Pushing the discussion deeper, Post suggests that there is a gift to be found in connecting with the neediest among us. There is difficulty in reaching out to the truly needy, but there is also great reward, if we’re willing to take the risk. From this connection with the neediest, he moves to the “gift of “deep happiness.” The question, of course, is “what is happiness?” Post suggests that there are three types, two of which are false and will ultimately lead to disappointment. One of these false types is the “free pursuit of pleasurable experiences,” and the other form is the desire to exert power over others. True happiness, he suggests is very different. It’s not rooted in hedonism, greed, or materialism, but is instead rooted in “meaningful friendships and in contributing to others.”
Pushing even deeper, he speaks of the gift of compassion and unlimited love. The phrase “unlimited love” is his definition of the Greek word agape, which we often translate as “unconditional love.” In fact, he suggests we might want to speak of God as “Unlimited Love,” which he says would prevent us from conceiving God as either “Unlimited Hatred” or “Unlimited Anger.” His discovery of this concept began with his encounters with a blind African American musician, the Rev. Gary Davis, who helped him to discern a calling to study love. It was fueled as well by his readings of Howard Thurman, Benjamin Mays and Martin Luther King. It was also influenced by his encounter with Buddhism. Ultimately, he would commit himself to the scientific study of love. From a scientific perspective we’re able to see that love is rooted in the principle that humans are relational/interdependent beings. Thus, self-giving love and self-love belong together, as the Second Commandment stipulates.
The final chapter is entitled “The Gift of Hope,” which Post suggest completes the circle – “every act of self-giving, love, and compassion gives birth to hope” (p. 149). Hope, of course, needs to be distinguished from “mere optimism,” which is “easy and smiley-faced.” Nor is it “mere expectation.” Hope is much more intentional than this, pushing us to move forward into the future believing that “something good will eventually come” (p. 142). Another way to speak of hope is to use the concept of vision, and Post uses that well known Proverb: “Where there is no vision the people perish” as a point of reference. Ultimately, he suggests, “every act of giving is an act of hope.” It draws on one’s gifts and strengths, enabling one to contribute to the greater good. There is, then, reward in doing good for the other. Altruism and egoism are not two incompatible poles. One need not denigrate oneself to help the other, but understand that we “love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”