The AIDS epidemic has rolled back a big rotting log and revealed all the squirming life underneath it, since it involves, all at once, the main themes of our existence sex, death, power, money, love, hate, disease and panic. No American phenomenon has been so compelling since the Vietnam War.
The aura of the theocratic death penalty for adultery still clings to America, even outside New England, and multiple divorce, which looks to the European like serial polygamy, is the moral solution to the problem of the itch. Love comes into it too, of course, but in Europe we tend to see marital love as an eternity which encompasses hate and also indifference: when we promise to love we really mean that we promise to honor a contract. Americans, seeming to take marriage with not enough seriousness, are really taking love and sex with too much.
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
The best advice I’ve ever heard about anything is this: Don’t exaggerate! When you work hard, when you sleep long, when you love much, when you are very sad, always remember this advice: Don’t exaggerate!
The best gift you can give to a friend is honesty/trust. To your offender: forgiveness/second chance. To the needy/helpless: your God-given resources/riches. To your boss: loyalty/selfless service. To your country: patriotism. To your job/career: passion/hard work/commitment. To your child: education/affection/care. To your spouse/partner: true love/fidelity. To all and sundry/the world at large: true love, compassion, kindness, respect, equal rights and justice. But most importantly, to your creator i.e. God almighty: your life/time/resources.
The bonds that unite another person to ourselves exist only in our mind. Memory as it grows fainter relaxes them, and notwithstanding the illusion by which we would fain be cheated and with which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we cheat other people, we exist alone. Man is the creature that cannot emerge from himself, that knows his fellows only in himself when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.
The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that. We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.
The brown bag, of course, had its imperfections. While some kids carried roast beef sandwiches, others had peanut butter. I have no way of knowing if all of those brown bags contained 'nutritionally adequate diets.' But I do know that those brown bags and those lunch pails symbolized parental love and responsibility.