Of Romance & Philosophy

There is not one of us who does not admire and applaud the frantic mother who defies every danger and risks her very life to save her child from an impending harm. Such is the power of maternal love. Equally, during a local crisis, for example a violent storm, the residents will risk all to help a neighbor. Such is the power of communal love. In times of national or world conflict, complete strangers will give their lives for people they do not know for the sake of high values such as freedom. Such is the power of universal love. What you have here are examples of the power of the ideal, understood and applied. This is the meaning of romance. It is the power to find special meaning in the ordinary events of daily living and raise these events to the ideal level.

Philosophy teaches that we are romantic as we find ways to give meaning to otherwise ordinary actions in everyday affairs. We can raise the facts of every day to the level of beauty as we see beyond the "shell" of facts and find how these facts can raise the life of personality to the life of soul. A friendly smile in the course of a trying business transaction can be pure romance.

This approach to creative living is based on Ibn Gabirol’s Fountain of Life Book III, Chapter 15. Here the Teacher instructs his pupil on the nature of simple substances. Feelings are finer (more simple or elemental) than rocks, and thoughts more simple and penetrating than feelings. From this we learn that thoughts and emotions are things and, indeed, have the power to be forces for great good or for immeasurable harm. We must come to understand the creative power that we have at our command.

A practical application of the concept of romance would be to start a friendly conversation in the next long checkout line that you are in. In this way, your shopping trip will be romantic, that is, have meaning far beyond the cost of a loaf of bread.