True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have.
Bobby and Toby
Friends, best friends, lovers, rivals, enemies, and archenemies … we have many kinds of relationships with people surrounding us, and these relationships constrain and endorse a certain kind of behavior. These relationships often look like what it is inherently. Even with quarrels, friends are friends, and even with a handshake or resettlement, enemies are enemies. However, we know, at least subconsciously, that enemies at work can be friends and, friends at classroom can sometimes be enemies, but often forget these possibilities. At times, with a subtle change of one’s perspective of another person or a tiny discovery of unknown facts could turn one’s previously perceived enemies into friends.
Enemies and lovers are what your mind makes of It. When you think someone as an enemy, he or she becomes enemy regardless what he actually is. (This argument may lead to the question “Is facts prior to ideas or the other way around?” but this is a very difficult philosophical question (for me), so I leave it without further exploration.)
If Bobby in an elementary school sees his classmate Toby as an enemy, Toby is an enemy for him. Bobby chooses his behavior based on this notion, and do something like ducking him or picking on him. These mean behavior would make Toby see Bobby as an enemy. So Toby acts according to the notion that Bobby is his enemy, and would do exactly like Bobby did to him. And this action solidifies Bobby’s notion that Toby is his enemy, and makes him continue the mean behavior. And this makes… (now fall into a vicious cycle)
Construction of Identity
Roughly speaking, this is what “Construction of Identity” is all about. Ideas(notion) create an identity, and identity creates preference, and preference create actions, and action creates ideas. This never-ending cycle (which by the way called culture) construct identity and structure of social relations. And this is true not just for humans, but also for states.
This argument is originally from Sociology, and exported to IR, now constructing an integral part of Constructivism, one of the major paradigm of International Relations Theories. Constructivists emphasize the importance of “ideas”. (This doesn’t mean they ignore material element like power.) And they argue that conventional premises, such as anarchy with the state of war, is in fact constructed, and that there’s a possibility to change. This is the theoretical background when I said in the previous article that the relationship with China can be changed.
Construction of Love?
As you can see in the sad example of Bobby and Toby, the construction process is like a spiral, which makes ideas self-fulfilling. Fortunately, this is true not just for enmity relationship. The someone’s idea that she is my lover endorse kind and considerate behavior with love, which make her love him and the idea come true. Therefore, giving love is always the best way to being loved. Obviously, Saint Exupery seemed to know about this.
Alexander Wendt, 1992, “Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics.” International Organization, 46:2, pp391-425.
Featured photo is creative commons downloaded from pixabay.