PHILOSOPHY & LIFE

Love and Les Misérables

Love and Les Misérables

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”― Victor Hugo

The question “What is love?” generates a host of issues: love is an abstract noun which means for some it is a word unattached to anything real or sensible, that is all; for others, it is a means by which our being – our self and its world – are irrevocably affected once we are ‘touched by love’; some have sought to analyze it, others have preferred to leave it in the realm of the ineffable.

Nemodat quod non habet or no one gives what he doesn’t have is true in the film Les Miserables.  Our life can testify that a person who experiences love can possibly know how to offer love to his neighbor. Knowing love theoretically is not the same as experiencing love on the actual sense. The experience of the desperate ex-convict Jan Valgan with the bishop of Digne, M.Myriel is an encounter of the hated one and the loved one. Myriel treats Valjean with kindness, and Valjean repays the bishop by stealing his silverware. When the police arrest Valjean, Myriel covers for him, claiming that the silverware was a gift. The authorities release Valjean and Myriel makes him promise to become a “new man”.This particular scene in the beginning of the movie moved me and made me realize that we can touch other’s life if we set an example to them. The experience of love and mercy pierce the cold heart of the ex-convict making him a vow to change is life and to pay it forward to the others.Now the hated one Valjan experienced being loved by the kind bishop. Being a neighbor lies on the habit of making oneself available. Like on the story of the Good Samaritan for instance, which we can see on the bible (Lk. 10:30-37). The story relates a series of events: a chain of unsuccessful encounters and a successful encounter. And the story of the successful encounter turns into a command: “Go and do likewise.”

The Judeo-Christian tradition of loving God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and loving “thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18) are the two major commandments of love towards God and our neighbor. When we love others, we experience a glimpse of heaven, thus seeing God to others. Love is not just a word, a noun which is highfalutin, but an event, an experience to embrace without discrimination. When we love, we see not the outward appearance, but the inward heart of the person who waits for our response of love. Like Valjan to his people, to Fantine, Cossette, and even Javert who is preoccupied of his social function as a police. We are sometimes preoccupied by our role in the society, hence, it may hinder us to experience the ‘encounter’, making ourselves unavailable to love others.

Going back to the question: What is love? For me, love is an encounter of God, an experience of heaven, to love is to see the face of God; removing barriers of judgment and discrimination;love is a reason which motivates us to go on and live. It is a possession that we must share with others so that it may continue its life. Indeed we need to love and beloved by others, so that we can have something to offer and take.

-Fiel Pareja, MPM



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