What is love?
If you were to listen to Qui-Gon Jinn, he would tell you that love is a dangerous thing; something a Jedi must avoid at all costs, for it will eventually destroy and corrupt a young Padawan leading him down the dark path. And he would be right, if it were love he was talking about. Unfortunately, Qui-Gon is talking about lust, or passion, – a wholly different creature.
Mythology is an interesting little comic short which tells the story of a lesson between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Struggling with his more powerful emotions, Qui-Gon departs upon Obi-Wan some knowledge about this crazy little thing called love. Qui-Gon’s tale is a familiar one: a morality tale where women are the root of all evil and not to be trusted. It is a story along the same lines of Eve in the garden, and Pandora with her box. Things were perfect until that woman came along!
My problem with this story is the understanding of the word “love”. Qui-Gon says to Obi-Wan: “A Jedi shall not know anger, or fear, or hatred, or love”. But what does he mean by ‘love’?
The English language and our common vernacular do nothing to clarify what we mean when we use the word love. I use the same word to tell my wife that I love her, to tell my male best friend that I love him, or to say that I love BBQ ribs. Each has a very different meaning.
One of the things I love about the Greek language is that it has 5 different words for the word love, each meaning what you intend. When I tell my wife I love her, I mean Agape. When I tell my friend I love him, I mean Philos. When I say I love BBQ ribs, I mean Eros. Agape is unconditional love, Philos is brotherly love, while Eros is love with conditions (erotic/lust).
I love BBQ ribs as long as they are hot, covered in mild BBQ sauce, and fully cooked. If the ribs do not meet these requirements then I do not love them – as a matter of fact they repulse me!
In our society I think this is how some people love each other – like things (or how we are taught to love each other). ‘I’ll love you as long as you remain skinny, look good next to me, and sleep with me, otherwise, why would I waste my time with you? I’ll love you, but only as long as you meet my conditions’.
Agape love is the loved talked about by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
We want to be loved with agape love (love of a person), but we love each other with Eros love (love of a thing). True love is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. True love – Agape love – is the highest form of love, and is the most difficult, for it requires great personal sacrifice on my part. It requires humility. Agape love is how I try to love my wife. I never always get it right, but I try.
I, like Anakin Skywalker, think a Jedi is commanded to love: “Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So, you might say that we are encouraged to love.” (AOTC). I that the truth behind this quote is that Anakin was looking for a justification to love Padme as a wife, which I think is problematic for a Jedi, but I still agree with the sentiment: indeed, I think a Jedi is commanded to love all beings unconditionally – which is a truly heroic and almost impossible task. But this is what the Jedi are called to do: the heroic and impossible.
For my next post I’m going to look at the fifth book in the Jedi Apprentice series: Mark of the Crown. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.