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Love, Greek Style

by Dear Jon
November 4, 2008

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ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

For you, what is philial love? Can you give me an idea of how philial love is shown?

Dear Blank,

Philia is a Greek root for a form of love that means "friendship love." The English language has incorporated this root into many words, such as "philosophy", which means "the love of wisdom," "philanthropy" which means "love of humanity," and "Philadelphia" which means "love for steak sandwiches with grilled onions."

Philial love can also be understood in terms named after another Greek person, named Plato, who believed that ideal forms were more important than physical forms. So his name became the root for a form of love called "platonic love," which is what happens when a person wants to "eros" another person but can really only "philia" them.

Then there is "agape" love, which is the form of love that seeks the good of the other person even if there is cost to oneself.

So, friends can extend agape love to each other, like when your co-worker picks up the cost of your lunch as well as her own "just because." However, agape love does not depend on friendship. Agape love can be shown to anonymous people, such as, when your friend also tips the wait-staff 40%. Philial love is what is shown when supporters of the same candidate gather together to watch election returns. Agape love is what is tested when supporters of different candidates gather together to watch election returns.

The best marriages are glued together by all three of erotic, philial, and agape love. Marriages tend to fall apart when agape love is deficient, since only agape love can compensate for deficiencies in the other forms.

Dave Barry once said that "a person who is nice to his friends" (philia) but not nice to the wait-staff (agape) is not a nice person."(He wrote this a while back when he still had a regular job, before he "retired early" to spend all his time testing which toilet porcelains are most combustible, and I don't have time to look up where or when this approximate statement of his was first published, so if you are Dave Barry's lawyer, go sue yourself and tell him to get back to writing for crying out loud because I'm running out of quotes.)

In this, Dave Barry agrees with Jesus, who said something like "What credit is it to you that you greet your friends? Even pagans do that! But love your enemies etc." (Note: Jesus did not often say "et cetera.") So, greeting your friends is philial love, which pagans like Plato (platonic love) and Aristotle (who wrote about virtues including philial love) knew all about. Loving your enemies and persecutors is the primary example of "agape" love, which Jesus knew all about.

To really understand what agape love is, one needs to be a parent of a young child. As an act of agape to parents of young children everywhere, I dedicate this song to you, original lyrics by Dear Jon, in appreciation for the agape that you show every day at the risk of your sanity. This song has four beats per line; imagine the cadence of a square dance.

The Universe of a 4 Year-Old

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo! (repeat ad nauseum)

(Speaking, while group choo chuggas in the background): This choo chugga rhythm is supposed to be repeated ad nauseum. Who knows what ad nausem means? It is when Daddy is asked to do the same thing over and over until he is either sick and tired, or he collapses from cardiac arrest. This song is dedicated to the sanity of parents. I hope, for your sanity, that you find this song really useful.)

A Corvette's parked in my easy chair
That hot set of wheels sure don't belong there.
My herd of ponies have designer hair,
I see princess faces on underwear.

There's a buxom blonde lying on my floor
naked since she got home from the store
She came with a gown to attend a ball,
She's made of plastic and one foot tall.

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!
Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!

There's a sponge in pants that likes to dance
And a talking toaster that's lost in France
And vegetables singing about their souls;
In the universe of a  four year-old!

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!
Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!

On t.v. a bi-ped dinosaur
Is grinning like a hungry carnivore.
The kids play with him withour fear or woe
For a meat-eater eighty million years old!

Now blocks and logs are lots of fun
If you can wait till Daddy's done;
I'm building something big and tall—
Please wait sweetie!—nope, there they fall.

There's a sponge in pants that likes to dance
And a talking toaster that's lost in France
And vegetables singing about their souls;
in the universe of a  four year-old!

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!
Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!

Now watch your step or a plastic frog
Will get crushed underneath your Swedish clogs.
Honey, please stop bawling to wake the dead,
And keep your bath toys near the tub instead.

A one-armed baby is missing its head.
I'll find it next week somewhere under the bed;
Until then, darling, I'm asking you, please,
What did you do with Daddy's keys?

There's a sponge in pants that likes to dance
And a talking toaster that's lost in France
And vegetables singing about their souls;
In the universe of a four year-old!

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!
Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!

The train that's chugging on down the track
Was painted in China but won't go back
It's really useful to keep the kid quiet
A recall would just start a riot.

My little kid knows toys aren't to eat
Since paint and germs aren't much of a treat.
And she knows something else that's really odd;
She won't eat her vegetables either-- since they're children of God.

There's a sponge in pants that likes to dance
And a talking toaster that's lost in France
And vegetables singing about their souls;
In the universe of a  four year-old!

Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!
Choo chugga choo chugga chugga chugga choo!

And vegetables sing about their souls,
In the universe of a four year-old!

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