“All is fair in love and war.”

For a while now I have pondered this idiom. What does it mean exactly? Are people in love and people in warfare allowed to behave outside of the norms? Is it somehow acceptable to dispose of one’s moral and ethical codes of conduct when the stakes are so high? Perhaps it is merely a mantra of the lovelorn used to justify inconsiderate action in the pursuit of the coveted.

Or perhaps this idiom is not a justification as much as it is an observation on the human condition. Nothing drives us to such extreme measures as love and war. But where some see an ex post facto defense, I see an opportunity to distinguish one’s self as above reproach. To stick to one’s principals under such stress would demonstrate a clarity of character and an evolved ethic. To pursue one’s own life, liberty, or happiness at the expense of another’s is no just cause, no matter how popular is the turn of phrase raised in its defense.

So to those who may consider said idiom as due justification for otherwise undue actions, I say this, and answer with yet another: put yourself in the other man’s shoes and walk a mile or two. You may find you wear the same size boot.