"Love:--- and Then Do What You Like"
"For what persuasion failed to do is effected by an appeal to the personal equation."
Sieveking was preoccupied by the question of how to reach others and to achieve equal rights within and through a system founded upon her own position of inequality. In this unpublished manuscript reflection, found among her drafts for magazine and newspaper articles, she meditates on the interpretative possibilities of St. Augustine's "age-old saying," "Love:-- and then do what you like." For Sieveking, this seven-word phrase becomes a fascinating battleground upon which she grapples with the intersections of radical politics and religious beliefs. Far from perceiving the two as antithetical investments, Sieveking argues for the centralizing place of "spiritual vision" in the active work of "a good cause."
Distinguishing between "the great majority" of religious hypocrites who would take the phrase as an invitation to "unbridled indulgence" and those who perceive the true radically transformative potential of St. Augustine's "Love," Sieveking positions the act of interpretative thought as crucial to both the personal and political life. For her, this requires looking beyond initial impressions to grasp the deeper contradictory truths that might emerge beneath the surface of the status quo.
In many ways, this proves an excellent interpretative philosophy for approaching the many different portrayals and legacies of Sieveking herself, as well as of the broader historical movements in which she played a part. Her conclusion that an affective appeal to the "personal element" can effect a change of heart and an awakening of "dormant energy" when logical persuasion fails, seems particularly apt for a cause fighting under the banner of "Deeds not Words." However, Sieveking's entire meditation is also an exercise in persuasive writing, of undermining the given logic of a familiar phrase by showing her reader its "real meaning." Persuasion, particularly of a style grounded on evoking empathy and personal connection, becomes the foundation for inspiring inaction to action.