Yes, that’s unrequired, not unrequited love.
What real love entails, in my estimation, as defining it is too trite:
Ask yourself this:
Would you be fully willing to welcome whichever individual into your soul or your most private thoughts, even your dreams, without shame, with confidence they’ll not see any harmful wishes regarding them there? That they’ll see themselves thought of fondly and that you wish all good things for them, even if you know their faults, and you wish to be connected with them forever if that’s possible? That you’ll miss them terribly if there’s an afterlife and you don’t find them again? Do you dread the thought of never having met them or had them in your life?
And you’re not overly concerned about their judgment of your most personal inner workings, because you’re confident they love you in return, that they would welcome you into their private “hearts” as well.
If you can say a truthful “yes” to all of that, then you do indeed love that individual….be it human or animal. I wonder how many of us can say that about people in our lives.
I’m not necessarily referring to the “required,” biologically advantageous love between family members nor the sexual love of couples, which can be real, but often fall short and fall apart in dysfunction, and even lead to hatred. I’m talking totally unselfish love here. When you’ve reached that level with family members, etc., you truly do love them. But how many do not have this with even their own parents or blood relations?
It all stems from the ego-battering (which includes emotional, mental and physical abuse) we inflict on each other as soon as we’re able. Think back to the cruelty of young children towards each other, and realize it goes on throughout life in one aspect or another. And that it stems from things like jealousy, fear, insecurity, etc.
Meanness and cruelty destroy love, or can make it sick. Kindness nurtures and grows healthy love. Healthy love makes cruelty impossible. Simple concepts that seem impossible for us human beings to really incorporate into our way of being.
That failing would be the result of a collective but unspoken self-loathing borne of the extreme cruelty our civilizations are based in… i.e., the slaughterhouse, vivisection lab, fur farm, animal circus…the shameful list goes on. These things need to go before we can proudly call ourselves human beings and truly love each other without that derangement continually seeping in to foul things.
This shame goes deep, the roots are old and strong. But our highest goal is to beat this thing, often referred to as evil. So why should we let such a vile and repugnant, low thing lead us around by the nose?
Deserved love is the solution…
And we don’t get there by supporting slaughterhouses, etc.
We as humans should strive to have this “unrequired” love for all of life, and it begins with well-earned self-respect and love. Then we can love each of those cows in the slaughterhouses, as well as all of our animal victims existing in hells of our making. If we did see them as the individuals they are, if we could indeed cherish LIFE…there would not be one slaughterhouse or other place of institutionalized suffering, abuse and killing in our world.
We’d at last be worthy of the terms human and Homo sapiens (humane, wise men). That is the goal we work for as vegans and advocates.
So keep on keeping on. For love.