Thursday, January 21, 2016

Has love become a second-hand emotion?

There are red hearts all over the place. They appeared in the stores the second all the evidence of the holiday season disappeared in a poof. Love, love, love, love – the centuries-old inspiration for songs, books, poems, letters, journals, plays, movies and even graffiti is about to make its annual rounds again. Sent in text messages, written on cards, whispered between sheets, or shouted from the highest hill, love will be confessed, reaffirmed, renewed, and maybe even discovered, as it is every year on February 14th.

Why a day devoted to celebrating this most celebrated of emotions? Cynics may claim it’s "a Hallmark opportunity,” but card manufacturers can’t seize an opportunity that doesn’t exist. With few exceptions, people need to love and be loved in one way or another. Understanding that there is more than one kind of love, the ancient Greeks had four words for love: éros, love of an intimate nature, sexual passion, philía, affection, friendship, storgē, the kind of love and affection shown between parents and children, and agápe, a more universal type of love such as love for our fellow humans.

Since last Valentine’s Day, there’s been a lot of hatred displayed around the world – in terrorists attacks, war and other kinds of violence, in verbal attacks against some groups by U.S. politicians. There have also been attacks against the environment and attacks against wildlife. It seems there is no end to it. Yet amidst it all, there has been an incredible outpouring of love as people from all over the world have come together to stand by what they believe is right for their countries and the world. This is love in the agápe sense and it's powerful. However, to quote Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” – that cold eye that observes wrong doing without being motivated to take action against it. Too many of us have become indifferent because of fear or hopelessness, or both. Apathy on a mass scale is snuffing out the light of love almost as fast as the candles are lit.

Let’s not allow love to become a second-hand emotion. Let’s celebrate all the beautiful aspects of it this Valentine’s Day by loving in every way we can. I think Burt Bacharach was on the money with this line from his famous song from the 60s: "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." Listen to it and if you like, take a peek at some of my favorite love quotes while you're listening.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"I won't stay in a world without love."  Lennon/McCartney

"Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without." from the movie Meet Joe Black

Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."  from the movie Princess Bride.

"He ain't heavy, he's my brother."  Bobby Scott/Bob Russell

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."  Franklin P. Jones

"He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"And now these three remain: faith hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  1 Conrinthians:13