Community & Government

The Importance of Receiving Love

Cornel West

Lesson time 08:36 min

Cornel shares a personal account of how the supernatural love he received from his mom and dad allowed him to define himself in spite of catastrophic circumstances.

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Topics include: Love of Self


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Well, when I say that I am who I am because somebody loved me, and cared for me, and attended to me, it is always something elevating in the sense that I cannot conceive of myself without the quality of sacrifice, the quality of affection, and the quality of sustenance that I receive from Irene and Clifton West, there's no doubt about that, as mom and dad. But we should recognize that love is a dangerous force as well as the most sublime and majestic force. And what's dangerous about love is that it is so powerful that it can lead toward disintegration and destruction, or it can lead for it elevation and exultation. And so if, for example, mom and dad had love me in a way such that it resulted in my inability to go on, because love can be used in manipulative ways. Love can be used in very abusive ways. So we don't want to give any of our precious students, you students, the sense that love is some kind of Disney World situation on Main Street where people always walking around with a smile on their face or Santa Claus would toys in his bag. No, no, love is funky. And funk is about freedom. And freedom is always about good and evil. You say, how can love ever be evil? Well, truncated love, a love that neglects, a love that abandons, a love that undercuts. So that when you're thinking philosophically, you're thinking critically, and Socratically, and prophetically, you think of what it is to love a country and watch it undergo decline and decay. And to tell the truth about that country, because you love it so. The same would be true with the love of a friend. You attempt to empower, and it backfires on you. And it could lead for betrayal. So there's all of these possibilities of love. So love being for me the most powerful force, now back to my own individual case, thank God, nothing but an act of grace that Irene and Clifton never use their love as a form of abuse, as a form of manipulation. We had our disagreements, we had our clashes. But I had a supernatural kind of love when it comes to the mom and dad and family, and Shiloh Baptist Church, and what have you. And in that sense, I am a love child of the highest order, of the highest order. So that any trauma, any tear at the world brings my way, I got something that both can never take away. And that's that love I'm talking about. Even when I'm in jail, and I've been in jail on many occasions, that I still have a smile on my face. [CROWD NOISE] I know that that circumstance in no way defines who I am, past, present, or future. [MUSIC PLAYING] - One of the great impacts of the prophetic legacy of Jerusalem is to love thy neighbor as thyself. And so you've got to have a love of self that goes hand-in-hand with a loving of neighbor. What are the sources and resources of a love of self? Where does that come from? That doesn't fall from the sky accidentally. It's got to be deeply rooted in practices, and institutio...

About the Instructor

Cornel West is one of the most profound, diverse, and intellectual thinkers of our time. Now he’s inviting you into the depths of his brilliant mind to teach you how thinking like a philosopher can help you navigate your personal relationships, your decision-making, and your everyday life by looking at the world from a completely different point of view.

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Cornel West

Distinguished philosopher Cornel West teaches you how to think more deeply, connect more closely, and live a more fruitful and meaningful life.

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