Love according to a scientist-A A +A
Friday, August 30, 2013
I HEARD this story from my social science professor who is an intellectual and a scholar, and therefore not given to sentimentality. He read it in a book written by a cognitive biologist.
One day, the author had to look after his grandson who had very poor eyesight. It was the dead of winter, and snow covered the ground.
While the author was in his study, his grandson wandered out of the house and into the garden with its uncovered pool.
When the author looked up from his papers, it was too late.
He watched with horror as his grandson walked to the very edge of the pool and fell into the deep end of the freezing cold water.
He ran out, his heart in his mouth, imagining the worst.
Now his grandson had on very thick clothes for the winter. Would you know? His clothes inflated as they filled with water and he floated up to the surface.
He grabbed the side railings of the pool.
This is what his grandfather did.
He gently pulled his grandson out of the water, calmly patted him in the back and gently said: “Bravo, my boy, well done. You have saved your own life!”
“But grandpa, I need to go to the bathroom to pee!” the little boy said.
“That’s okay. Go ahead and pee in your pants.”
“It’s all right to do that?” said the child, thinking how he had always been told to of the proper thing to do.
His grandfather smiled down at him. “It will be good for you and it will warm you,” said the grandfather.
He then brought the boy inside and washed and changed him, all the time praising him for his bravery.
When the mother came to pick him up, the little boy cried proudly, “Oh Mom, I did a wonderful thing today!”
“What?” his Mom asked.
“I saved myself!” the boy cried out proudly.
Instead of its becoming a traumatic memory, the boy remembered his own bravery.
The grandfather did not scold or berate the child, nor did he make a lot of fuss about the proper thing to do.
I think the main point of this story is that people count first, before anything else.
The grandfather focused on the effect of his words and actions on the boy, keeping in mind the boy’s sense of self-respect.
What would you have done if you were the grandfather?
The author told this story to prove a point about love.
It is a quite different view from how we usually define love, which is intimacy, closeness, togetherness, etc…
He says love is when we recognize the humanity in another.
It is respecting the autonomy or freedom of the other person to be the way he/she is. It allows the other person to retain his/her self-esteem and self-respect.
Perhaps, we all have had the same opportunity in our own lives, when we encounter people who have “fallen into the deep end of the freezing cold” situations that life often brings.
Perhaps the invitation for us is to focus on that person’s deep sense of self, the person’s capabilities rather than his/her faults.
Love is saying “bravo” more often.
Love is letting others be, allowing them to be who they are.
In the language of cognitive biology, this is love.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 31, 2013.