Love for others comes of love for oneself. — Aristotle
Yes, I know that I wrote about this not too long ago. But I just found this in my notes and I decided to repeat myself.
At first blush this idea just feels wrong to me: how can loving myself be the basis for loving others? It seems like narcissistic self-centeredness. Take a second look, though, and the good sense creeps up on you and swats you on the nose.
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Well, how can you love your neighbor as yourself if you hate yourself? There is a contradiction here that is insurmountable unless we love ourselves. That contradiction reverses what Jesus said, effectively saying (as I observed in the previous article) “Hate your neighbor as yourself.” Now obviously that is ethically perverse, and you do not have to be a Christian to know it. Aristotle knew it.
If I do not know how to love myself, how on earth can I possibly know how to love anyone else the right way? If I manage it at all, it will be a giant stroke of luck. We need to love ourselves. As someone recently said on Twitter, to love ourselves is to love what God has made; to hate ourselves is to hate what God has made. And that is just plain senseless. Love yourself, and then you can love others too.