Empedocles is the Greek philosopher credited with originating the cosmogenic theory of the world. This is more familiar as the thought that there four basic elements from which all things are made: earth, wind, water, and fire. Along with this idea is another notion not as familiar. He also held that Love and Strife were the ultimate creative forces in the universe. It is these two that blend together and separate the four basic elements into the things of this world.
It could be argued that this makes the most sense if one sees it as a position of how the good and the bad things in a person’s life help create that specific individual’s world for him. But it is equally clear that the inverse is true, as well. Blessing and sufferings can be destructive forces in a person’s life, too.
In my novel, PRINCE, my protagonist and antagonist both deal with good and bad situations very differently. My hero, Charlie, has a difficult relationship with his father, Philip. It could be called a love/hate relationship, or for the purposes of our discussion, a relationship based upon Love and Strife.
Charlie enjoys the love of good people in his life. This begins with his mother and moves on to his best friend in high school, his girlfriend, and his best friend as an adult. He learns from his girlfriend and best friend in high school to love life and be zealous in his pleasures. He sees in his mother and best friend as an adult how love will call on you to sacrifice yourself for the good of others. These are lessons Charlie picks up from the blessing of having the right people in your life.
Philip is likewise blessed, but these pull him away from success. Although a billionaire, he is empty because of how he has lived his life. He was blessed with a wonderful wife and son, both of whom he ignored. He had wealth beyond notice, but this caused him to love money more than people. Compared to his son, most people would rather live a life like Philip rather than Charlie, yet Charlie lives a fulfilled life.
Charlie and Philip both suffer in the novel, as well. And as you might have guessed, both handle difficulties differently. Charlie’s mother and his two best friends all die and his girlfriend marries another man. Some people have a hard time handling adversity. Charlie concentrates on the goodness of these people he lost and devotes himself to be like them in the ways that they were the best. He is able to take this personal passion and channel it into a love for others seen in his willingness to sacrifice himself for a greater good.
Contrariwise, Philip handles bad times poorly. Every difficulty makes him more jaded. Everything, from the death of his father, to the divorce of his wife, and the rejection of his son, all make him the selfish and bitter man that he is. As the last third part of the novel begins, Philip laments that his new wife never loved him and never will. Instead of being moved to act with more charity, he forces himself into an even harder center, which spurs the final actions of the book that set him in final conflict with his son.
Love and Strife have the powers to be the creative forces in our lives, but they can also be the roots of destruction. It all comes down to how we chose to handle blessings and sufferings. This decision will demonstrate what kind of person we really are at our core. So if we do not like our choices in life, we may need to look the deepest within and start the change there, and as the song says, the rest will follow.