Love and Valentine’s Day

On a day like Valentine’s Day, we can be compassionate as well as romantic. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Although it is associated with at least one Christian martyr of that name, for centuries Valentine’s Day (14th February) has been associated with romantic love, with lovers exchanging chocolates, cards and flowers.

As with other significant days in the calendar, commercial businesses have jumped onto the bandwagon to make sure they share in the benefits.  Advertising encourages people to remember their loved ones, and to spend money doing it.

Any compassionate reflection will also notice those who have lost their partners, those who are alone, and those with limited resources.  Social pressure can be a harmful thing, increasing sadness and anxiety, as individuals try to find a way of feeling included in life.

Perhaps one of the nicest things we can do on these occasions, is to find a balance between celebrating the day, and taking care of those affected by it.  To counteract the over-focus on romantic love, we can ensure we are checking in on friends and family who might feel left out.

It’s a nice thing to partner up, and reflects our biological heritage, as well as how our society is still somewhat built on exclusive pairings.  But it’s also nice to think wider, and to extend the scope of our love more universally.

Culturally, we tend to celebrate the idea of the couple, the pair of people getting together to love and support each other for a long time.  But spiritually, this can create an inwardly-focused island mentality that leaves the rest of society out of the equation.

On Valentine’s Day, as well as celebrating romantic love, we can remember to be more widely compassionate.  We can keep an eye out for those who might feel left out or short-changed.  And we can also consider the views of those who prefer not to pair up in the most commercially or socially encouraged ways, who are content alone, or happy in wider networks of love and kindness.