‘Where one can no longer love, one should—pass by

March 2008

‘Where one can no longer love, one should—pass by.'

— Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

KT commented:

What? Why?

Matt commented:

“If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything”


“Self-punishment is not a virtue.”

The context is (loosely) Zarathustra coming to a city whose people he despises, and thinking “wait, why am I even here? I have nothing to give, and I hate the place.”

Nato commented:

I'd agree with the sentiment, but there is a slight tension between it and the traditional Christian approach. What does it count if you're only friends with those who are friendly to you? Don't the heathens and tax collectors do this? Instead, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.

I try to resolve this with the idea that sometimes the most loving thing to do is to disconnect from someone, and not let yourself get trapped in a negative relationship with them.

(It's like those movies where the kids say to the animal they adopted, but they have to send into the wild; 'Go! Go away! We don't want you (crying)! Go away!' cute animal turns back, looks away, and scampers into the woods... sigh...)

KT commented:

I would prefer: ‘Where one can no longer love, one should—grow.'

Sometimes loving requires passing by, which is therefore not necessarily a failure to love. It may take just as much courage and self-denial as loving actively. But to turn away in disgust or fear or offense, I don't see as ever being appropriate. That is the point at which one needs to grow, and refuse to give up on love.

IMO :)

Christina commented:

Yeah, I echo KT. Because I have no independent thoughts on the matter :D (Sorry, I are being flippant)

Matt commented:

Okay. I'd give it the form of ‘where one can no longer love, one should pass by—for now—but come back later when one has grown sufficiently.'

I mean, it's all very well saying one should grow, but that kind of thing often can't be made to happen. Growth takes time and patience. And, in my experience, any attempt to force it (‘I'm going to make myself love') more often than not harms everyone concerned. See my earlier comment about self-punishment.

era commented:

‘Where one can NO LONGER love, one should—pass by.'

Though I have very little context to the statement, tsk tsk, I am going to suggest that it means something like 'if you've outgrown some place that you once loved, then you should pass it by, and maybe wait for it to grow, rather than confronting it and forcing it to likewise develop.'