“Love doesn’t make the world go around. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” — Ella Fitzgerald.
Valentine’s Day is traditionally the day to send some kind of love message to our favorite people and to tell those close to us why they are so special. Maybe we plan to send flowers or a box of candy or a loving card. In its commercially hyped up way, I hope that Feb. 14 reminds us of something besides the need for Hallmark to enhance its bottom line. And, as I wrote last week, let’s hope that the day not only arouses thoughts of romantic love, but the kind of love we desperately need to carry within our hearts that underlies a loving orientation toward life and the world. In case we need reminding, maybe some experts on the subject can help.
Erich Fromm, author of “The Art of Loving,” wrote: “Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person, it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relationship of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one object of love. The most fundamental type of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being: the wish to further his life. ... In brotherly love there is an experience of union with all men, of human solidarity, of human at-one-ment.”
In 1972, Leo Buscaglia wrote in his book “Love”: “Loving oneself does not imply an ego-centered reality like the old witch in ‘Snow White’ who reveled in the process of gazing into her mirror and saying, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?’ Loving oneself does mean a genuine interest, caring, concern and respect for oneself. To care about oneself is basic to love. Man” (and woman) “loves himself when he sees himself with accuracy, genuinely appreciates what he sees, but is especially excited and challenged with the prospect of what he” (or she) “can become.”
“There are, happily, still men as well as women who understand that without love (and by love I don’t mean romantic nonsense, but great compassion for the world and its joys and suffering), we live like dead people, and that to put away sanity, clarity, understanding and the joy of living and the joy of being part of living in favor of ambition, greed and self-importance is to live with no meaning at all.” — Dale Carson, “Boys Have Feelings, Too.”
“We do not exist for ourselves (as the center of the universe) and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.” — Thomas Merton.
In fact, without a healthy self-respect, we cannot love others in a productive way and enjoy a generous and loving heart which underlies that productive orientation toward life and the world. M. Scott Peck wrote in “The Road Less Traveled” that love is “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth ... not only do self love and love for others go hand in hand, but ultimately, they are indistinguishable.”
Many long years ago someone wrote: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous, or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered, or selfish, or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil; but happy with the truth. Love never gives up; its faith, hope and patience never fail. Love is eternal. There are faith, hope and love — these three, but the greatest of these is love.” — Corinthians 13.
Is there any question that the world is in need of more brotherly love? Is there any question that more and more of us are becoming self-centered, egocentric, self-destructive and obsessed with consuming and accumulating to the detriment of our families, communities, nation and the world? Only when we can let go of our egocentrism, rigidity and defensiveness and open our hearts and minds can we begin to walk hand in hand.
“Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.” — Euripides.
“The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to begin with each one of us.” — Dorothy Day.
Maybe every day should be Valentine’s Day, not in the sense of bestowing gifts on loved ones, but maybe to remind ourselves of John Denver’s song: “Love is everywhere, I see it. You are all that you can be: go be it. Life is perfect, I believe it. Come and play the game with me.”
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 1,000 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is email@example.com.