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Love City

June 13, 2018 (437 words)

On the day of the latest British royal wedding, the one between Prince Harry and the American actress Meghan Markle, The New York Times sent photographers out to roam the streets of their great metropolis to take pictures of random couples kissing (among other intimate activities).

All the photography was shot on May 19, 2018, between the hours of 12:01 am and 11:59 pm. The results became the lead story of the Sunday Magazine insert for June 10, 2018. The “Love City” heading that ran across the top of the magazine’s cover carried the following subtitle along the bottom: “24 hours of Romance, Lust and Heartache in New York.”

But why would “The Gray Lady,” our national newspaper of record, mention lust in the same breath as love or romance? One would have thought the esteemed editorial board of this august publication would know better.

Lust is something we have all experienced in the course of our lives, right along with love, romance, and heartache. And while acting on feelings of lust can certainly be pleasurable, those feelings are also a bit unruly, and difficult to tame. Lust is like a run-away freight train that is given to careening off the tracks at a moment’s notice, crashing unexpectedly and causing extensive damage.


… a galloping rampage to nowhere.


Or, to use the preferred metaphor of the ancients, lust is a rider-less horse let loose on a galloping rampage to nowhere. And no matter how many declarations one listens to about mutual consent, lust is always about self-gratification in its essential motivation.

In other words, lust is pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum from love, since love is centered on a concern for the well-being of someone other than oneself. Such concern for the other does not come naturally to most of us, at least not to those of us who are male.

One could even go so far as to say a major challenge for most men is learning how – over the course of a lifetime – to commander one’s primordial tendency toward lust (eros), and transform it into a civilizing force of love (agape).

So the next time the NYT decides to do a story on “love,” we could do without the glossy photographs of orgies and the written descriptions of open sex acts performed in private clubs for the voyeuristic amusement of other club members.

Unless, that is, you are determined to continue focusing on your own gratification, to the detriment of those you profess to love.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
June 13, 2018

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