It’s that time again, and love is in the air. It smells a lot like roses, or chocolate. Woe be unto the ones who forget to honor their love with gifts and kisses. Sad is the lonely one who is the only one at the office not to receive flowers on that special day. We’ve learned, at least in American society, that February 14 must be managed appropriately. There are rules to proving your love, and they’ve mostly been set by the nice folks who sell flowers, candy, and greeting cards.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. I like flowers and candy as much as anybody. And Valentine’s Day is the biggest retail day of the year for many florists. I don’t begrudge them that needed income.
I personally do not have a Significant Other to share Valentine’s Day with this year, and that is perfectly okay with me. I’ve had lots of romantic February 14ths, and I think I’ve filled my quota of those for this lifetime.
I will honor the friends and family I love with a recognition on The Day, but I also thought I’d prepare a Valentine for the whole world. A daunting task, it’s true, but this will be a virtual Valentine, and it will hold my heartfelt prayers for this fragile blue orb and all the living beings who call it home.
First, for all the children everywhere, because the children should surely be first: enough healthy food, clean water, a place to live that’s not a war zone. Protection from disease, from sexual predation, from physical and emotional abuse. Freedom from slavery. The ability to learn and to choose a life that’s rewarding. The chance to be kids.
For all us grown-ups, whatever country or situation we live in: an economic system that allows each to earn a fair wage at a safe job. Enough money to care for our families, health care we can afford, so that when we or our children get sick or hurt, we can take care of them. Protection from harmful substances in our air, our water, our soil. A government we can trust to be driven by the people’s best interests, not the interests of corporations or the super-rich or powerful few.
For the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air and all the creatures that crawl upon the earth: an unblemished earth. Freedom from plastic pollution, from poisons in the environment, from habitat destruction for greed’s sake, from exploitation or abuse by people. The recognition from humans that they, too, are living beings who have a right to be here.
For the leaders of every nation, state, and tiny municipality: a desire and ability to lead in a way that demonstrates respect for the governed, that benefits the governed in real and practical ways, that gives advantage to none at the expense of another, that allows its citizens to live with as much autonomy as possible.
For my own, aching nation: a new wave of love, of respect for each other. A sincere desire to live in true peace. A release of our love of our personal agendas. A willingness to let others be who they are, whoever that might be, knowing that this does not negate our ability to be who we are. A realization that we can disagree without hating or fearing each other. An unwillingness to buy the story that those whose beliefs are different from ours are evil or do not love this nation. A release of the idea that we need to fix each other. A willingness to grant forgiveness for the real—very real—or imagined injuries of the past. An exchange of the love of power for the power of love.
Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet Earth. I love you.