I know many of you are out right now, enjoying a romantic evening with a loved one at some restaurant, celebrating the love you have shared for years, maybe months, and even possibly weeks or mere days. My wife and I do an abbreviated celebration after the kids get to bed. Good carry out food is just as wonderful when you’re with the one you love.
There are many more, though, who are not spending the evening with loved ones, and days like this can be really tough. The heavy emphasis on love on this day emphasizes the lack of love that people feel every other day of the year. They need to know that they are loved, they are not alone, and their life matters.
Let’s back this up a bit, though, and make it not necessarily about those who are struggling with depression or loneliness. I struggle every day with the dilemma that so many people find it easier to hate, to neglect, and to inflict harm or rage than they are able offer love, hope, and kindness.
Why is this?
Soon after the romantic dinners are over and the overpriced flowers begin to wilt, many people return to their ways of disrespect, impatience, and even hatred. We all see it on the roads as we drive around our communities. A 2006 survey by AutoAdvantage showed that 56% of all males and 44% of females commit acts of road rage. Given the number of people on the road with you on any given trip, chances are good that you are going to see an act of road rage or even be a victim of an incident (hopefully, you won’t be the road rager I’m raging against!).
Again–why is this? Why the quick reflex to act out in anger instead of patience? kindness? Does anybody really think that any initial act done on the road is personal or committed with intent? Obviously so. It’s an all-too common knee-jerk reaction to become defensive, and this applies long after we put our cars in park and activate that all-important security system.
I think it comes down to this: we are taught about unconditional love, often given it in our youth, and expected to provide it to others we know. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we are hurt and our trust and love is abused. We learn how to mistrust, how to be cautious, how to be defensive. The Beatles’ mantra, “The love you take is equal to the love you make,” suddenly means little to us as reactionaries to life and no longer as proactive providers of love.
But we need to go even deeper than that. It’s not that we forget how to love; I think it’s that we are sad that this is the way things are. We are angry that others are not more loving and kind, and we react with equal anger in our frustration that this is our constant state. Too often, we walk our paths defensively, and when love or kindness is presented to us, we are caught off guard and don’t know how to react.
I think tomorrow, on February 15, we need to continue to treat others like we wanted to be treated today. I think we all need to stop waiting for others to treat us well and just give that love to others, unconditionally, like we all used to do.
When we stop living our lives with expectations of what we hope to get, we’ll find it a lot easier to let go of the anger and love one another a little more simply. Let this day be a reminder of how we should be to each other every other day of the year. ❤