Recently, my friend Gerry Cooper (@cooplemoderne) released a wonderful montage (which can be viewed at the end of this post) exploring the different ways in which we experience and define love. I was fortunate enough to be featured in this short documentary. After viewing it and being reminded of my response to the question, "What is love?" I thought it would be fitting to again examine the concept of love. Although we are in the season of romantic love, it is best to talk about all the ways in which we experience love and diffuse love. There is never a bad time to discuss love, but now more than ever is the right time. We are in the midst of a social movement unlike anything this nation has seen in decades. And we are also at the beginning of the Lenten season, a sacred season where we strive to reorient our lives to God, the source of love.
Love, much like God, is too big of a concept to try to define. There are neither enough words nor the right words to begin to form a proper definition. Love is something that we experience, feel or sense and because the ultimate source of love is the triune God we experience love in a triadic nature. In the Bible there are three Greek words used to describe love:
1) eros- erotic/romantic love
2) philia- affectionate regard, friendship
3) agape- unconditional love
According to Dr. Cornel West, "Justice is what love looks like in public." While we are working to reimagine justice so that it extends to all people and not just those of the dominant culture, we are also working to reimagine love. In many ways we already have. When it comes to eros love, we have found that it does not fit neatly into our concepts of gender or sexuality. We desire who we desire. The romantic relationships and unions formed in the midst of this current movement are both revolutionary and necessary. It is transforming to recognize the beauty in another person and to have the beauty inside of you recognized. Truth is found in these relationships and they go on to form the foundation of the most important social unity of society; family.
We have also begun to reimagine philia love. This has mostly been done by the friendships that have been created in the struggle. Not only has the movement inspired the rebuilding of a community continuously devastated by seemingly endless cycles of injustice and oppression, but it has also inspired the reformation of community to be inclusive of those historically pushed to the fringes of society and to be connected to other oppressed groups around the globe. These companionships bridge the gaps in broken community and are a threat to an empire that thrives on divisiveness.
Agape love is the most important idea of love because it is selfless and altruistic. It is the love that flows from the character of God and the thrusting force that placed us in the streets to fearlessly confront the corrupt and unjust systems that oversee and carryout the destruction of Black life. Agape love is love in action. In America, this kind of love was arguably best imagined publicly by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who used it as the basis for nonviolent resistance. However, love is often misinterpreted and many continue to think of agape love as being weak and passive because of its willingness to forgive.
It is true that loving and forgiving your oppressor closely resembles an abusive relationship rather than resembling a person seeking liberation. But because agape love extends from God it needs no reimagining, it only needs to be imagined fully or perhaps reexamined thoroughly. Dr. King began this process shortly before his assassination. In his annual report delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967 King said,
"...Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change.

... Now a lot of us are preachers, and all of us have our moral convictions and concerns, and so often we have problems with power. But there is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly.

You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. It was this misinterpretation that caused the philosopher Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject Nietzsche's philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love.

Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. And this is what we must see as we move on."
Love is a powerful force. It may not be the only way to break the chains of oppression, but it is the only way to ensure those chains don't wind up shackled on any other group of people. It is up to us to continue the process of understanding agape love in totality and to use that knowledge to radically love and to dramatically transform the world we live in.


❤️ (Untitled, Pt. II), A Montage By Gerry Cooper

Circa S/S 2015

Featuring a host peers, "❤️ (Untitled, Pt. II)" is part montage, part documentary, part case study exploring the one thing all people have dealt with in some shape, form, or fashion: LOVE. Though a cliche subject, the mission was to get a deeper understanding of what people define as love, what it feels like, and if they even feel it exists. Truly a collaborative effort, ❤️ is narrated with original poetry by writer/artist Joy Priest and has video submissions + interviews from over 15 people. 90's style VHS footage, clips from some of your favorite shows/movies, plus a blissful soundtrack help bring this project to life.

Directed, Produced, & Edited by Gerry Cooper
Narration & Original Poetry by Joy Priest
❤️ title created by Big Chetti

Featuring: Joe Piper, Susan Phillips, Marcos G. Morales, Rebeca Maldonado, Alexis Savage, Domdi, Ryan Herring, Imani Williams, Vern Tolbert, Alexis Holland, Taylor Cochran, Bonez, James Lindsey, Trap Adams, Amani Miles, Infitain, and Malachi Shockley.

Twitter: @CoopLeModerne, @dalai_mama_, @bigchetti
Instagram: @CoopLeModerne, @dalai_mama, @big_chetti

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