An Essay on Chiara Lubich’s Philosophy of “I Love Therefore I Am”

An Essay on Chiara Lubich’s Philosophy of “I Love Therefore I Am”

There are many philosophies and movements in the world that sometimes, it seems that everyone wants to do good. Foundations and organizations have pervaded society that even actors and actresses seem to be in the know of all these things. The sad part is whether these movements are really working for the betterment of the world or just for self-gain as to attract financial income or popularity. There are many movements and organizations which are judged as fraud or a screen for more dangerous and dirty practices and vices. As such, people have become wary of individuals trying to do good or trying to preach. With the moral degradation happening on a global scale and the various and countless ethical problems that people are encountering on a daily basis — is there any reason to even believe that things will turn for the better or that people still have moral principles about them?

As such, it is the most trying of and dark times that people are able to contemplate on such things. We live in a world of binary opposition, and if there is good, then naturally, there is evil. Therefore, when a person experiences the darkest and the lowest of times, this will be the moment wherein he or she will contemplate on things and realize that there will come a time of light and pure regeneration of goodness. Even Mother Theresa, who is a candidate for sainthood, had her dark and turbulent times wherein she experienced doubting of faith. Siddhartha Gautama of Buddhism had to experience the awful times that the world of materialism has to offer before finally becoming the great spiritual leader. Even Jesus Christ himself experienced the tempting of the devil and naturally surpassed all the temptations. Thus, it is inevitable that a person is to experience these kind of things, but the great thing about this is that there is a possibility of rejuvenation of faith and of rebirth of the soul (but not literally). People are able to contemplate deeply and have a new-found perspective on life, which is what exactly what happened to Chiara Lubich.

Thus, this paper will focus on Chiara Lubich, her philosophy, principles, and the reasons behind why such principles existed in the first place. More than that though, this paper will emphasize on the practicality and pragmatic considerations of her movement and philosophy of love.

The Story of Chiara Lubich and Her Movement

Chiara Lubich is an Italian woman from Trento who was greatly influenced by the deep and devout faith of her mother and also by the radical and active views of her father. Nonetheless, she became involved with the Catholic Church more until finally becoming a teacher with a strong faith and a passion for change. Because of her father’s personal perspectives on life and on society, Chiara Lubich decided to make active steps in making the world a better place to live in. Thus, at a young age of 24, when other people are probably going to parties and focusing on their social lives, Chiara Lubich started the Focolare Movement which is basically aiming for the Unity of the people (The Times, 2008).

However, it was not only the parents of Chiara Lubich that influenced her. Mainly, the world that she was living in allowed her to contemplate on society, on mankind, and on the world as a whole. While growing up, she was surrounded by much terror and bloodshed as these were the times of the Second World War. Being in Italy at that time, this entitled her to experience different forms of struggles as attacks and bombings continued on an almost daily basis. This did not hinder Chiara Lubich in fulfilling her goal; if not, it even made her want to fulfill it more than ever. Thus, she continued with painstaking efforts and sacrifices in the movement that wanted Unity (The Times, 2008).

Soon, people were attracted to the movement’s goal of wanting unity of all mankind, even delving into the world of economics, politics, family, and youth issues. It has become a phenomenon that spread on a global scale and made members and practitioners of millions around the world (The Times, 2008). It does make sense — for who would not want unity and peace?

The Philosophy of “I Love Therefore I am”

Thus, Chiara Lubich has been advocating ever since about the importance of uniting the world and using love for this unification. In fact, the virtue of love is what Chiara Lubich has been advertising since the movement was founded, which should and could make the world united. In her appearances, speeches, teachings and word, and conversations, she has been so sure of her conviction that love is needed in this world that we live in — but why love? Why not compassion or respect, or some other virtue? In Chiara Lubich’s speech when she received the prize and honorable recognition of the UNESCO (or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for peace education, she gave an address or speech to the people watching about the Folocare Movement and on why this movement is successful — it is because it is founded on love and run by love, and it aims to spread love. Chiara Lubich has been once caught saying to Pop John Paul II that she is not merely spreading the virtue of love; rather she is calling for “an invasion” of love into the hearts of mankind (Lubich, 1996; Sauret, 2009).

What is it with love then that she is even asking people to clamor and be invaded by it? In her words, she calls people to love others as one would love one’s self. This is possibly very familiar as teachings from the gospels and other religions and organizations are telling people of the same thing. Chiara Lubich further reasons out that with mutual love — a love wherein people would love others —  a mutual unity would arise. In simple terms, with love comes unity, and with unity comes peace.  However, as what the introduction of this paper is emphasizing, there are binary oppositions in the world that we live in, and even Chiara Lubich reaffirms this. In her address at the same awarding of the UNESCO recognition, she tells the people that there are certain sacrifices to be made for love:

               Nothing good, useful, or fruitful can be accomplished in the world without                              accepting fatigue, suffering, in a word, without the cross. Being committed to living and to bringing peace is not to be taken lightly! One must have courage, one must know how to suffer. But certainly, if more people would accept suffering out of love, the suffering required by love, it would become the most powerful instrument for giving humanity its highest dignity: that of feeling that we are not so much a togetherness of peoples, one beside the other, often in conflict with one another, but that we are one single people. (Lubich, 1996)

What is Lubich trying to say though — that love can only exist with suffering? No, that is not what she wants to say; rather, she is telling that love will entail sacrifices and that like any other sweet triumph, there will be obstacles hindering people from achieving their goal. Moreover, Chiara Lubich states that sometimes, even through suffering and adversities, the people become more united, and this is entirely the truth. In the cases of the most horrifying disasters or appalling instances of death that mankind has to face, these are the times that they become more united more than ever. The world unitedly mourns for losses even if they are not directly affected. The world unitedly becomes angry or stricken with frustration when instances arise that call for moral integrity. Thus, the moments of pure emotional turmoil make the world realize that they need to be together. Even literature and media present movies and television series which depict enemies or common foes who eventually become friends or united when the circumstances would call for it. And why does the world become united in such cases? It is because of the common virtue of love, and this virtue is truly what makes the world go around.

Love Makes the World Go Around

Love is shown everywhere we look. It is present in advertisements and TV commercials. It is there in media and literature. It is even shown in billboards and products available in the market. Thus, love, or rather, the expression of it can be seen in so many aspects of society that it has also transcended time and boundaries of nations. A good love story or romantic novel has the same appeal for young generations of today as it had 5, 15, or 50 years before. It can be made certain that those love stories or romantic novels will be the iconic figures or standards of stories and novels in the future. Love has pervaded the hearts, souls, and minds of people — and unfortunately, not everyone is involved in such emotion. As good as what love may have brought people, there is certainty that love which has also caused the ruin of people, reputations, families, and many other things. In fact, just for the sake of love, people have jumped to their deaths or pulled a trigger. Like what is repeatedly emphasized in the paper, there exists a binary opposition in the world, and like all good and advantageous things, naturally, there are downsides to it. In Sauret’s (2009) essay, in reply to Chiara Lubich’s own philosophy, Sauret’s  proves and gives evidences on why love and Chiara Lubich’s calling for love is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  He emphasizes on why people need to understand that love is more than an emotion — for according to Chiara Lubich, it is a world-wide movement.

Love as the World Knows It

            In more general conversations, the subject of love arises and the various experiences are foretold, and usually, it has something to do with their partners or companions in life — boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancées, crushes, and such. There are even levels of intimacies and code names and abbreviations formed for that silly little thing called love. When people would want to define love, they usually have so many interpretations and definitions for it that it has become the subject of valentine greeting cards. As what Sauret (2009) wrote in his essay: “Love is not the most ambiguous word in the dictionary but eventually it is the most misunderstood or misknown (sic).” Thus, love may be confusing as there is really no one true definition for it, but it can be very much understood by many. In fact, people from all over the world and from different fields have something to say about it, and it all boils down to one thing — love is what the world needs.

The Scientific Basis of Love

As what Sauret (2009) has written in his essay, there are many things which can be explained by science, and amazingly, love is one of them: “Psychologists and educators are well aware that love is the best cure for people to grow accordingly…”. Even the most ambiguous and confusing things can be proven that it is imperative for people to experience it — both as givers and receivers. More than ever, this can be shown in the gospels of Catholic teachings and even from other religions and sectors all over the world (Sauret, 2009).

Religion and Love

            In almost all of the gospels, the need for love is called for since “God is love” according to 1 John  4:8-16 as cited by Sauret (2009). There is a universal acceptance that love is naturally a good thing since love is God and God is love. Even Chiara Lubich mentioned it in her address at the UNESCO event, noted as saying:

            Clearly, however, it is not enough to believe in God’s love, it is not enough to have                                 made this great choice of him as our Ideal. The presence and care of the Father of all                calls each one to be his child, to love the Father in return, and to fulfil, day after day,                   that particular plan of love which the Father has in mind for each one, that is, by doing his will. (Lubich, 1996)

Thus, when a person loves and is loved then that person rejoices with God and is filled with innate goodness. For what better way to show God that we are grateful for His blessings than to love other people whom He has also created and blessed?

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many things in which a person should realize and reflect upon. One is that of what Chiara Lubich has been actively advocating — to love others for the sake of the unity and peace of the world. There is great truth and wisdom behind her words and philosophy because now, more than ever, the world does need all the love it can get. Instead of saying “peace be with you,” perhaps it is much better to say, “may love be with you.”

 

References

Encyclopædia Britannica. (2009). Romanticism. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved

June 24, 2009, from   http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/508675/Romanticism.

Lubich, C. (1996, December 17). UNESCO prize for peace education. New Humanity.

Retrieved June 25, 2009, from http://www.new-humanity.org/uk/x_lubich-          unesco96.htm.

Sauret, A. M. (2009). I Love Therefore I Am: Love is Source of Being.

Schwartz, D.B. (2002). Backgrounds to romance: courtly love. English Department,       California Polytechnic State University. Retrieved June 24, 2009, from    http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl513/courtly/courtly.htm.

The Times. (2008, March 15). Chiara Lubich. Times Online. Retrieved June 23, 2009, from

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article3555290.ece.

 

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