Jun 30, 2015 filed under Love.

heart on clothesline

David Brooks, columnist and author of The Road to Character, gave the commencement speech at Dartmouth this year. It’s worth reading or watching the video. Here’s a snippet:

“But love has its own logic that defies normal utilitarian logic. For example, most resources are scarce; you can use them up. But love is the opposite; the more you love, the more you can love. A person who has one child does not love that child less when he or she has another. A person in love is capable of more love. A person who loves his college does not love his country less. Love expands with use.

“Again, against the grain of normal logic, people in love make themselves vulnerable to great suffering, and sometimes they knowingly walk into suffering. Sometimes you tell people in love that it doesn’t make sense for them to be together because they’ll be in different cities or they drive themselves crazy. But lovers rarely break off a love just because that doesn’t make sense. They’d rather be unhappy together than happy apart.

“And so here we’re coming to an essential feature of commitment making. It’s sort of like quantum mechanics. It doesn’t make sense from a normal logic. A commitment spills outside the bounds of normal utilitarian logic and has a different logic. This logic is a moral logic, and it is filled with inversions. A commitment is a moral act.

“The moral world is not structured like the market world. It has an inverse logic. To develop morally and inside you have to follow an inverse set of rules. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave. Success leads to the greatest failure, which is arrogance and pride. Failure can lead to the greatest success, which is humility and learning. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.”


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