Love and individualism, where is the correlation?

Think about a man and a woman who tell you they like to see others recognizing their greatness that he/she wants to see how many other people fall to their feet, recognize their divine beauty and wisdom. Now imagine this person falling deeply and truly in love. If you have some hard time imagining this maybe it is because only rarely true love and the power to consistently decide for the other go together. When you love your young baby, you decide for him. When you love your parrot, cat etc. you tend to decide for them because you might recognize that there is an age/intellectual difference. But can you act in the same manner towards someone in a relationship?

Imagine an individual who wants everything to go according to his will, to conquer many women, to have a lot of money, to gain a lot of power, and now ask “what do you think truly fascinate him/her”? The answer will be of course: he/she. This person is fascinated from himself in a manner that might cause him/her problems to recognize the charm and beauty of other people.

An extreme love for ourselves has been always defined as an obsessive involvement with one’s wills. However, I believe that the problem today is that people think that individualism helps them to fulfill their dreams.

“Recognize your true will”, “follow your vocation” — these are important words that signify the possibility to act and speak freely. I believe that liberty is essential for almost everything in life, esp. for the ability to be happy. On the other hand, an extreme individualism, the concept of seeing oneself as the center of attention is the opposite of true liberty and unfortunately this feeling might hinder our ability to love, to recognize the beauty of simple things in life.

You might ask why and extreme liberty to occupy with our wills and dreams hinders our ability to love? To answer this in a short manner we have to remember that love is simply a change of our center of attention. When we love something we tend to focus strictly on it, when we recognize the beauty-charm of someone else we tend to forget about everything and focus only about him/her. How many movies have been made about the relation between obsession and love?!

We tend to criticize these who fall in love by saying “she/he fell in love and forgot everything”, “they seem to care less about other real things in life”. These characterizations represent a human fear that consistently goes together with love, the fear to turn something to the center of life because by doing this we are aware to the fact that we are also risking that this person might leave us one day.

I believe that the modern feeling of extreme liberty and individualism helps us to protect ourselves from two things: first, it encourages us to be extreme calculative and rational and by this hinder our ability to be charmed by simple things and gestures. In other words, calculative individualism is a shield for not getting hurt. Second, it helps us to focus on many things at the same time instead of taking the risk of focusing on only one thing-person. Therefore, love doesn’t seem to be able to make us happy, we became extremely rational.

We came to an age that promises happiness and we strive to be happy. However, at the same time we forgot that happiness doesn’t always have to do with individualism and being in control. Maybe it is time to change our center of attention, maybe we should think about ourselves beyond the limits of individualism? What do you think?

About the Author
Lior Rabi is an author and researcher who writes about philosophy and science, esp. on the philosophy of mathematics; He has publications in scientific peer-reviewed journals. He has also studied mathematics education and works as a math teacher. Vegetarian since 1997 and basketball lover since the moment he was born.