Tag Archives: Lao Tzu

Love as violence

R.D. Laing was an unconventional psychologist. One of the thing’s he talked about was ‘love as violence’.

That is what we do to our children. Because we want what’s best for them, we go beyond simply loving them. We equip them to survive in the world. To us it looks like love.

Looked at from another side, it’s actually damage. One instance he gave concerned Indian beggars. India was a very poor country. Millions were starving to death.

So, when a beggar had a child, she had to consider how it would survive. Because nearly everyone in India lived in poverty, no one gave money to beggars. Not unless they had a seriously good reason to beg.

An obvious, and major, disability that prevented them working. Otherwise, they’d definitely starve. That was the world of the beggar.

So, if a child was born without a deformity, it was a serious problem. If you really loved your child, you gave them what they needed to survive. A withered arm or leg, a crushed foot, or blindness. That way they should be able to make a living as a beggar.

This is love as violence. How the world appears depends on where we see it from. Because that’s the only world we know. R.D.Laing said that, in the West, we do the same thing to our children. But we do it mentally.

We couldn’t see a healthy, fully-formed mind as a possibility. No more than the Indian beggars could recognise a healthy, full-formed body.

In their world, they see a deformed body as suited to survival. In our world, we see a deformed mind as suited to survival. So we train and shape our children from the moment they’re born.

We send them to schools to learn to do everything exactly as we did. Exactly as everyone else does. We break and shape that fully-formed, healthy mind until it fits our preconception.

Until it’s suited to survive. We commit love as violence just as the beggar does.

This is R.D.laing’s view of what we do to our children. And yet what choice do we have? We can’t know any world outside what we know.

So what do we do? I don’t have the answer.

But I do have the question. And that’s a good start point. To do what we think is right, while being able to hold the possibility that it may be wrong.

Not to go on auto-pilot. Not to knee-jerk into the fastest possible answer. But to constantly be in the enquiry.

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