This Valentine’s Day, “love” is all around us. Companies everywhere are trying to sell us the idea that love can be purchased, or at least enhanced, thanks to their red, fragrant, chocolaty merchandise. Advertisers cling to traditional gender roles as they convince us to play our part. Let us be wary of these traditions, while actively pursuing a life of love and leaving behind a world of violence.
Love is the most precious, sacred, and worthwhile thing in the world. Though it can be complicated and manifested in a myriad of ways, at its core, love is something that should benefit. It should benefit a pair by providing support and stability to one another. It should benefit a community by working toward an inclusive, just, and empathetic lifestyle. And it should benefit oneself by encouraging self-expression and allowing one to love others.
Unfortunately, some take advantage of the word’s weight. They use it to take advantage and manipulate others. In the worst of these cases, the word attempts to justify all the bad that the relationship encompasses, such as domestic abuse instances. Other times, people misuse the word by making false claims about what is and what isn’t love between two people. By making these distinctions, the person is living an exclusive and unloving lifestyle. Love is a powerful word, but if it isn’t supported by actions, then it is worthless.
On this Valentine’s Day, let us be reflective. Take a look inward at your habits, your strengths, and your flaws. Look at your relationships with others and your role in the community. Ask yourself if your relationships are healthy and whether they are assisting you in living out a life of love. Consider your gender and how that has affected your role in today’s holiday. Reflect on whether your Valentine’s Day plans fall victim to traditional gender roles and whether this perpetuates narrowly-defined conceptions of love.
No matter the gender, age, nationality, and race, love is love. There isn’t enough love in the world to include any frivolous parameters. Strive to live a life of love to conquer violence and prejudice.
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public” –Dr. Cornell West