Had an odd twinge of nostalgia / sadness today. Saw / heard two things that I wished I could have shared with now deceased family members. The thing that made me feel nostalgic / sad was not that I was missing them for what they had done for me, but because I was missing the chance to do something for them.
Even something as silly and as slight as relaying a cartoon or good news that they might particularly enjoy is a privilege that I'm now doing without.
That, ultimately, is what love is all about: The desire to do something good for another person, no matter how small, with no thought of reciprocation other than the delight and satisfaction in knowing you helped another human being.
Human beings, being human of course, tend to form their closest bonds to their immediate families / mates. That's to be expected, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. (Indeed, I feel sorry for those who are the products of dysfunctional families, who never learned to love and trust those physically closest to them; may they find peace and happiness and that missing love with others.) But beyond our immediate familial / blood / mating ties there should be love that extends to others. First it is those like us in age or interests or community, then it is to those who share our same general values even if they are not immediate neighbors, then our entire country / culture / religion.
But that's still too narrow a band on love.
Love should extend to everyone everywhere all the time. This most pointedly is NOT saying that all actions are equally benign, or that all behaviors should be tolerated under all circumstances.
But it does say we are to love our enemies, to love those who despitefully use us, to love those who hate us and do no reciprocate our gestures of mercy and forgiveness and tolerance.
Never return evil for evil, neglect for neglect.
The writer Andrew Vachss summed it up succinctly:
“Children know the truth. Love is not an emotion. Love is a behavior.”
"Beautiful view! Is there one for the enlisted men?" Bill Mauldin, circa WWII [this is how a military leader expresses love for his troops; he sees that their needs are taken care of first, and that he enjoys nothing they can not have as well.]