Users and lovers

It’s often said that we should never be users of people, but lovers only. We should avoid using people as objects, tools and instruments. That would be treating them improperly, since we would be considering them not as persons but as mere things, and that’s a no-no.

Of course, that is right. But there is a big but to that. Fact is whether we like it or not, we cannot avoid using others to achieve a certain purpose. To be able to eat, to have a house, to have some work and earn some income, to respond to our needs, etc., we cannot help but use people as helpers and workers. We somehow have to use people.

I believe that we have to use people and also allow ourselves also to be used for some good that all of us want to have, whether that good is considered objectively or subjectively. Aside from being unavoidable, using people is and should be legitimate and moral as long as we use them out of love.

In other words, we should not be users only of people, but lovers too. Our love for everyone should precede, accompany and follow our use of people. It should always inspire our use of people. Otherwise, we would surely become shameless exploiters of people.

The basis for this assertion is God himself. He uses his own self out of love to create us and to redeem us. He used his Son to be the pattern of our humanity. And when we spoiled our humanity, he sent his Son to us to redeem and re-create us. The Son had to become man to be used as the instrument of our salvation, so that our dignity as image and likeness of God, as children of his would be restored.

But he did all this out of love. That should also be the motive for the unavoidable use of people in our lives. We use people because we need them. We should also allow ourselves to be used by others because they also would need us. But in all this, love should be the motive. Our use of people and our being used by others should be the proof of true love we have for God and for everybody else.

In fact, we can say that we can never truly be in love unless we use people for some good purpose and also allow ourselves to be used by them for the good of all. We should never think that to be true lovers of people, we should never be users of them or that we should not allow ourselves to be used.

Of course, when we use people out of love, we should treat them as persons and as children of God. Things should be arranged in such a way that even if we use them to do some dirty tasks, their real dignity is always upheld and even enhanced.

Also, when we allow ourselves to be used out of love, we should never feel that we are being demeaned or debased. In fact, we should feel great, because this is how Christ reacted when he was used as instrument of our salvation.

Even in the natural plane, specifically in the life the family, the parents would not mind doing some dirty and heroic tasks for their children because of their love for their children. In fact, they would feel that their parenthood is being reinforced that way.

We need to look at how God uses people and allows himself to be used out of love. His abiding providence over his creation would always make use of human instruments. And the human instruments should feel privileged about this because God would be treating them like he treats himself.