Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.
Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.
“I mostly remember the poems from his latest collection at the time, Field Work. Descriptions of armored tanks and patrols and bullets and the deaths of young people were silted between images of green fields and grey rocks and eating oysters beside the sea. Heaney talked to us about the Troubles, the political and sectarian strife in Northern Ireland. Lives lost. Scores settled and rekindled. At one point, something he said sounded to me like an advocacy of violence in an uncomfortable way, but I said nothing because it was his house, his country, his world that was being shaken every day. I was a visitor in all ways…
Afterward, our professor said that Heaney had told him he was disappointed we hadn’t challenged him on the subject of violence. I think, even looking back, it would have been wrong to do so in his house, as if I had any right or standing to question his world. But then again, I’m certain on how I feel on violence and its use as a tactic, no matter what the circumstances. Six years before, I had been in the Tower of London the day before a bomb exploded in it, killing one person and injuring many others. Exactly forty-one years from the day I started writing this. So, what sows the gap between certainty and willingness to speak out?
I knew the oppression in the North was wrong, but so were the bombings. Turning it again: two months before that Tower of London bombing, several car bombs exploded simultaneously around Dublin and a town to the north. Thirty-four people died, the most in one day of the Troubles. The Ulster Volunteer Force took responsibility for those murders seventeen years later. When I call it “oppression,” I am sugar-coating the horrors. Heaney and his family lived this.”