Refining the Truths

An honorable human relationship—that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love”—is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

It isn’t that to have an honorable relationship with you, I have to understand everything, or tell you everything at once, or that I can know, beforehand, everything I need to tell you.

It means that most of the time I am eager, longing for the possibility of telling you. That these possibilities may seem frightening, but not destructive, to me. That I feel strong enough to hear your tentative and groping words. That we both know we are trying, all the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us.

The possibility of life between us.”

— Adrienne Rich, Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying

The Way of Love

During the ’60s, the great majority of us accepted the way of peace, the way of love, the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living. There’s something cleansing, something wholesome about being peaceful and orderly, to stand up with a sense of dignity, and a sense of pride, and never hate. And Dr. King said over and over again, ‘Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.’ The way of love is a much better way.

And that’s what we did…Yes, I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious. But I never became bitter or hostile, never gave up. I believe that somehow and some way if it becomes necessary to use our bodies to help redeem the soul of a nation, then we must do it. Create a society at peace with itself, and lay down the burden of hate and division. Dr. King would say, violence and evil, it must stop someplace along the way, and we became disciples of the movement. Disciples of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of the great teacher, to do what we could to leave our society better than we found it.”

— Rep. John Lewis

“So how might one learn to love another without reducing the other to recognizability, without fixing the other to a single unchangeable name?

Or should it go the other way around: must the lover consent to being forever misrecognized? Is allowing oneself to be transfixed a fundamental part of loving and being loved?”

— Elvia Wilk, Ask Before You Bite