What drives us is the incessant need to be loved. At the heart of things, we are incredibly lonely, desperate to be fully understood, fully touched, fully appreciated. All of human interaction could be reduced to our fundamental need to be loved. Even the most horrifying of acts. Even the most mundane of interactions. Because it is not simply human love that we crave; for many of us, it is only something beyond humanity that we feel can love us and know us in the deepest and truest sense. So we perform sometimes atrocious acts in the attempt to please this distant god. But at root, it could still be accurately said that all human beings ultimately act in order to be loved, to be most truly and fully loved.
Which leads one to the thought that perhaps love immediately withheld may be one of the root causes of our suffering. It is important to have constant attention, constant grooming, from some source, or else we begin to withdraw into ourselves, withdraw into a quiet bitterness that may one day explode. We all need this steady love, whether it is from ourselves, our god, or our lover. We need to feel that we are important, that we have a purpose and meaning that is beyond the detached existence that our material existence accords us.
Such a simple need, and how easy to fulfill! But what is complex about it is that while the urge to love drives us beyond ourselves, the very fact of our own detached self is itself a barrier. It is hard to conceptualize, let alone manifest, any kind of deep interconnectivity that would eliminate the separation and distinction of your own self. Even while you crave so much at every moment to merge into a viscous stream with all creation, so you also fear this flow, and fight it at every step, in the struggle to maintain your sense of identity and control. It is no doubt a humorous and cruel irony that the very tools that would give us liberation and love would also harness our spirit and repress our instinct.
Recognizing this essential compulsion in humanity, however, is key to understanding other people and the way they act, which can seem at times obtuse. But recognize that everyone is simply trying to be loved in the deepest sense of the term, and you will begin to understand even complete strangers. You will see through violent or self-destructive acts. You will see through smoke screens of intellect or emotional fantasy. You will see human beings as what they are beneath all of the baggage and defense of their created universe: naked, lonely, and hungry to be loved.