What's Love Got to Do With It?

So...whassup with the whole LOVE conversation Red Booters live into so darn gracefully?  We throw that word around like four wheelers throw dirt.  It's easy for us....comes naturally.

But we recognize that this is not the case for other folks.  So we thought it fittin' that we provide a few thoughts on why this might be.

In the English language, we have the word Love.  Now we all know that the way we love our lovers, the way we love our friends and the way we love our kids are quite different.

But sometimes because we only have one word to describe all that love, expressing our love can get a bit confusing, particularly when it comes to the friend and lover conversation.  This is especially the case in American culture.  Remember the movie, "When Harry Met Sally?"  The ultimate question in the movie was offered up by Harry on that infamous long drive the two took together.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8kpYm-6nuE&w=560&h=315]

We are socialized very early on, as humorously portrayed in this video, that love between a man and woman can, how shall we put it...get interesting, and so we got to wondering if perhaps this explains the hesitation on the part of some leaders to freely toss out the word.  It is a bit hard to imagine, the President of the United States throwing out a "Love you" as he exits a meeting with his cabinet members.  (Actually this visual makes us smile really big.)

The Greek Language does a better job of distinguishing these varying types of love through the use of  four distinct words for it:  agape, eros, philia and storge.

  • Agape means love in a "spiritual" sense.  Agape love refers to a general affection or deep sense of "true unconditional love" and is often in reference to humankind.  This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).
  • Eros is "physical" passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than friendship.  It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage.
  • Philia is "mental" love. It means affectionate regard or friendship. This type of love has give and take. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.
  • Storge means "affection."  It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.

Red Boot Love in the workplace and in politics...the type we are talking about here brings together a kind of agape, unconditional love for all mankind, with a "stand up for those who are underserved, alienated or seen as less than" philia ...a love that includes virtues such as equality and community.  Red Boot Love integrates agape...love that is unconditional and all-accepting, with philia/storge...love that protects and peacefully defends social and emotional justice and equality.  It's not easy to possess both at the same time and Red Booters are keenly aware of the challenge posed when trying to walk that thin line.

Red Booter Molly Barker describes this love best, we think, when she shares the love of the brand new parent.

father holding son

"We hold our babies tenderly, in that very powerful space that comes from a deeply spiritual and unconditional love as we look into their infant eyes, and at the same time are mightily prepared to defend our babies should someone seek to do harm." If we spend some time thinking about it, it is what lies at the root of all our human condition.  When to love unconditionally and when to stand up for ourselves?  When to let go and when to hold on?  When to allow and when to make happen?

Red Boot Love lies in that in-between soulful, gritty and real space where spirit and human...agape and philia/storge ...integrate and are woven into one practical yet spiritual love.

Now we aren't sure we'd have given this much thought until our buddy Tim Waite offered up a blog piece asking questions that really made us think.  Liken it to the age-old question, can men and women just be friends, but change it up a bit to...can colleagues in the workplace love each other?  Interesting question.

So here goes:

Red Boot Love in the Workplace:  Tim Waite

I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately, mostly about friendships at work. But before I delve into friendships at work, I want to provide my best expression of what friendship is and what it means to me.

Tim waite

Consider the word love. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my mom and my brothers. I love my friends. That’s four very different forms of what I believe to be the most powerful force in the world. For me, when I say I love you, that means that I am willing to make sacrifices for you, even painful sacrifices. I care deeply about you. I want to know when you are in pain and when you feel joy. I want you to share both of those moments equally, honestly and without guilt. I feel a bond with you for whatever reason. It could be mutual friends, mutual blood, mutual interests, or mutual pain. I miss you when I don’t see you and when I do, I feel as though the last time we were together was only a few moments ago. I want a firm handshake or, preferably, a hug. I want to know if your life sucks right now and why. I want to know if your life is awesome right now and why. I feel safe in your presence and hope that you feel safe in mine. I love you but I am not in love with you. That is saved for one person. Her name is Amy, which happens to mean friend!

Friends at work are different. I have developed friendships at work but I had to work hard at it and continue to do so. It’s a very different task than developing friends elsewhere. There is risk, the risk of becoming too close. It happens and it is the shark infested waters where affairs thrive.

So I have been wondering…what are the rules? Where is the line? When do I know when I have gone too far?

The reality is that I see friendships at work in a different light than most, I think… I see friendships at work as a web, a network that requires development, that requires time, patience, understanding, tolerance, faith, discipline and humility.

I see my circle of friends at work in two ways.

First the reality...we are a group of people with a common interest and a common goal.

But I also see them as a group of people who are put into a shared web of connectedness... people who come to know each other because we are in close proximity to one another every day.  That web is powerful.  I see us throwing ropes to each other in an attempt to make contact, establish trust, and create a bond.  As each person casts a rope, makes a connection, and establishes trust, the bonds in the group grow incredibly strong, indefatigable, and long lasting. We know each other, we care, we share, we endeavor to protect, to nourish, and to grow our friendships because we have come to understand the real, practical and applicable value of something totally intangible…love.

This web is felt by all who come into contact with our culture.  The kids we serve (I am a teacher), the parents, the administrative staff.  We are all deeply influenced by the ethos created by this culture of love within the workplace.

When we endeavor to bring love, compassion, and caring at work, it brings to light that old but powerful golden rule…I want to give love to and be loved by...the people I know, the people I work with, the people I share the most time with.

When you think about it...it just makes sense.

hearts and workplace