At first glance, one might want to respond that this power is intellect, creativity, wisdom, or artistic or literary genius, but further reflection shows that the capacity to apprehend truth or knowledge, or to create beauty, in and of itself, is not necessarily positive.

Knowledge and beauty can be misused, and therefore be negative, destructive, manipulative, inauthentic, and thus undermine both the individual and the common good.

The Most Powerful Ability is Love

There is but one human power that contains its own end of “positivity,” one power that is directed toward the positive by its very nature, and therefore one power that directs intellect and artistic creativity to their proper, positive end.

As may by now be evident, that power is love (agapē).  Love’s capacity for empathy, its ability to enter into a unity with others leading to a natural “giving of self,” forms the fabric of the common good and the human community, and so seeks as its end the good of both individuals and the community.

Recall that agapē seeks the good of the other, and derives its power from looking for the intrinsic goodness, lovability, and transcendent mystery of the other.  For this reason, it needs no rewards like the mutuality of friendship or the romantic dimensions of eros. The good of the other is its own reward.

Thus it is not deterred by the appearance of the other, whether the other is a stranger, or even whether the other has been offensive, or harmful. This enables agapē to be the dynamic of forgiveness, compassion, and self-sacrifice – for anyone and everyone.

Agapē by its very nature unifies, seeks the positive, orders things to their proper end, finds a harmony amidst diversity, and gives of itself in order to initiate and actualize this unifying purpose.

The Power of Love

This implies that love (agapē) is naturally oriented toward perfect positivity and perfect fulfillment.

Furthermore, love (agapē) would seem to be the one virtue that can be an end in itself.  Other virtues do not necessarily result in positivity or culminate in a good for others. So for example, courage left to itself, might be mere bravado or might lead to the persecution of the weak.

Self-discipline, left to itself, might lead to a disdain for the weak or a sense of self-sufficiency which is antithetical to empathy. Even humility can be overbearing and disdainful if it is not done out of love.

Even though these virtues are necessary means for the actualization of love (i.e., authentic love cannot exist without courage, self-discipline, and humility), they cannot be ends in themselves, for they can be the instruments of “unlove” when they are not guided by the intrinsic goodness of love.

Child Holds Sibling Lovingly

Love seems to be the only virtue that can be an end in itself and therefore can stand by itself.

Now, if you, the reader, affirm the existence of this power within yourself and further affirm that it is the guiding light of both intellect and creativity, that its successful operation is the only way in which all your other powers can be guided to a positive end, that it is therefore the only way of guaranteeing positivity for both yourself and others, and that it therefore holds out the promise of authentic fulfillment, purpose in life, and happiness, then you will have acknowledged love to be the highest of all powers and the central meaning of life.

You will then want to proceed to the next question: Could God be devoid of love?

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