The Greatest Love

As It Is Written…

“The greatest love is to recognize the faults and shortcomings of that which you love and go on loving just the same.”

Leon Uris, Armageddon, 1963

I’ve carried my copy of Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin by Leon Uris for 53 years since I read it in the spring of my senior year at USAFA in 1971.  There are minor differences in the passage as I remember it through over five decades and what Mr. Uris wrote, however remembered, clearly Mr. Uris’s passage meant and continues to be important to me.

Berlin 1945

Armageddon is set in post-WWII Berlin and Germany and tells a story of their partition between the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and England.  Late in the novel, the two protagonists –Lt. Col. Sean O’Sullivan and his Soviet counterpart Colonel Igor Karlovy – meet to discuss a personal matter.  Colonel Karlovy’s East Berlin mistress is pregnant with his child…

The Greatest Love…

“I would like your assistance on a personal matter,” [Igor] sputtered… “The girl, Lotte, is with child… she has a damned fool notion that doctors in the American Zone are better… will you help her cross over [to West Berlin]?”


… [Igor] took a letter from his tunic and handed it to Sean.  It was instructions to a West Sector bank where he had a blind, numbered account in B marks.  “This will take care of her and the child for a number of years.”

“How can you let her go knowing you will never see your own child?”

Igor smiled pathetically.  “I can assure you, it is not easy.”

Sean put his hand on Igor’s shoulder.  “We can get you over, too.”

Igor shook his head.  “We don’t learn, either of us.  The greatest single mistake made by the Soviet command was not to understand how much an American loves his country.  You see, Colonel O’Sullivan… a Russian loves his just as much.”

“But in Berlin, you are wrong,” Sean said.

“That is the final love,” Igor said.  “To know the faults and wrongs of that which you love… and go on loving just the same.”

Colonel Karlovy’s conclusion embodies all we need to know about unconditional love, and understanding unconditional love is essential if we are to pull the world from the abyss that threatens to engulf us.  Jesus does not tell the adulterous woman to repent or that she is going to hell.  He simply tells her…

“Neither do I condemn you.  Go your way and sin no more.”

Given the state of the world, it is not difficult to imagine the depths to which we would descend if we did not make our choices based on love.  It starts with individuals, with you and me.  It begins with not turning a blind eye to the things about other people or groups we may not like, but recognizing them and acknowledging that we are all brothers and sisters of the same family.  Because we are, we love each other without casting aspersions… we work together to resolve our differences.

As Abraham Lincoln wrote to his best friend in 1855 rebuking him for his failure to oppose slavery, “If for this you and I must differ, differ we must” and added they would remain friends forever.

It is and will be “As It Is Written…”

“The greatest love is to recognize the faults and shortcomings of that which you love and go on loving just the same.”


2 responses to “The Greatest Love”

  1. Love this blog! Sagacious words to the nth degree. Thanks for sharing with the world as some of us have never read Armageddon, though, in my case, I hope that will soon change. Blessings.

    1. Simonides Avatar

      As a storyteller, you would be certain to find value in the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *