A lot of spiritual types like me have heard of the idea that we should love everyone. Interesting concept, right?
I think I agree with the theory, but not necessarily the practice or every interpretation of the ideas.
For example, a lot of people use the word “love” to excuse their own lack of boundaries. They might stay in an abusive relationship or situation and say it’s because they are trying to “love” their abuser.
Other people I think have a rather too passive interpretation of love. I don’t think just sending good vibes to people is enough; I think we have to take action, and I think if we don’t take action we’re expressing unlove by default, because that’s what’s easiest to do in this society.
So love can look like rebellion or revolution, which many “spiritual” people would look down on, but which is necessary just the same.
Actually, since hearing the concept of “loving everyone” again recently, I realise I don’t really identify with it anymore.
Because, while I agree with Love as a Universal concept, we don’t always (or even usually) mean it in a Universal way when we say it.
The fact is, depending on context and who says it, “love” can mean a lot of different things.
What I don’t like about the idea of “loving everyone” is that for me, “love” generally implies proximity. That’s why a lot of exaggerated hippie archetypes tend to involve problem solving techniques along the lines of hugging your enemies to death. Which doesn’t work, as you know.
Recently, it has felt empowering to explicitly choose not to love certain people. Because in my mind, love would involve closeness and opening myself up, and I know from experience that this would expose me to hurt with these people.
I like the word “compassion” better. I can’t love everyone, at least not actively; but I can feel compassion for everyone. In some cases we’re forced to do entirely unloving things, such as when I hired a man to kill every last bedbug in my previous house. I don’t think I could have loved them as I murdered each one of them by proxy. I couldn’t kiss them, caress them, and tell them how wonderful they were as I filled their bodies with poison. But I could have connected with them, felt a certain empathy, and a certain sadness at the necessity (according to me) of their death.
That would be compassion. I don’t think it would feel like love, but compassion, yes.