Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Is love dead?


February has long been associated with love, and Valentine's Day is celebrated in a number of countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Britain, France, Australia, and Canada among others.

Strangely, it's origins lie in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility rite involving the sacrificial killing of animals celebrated on February 15. The name was reportedly changed to St.Valentine's Day in the fifth century by Pope Gelasius I to honor Christian martyrs by the same name. Literary links to the ancient festival and modern celebrations include Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which opens during the Lupercalia in Rome, and Chaucer's fourteenth-century work, Parlement of Foules, written to celebrate romantic love and the first anniversary of King Richard II's engagement. He wrote, "For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make." ("For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate." Aren't we glad we don't have to deal with Old English!)


Fast forward to the twentieth century. Heart-shaped boxes of candy, flowers, cards about love, and romantic candlelight dinners are some of the trappings that accompany this observance. In the Philippines, it is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass marriages of literally hundreds of couples often occur on February 14. Valentine Day's message of love has been extended beyond romantic boundaries to include family, friends, neighbors, and school children. I still remember the parties during my elementary school years and the excitement when the big box where all the valentines had been deposited was opened and the cheery greetings were passed out.


What has happened in the twenty-first century? As it marches on toward its third decade, it seems to have left love on the side of the road—or at least sent it to the back of the bus. News reports depict friends and neighbors parting ways over differences of opinion, family members opposing one another on any number of issues, students being bullied into committing suicide, and private citizens as well as terrorists invading schools and public gatherings to slaughter attendees. Large crowds of protesters march in the streets, demanding their rights, then vandalizing cars and businesses and attacking bystanders without regard for the rights of others. Racial, religious, and ethnic prejudices abound. Much of the world appears to teeter on the brink of anarchy.

Still, reports of love, neighborliness, and fellow-feeling creep into the news now and then. Strangers reaching out to those they do not know offer hope that love may not be facing its imminent demise.

Writers, like everyone else, are affected by the changes in our world. Unlike everyone else, we have the unique opportunity to inspire conversations when we incorporate into our stories the concerns and fears of real people—not only making our books relevant to readers, but also preserving the woes of our time for posterity. Through our characters, we can show the impact of rapidly changing and unstable world conditions on individuals and families. We might even find comfort and hope for ourselves as we allow our characters to express their concerns and seek ways to deal with what appear to be hopeless situations. They can articulate the feelings many readers are reluctant to voice. They can open the door to dialogues that need to take place, whether within the framework of a readers group or book club or simply among family members or friends.


The people who populate our pages might even remind us of the dangers inherent in isolating ourselves behind the impersonal environment of our cell phones and other forms of digital communication that separate us from hugs and human touch. Yes, technology serves a useful purpose when we can't be someplace in person; but rather than allowing it to replace physical presence when we interact with family and community, we have the power to bring love back into our lives by sharing it in person with those around us—as do our characters.

We humans have a great capacity to love and a strong desire to be loved. While we cannot alter world events, we can certainly control how we respond to them, how we deal with others, how we reach out to help where help is needed. Returning to the mentality of the heartless festival of animal sacrifices should never be an option. Instead, we can move forward to demonstrate through our actions and our characters the superiority of love as a counter to the anger and hostility and violence that permeate so much of the air we breathe.

We can show that love never fails. Not in February. Not in any time of year.

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thriller. You can contact her at websites: LSLaneBooks.com and DenverEditor.com.

16 comments :

  1. A great reminder of the need to show and write love, Linda.
    I like this passage you wrote:
    "We humans have a great capacity to love and a strong desire to be loved. While we cannot alter world events, we can certainly control how we respond to them, how we deal with others, how we reach out to help where help is needed".
    Thank you for putting St Valentine's Day back in its context, and reminding us that there is still a great deal of love in this seemingly loveless world.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Expressions of love rarely make headlines, yet they often change people's lives for the better and give all of us a glimmer of hope for a kinder, more loving future.

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  2. Excellent post, Linda. I think one thing we fail to acknowledge is that a few hateful folks can create the illusion that love has abandoned the world, when the truth is that those who love the most act selflessly and anonymously. I believe there are more of those quiet folks doing good things than hateful folks loudly trying to wreak havoc.

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    1. I agree. I am almost always suspicious of those who relentlessly toot their own horns and those who foment angst and animosity among their listeners with relentless vocal (and written) attacks on practically everyone and everything. Too bad people don't let them rant without response; this would likely put a damper on their toxic vocalizations.

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    2. This is not intended to suggest that valid issues should not be addressed. Absolutely, they should be. Many more might come out in support of those who advocate change or action (especially in cases of discrimination or abuse) if they didn't have to contend with the vocal minority who scream loud and long about anyone whose perspective differs from theirs, no matter how legitimate another point of view may be.

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  3. There's this theory that we are all a part of a gigantic atomic web, like a spider's web, and a motion on any one point can spread. And that if we all focused on love instead of hate, we can change the world. I hang on to that idea and spread as much love and light as I can. I like to think of love as the default and hate as the aberration. It just gets more attention.

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    1. Interesting idea, Diana. Perhaps the aberration gets more attention because it makes more noise. Love, on the other hand, is gentle and quiet. It works behind the scenes for the greater good and doesn't vie for position or power. Not a great headline maker.

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    2. You are right about the aberration making more noise. Just think of what is in the news these last few years. I remember the years I worked at a newspaper and we were almost always sent out to get the trauma, the drama, and the worst of humanity. I hated doing news stories then, and was much happier writing my humor column. But people reacted to the news stories in letters to the editor, rarely to one of my columns.

      Human nature is weird. LOL

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  4. I'm such a misanthrope, staying isolated is a form of self-love. That doesn't mean I don't reach out to help others. I just don't necessarily want to rub elbows with them.

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    1. To each his own, Dani. I know you reach out to others because you do that here on BRP. I remember how excited I was several years ago when you invited me to join the BRP team after seeing my posts on another blog. You will never know what a wonderful boost that was to my self-confidence and my belief in me as a writer and editor. There are many ways of interacting and touching beyond the borders of rubbing elbows and sharing hugs. By the way, I'm very much a reclusive introvert, so I relate to your position.

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  5. Nice post with so much food for thought. You and I are much alike, Linda, always hopeful and a bit idealistic. Not a bad place to be, though.

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    1. I agree about hope and idealism. We are indeed kindred spirits, Maryann. :-)

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  6. Thank you for getting to the heart of things, Linda!

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  7. What a wonderful post, Linda. I've become much more of a hermit in my golden years, not because I don't like people, but many of my friends are gone. You also make me think about what I write, which is usually dark and filled with bad people. Maybe I'll write something happier after I finish my WIP, just to see if I can. You are an amazing writer.

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  8. Thank you, Polly. Don't get me wrong--I have bad guys in my stories; they're just outnumbered by the the guys (or gals) in white hats. Endings are not always the happily-ever-after-type, but they're realistic. While my stories include romance, thriller, mystery, young adult,and occasionally other elements, they are always literary rather than genre fiction. On another note, it's so sad to lose friends and family as we grow older. I think it's especially challenging for at least some of us who write because those we are often most closely associated with are our characters, and they may not age. By the way, I hope you do "write something happier"; I'd love to read it. :-)

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