By Kierkegaard, Søren; Hong, Edna Hatlestad; Hong, Howard Vincent
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Therefore it can never reach the point of sickly loving by way of comparison-it loves. Spontaneous love can be changed from itself, it can be changed over the years, as is frequently enough seen. Then love loses its ardor, its joy, its desire, its originality, its freshness. Just as the river that sprang out of the rocks is dissipated further down in the sluggishness of the dead waters, so also love is dissipated in the lukewarmness and indifference of habit. Alas, of all enemies, habit is perhaps the most cunning, and above all it is cunning enough never to let itself be seen, because the person who sees the habit is saved from the habit.
And yet there is the change of eternity between the former and the latter. But would this really be the highest; would it not be possible to love a person more than oneself? Indeed, this kind of poetic effusion is heard in the world. Would it perhaps then be so that it is Christianity that is unable to soar that high and therefore (probably also because it addresses itself to simple, everyday people) is left miserably holding to the requirement to love the neighbor as oneself, just as it sets the apparently very unpo- You Shall Love 19 etic neighbor as the object oflove instead of the celebrated objects of soaring love, a beloved, a friend (love for the neighbor has certainly not been celebrated by any poet, no more than this loving as oneself)-would this perhaps be so?
When someone self-tormentingly thinks to do God a service by torturing himself, what is his sin except not willing to love himself in the right way? And if, alas, a person presumptuously lays violent hands upon himself, is not his sin precisely this, that he does not rightly love himself in the sense in which a person ought to love himself? Oh, there is a lot of talk in the world about treachery and faithlessness, and, God help us, it is unfortunately all too true, but still let us never because of this forget that the most dangerous traitor of all is the one every person has within himself This treachery, whether it consists in selfishly loving oneself or consists in selfishly not willing to love oneself in the right way-this treachery is admittedly a secret.