Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Mel Pearlman

Love is not the antidote to hate


August 17, 2018

When did the idea take hold in public policy conversations that every American was at first morally bound, and now legally required to love every other American?

“Love” is not a legal term and as best I can tell, not being a religious scholar, religious texts only seem to deal with the concept of love as an emotional factor between and among individuals who are familiar with one another, such as spouses, children, relatives, neighbors and friends. Love of the divine is beyond the scope of this column.

Psychology concepts broaden the use of the “love” emotion to mean “extreme like,” such as love of tangible art, sports, music, theater, etc. The overriding concept associated with love is that every love relationship is completely voluntary.

I am not aware of any mandate—religious, ethical or legal—that demands or requires group love. In fact, the first European settlers to America came here seeking freedom, and to practice their own cultural and religious heritage unimpeded by hateful forces on the continent. Each colony was different in heritage, culture, religion and motivation for coming to the New World. The founders recognized and respected this pluralism as an indispensable factor to bring the colonies together in their quest for independence from England.

In my repeated readings and study of the Constitution, I found no reference to an obligation of citizenship for every American to love every other American or any other person who is within the jurisdiction of the United States of America. No article or provision in the Constitution requires good taste, common sense or civility in the public discourse, but a thorough search through its hallowed words reveals nothing in the document that would prohibit such behavior either.

What the Constitution implicitly does require is respect for one another and the rule of law. Liberty cannot exist without respect for one another and for our fellow citizen’s freedom. Liberty can only thrive if every American puts his fellow American’s freedom ahead of his or her own freedom.

Even the Torah recognizes the relationship between liberty and respect: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Leviticus 25:10. These very words are engraved on the Liberty Bell.

Liberty does not float in the air, but is only manifested by the respect of each inhabitant throughout the land for the rights of each other inhabitant throughout the land. To quote a Tina Turner song lyric, “What’s love got to do with it?”

It has been said that the opposite of love is hate and that the cure for hate is love. That may be true in individual relationships, but since love is irrelevant in the hateful public debate that is infesting our land, thrusting the obligation to love our fellow citizens into the debate as the cure for our current political ills is ineffective. In fact, it is counter-productive because the reaction to compelling involuntary love is to encourage more hatred.

In the context of our current societal struggle the only antidote for the hatred and division permeating our country is respect for one another as human beings. Respect for one another honors our freedom, protects our liberty and recognizes our Constitution which brought 13 disparate states into union, and which for more than 242 years has been the envy of the world.

In you wish to comment or respond to any of the contents herein you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner. If you wish to respond by ranting and raving, please go into your bathroom, lock the door and shout your brains out.

Mel Pearlman has been practicing law in Central Florida for the past 45 years. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; on the District VII Mental Health Board, as Special Prosecutor for the City of Winter Park, Florida; and on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Research and Development Authority. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and served as the first Vice President of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as its first pro-bono legal counsel.


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