Finally I encountered the topic about love in my blog when I was doing listening dictation exercise today. No other materials, in my opinion, are better than listening to a BBC’s middle-aged man talking about it in a low and slow voice. So I introduced this listening tape, along with the script as follows.
Two questions should be asked of every love – does it benefit the one who receives it, and does it benefit the one who gives it? There are loves that enslave, stifle, exploit and abuse. And there again, there are loves which corrupt the person who enjoys them, giving him a false and flattering view of himself, and a comforting picture of his own cost-free lovableness. I guess Hitler’s love for his dogs was a bit like that. Love is not good in itself. It is good when part of virtue, bad when part of vice. Learning how and what to love is part of moral education, and love, like other emotions, must be disciplined if it is not to collapse into sentimentality on the one hand, or domination on the other. There are childish loves, dreamy loves, sugary loves, and we expect people to grow out of these things in time. Often, when they fail to do so, it is because a pet stands in the way. Love for animals is only exceptionally love for an individual animal. I love the wild animals on our farm but few of them are really individuals for me. It is the presence of bullfinches, not of any particular bullfinch, that delights me, and for which I work as best I can. Of course I am concerned when I come across a bird or a mammal in distress, and try to help it, but this is not love, only ordinary kindness.