“There is misfortune in not loving”

I ran into this Camus quote today:

There is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it.

It’s from his essay Return to Tipasa” (1954). I’ve seen it countless times, but for some reason today, it hit hard. Many don’t want to acknowledge that “good” fights often veer “wrong” or that a particular perspective, despite its nobility or truth, obscures another, but Camus did. He regularly critiqued both sides in a struggle, even the “good” side, fighting for “clarity,” which he considered central to his moral code. For Camus, one must be honest with their intentions and not mask them behind noble words. Often, every option has flaws.

I suppose it resonates with my jaded perspective on the activism I see happening sometimes. Often, the fight for fairness or equality, which I fully support, becomes muddied by the hatred that the struggle itself engenders. People start hating the things they fight. This is good when the hatred is justified and tempered by compassion, but when that hatred starts to turn the fight into a struggle of revenge, it is no longer a struggle for justice or for a better world. Simply: it is a struggle for revenge.

Some justifiably feel the need for revenge. I can’t speak for them or pretend that I understand that need, nor can I take a higher moral ground. My situation is not their situation. But when a struggle for justice or fairness or equality becomes a struggle for revenge, it is no longer the same thing it was when it started. We must be honest.

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2 thoughts on ““There is misfortune in not loving”

  1. Brett, well said. A similar thing can be said when we turn inwards. Our depression may not be what we think it is, rather we are depressed because we become anxious about being depressed, what therapists call a secondary depression. It is often difficult to separate the primary and secondary depression and I would imagine it is just as difficult to separate out the original feelings that accompany a righteous struggle from the feelings engendered by the struggle itself.

    1. Yes, it’s funny that you mention that, Malcolm. I often find myself “happier” during a depressive episode when I accept it to an extent. I still have to “fight” it to some capacity, but this year, for example, I’ve tried to slow down when I can, listen to more thoughtful music and try to “feel” when I can. It gives meaning to the state, instead of emptiness of numbness, contextualizing it and making it easier to cope with. I notice, when I get anxious about getting depressed, it makes it worse. Mindfulness is so important.

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