Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love, Love, Love: Part 2

Today, we continue with our second installment on Love. See part one here.

To continue exploring the relationship between radical love and arts education/applied theatre, let's take a closer look at radical love from Freire's perspective.

Freire (1998) overtly refers to teaching as an act of love and claims that teaching is impossible without a “well-thought-out capacity to love” (p.3).

Freire’s philosophy of education contends that education must contain horizontal dialogical relationships, in which the dialogue is rooted in love for the world and for people (Freire, 2000; McClaren, 1999). Within this dialogical concept, the self is opened up to the other (McClaren, 1999). Freire (2000) warns, “Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself” (p. 89-90). Without love, true dialogue is impossible. Freire (2000) offers, “Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause—the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical” (p. 89). Commitment to others (rather than a fashionable social cause or issue) is the foundation of liberation; acts of courage, change, and dialogue are all acts of love.

Kincheloe (2004) describes this concept as “radical love” (p. 3), commenting, “Such a love is compassionate, erotic, creative, sensual, and informed. Critical pedagogy uses it to increase our capacity to love, to bring the power of love to our everyday lives and social institutions, and to rethink reason in a humane and interconnected manner” (p. 3). Revolutionary or radical love must liberate; it is struggle, and encourages and fuels more struggle (McClaren, 1999).

Antonia Darder (2002) reflects on Freire’s use of the word love. She argues that Freire’s love challenges the restrictive fear of freedom that is present in so many of us; it is characterized by vulnerability and struggle (p. 499). McLaren (1999) posits that “authentic love opens up the self to the Other” (p. 171). With this opening up of the self comes solidarity and struggle for liberation.

Freire (2000) offers that, “[a]s individuals or as peoples, by fighting for the restoration of the humanity they will be attempting the restoration of true generosity….. And this fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence” (p. 45). McLaren (1999) also mentions the political and active nature of Freire’s vision of love: “a love for humankind that remains disconnected from a liberatory politics does a profound disservice to its object” (p. 171). Love is connected to that which is political and that which is active.

Consequently, in opposition to love and dialogue, lies oppression. “Sadistic love is a perverted love—a love of death, not of life. One of the characteristics of the oppressor consciousness and its necrophilic view of the world is thus sadism. As the oppressor consciousness, in order to dominate, tries to deter the drive to search, the restlessness, and the creative power which characterize life, it kills life” (Freire, 2000, p. 59-60). Oppression stifles dialogue, creativity, and the ability to name the world.

It appears that love, from Freire’s perspective includes a specific open relationship to the other, as well as actions that seek freedom and liberation through intense struggle. According to McLaren (1999), “revolutionary love is always pointed in the direction of commitment and fidelity to a global project of emancipation” (p. 171). Love is not simply feeling, it is action.

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