To illustrate the nature of quandary of meaning, I will return to the context that motivated my efforts to understand love.

In my years from eight to forty-four, the Golden Rule was my organizing moral principle. Love thy neighbor as thyself. At eight, it seemed a simple proposition. At twenty, I realized that the original Christian impulse was convulsed in a Gordian knot of contextual dependency (laugh out loud) that overwhelmed our capacity to apply successfully the stricture.

There is love in friendship, parental love, sibling love, romantic love, sexual love, platonic love, and patriotic love.

And in some circles there were categories of love that were categorically rejected. "Loving white males" was oxymoronic, in the post-Vietnam, drug-muffled anti-establishment polemics of my youth. The disenfranchised and disadvantaged, recognizing that their right to self-love had been abrogated, demanded privileges to compensate for that loss. Finally those forced to shoulder the burdens of the past eventually decided that they might just as well look after theirs and themselves, because otherwise nobody would.

Of course, in each and every one of those contexts, the usage of "love" made sense. It justified actions that served some immediate local good. And yet, here I sit, in America in 2005, a nation hated, reviled, manipulated and despised. Not because our hearts are small, but because we can't muster our good intentions into action.