Every day should be a celebration of love. Yet, once a year on Valentine’s Day, we pause to remember this quintessential element of the universe in whatever ways we can make it special. Mostly this holiday reflects romantic love, with infantile forms of Eros as a baby-fat Cupid flying across Hallmark greeting cards. Nothing wrong with romantic love but it’s just one slice of the major force in the universe. And by the way, if you’re going to send flowers, be aware that the largest flower distributor (1-800-FLOWERS) is quite abusive to farmworkers. Is this what it means to really love?

We think that because love is an innate need within all human beings, that we are born knowing how to love. Not so. We are born wanting it, but learning how to get it, give it, and keep it alive are acquired skills that take a lifetime to master. Moving beyond our ego based needs for attention and approval to genuine care for another’s well-being is the challenge of our time. Our future depends on it.

Every situation is an opportunity to find your way to love. Looking for the perfect one is a way to discard all the wonderful learnings you can get from each person you meet – or the perfect way to be perfectly lonely. It’s a way to avoid looking into that person’s pain, and saying, “What can I do to make this person’s day a little brighter, a little happier, to make this person feel loved and appreciated? What can I do to help, what can I offer?”

In Easten Body, Western Mind, I say: “If everyone were perfect, there would be no need for love.” For love is that which comes in the darkest night of the soul, when it is least expected and most needed. Love doesn’t seek the light, it lights up the darkness. Love is the demonstration of the universe that keeps all this complexity running in absolute harmony despite our ignorance that keeps messing it up. It is that which keeps things in relationship, which means they keep relating in a kind of perpetual reciprocity that continues to sustain our reality.

It is innate to feel attracted to some and not to others – and much of this is programmed by society’s magazine ads, romance novels, and movie scripts. Our biological urge to procreate has us wired to search out the best genes with which to make children.

But how many of us are still operating under this genetic imperative when we have already raised our children, or have no intention of doing so, or are in Gay relationships? Here’s some statistics that put this in perspective for our future:

Estimates for cutting world hunger in half with clean drinking water for all come in at around $35 billion. Meanwhile, the industries of make-up and perfume take up $33 billion annually. When you throw in the purchase of furs, it’s another 1.8 billion. Add in the 10 million plastic surgeries augmenting breasts, tucking tummies, or staying young with facelifts, at an average of $5-10 thousand per surgery and you can throw in another $10 billion, enough by itself to supply reproductive health care for all women and control population. Aren’t these the tactics of a culture that wants to be loved and thinks these superficial elements are the way to find it? (Statistics from Yes! Magazine and internet sources).

This Valentine’s Day do an act of selfless service as love. You don’t have to forgo getting dressed up for that romantic date, but you can donate a $20 to the beggar on the street. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen. Clean trash from the neighborhood. Give extra attention to your kids, or your neighbor’s kids. Give a valentine to a stranger who looks lonely and watch him light up. Distribute your love in unexpected places.

You may be surprised at how the power of love fills your heart. Today and everyday.
Anodea Judith,
Valentine’s Day 2011