Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
The fundamental question is whether you love yourself or not. You can love the neighbor only if you love yourself. In the essay, Civilization, and Discontents, Freud analyzes and evaluates the deeper meaning of the commandment, questioning the message and its effects on our society. By inquiring about the origins and cause of the commandment, Freud examines our very ability to love and the root of our suffering.
Freud evaluates the commandment through an egotistical and negative perspective, trying to justify his thoughts realistically. He opposes the idea of universal love, dismissing it as wishful thinking and a romantic view. In his essay, Civilization, and Discontents, Freud counters the commandment “Love Thy neighbor as thyself,” stating that this responsibility and duty is what is preventing us from gratifying our desires. “My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection. ” (Freud p. 66). According to Freud, the commandment is impossible to fulfill because such enormous inflation of love can only lower its value. Loving one neighbor as much as one’s own family is, in a sense, disrespectful to the ones we love most.
Where in the Bible does it say love thy neighbor as thyself?
Providing and caring for strangers as much as we do ourselves would be exhausted and drained of love. How can we universally love all things created and yet distinguish the ones we love most? This is Freud’s argument; that our society has needlessly added on to our suffering by, in a sense, punishing us with a pressure which cannot be fixed by loving “thy neighbor” but is in actuality created from the same command. Of loving “thy neighbor.”
The love life of the individual is concerned with the love object. Still, society needs you to work for its aims, pulling you away via duty and responsibility from gratifying your desires. Freud realizes and acknowledges that universal love is wishful thinking. Freud states that this commandment calls for the impossible, that such a feat is unrealistic. I agree with Freud that it would be impossible, but not because the value of that love would be lowered, but because you cannot love another unless you have learned to love yourself. If you become capable of loving yourself, love for the neighbor will come of its own accord.
Freud considers wishful thinking of universal love can be accomplished and attained, but only if we learn to look inwards before focusing our attention on others through forced love
Love out of guilt and pressure is no love at all but a burden. Love is an emotion and is in the control of the individual. Love is limitless and abundant; regardless of how much you love and care for, you cannot lose the value of the emotion. Because for each person and individual, the feeling of love varies. The commandment can be taken as a positive and beautiful message, rather than one of burden and guilt. The question is not if you can love your neighbor, but if you can love yourself.
Sigmund Freud evaluated the commandment, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” criticizing the real meaning behind such an impossible feat. Freud recognizes the natural behavior of human beings to be one of aggression, and such a commandment condemns even the thought of aggression. This, he realizes, leads us to the oppression of our true nature and is a significant contributor to our suffering and guilt. Could our society want to control this aggression and make it so there is oppression over the people? By oppressing people mentally, there could be a benefit to our community to make us act in specific ways. We can be “controlled” and manipulated to submit to our civilization’s rules by scaring us into a particular mindset. Freud does not discuss that if we were to come back to the true meaning of the commandment, we would not be led to oppression, guilt, or suffering.
Instead, we would be a much more peaceful and loving group of individual
. The commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” has a beautiful and simple message. To love yourself and that love and understanding of oneself will come to a universal love for everyone else. Without appreciating who you are, and your true potential, who could you see the beauty in anyone else? Freud questions the basis of this commandment, wanting to know if this is the root of our suffering.
In a sense, it contributes to our suffering because we have misinterpreted the meaning and taken it either in the literal sense of having to love all neighbors or a negative connotation and labeling it as impossible. Freud and others like him have taken the time to debate, question, examine, and analyze why we are the way we are and how we came to be the civilization we are today. By asking these questions, we broaden our view on society and our “boxed” outlook on life.