Books Etc Spirituality

We Must Love One Another or Die

In some of my classes I have the students read Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie.

It is always the favorite text of the semester, and even the guys confess being moved to tears. If you haven’t read it, it’s quick, but it’s potent. I urge it on you.

One sentence Morrie loves to quote is

“We must love one another or die”

from W. H. Auden, and given the effectiveness of this little book, that line becomes a student favorite.

Here is it’s context:

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie …
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky;
There is no such thing as the State,
And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.

– W. H. Auden

[from “September 1, 1939”, Collected Poems, Random House, 1940]  

See Also:
If You Do Not Love Your Neighbor Whom You CAN See – Can You Love God?, or
A “World Falling Apart”; but We’re In It Together. Can We Deal With That?

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  • My spouse says i am “”nice”(or try to be) to lots of people( she says I “talk to them too much”).

    If I am riding my bike, and I see the slighlty older guy down the road( he had a heart attack, at 52, in 2002…and now getting SSI, can not do too much of anything),
    I talk to him about his garden or whatever.
    The neighbors are in their 70’s, and can be “busy-bodies” at times, but I smile and nod, talk to them , also.

    I’ll sometimes let people ahead of me in line, if I have no major thing to do, at the store.

    Little things do tend to “shock” people!

    they are accustomed to people racing one another for the closest parking space , to the door, in the lots, for example.
    yes, it is difficult, though. my hardest time to keep my temper is when I am on a 2 lane road, no traffic, yet, the person behind me is close enough that it appears as if I am towing them, and they refuse to go around(road rager).
    I try to wait them out, ignore them, or if it goes on for say 5 miles, I may try to pull off , versus aggravate the situation.

    One gent on a motorcycle “rode our bumper” for 13 miles once, and followed us to Kmart, and “glared” at us?


    It is a struggle, indeed, but I try.
    Be nice, I guess, is a good place to start.

  • It is a challenge uncompared for sure! It always amazes me that Jesus uses a despised Samaritan as his example of someone who loves his neighbor. Those daily acts of kindness and compassion seem to be what make us truly human, and without them we die into unhumanness.

    We often get tangled up in trying to measure the worthiness of our neighbor before loving them… Mother Theresa said, “If you have time to judge your neighbor, you don’t have time to love them.� But I agree with you, Martin, it is such a struggle to keep in the mindset of loving each other. I do think God helps us.

  • To me, it rings like an uncompromising effort to reverse that fearful power of survival impulse. Ordinary logic tells us, with the dissolution of state, police dysfunctional and hunger impending, each person, or at least each family has to assert itself grimly or perish. And love must be the one to have a pliable backbone.
    Society as a cosmos of needs, stripped of its powers to order its life: We may be dreadfully near to it.

    But Connie, I must ask you, how then can we (wilfully) make love of the neighbor our priority? At best, I could imagine a swooning away of our spirits of resistance to that priority. A miracle must be wrought in us, certainly in me: The sense of futility at living in self-cetredness must fall asleep and awake anew in the shape of real power to Will that love whose lack is to die.

  • I think it means that if we don’t make loving our neighbor as ourself a top priority, then the State (or government) can’t protect us from the lack of love in the world.

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