Loneliness: Power and Love

29. Unknown Artist, LOC - Country Courtship, mid 19th Century
Country Courtship, Library of Congress

 

“Of all creatures, only man is capable of loneliness because only he is in need of not being alone, without being able in the end to escape being alone. It is that striving to escape his loneliness which gives the impetus to both the lust for power and the longing for love, and it is the inability to escape that loneliness, either at all or for more than a moment, that creates the tension between longing and lack of achievement, which is the tragedy of both power and love.

In that existential loneliness man’s insufficiency manifests itself. He cannot fulfill himself, he cannot become what he is destined to be, by his own effort, in isolation from other beings. The awareness of that insufficiency drives him on in search of love and power. It drives him on to seek the extension of his self in offspring—the work of his body; in the manufacture of material things—the work of his hands; in philosophy and scholarship—the work of his mind; in art and literature—the work of his imagination; in religion—the work of his pure longing toward transcendence.” Hans Morgenthau

READ MORGENTHAU’S great essay Love and Power at COMMENTARY MAGAZINE

6 thoughts on “Loneliness: Power and Love

    • So that sounds like the mystics may be just like everyone else–for moments we transcend loneliness in love, art or mysticism but the hole in our heart waits to be filled with something else. I believe that something is God–everything else is a small taste of that larger promise. 🙂

      Have a lovely weekend, Eileen.

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  1. Thought-provoking post, Adrienne. Thank you for sharing Morgenthau’s wisdom. I was just talking to my partner about this very topic. What is it about a mate that fills the holes in the heart and has us avoiding loneliness? The darkest chapters of my life I survived because I talked and listened to God. He became the ultimate lover who told me everything will be alright.

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    • “The darkest chapters of my life I survived because I talked and listened to God.” Same here.

      It was very difficult to give up the idea that another person couldn’t complete me, but when I did surrender to it I found my ability to love others and myself actually improved. That bad old song–Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places comes to mind–hahaha. But I admit that I’m still very romantic about love between humans. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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