A naturalist caring about Life on Earth -- even a sometimes-hermit one -- must be concerned with love. Before explaining why, let me tell you what I have learned about love during my 58 years.

The first love is the one between baby and parents. It is unconditional and instinctual, of a general nature all higher mammals are capable of.

A later-coming love is more community centered. It is based on the instinctual need for identity and status within a well defined, protective power structure. This love expresses itself through social syndromes such as patriotism and religion.

Romantic love is mostly a hypnotic state and therefore, though potentially intensely satisfying, ephemeral. Some might say that "sexual love" fits here, but from at least one perspective sex is but a physiological process that only sometimes, though maybe ideally, accompanies romantic love.

A fourth love is the one in our culture typical after romantic love has lost its hold. It is based on mutual respect as well as economic and social realities.

I personally have evolved only far enough to further list a love of a fifth kind. With an unclouded mind and an untroubled spirit one beholds the Universe's majesty and senses its order and the gorgeous manner by which it is evolving. One empathizes with the flow of things and recognizes that no matter how ugly and hurtful life may seem to an individual human the Universal Creative Force does things in a fundamentally beautiful and magnanimous manner. One therefore loves the Creation, and the Creator.

In my opinion, a person's prime spiritual goal should be to progress through the above sorts of love -- and other kinds beyond those if they exist -- and to help others experience them, too.

Here is why:: Life on Earth is endangered by human activity. Only passion and dedication arising from the fifth kind of love -- and loves beyond that one if they exist -- can move us to the kind of self sacrifice and nobility needed to stop ourselves from destroying Life on Earth.