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Love and Race, Spirit and Matter

 

In the entry, The Golfer’s Wife, a reader accuses M., another male commenter, of insensitivity. He says M. denies the primacy of love over racial considerations in marriage and all personal relations. In his response to this criticism, M. gets to the heart of why these issues will always be troublesome and why they will never be absent of gray areas and blurred lines. He also succinctly describes the traditionalist viewpoint on the interconnection between spirit and matter in social affairs.

M. responds, in part:

“Look, I am not unconflicted about all of this. I think this is because we exist as human beings on several related but distinct levels at the same time, and what is considered Quality or Beauty or Excellence on one level may not be considered that way on another. 

At one level we are biological beings, animals, motivated by our survival and sexual drives. At a higher, related but distinct level, we are social beings, motivated by a need to be accepted, to gain fame and wealth and status. At yet a higher level, we are intellectual beings, motivated by a drive for truth, nobility, and idealism. And at yet an even higher level, we are spiritual beings, with eternal souls, living here to learn ineffable lessons and grow towards God. Each higher level is dependent on the lower levels for existence, but the values of each of the levels can be in conflict. 

So at a spiritual level, I agree with Rita in her interest in spiritual virtue and growth. And I even agree with liberals in their intellectual interest in what seems to be a noble ideal: the end of strife on earth due to racial identity. Who could disagree that, taken by itself, that is a noble ideal? I believe that when possible, the values of the higher levels must take precedence over the values of the lower levels.” 

Below is the exchange in full.

 

Glen H. writes:

Laura Wood wrote: “Also, these posts have been consumed with another subject: the love for one’s people. Whether it is acceptable for whites to express this sentiment in relation to other whites is the theme that runs throughout.”

Of course, love for one’s people, by that common association with them, cannot come if one doesn’t first love and respect one’s self. It’s very acceptable, natural, and encouraging for persons of a common race to protect their culture. What I have witnessed so far, which again has been very interesting and refreshingly blunt, is not however a love of one’s race, but an impersonal and unquestioning defense of one’s race, regardless of individual love, as an eminent but fragile construct. M. can feel defensive when he sees white women with non-white men, or even non-white women with white men. What he, and those taking a similar position have thus far not regarded is that individual and potentially loving aspects of these relationships–well exemplified with Laura H., who seems to have a home and love life that belligerents like M. and myself can only envy.

M. writes:

Pardon me, but how would Glen H. have the least idea about the state of my love and home life so that he can assume I can “only envy” Laura H.? 

I’m not entirely sure what Glen’s point it. Is he saying that I didn’t write about why I love my people, but instead only expressed anger about betrayal? Fair enough; but “Why I Love My People” wasn’t my subject. If it had been, I could have written quite happily and at length about the things that I love about my people. 

Look, I am not unconflicted about all of this. I think this is because we exist as human beings on several related but distinct levels at the same time, and what is considered Quality or Beauty or Excellence on one level may not be considered that way on another. 

At one level we are biological beings, animals, motivated by our survival and sexual drives. At a higher, related but distinct level, we are social beings, motivated by a need to be accepted, to gain fame and wealth and status. At yet a higher level, we are intellectual beings, motivated by a drive for truth, nobility, and idealism. And at yet an even higher level, we are spiritual beings, with eternal souls, living here to learn ineffable lessons and grow towards God. Each higher level is dependent on the lower levels for existence, but the values of each of the levels can be in conflict. 

So at a spiritual level, I agree with Rita in her interest in spiritual virtue and growth. And I even agree with liberals in their intellectual interest in what seems to be a noble ideal: the end of strife on earth due to racial identity. Who could disagree that, taken by itself, that is a noble ideal? I believe that when possible, the values of the higher levels must take precedence over the values of the lower levels. 

But what the spiritual and intellectual idealists ignore at their (and our) peril is that the lower levels of human reality – the social and biological – cannot be ignored. You will die if you ignore the biological and social imperatives, and your fine intellectual and spiritual ideals will be supplanted by those of the competing people. Perhaps a Christian saint could ignore these considerations, choosing to be martyred for their beliefs. I am not a Christian saint and I do not believe God ordered the world in such a way that I am required to lay down quietly and see my people dispossessed and perhaps, in a worst case scenario, oppressed or even exterminated, by other competing peoples acting according to their biological and social drives. 

My comments about white women and non-white men were written from the perspective of my biological and social identity and are valid and universal concerns. The great experiment that liberals have thrust upon us is whether we whites can unilaterally abandon our racial/biological identity (and, in reality, our cultural/social identity, since we are not “assimilating” these immigrants, but are in fact being colonized) in the name of intellectual idealism and have as good a life as we would otherwise. 

The beauty of traditionalist, race-realist conservatism is that it offers a vision that harmonizes these different sorts of Excellence on all the levels of human existence. It recognizes biological and social realities by respecting the need for peaceful separation of different racial/cultural/religious identity groups and traditional restraints on sexual behavior and encouragement of marriage. It recognizes the need for intellectual exploration and striving without automatically ignoring the biological/social in favor of the intellectual, as liberals tend to do. And it recognizes the spiritual dimension of man’s existence and gives it a proper place in the organization of the biological, social, and intellectual framework of society. 

I accept that part of the battle here is that the spiritual and intellectual idealists see any discussion of biological and social realities as immoral. What they are missing is the need for balance, and “balance,” in this sense, does not mean, “White men, sit down and shut up while we take your women and your territory from you in the name of our intellectual ideals.” 

                                                                                      —– End of Initial Entry ——

Glenn H. writes:

Before this discussion becomes entirely peripheral, I’d like to reiterate my original point:

Karen and M.’s positions, though not bereft of truth or agreeability, nonetheless have a common problem—common between them and common to this socio-psychological approach. By refusing to address man as a dignified, rational, fully conscious and loving individual, they do not respect man for what in any other circumstance they would say he is. The locus of this argument is cultural respect and preservation, but an individual cannot respect and protect his or her own culture if they don’t respect themselves first—they will be inextricably misguided in what is still a noble pursuit. In order to simplify the discussion and put it in easily relatable terms, man’s been bereft of respectful regard to his personhood. M. and Karen’s cross-examination of the undignified and uncritical man may even be poignant, but when applied to the dignified person it falls short, as Laura H and others can easily testify.

Laura writes:

There is nothing “peripheral” about these ideas.

Glenn H.’s “dignified person” strikes me as a selfish being. The man or woman who gets married to someone of another race is not necessarily selfish in a world where cultural differences are not acknowledged or taught. But Glenn H.’s belief that one’s dignity is derived first and foremost from respect for oneself and from the maintenance of loving emotions is simplistic. Isn’t this precisely why there is so much divorce? When marriage no longer feels like a noble pursuit, when the emotions of love can no longer be summoned, marriage becomes meaningless. Divorce in that case is not simply a solution to passing conflict but a positive good, something that preserves the sacred dignity of the individual. Glenn H.’s argument could also be used to justify same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. People of the same sex do indeed feel deep love for one another. That is undeniable.

Glenn H. writes:

Of course, grandparents are an important link between past, present, and future. This is not to say that grandparents’ role is huge, especially to the point of, in a potentiality, disrupting a loving union (marriage). If it appears I have little appreciation for physical bonds between generations…you really haven’t been reading about the parent-child relationship. It is a shame if the older generational have so little faith in their parenting that they live in fear of their children not continuing their culture, a culture which of course we’re taking to be a given, intrinsic good (that’s what children are, actually), which is something to be examined race by race in itself. For those who love a grandchild of mixed race and simultaneously “harbor feelings that something significant has changed”…well yes, that’s true. But again this state of fear, that all change is bad, assumes that change within a loving environment of family and friends will be immediately, thoroughly, and always destructive. That’s a very unfortunate mindset; one which leads to the passive resentment so witnessed on this thread.

Consider that famous Bernini sculpture of Aeneas fleeing Troy with his father and child. The father is passive, holding onto their heritage (the house), while Aeneas boldly leads his son–while carrying his father–to a new, and ultimately better, foundation. Not a foundation without his Trojan heritage, which was not strong enough to survive the Greeks, but a Roman foundation which combined with Latin, Etruscan and so on, to eventually defeat the Greeks.

Glenn H. continues:

The dignified person couldn’t be a selfish being. One who has no self-respect can’t behave in a dignified manner. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that (though by all means). Contrarily, it is selfish to impose one’s own wants and insist on one’s own extrinsic priorities on the dignified person as say, nervous elders may do about a mixed-race marriage. Allegations can go both ways, and both sides could be accused on inconsideration. How very unhelpful. I did not say dignity is derived from “maintenance of loving emotion,” but this queer tendency here to address man as if he had no capacity for love, as one may recall was the whole reason for my involvement here, robs him of dignity, especially if we believe him to be made in his Creator’s image.

Before you say marriage becomes meaningless, you should probably articulate it’s meaning, or neither of us can really entertain that point any further. You’re taking my insistence on the individual and associating it as self-centeredness which, yes, does lead often to divorce. Of course, you’re neglecting the requisite selfless giving in marriage—the thing to be reciprocated. Love is not expressed “summoned” from within oneself or there would be no inclination towards marriage. An individual seeks and gives commitment—something the survival of the species might say is negative—because of love, it is not some sort of stimulus/response linear progression, though that seems to be the common approach to culture here. Love and marriage is a cyclical and constantly renewing process. If two people, for some catastrophic reason, no longer love each other, they do not have to stay together (divorce) but they should not marry another, that’s standard Church teaching. Annulments come into effect when the marital participant(s) were disingenuous and the sacrament couldn’t have been bestowed anyway…I’m sure you’re aware of Church positions on divorce as well as I, probably more so; I’m surprised you’d assert condoning disrespectful behavior is a positive good, even for argument’s sake. [Laura writes: I did not say divorce was a good. I said it is viewed as a good when marriage is all self-fulfillment.] An individual can have dignity without getting divorced.

Same-sex marriage cannot be justified because it cannot produce children. In this way there is not the same capacity for love, though their love can be deep, that heterosexual couples have—this is really a separate argument and not to the point. Peripheral. Once more marriage between two people is taken outside and adulterated with the undignified wants of external forces.

Laura writes:

This discussion began as a look into the issue of race and marriage. Does race matter? Is it important in family formation? These were the issues under consideration.  It did not begin as an effort to define the ideal marriage. No one has stated that marriage is only about race. No one has stated that love is not important in marriage. It is of the utmost and primary importance. Marriage fosters and creates love. Marriage is first and foremost about love. I do not believe that the primary meaning of marriage is to create children or to support society or to preserve culture. These are its purposes, as Dietrich von Hildebrand would say, but not its meaning. Its meaning is love.

But what is this love that Glenn is referring to? Is it the deep attraction between two people? No, it could not be simply that. Two women or two men could feel this deep attraction. Let’s say it is the deep attraction between a man and a woman. But, no, it must be more than that because there are passing attractions and there are one-sided or wildly uneven attractions. A man or woman may feel great love for another that is not reciprocated. They cannot devote themselves to someone who does not love them. So already we have conditions placed on this desire to love. It emanates not just from within and not just from a decision to commit to another, but from the limitations and possibilities presented by the real world and by the heart. In an ideal world, there would be nothing but one woman meant for one man who then happened to meet each other. In reality, people are often moved to love when they are ready to love. They often love the man or woman who is before them when they are ready to love. A culture and a family may influence whom we love in this way.

That is all. No one is offering a tyrannical program for mate selection or a guide to  impersonal breeding. When cultures and races intermix, there must be some amount of interracial marriage. It would be inhuman if there were not. But cultural and racial kinship are factors in the same way maturity and happenstance are factors that influence love. A society may discourage interracial marriage in the same way it discourages girls from marrying at the age of 13. This does not mean it has no respect for individual freedom in matters of love.

Mark writes:

The discussion on race and marriage has been deeply interesting and thought-provoking, even if it has aroused discomfort at times. I commend you, Laura, for doing what very few could do: create a safe space where intelligent people with such divergent and passionately-held views can actually speak to each other. 

I remember the late Ed Bradley (“60 minutes”) once addressed an audience a bit after the OJ Simpson acquittal. He said it’s time for whites and blacks to have a real, honest discussion about race in America. Well, here it is! Yes, it’s been at times painful, but we’re all getting to know each other – and the bluntness of the discussion is much preferable to the typical practice (at least among whites) of instinctively censoring ourselves from saying anything controversial on the subject.

Laura writes:

Thank you.

 

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