In Volume I of Treatise on Love, we discussed the Facets of Love. With a stronger understanding of these facets we can now begin to understand the Acts of Love - how we can show Love in our lives.
The only thing I enjoy other than writing is a good hunt. When I prepare for a hunt, I wear the armour that I crafted and tended to to ensure it is still in working order. My bow, a gift from a friend, needs to be checked to ensure it does not crack and the bowstring waxed to ensure it does not snap. Some would say that 'I care Lovingly' for my equipment, and that would be correct.
All of us care for the equipment of our professions - especially the ones used for the professions we truly care for. It is a part of Personal Love - actions that we take to promote Love for ourselves. These actions will not immediately affect another, they are for ourselves alone. These acts are important as if they are not taken, we would not succeed in very much let alone Love. It is, however, dangerous to only exist in Personal Love, something we will explore in Volume III.
Acts of Personal Love can Lead us towards full Love. It is, indeed, the first step we must take. We must Love ourselves in order to be able to Love others.
Take for example an artisan. I will use a leatherworker as I myself am one and can write with experience.
First there is the hunt, where the artisan selects and slaughters animals with his first tool, a weapon. They are then skinned and collected with a knife. The skins are then tanned, trimmed and prepared with another knife. The resulting leather can then be shaped into the article wished with scissors then sewn into form with a needle. These are the generalized steps from first to last how leather garments are created.
Love plays an important role in this process, though it may not be easily seen. Without Love for the animals being hunted, they can be hunted to extinction, leaving entire areas without wolves or bears or other important animals. Without Love for the tools, the hunt would fail as they broke in the hunter's hand. If there was no love for the craft, the tanning or cutting processes would fail.
Love and Skill are indeed different. If one did not have the skill no matter how much they Loved their tools, animals or leather, the act of creation would fail. However, if you don't love the act itself, your skill will not improve.
In this case, the time spent and meticulous attention to detail is the act of Love. The artisan sacrifices so much effort and time to create for themselves, so they may have a new piece of armour, or clothing. And as perfection is reached, they turn to make for others. The time, effort and sacrifice is used for others and not just themselves.
I believe that this process, going from Personal Love - Love for the benefit of oneself - is the first step which leads to Extra-Personal Love - when one shares Love with others.
This raises a question: do we then expect the artisan to sacrifice time, effort and skill to create works of beauty and utility but not expect some fair recompense?
The artisan who creates and expects a Just payment is Loving. As are we who pay a Just price to own the work of the artisan. The Loving artisan does not work for gold, but accepts it as fair recompense which then allows the artisan to continue their work.
As we Love ourselves we begin to understand what we wish from others. The acts of Love we expect become what we do to others.
Each act of Love requires a Sacrifice of some form, be it time or effort. This is sometimes replaced - dangerously - with gold. True Sacrifice is not expecting recompense. The artisan should create for the Love of creating, not to gather more coin. Just as the mother should not work for her children simply to have them give a reason why they Love her, nor should the romantic give the object of their affection a gift expecting a kiss.
Sacrifice is tempered by Compassion, and Compassion is strengthened by Sacrifice. Compassion is the willingness to do for others and resided wholly in Extra-Personal Love. In order for Compassion to exist there must be another to receive it. The artisan does not show compassion for their tools when they repair them - but they may show Compassion when they donate what was made to another in need. The father cooks for his young because they they cannot cook for themselves. The lover assists their companion off a carriage, or holds open a door for them, not because they feel they cannot do it themselves, but because they wish to show them how important they are.
Finally, the recipient of Love has an opportunity to show Love in return, and this is the Just thing to do. Returning an Act of Love completes the cycle and allows Love to flourish. It can take many forms, the lesser being monetary recompense. Some more appropriate compensations could take the form of equal or greater Loving acts in return, or a meaningful acknowledgement of the Sacrifice and Compassion given.
What is important to understand is that Love is not a one sided act. There are always others which Love affects. Personal Love is acting with the knowledge that your actions affect only you. It is how we learn of Love. When we participate in Extra-Personal Love we have the opportunity to spread more Love. There are always opportunities to share our Love with another.