Let’s talk about love

Tim Chevalier has a lot of important things to say about how supposedly impartial rationality is used as a mask for emotion, and on how the charge of being emotional is used by privileged people to suppress and deflect things they’re afraid to hear. It’s worth reading. At the end of the piece, he asks an important question:

Can we view reason and logic as tools for accomplishing goals that our emotions guide us to, rather than letting our emotions govern us by pretending they don’t exist?

We’re always guided by our emotions; the question is whether we can admit it.

I’m guilty of the false rationality Tim describes. I can write pages and pages without once naming the real emotion behind what I’m talking about. It’s time to change this. If we — privileged men like me — can’t really talk about our emotions, the things that drive us, in all their totality, then we will forever leave others vulnerable to the devaluing and erasure of their emotions. If we can’t talk about the things we are afraid to express, then we can’t break the culture that calls fear, shame, and anger logic when they serve the interest of privilege. If we can’t talk about why we do what we do, we can’t name the emotions that lie behind what is distasteful about the endless rush to money and naked worship of power in our industry.

Greed, lust, desire for power: these are all emotions, but the people driven by these — men, mostly — aren’t as afraid to talk about these. It happens in closed doors, over drinks after meetings, and seeps into the rest of the discourse. These emotions don’t hide themselves.

But we’re afraid to talk about love. I’m afraid to talk about love. Nobody talks about love outside of their family unless they’re drunk and weepy or behind a lectern. I might say that I love certain ideas, or doing certain things, but it’s not the same love. I’m talking about a real and specific love for people. We don’t talk about that much. When I talk about community, I talk about purpose. I talk about how special it is. When I talk about business, I talk about pride in our accomplishments. I talk about my sorrow at losing part of the team. But I could not have come this far without some element of love. You don’t sacrifice without love. You don’t endure without love.

So let’s — us men — talk about love.

If we can talk about love, we can talk about our strength. If we can talk about love, we can talk about others’ strengths.

If we can talk about love, we can talk about ourselves without insisting we’re perfect. If we can talk about love, we can talk about others without insisting on perfection.

If we can talk about love, we can talk about how we hurt when the people we love have been hurt or excluded. If we can talk about love, we can talk about how we’ve hurt others.

If we can talk about love, we can talk about what we’re afraid of. If we can talk about love, we can talk about doing what we’re afraid to do, what we know might hurt us, what we know we need to do, for others’ sakes.

If we can talk about love, then everybody else can talk about it too. We can’t understand and welcome unless we open up the entire range of emotional discourse. Let’s talk about love, and maybe we can push back the fear and anger and disgust and greed and lust that holds together the warped masculinity that insists we are stronger in exclusion. And if you catch me hiding my emotions behind that false rationality, stop and remind me of this.

So let’s be emotional together. It’s a place to start, if nothing else.