This Tuesday is May Day, traditionally a day of labor activism combined with celebrations of springtime. This year, the Occupy Movement is calling for a general strike on May Day, to demonstrate the economic power of the 99 Percent.
An alternative plan comes from the Love Foundation, which is proposing that May 1 be observed as Global Love Day. The group explains that Global Love Day is dedicated to “universal recognition of our innate oneness through love. When we come from this limitless love we naturally and easily embrace ourselves and our fellow humanity. Opening our heart, we allow unconditional love to be our guide and compassion to be our gift to life.”
Will Global Love Day bring about the growth of a worldwide surge of love that overcomes hate and violence? This isn’t an abstract question. So far, the empirical data suggest that Global Love Day isn’t likely to create change on anything close to a global level. There have been eight annual Global Love Day observances so far, and still, global love has not arrived. There’s loads of hatred and war, and a lot of grumpy resentments.
What if we could have global love, though? What if it was possible to obtain unconditional love between all human beings?
I don’t think I’d like living in that world.
True love is conditional. When people really love each other, it’s because of the particular characteristics of the people they love. It’s a result of the specific history of interactions between the people who love and are loved. True love has reasons for existing. Unconditional love isn’t love at all. It’s obsession divorced from reality.
Real love can only exist between people who know each other. When people express love for people they’ve never met, it seems phony. What they love is the idea of the strangers. They haven’t take time to become familiar with the individual experiences of the strangers that they claim to love. They assert love, yet remain distant.
True love isn’t limitless. It has limits. People can’t simply create loving feelings within themselves through the force of will. Loving emotion is provoked through certain patterns of interactions, and it can be destroyed through other kinds of interactions. Love is not eternal. It is not indestructible.
There are many worse ideas than Global Love Day. I’d rather see Global Love Day go forward than to see more celebrations of war and nationalism, I suppose.
Still, I won’t be celebrating Global Love Day. Real love isn’t global. To say that we can achieve worldwide “oneness” through easy embraces of is to cheapen the idea of love. Real love isn’t easy. We aren’t all united as one, and we’re never going to be.
We might be more successful if, instead of trying to love all 7 billion living humans simultaneously, we simply attempted to commit to a more achievable goal: To diminish feelings of ill will toward people we have never met.