Avatar_DavidBentleyFebruary 14th is Valentine’s Day – “the day of love.” The history of the day is mixed with tales of executed priests, pagan fertility rites, romantic notes written in the middle ages, and today’s commercial extravaganza. It is a day for sending greetings cards, giving chocolate confections, delivering bouquets of flowers, going out for extravagant dinners, and – right here in the San Juans – having the local barbershop chorus sing to your loved one while presenting a rose. All of this in the name of love.

Of course the commercial focus on this holiday is romance, but why do we need a special day to express love – romantic or otherwise? Perhaps it is because the world is so lacking in love, especially the unconditional variety. The latest news on any media outlet will confirm that vicious verbal and physical attacks between individuals and tribes who disagree with one another are rampant.

Clearly, our world could use a day of real, unconditional love. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that we’re going to settle for a day of trying to impress someone with a sappy card, a box of chocolates, a few flowers, and a nice dinner in order to get a payoff later.

Maybe that sounds cynical. However I’ve seen true, unconditional love; and it doesn’t look anything like a Hallmark holiday. It looks like parents working three jobs to take care of children. It looks like spouses driving one another to daily chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It looks like volunteers humbly and freely giving their time, talent, and treasure to help people they’ve never met before and will likely never meet again. It looks like members of a community coming together to find solutions to common problems rather than pointing fingers and placing blame. It looks like people doing things out of their feelings for other beings rather than as a quick way to alleviate guilt, look good, or get rewarded. It looks like people making personal compromises, and even sacrifices, for the betterment of all.

So what are you doing this Valentine’s Day? Or better yet, how will you express love every day?



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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley