The letter, six pages of quality, kept a consistent Christian perspectgive. I am a Christian and I passed it on to a Christian reader, so a Christian theme was to be accepted and appreciated. We were peers. However, I have wanted to extend this message to a more universal statement.
In this writing, I will describe for us what altruistic love is. However, let me first make it clear as to what it is not. Love is not lust, nor is it attraction. Love is neither infatuation nor obsession. Loving is not liking. Love is none of these things which it is commonly confused with. Lust is merely desire, as is attraction. Infatuation and obsession are terms used for when someone thinks constantly about someone or something. To like is to take pleasure in or to regard with favor. None of these seem to capture love.
Altruistic love can be thought of as a virtue. This virtue is characterized by a broad spectrum of other virtues. This is put to words in a favorite writing of mine.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It if not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
This is a good way of thinking of love. All of these are traits of love, and they are all selfless ones. Some are even important virtues which many think of as the highest priorities in life: service, humility, respect, selflessness, forgiveness, and purity, to rephrase some of the items listed.
The altruistic lover is kind, and that is to be expected as it is the most commonly credited trait of love. However, kindness is usually thought of as small and it is easy to forget that it is possible to be kind on greater levels. It is possible for someone to care with a passionate kindness and to go out of their way to be kind.
The altruistic lover is not rude. To the contrary, they bear the fundamental opposite of rudeness, which is respect. Respect is acknowledged by many as one of the highest virtues. Respect is also many things, and is also hard to define. Respect can be summed up as formally thinking of someone as an equally worth person and worthy of noble treatment. Respecting someone also leads to honoring them.
Because the altruistic lover is not self-seeking, they are completely selfless. This is the root meaning of altruism, which comes from the Latin word altar, which means "other". Altruism literally means "otherism". The true altruist completely sets aside their selfish desires and is always caring for others. If love is to be altruistic then it must never place itself above others.
The altruistic lover is not easily angered. However, although it is not easily angered this doesn't mean that love is not angered at all. Love actually angers in support of its transgressor, for it angers not with the sinner, but with the sin itself.
The altruistic lover keeps no record of wrongs. This is forgiveness. While many people question forgiveness, let us remember that the sinner and the sin are separable. They are not the same thing. To forgive is to let do of the wrongdoings one has committed for they are past and nothing can be done to change them. Focus must be directed towards the person. Forgiveness does not mean to forget about sin, but to let go of it.
The altruistic lover does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. They do not only live in the truth, but they rejoice in it, and they are more than willing to do what is right, even if they don't have to. What is the truth? It could be said that truth is wisdom, or the knowledge of what is right and wrong. Love, therefore, teaches others about the differences, and love makes one follow the truth.
The altruistic lover always protects. Protection is often initially thought of as physical. The chicken protects its eggs before they hatch. However, protections can also be expected to mean protection against our most deadly adversary: sin. The lover protects others from sin and guides them in their ways. It is the best gift that we can give others.
The altruistic lover always trusts and always hopes. What these bear in common is faith. According to what the nearest dictionary has to offer as a definition, faith is believing without proof. It is reliance. It is belief. This could be misinterpreted to mean that we should believe in everything. However, it can also be taken to mean that love never loses sight of what is good.
The altruistic lover always perseveres because love is strong and lasting. There will never be a time that we will not need love. Perseverance may be compared to bravery as the persevering press forward against all odds and bravery is acting out in spite of fear of the odds. Love does not succumb to pressure.
Love is the greatest of all virtues, for it is the one that binds all others together. What's more, it is the driving force behind all that is pure. Without love, we have nothing. We can do many good acts, but without love, they amount to nothing. Pure "good acts" are done with love; anything else is just an "act".
No person, however, deserves love. We are, as human beings, sinful. Sin seems small when we initially think of it. In an ugly reality, sin is something much greater. When we sin, we are making a decision with our free will, and that decision denies that which is right. No matter how we try to twist this, the truth boils down to the fact that our will was within and evil.
Why, then, should we love each other? Altough we do not deserve love, we need it. Through grace, love looks past peoples' sinful nature and, even when it doesn't have to, offers itself to them. Because we can all be immutable and invariably labeled as sinners, we are all equal. In that sense, if we are capable of loving one person, we should be able to love everyone else, even if we have trouble liking them. Love comes not because it has to, but because it wants to. The altruistic lover loves because it is simply the right thing to do.
The altruistic lover is a saint.