15 Jun 2007 12:18 pm

THE BIRTH OF INTIMACY

The quest for intimacy is part of a long lineage of human ideals. These noble ideals were born in the belief that there is more to life than mere existence. For such individuals the quality of human life is at the heart of the integrity of man.

Animals and matter exist, but man lives a life full of possibilities and accomplishments. Man is not just a passive slave instinctively responding to his environment, but a creative force interacting with and often manipulating many of the events constituting his fate.

Every culture on the planet has spent time postulating and expounding upon their basic beliefs on the meaning of life. Each culture places an individual stamp on their beliefs and philosophies regarding the art of living, and the true beauty of human life.

During a given time period a culture may seem obsessed with answering philosophical questions and improving the quality of life. Volumes of work may be stuffed into a small time frame by a host of thinkers devoting all their energy to discussing such concepts as personal happiness and beauty. The same culture may all of a sudden stop such inquiries with years, maybe even centuries passing before such topics are once again explored.

The exploration of human ideals has never been a smooth and continuous path. There are many environmental and social factors which motivate societies and individuals to reflect on and discuss human ideals, such as love, happiness, beauty, freedom and truth. The two most obvious factors motivating such thoughts are themselves opposites, necessity and leisure.

One’s quest for truth and freedom is often born from the realities of oppression. A life of slavery makes one thirst for freedom, and a life of deceit and injustice fuels a desire for truth and justice. Many a revolution has been fought for an idealized vision of freedom, truth, or inalienable human rights such as the pursuit of happiness.

Though necessity can spark the quest for human ideals, it is leisure which is more often the mother of philosophical reflection. Times of war, famine, and a pronounced struggle for survival often remove idle speculations from a culture. Ideals can get lost in necessity, and even individuals find it hard to worry about personal fulfillment when their next meal is in doubt.

When survival is at stake, other concerns seem petty. A starving man is not about to calmly sit back and watch the unsure steps of a young doe with gentle amazement. The movement of a young doe is only transformed from meat to artistic dance when hunger (survival) is not an issue.

The privileged role of leisure in man’s pursuit of his ideals easily explains why the dialogue of human ideals has often abruptly stopped in a culture. When a society once again has time to dream, theories centering around the quality of life and man’s inner nature re-emerge. During the height of both Greek and Roman civilizations, theories and discussions regarding the quality of human life abounded. Art, science and invention (hallmarks of these cultures in their prime) soon evaporated into the dust clouds of conquering civilizations and fields of famine.

All the legendary civilizations from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia on up to the present have seen their ideals come and go depending on the commercial fortunes of their society. No matter what historical time period we look at, we are bound to find some cultures flourishing while others stagnate or lie dormant. The dark middle ages were years of great progress for many Arabic cultures, in which the discussion of noble human ideals were continued and refined.

A dialogue regarding human ideals is made possible when the urgency of the fight for survival is temporarily removed from the minds of a significant portion of the populace. In ancient Greece this was true for the freemen and their families. In many societies this has always been the case for monks, priests and holy men, whether the source of their spiritualism is God, inner being, or the magical world of spirits.

The quest for intimacy, and all such ideals are, therefore, born out of the dialogues and investigations spawned by free time. Reflection and investigation are tools of freedom and recreation. Happiness, love, beauty, freedom, justice and truth are all concepts born when the fight for survival and necessity are held at bay.

Is this to imply that all human ideals are superficial mental playthings unworthy of our attention? Is this to say intimacy and happiness are recreational concepts having no importance or place in the real world? Certainly not!

Our quest for intimacy is a gift, a reward for all our hard efforts to carve out a little solace in a world of chaos. This is what makes intimacy such a fragile possession. Whenever we switch our attention to survival our appreciation of such delicacies as intimacy, happiness and meaning is endangered. Whether our switch of focus to survival is necessary or imagined the result is still the same, we are forced to forsake personal fulfillment.

In an affluent society such as ours, isn’t it our moral responsibility to work as hard as we can so that others in the world can benefit from our affluence? Isn’t it rather selfish of us to sit back and enjoy what we have while others in the world are starving? If the fight for survival makes the quest for intimacy look petty, then shouldn’t we be unselfishly spending our time ending world hunger rather than sitting around in comfort?

If neglecting our personal needs would result in ending world hunger, then I would say we should be self-sacrificing and work our tails off for the benefit of mankind. Yet, from what I can see, increasing national affluence has little to do with ending world starvation. In fact, the mentality created by ignoring our more personal needs seems to obstruct any practical solution to world hunger.

The more we have, the stronger our fear is that it will be taken away. This causes us to mistrust others and spend much of our time and energy protecting ourselves from those less fortunate. Greed is not born from necessity, but fear. If we were living fulfilling and happy lives we would probably be less dependent on physical possessions and more trusting of our neighbors.

A happy and fulfilled person is a better worker, inventive, creative and motivated. Solutions come easy to a person who leads an intimate life, for they sense options when others feel imprisoned. An intimate self-fulfilled person is not threatened by the success of others and, in fact, seeks to share their company and companionship.

We are living in a very privileged time. Even though we are often busier than we would like, most of us do not have to scavenge for our next meal. We have the opportunity to experiment with our lives and find ways to maximize the quality of life.

Our thoughts and actions will shape the very definition of man’s highest ideals for years to come. We are the custodians of a great tradition of thinkers and lovers of life. It is our choices which are defining the very meaning of the term “quality of life”.

The drive towards intimacy is not a petty thing, a mere activity to fill in one’s time. It is, and always has been, a noble project worthy of the energy of the best of men. Sure, many people have wasted this opportunity, but then again many have not. The choice is ours. We can be a spirit in the mold of Leonardo Da Vinci or Plato, inspecting human ideals while savoring every morsel of life, or waste away our free time in a drunken stupor or hedonistic orgy.

The Origin of Ideals

The first time a man dreamt of a better life and how to accomplish this dream, an ideal was born. Sometimes these ideals were born of joy, other times they were motivated by sorrow. Yet, all of human experience needed clarification and understanding. What is the meaning of life? What is joy? Why is there pain in the world? These questions plus hundreds of others motivated men to examine their lives.

What they hoped to find was as diverse as the questions asked. Some people were driven by a desire to know, some hoped to find solace in an oft cruel world. Others were responding to a spirit of adventure while still others were motivated by the haunting fear of the unknown.

Those people driven by pain and fear often sought and found quick and easy answers. Many of these fast, simple, and convenient answers found acceptance amongst the majority of individuals uninterested in truth or reflection. Impatience and fear have always been uninvited guests in the history of human ideals, and have often dominated the popularization of any ideal.

The harsh realities of life have always been a limiting factor on the history of human ideals. Yet, pain and fear have fueled as well as polluted the quest for ideals through the centuries.

In many ways the march of civilization was a victory of man over survival. Though civilizations were often formed and maintained through incredible acts of violence, ironically they also made it possible for men to reflect and to dream. To the victor go the spoils, and with those spoils came wealth and security for the privileged class. The elite of every civilization, though practically dependent on slaves, were free to speculate on the very nature of human life.

In the very progression of culture, the history of human ideals was both housed and advanced. Soon man’s leisure activities and search for knowledge became more organized. His lust for life and truth found expression in the fields of art, philosophy, religion and science. It is from these realms that the bulk of man’s ideals have been identified and discussed.

Prior to and concurrent with the age of civilization many important contributions were made to human ideals by privileged people in simpler societies. Although these individuals could be chiefs, soldiers or sorcerers they more often than not were medicine men or shamans.

In civilized and primitive societies down to this day the religious and spiritual personages of a group hold a privileged position. This position evoking respect and influence from their peers usually affords them an opportunity to spend the better portion of their day in free thought.

This lifestyle holds true for spiritual people in the east as well as the west, for industrial as well as impoverished third world nations. In the west, it is the congregation which provides for the daily sustenance and survival of priests, ministers, monks, nuns and missionaries. In the east, holy men are valued individuals of great influence and social position. Even those who choose to be recluse’s and abandon a life of relative comfort can always count on the generosity of other’s to provide for their basic needs.

Ideals are often overshadowed by the harsh realities of man’s struggle to survive. Yet, the harsh realities of life including, death, poverty, pain, hate and hunger seem to be at the very heart of the fascination religion holds for the common man.

Where philosophical and analytical discussions regarding human ideals can fade away for centuries, religious views over these same issues seem to be present at all times. Why does a starving or traumatized culture embrace religion while avoiding the other custodians of human ideals? Why doesn’t religion suffer the same lonely fate as philosophy, art and science do during difficult or stagnate times?

Religious Influence

The fields of Religion, Science, Art, Philosophy, Law and even Medicine all seem to have one common ancestor, that being mythology. In fact it could be argued that ancient mythology is the father of every human endeavor.

Mythology, being so multi-functional is impossible to pigeon hole. Mythology inspired, explained, instructed, expressed, assured and warned. Though it explained and rationalized things, mythology often left the world a potent force beyond man’s control.

Through time the remnants and living vestiges of mythology began to focus on the magical and spiritual and less on the comprehensible. As disciplines such as science, law and philosophy began to take over the task of logic and analysis they verbally distinguished themselves from the supernatural and spiritual realm. Even today these disciplines often talk about “de-mythologizing” their texts, equating mythology with imaginative story telling or belief making.

Almost every branch of science has a mythological (non-logical) origin and motivation. Such proto-sciences such as Alchemy, Astrology, and Numerology along with medical skills such as embalming were founded on spiritual goals and mythological quests. Though modern Chemistry, Astronomy, Mathematics and Medicine would like to forget their storied pasts, they still will always be dependent on the mythological ideals which forged their inception.

The arts generally view ancient mythology as a rich resource and often take up its “timeless themes” in modern works. In the arts, mythology is often viewed as an emotional reservoir, or collective unconscious of human nature. Mythology in the eyes of modern man is, therefore, pretty much restricted to the realms of magic, the supernatural, and the spiritual.

Religion too, has struggled to distinguish itself from mythology. Mythology for many modern religions is spirituality (and belief) in its infancy. Magic and myths for less traditional societies are primitive forms of belief lacking in both sophistication and truth. Religion in primitive societies, in the eyes of modern man, is often viewed as pure mythology undeserving of being referred to as religion. Though the spiritual intent of these people is acknowledged and appreciated their practices and actual beliefs are thought of as being trite and false.

Since all ancient forms of religion are viewed as being mythological, and any superstition or spiritual feeling of primitive man is mythological, the tie between mythology and religion is impossible to deny. When viewing primitive man we do not see our sciences but our religions in the actions and desires of their magic and spirituality we label as mythological.

The spiritual tradition of every religion is found in ancient and modern mythology. The goals and desires of mythology are still the goals and desires of every modern religion. The intimate tie between religion and mythology is undeniable and visible in every act of spiritualism currently practiced on the globe.

The power mythology had for ancient man is difficult to under-estimate. Mythology contained all their hopes and dreams, their fears and knowledge. Mythology was life, and life was mythology. All that was felt, experienced, and thought by ancient man was expressed through mythology. Only much later when man began to break up his experiences into separate categories was mythology ever reflected upon and doubted. Up until that time, there was no mythology, there was only experience and expression.

Ancient man was totally dependent on mythology. His very existence depended on its wisdom, customs, practices and beliefs. Everything from how to prepare food and interact with people was outlined and explained by myths. All social interaction was grounded in myth, and culture and myth were identical terms.

In ancient times spiritual and practical life were one. Everything was mythological, for even the most simple action required an explanation. Mythology was responsible for answering every child’s first question (Why?), and every other question which experience spawned.

Everything was magical and a miracle for primitive man. Not only was nature a source of awe, but so was thought, speech and feeling themselves. Almost every moment brought forth a new marvel to fear and appreciate and it was mythology which was there to inform, warn and reassure. Since life was so amazing and knowledge was so scarce, it is not surprising that the bulk of ancient mythology focused on nature’s power and man’s vulnerability. What else could life be but magical for new eyes and minds?

The myth makers in ancient society must have been terribly important and powerful people. Intentionally or not, they formed and shaped the very attitudes of their peers. Any new event or natural force could be a source of amazement or terror, could arouse feelings of joy or fear; it was the myth makers who directed a particular response.

In a world full of magic, the spiritual myth maker is needed by everyone. Spirituality and survival go hand-in-hand in a magical new world, for no practical action is devoid of mystery and a need for explanation.

The world for ancient man was divided into two realms: the orderly spiritual world (mythological) and the chaotic. As time advanced the sacred world grew and the chaotic profane world shrank. The mythological spiritual world though not always kind, became the goal of all action and the profane world became something vile and scary (the unknown).

Gods, spirits, and animistic forces were the realm of the known, the realm of the livable. The life of ancient man became dependent on magicians, story tellers, and shamans. Hunters, planters and warriors alike were dependent on the knowledge of their spiritual leaders. Defeat and victory, food and famine were dependent on the mythological wisdom of the sacred men and on the proper timely execution of hosts of rites and rituals.

Religion and myth for countless centuries was the center of all knowledge. Tribes were emotionally and practically dependent on their holy men and magicians. Holy men provided very important practical services for all people, for the spiritual world was the only world for ancient man. There was no practical existence separate from spiritual concerns, there was only the real world, the sacred world.

This is the tradition of modern religion and the holy man. He has always been a powerful person to depend on, and his wisdom shaped our lives. In the major religions our dependency has shifted away from the holy man and onto God, but the holy man’s knowledge and guidance is still indispensable.

Though religion has moved away from the practical world and focuses on a separate spiritual plane, it still has plenty to say about how we should live our lives. Miracles, sacraments, grace and concepts such as heaven and hell maintain both the realm of the sacred in our day-to-day lives as well as its ultimate importance. Our practical lives are still evaluated and validated by spiritual concepts such as good and evil, and moral principles and expectations.

In early civilizations such as Egypt the pharaoh king was a god. Roman and Greek leaders were often attributed with having divine heritages and if not gods, at least had divine qualities. Throughout history, kings and rulers were either themselves divine, or had holy people as part of their court. Often the greatest threat to a king’s power was not a battle or war, but a war of influence with a pope or local holy man.

The wealth, power and influence of the traditional man of God provided him with a great deal of free time. Holy men and church officials were provided with the most advanced educations, and in many societies were the only consistently literate group of people. Since holy men were revered and taken care of, they could continue their studies even during times of great poverty or famine. In fact, it was during these traumatic and devastating times that the masses generally turned to the holy men for answers and guidance.

Philosophers such as Plato, scientists such as Galileo, and artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci were products of their time. In times of poverty their work and interests were sure to be ignored if not scorned by the masses. In times of riches culture booms and the creative juices flowed like honey through a society. Human ideals sprouted forth in the spring and summer of social fortune and hibernate during the harsh barren winters of misfortune. This is true for all dreamers of human ideals except for holy men. They, through the generosity and loyalty of others, were able to carry on their investigations during even the worse of times.

If leisure is the father of human ideals, than freedom from necessity is the mother of philanthropy. If a person is worried about their own survival it is hard for them to be generous and giving to others. Yet, when a man is free from the worries of survival it is much easier for him to generously express his compassion through sharing and providing for others.

When survival is at stake, even the most moral man has a difficult time sharing with others. During scarce times he will resort to almost any means to provide for his family. In times of crisis or emergency, like after a natural devastation like a flood or hurricane, many people realize how fortunate they really are and find it easier to give to others.

Our society bears the marks of both opulence and struggle. We have the time and the means to investigate and research every aspect of life. This is evidenced in the tremendous strides we have made in the arts and sciences over the last couple of centuries. Our books and computers are revealing and storing more information in a decade than previously had been documented over centuries. We are generally very concerned about our health and try to find happiness at work and at play. Yet, we often waste or ignore our free time, and place making money over our personal needs.

The Idealistic Rainbow

Many of the goals and methods of mythology are still contained in the major religions of the world. Many of the ideals contained in the hopes and dreams of mythology find common expression in modern religious and spiritual practices. Yet, for every common element we find between mythology and religion, we could easily find a major difference.

Our lives are filled with finding differences and similarities. Hardly a single event happens in our lives in which we do not associate, contrast and compare it with previous experiences. Every person we meet reminds us of someone else we have known, either in how they look, what they say, or how they carry themselves. A new acquaintance will inevitably remind us of someone out of our past either for their glaring similarities or stark contrasts.

The same is true on the level of human ideals. For every way in which mythology reminds us of religion we can find obvious contrasts. In religion itself we find major differences and similarities between different faiths. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism all have important qualities in common, but also have major differences which anchor their individuality. Each major religion has a number of schools or sects which themselves harbor a number of common and diverging ideals.

This game of contrast and compare can be played on any level of human ideals. We can find points of convergence and divergence amongst the general fields of art, science and philosophy, as well as the hundreds of disciplines which are sub-sections of each of these fields. There are hundreds of hard and soft sciences, fine and general arts, and logical and existential philosophies.

The number of actual human ideals is also quite extensive. The Idea in Plato is different from Aristotle’s Intuition. The list of articulated ideals would include terms such as Love, Ecstasy, Power, Rapture, Logic, Will, Supreme Being, Mysticism, Freedom, Beauty, Happiness, Joy, Pleasure, Servitude, Inner Peace, Humility, Knowledge, Truth, Meaning, Compassion as well as the Idea and Intuition. Many would also name Synergy, Symmetry, Unity, Harmony, Balance, Faith, Being, Devotion, Wellness, Yoga, Health and Immortality as worthy ideals. A complete list of terms, ideas and desired states which have and are viewed as leading one to an ultimate or perfect state of existence would fill up many pages.

Each of these terms has something to offer and provides a person with significant insight into our experience and appreciation of life. I cannot at this time take up each one of these terms separately and contrast and compare them with my concept of choice, Intimacy, but instead will review the relative merits of general groupings of these terms.

Each civilization was formed of many different cultures who in turn were comprised of many tribes who were formed by a number of distinct families and lineages. All of these tribes and cultures had lengthy histories with distinct experiences and beliefs. Over the years before they were pushed together these social elements existed separately and formed their own view of the world.

An emerging civilization created free time for a number of individuals through the effective use of slaves. Wealthy individuals from a number of different tribes and cultural groups were created during large conquests and expansions. These freemen were often part of the civilization in name only, having great religious and philosophical differences with the dominant culture. These difference surfaced in their approaches and conclusions when investigating human ideals.

A freeman from a culture previously enslaved for hundreds of years would have a remarkably different attitude towards life than one whose history was slave free. A person from a desert climate, had different views from an ocean or river dweller. The flooding of the Nile had profound effects on the world view of many Egyptians which effected everything from their religious beliefs to the particular interests of their arts and sciences.

Though freemen in every booming culture were allowed to dream, their dreams themselves were colored and shaped by their particular histories and traditions. Many of man’s most articulate ideals were largely negative viewpoints born from catastrophic histories. A decade of freedom and wealth does not erase the legacy of centuries of pain and devastation, nor does a new optimism replace the fears and realities of history.

When we look at the cultural and traditional heritages of some of history’s greatest thinkers and dreamers, it is easy to understand how this confusing legacy of diverse human ideals was created. Some ideals emphasize the power of the mind, some the awe of experience, others are acutely aware of the fragility of life, others hope to escape all human existence.

Many ideals and schools of thought are formed in direct opposition to others that exist. Hedonism, Epicureanism and Stoicism have often contrasted themselves with each other when defining their beliefs and ideals. Pragmatists, positivists, and realists square off with each other and with sensualists, empiricists, existentialists and phenomenologists. Theologians battle with scientists, while humanists take on imperialists of all kinds. Sometimes these battles are over minor definitions and sometimes their disputes center around some very essential differences in attitudes towards experience and life.

A great source of division is over the very definition of real. Some schools assert that everything we sensually experience is real, others state (like Plato) that the idea (ideal) is the real, where some feel that all of sensual life is an illusion and only Being is real.

Often these opposing schools share the same ideal, but their entire experience of it is radically different. Ideals such as ecstasy, rapture and love can be shared by both the sensualist and the spiritualist. The sensualist will seek to attain these experiences through physical contact with others. Through animalistic and carnal pleasure a sensualist conjures up these emotional and experiential ideals.

A spiritualist on the other hand would be appalled by the idea of attaining these ideal states through such brute means. Love, rapture, and ecstasy for them would be mystic states attained through faith, devotion and prayer. Though their bodies may react similarly to rapture and ecstasy as the sensualist, the spiritualist would claim their experience is superior due to its being both pure and noble.

The debate between the sensual and mystical real has a long history. This conceptual division invariably leads into lengthy discussions regarding the true nature of man. Questions such as “Is man’s animalistic and sensual nature something to overcome or give oneself over to?” become important to answer.

Eastern religions are well known for their desire for an individual to overcome all attachments to life. The goal is to be in the reservoir of pure being beyond individuality and human experience. In such a philosophy life is often reduced to pain and illusion and fulfillment comes only to those who fully annihilate every aspect of normal human existence.

Artists throughout the ages have often taken a radically different stance towards life and nature, seeing them as means to fulfillment and not illusions to overcome. The pain, joy and beauty of human experience are for the artistic nature the very fabric of life to be reveled in, and not an obstacle to be mastered. Sadness and even agony are not enemies of the artistic ideal, but very real experiences of the human spirit to be understood and rendered visible by the eye and soul of the artist.

In the history of human ideals dualities and conflicts abound. Normal human experience can be viewed as the source of all meaning, or as an empty illusion bound to suffering. The body and sense experience can be the basis of all human integrity, or a dark and animalistic snake skin needing to be shed to attain a desired catharsis. The human mind can be the greatest single creation in the universe or a distant observer who pollutes the essence of every experience with its self-importance.

How can we rectify these differences? How can we salvage the noblest ideals of man from the realm of varied opinion and petty insults? How can we appreciate the full realm of possibilities, without appearing directionless or narrow-minded?

First of all the differences between ideals is not as great as it first appears. Most of the differences can be broken down into a few major dualities. You have the duality between the sensual and the spiritual, the mind and the body, and the ideal and the real. The other major break between idealistic schools is the way they treat pain. One school equates human life with pain and strives to annihilate all experience to reach a state of enlightenment. The other school, though aware of pain, views it on equal par as the other experiences and strives either to minimize pain or transform it into a valued experience.

Earlier we stated that there are no inherent divisions such as mind\body or real\ideal in human experience. These divisions are born from the careful analysis and reflection of human experience. These divisions are not necessarily artificial, but are the tools we use to better understand and appreciate our experiences.

The major debates are generally not over our experiences themselves, but on places of emphasis. Some ideals emphasize the sensual, some the perceptual, and others the conceptual. Some make the mind the center of experience, some the body, and still others the heart, soul or spirit.

As we had explained earlier in this section, a lot of these preferences are culturally and historically based. A culture decimated by plague, enslaved for centuries, or often threatened by famine is more likely to premise their life on pain than a society with a more fortunate past. Such a culture could be said to be traumatized leaving even their ideals dark and pessimistic. Escape, for a culture long imprisoned, is the fondest of dreams.

Many human ideals even if not posited on pain are at least tainted by its pessimism. If you think about how fragile and tenuous life has been throughout the ages it is easy to see why the reality of pain so often permeates the highest ideals of man.

Pain always has and probably always will be a necessary part of human existence. Yet, the role of pain in the lives of modern and ancient man are quite different. In many countries (mainly western) man has attempted to minimize pain through manipulating both nature and the body. Through industry we have attempted to make our environment safer and more comfortable and through our medicine we have attempted to master pain by our discoveries about nature and the human body.

Though some would argue that many of our cures cause more suffering than they alleviate, most people would prefer to live with modern science than without it. We may have far to go in our efforts to minimize pain, but we have made many drastic improvements. A simple problem such as a toothache could have caused mortal agony for a person living less than two centuries ago.

In today’s world pain can often be alleviated. We have powerful anesthetics, reliable medications, and a host of rehabilitative techniques which minimize chronic pain. With the advent of the laser and improved neurophysiological knowledge, the future of modern medicine is very bright. Lasers are increasingly being used to perform relatively painless surgery.

Many people today live generally painless lives and premising life on pain does not match up to their experiences. I am not denying that many people currently inhabiting the planet still live a life of pain and suffering. Starvation is as much a problem today as it ever was, and as the world population continues to climb it is almost certain we will bring many a plague upon ourselves. Yet, as man advances, it becomes evident that his life does not have to be dominated by pain. Pain, though surely not a matter of choice, is becoming a more manageable element of human existence.

This is not to say that human ideals should no longer acknowledge pain as an aspect of life. Such an assumption would not just be idealistic it would be totally unrealistic. What instead is being said here is that human ideals should not be premised on pain.

The rainbow of human ideals will always exist. Men will continue to place different emphasis on things and have different priorities. We all have our own personal backgrounds and cultural histories which color our attitudes and cause us to value certain aspects of human experience. Yet, these facts should not prevent us from seeing the similarities in all our dreams and moving towards a closer union with others.

Let’s make our ideals truly worthy of being ideals. Our ideals should always be livable, rewarding and lead us towards increased unity. Even if this unity is motivated by a greater appreciation of our diversity.

The beauty of intimacy is in how it is able to incorporate and appreciate all other human ideals. Though at times it may feel a need to unmask a false ideal, intimacy, more often than not, is able to view the different ideals as specific manifestations of intimacy itself.

Under a concept as broad and flexible as intimacy the entire rainbow of human ideals can be viewed as a thing of beauty and not an obstacle. The diversity of human ideals need not be a source of division, but easily can become the very vehicle of intimacy itself.

Much is gained when we view the divisions between human ideals as historic in nature and manifesting differences in emphasis inherent in the individuality of human experience. This view allows us to acknowledge and even look for differences between ideals, without losing sight of the similarities they hold and the humanistic goals they share. This also allows us to ferret out and remove the historic limits and contaminations of our ideals while not feeling like we are totally discrediting them. Every ideal is a product of the best and worst of human existence, and therefore, a thing to treasure and improve upon.

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