When we think about love, often we think of love as the romantic kind, the "falling in love" kind of love. But there is more to love than just this aspect and we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate love in all it's various guises.
In Classic Greek philosophy, love is classified into three groups: Eros, Philos and Agape. We explore the differences between these.
During Valentine's Day, the focus is mainly of Eros, or today's version of it, aka Romantic Love.
We may think of this kind of love as universal and eternal, but it's quite possible this is a modern concept - gaining popularity during the Victorian era and spread through the Romantic Novel, which, thanks to the recently invented technology of mechanised printing presses, were becoming widely available at that time. Swooning was the in thing. If it was all due to heady romance or something to do with corsets, swooning happened.
Love marriages, rather than practical, suitable, parentally-approved kind of marriages are common now, but for centuries were not the norm at all. There are still many parts of the world where Eros is not seen as a suitable basis for marriage. In the past, Eros was often paired with tragedy - just think of Romeo and Juliet - to follow one's heart was to see it broken. Nowadays, much of the sting has been taken out of Eros' arrow, so please enjoy your romance, it's modern, it's rebellious, it's rare and precious.
Then there's Philos, - a more friendly, quiet kind of love. The kind of love you might have for your siblings, or close friends, when there's love but not desire, that's Philos.
It's also the kind of love you might see between your Grandma and Grandpa. That gentle familiarity that comes with deeply knowing another human. When the initial passion of Eros has passed, Philos kicks in and deepens and maintains the relationship. Some relationships sputter out once winged Eros has flown away, some transmute into Philos, fine and fair.
Whilst Eros gets the limelight, all heady and hormon-y, Philos takes a back seat. No less powerful, possibly this kind of love is the tortoise to Eros' hare, quietly continuing on, steady, reliable, and eventually a real winner. Philos is long term, Philos is committed, Philos has your back. Your best friend, your soulmate, your Mum, here we see that love need not be all kissy and smoochy to be love. Who's the wind beneath your wings? Who's your hero? Who's everything you wished you could be? Philos, that's who.
Agape is the third kind of love.
Agape is universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or the divine. . .
To give unselfishly, loving kindness, to smile at a stranger on the street, the upwelling of feeling as we admire a sunset or another of nature's wonders. Here is where we find Agape.
In Paulo Coelho's blog we find this: "It is a sentiment that invades everything, fills all the cracks and makes any attempt at aggression turn to dust."
Agape, as seen as our love for our fellow human, helps to build and maintain the psychological, social, and environmental fabric that shields, sustains, and enriches us. Agape is the volunteer at the soup kitchen. Agape appears when we stop to help another cross the street. Agape is why we strive to save the forests, when we donate to build a well, when we hope to make the world a better place. Agape is here when we are grateful. To love for no other reason than to express the love that fills us, how lucky are those who find Agape in their life's journey. How lucky are those who receive this beautiful, uplifting, spirited love.
Love is the reason we do all we do, our love of flowers, your love for your dear ones. No matter the kind of love, we think it's worth celebrating.
Whether it be Eros, Philos or Agape, let's make Valentine's Day an all round love fest this year and every year. Goodness knows the world needs more love, and we're here to do our bit to help you express it.