support could continue even if someone had a same sex partner. I wish that there was a different way for the church to deal with actively homosexual members. And I wish that love would prevail in questionable situations.