You can only give so much.
I go back and forth on this — compassion vs. love, and who is deserving of what. There’s a big difference in level of investment, and where we should draw that line.
Deserving of wellbeing
And deserving to be unharmed.
Every living thing — not just every person, but every animal and even all the non-sentient aspects of our universe, with which we share it — is deserving of wellbeing.
Everything deserves an existence without physical pain or emotional distress. Every thing in existence, “living” and non, deserves to go on being in existence, and deserves basic wellbeing.
Given that we impact others by interacting with them, then they must also be deserving of our consideration. They are deserving of conscientiousness, and maybe even care, albeit in a passive sense, meaning that we do not actively do harm.
Do not knowingly do harm to the universe; the universe deserves that we do not knowingly do harm — or, better, that we knowingly do not harm.
Deserving of care
It is the basic respect and consideration we give others. It is going out of our way to open doors for strangers. It is helping little old ladies across the road. It is wishing well for everyone we encounter, maybe even the people we don’t like, and it is understanding that we are all on unique paths, some of them darker than others.
It is kindness. It is please and thank you. It is eye contact and listening without interrupting while the other person is speaking. It is a light touch during an emotional moment. It is “holding space” for one another.
It is sending “love” out in a steady, sort of blanketing way — “I wish the best for you,” “here is gentleness and care.”
It is a low investment, low vulnerability sort of thing. Almost everyone can afford to be kind without it costing them emotionally. You can care in a passing way, without sacrificing too much or being vulnerable to expecting anything in return. The universe will take care of you fine.
Deserving of love
The highest emotional investment. The active and pervasive direct care,
And most of all, the vulnerability. The exposed heart and nerves. The open hand left untouched. That sudden stab in your sternum when it goes unnoticed or maimed.
Not everyone deserves this from you. They deserve your basic human kindness, but they don’t all deserve your everything.
They do not deserve your love if they mistreat you with it. If they take your generosity and kindness and care and turn around and trash it. If they are manipulative, toxic, or emotionally abusive. If they take advantage of your love to get their own needs met without ever meeting yours. If they use your love to make themselves feel better and you feel worse. If they use your trust and affection and care to lie, cheat, or steal. If they gaslight, blame, shame, or any number of other ugly behaviors, they do not deserve your active love.
They do not deserve your love if they use your love against you. If they use it to mistreat you. If they use your own love to harm you, they do not deserve it.
They still deserve your basic well-wishes. You can extend basic consideration for their wellbeing, and you can care. But they do not deserve your love.
Because everyone — you included — deserves the basic consideration of being unharmed. Everyone — you included — deserves wellbeing.
And everyone — you included — deserves to love someone who receives your love by loving you back.