• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Valentine: Love is the reason for the celebration

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Love, which is sometimes an indescribable emotion, is at the root of our celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Like hate, which is a word depicting emotion, love is a four-letter word. It is a shop-soiled word; that is, it is an overused word. Religious mountebanks, lovers, confidence tricksters, clergymen, strumpets, fops, dandies, gold-diggers, and philanderers use it daily in their speeches to sway other people to their sides in order for them to achieve their ends. Therefore, its quotidian utility cannot be disputed or controverted.

Over the centuries, even before the Shakespearean period, love has been the thematic concern of works that cover all the genres of literature. Almost every student of literature is familiar with the great love story of Romeo and Juliet, two inseparable lovers who were united in death. And philosophers from ancient times, dating to the eras of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, produced magnificent works that centred on love.

But what is love? According to The Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English, “love is a strong feeling of caring about someone, especially a close member of your family or friend; a strong feeling of liking and caring about someone, especially when combined with sexual attraction.” There are many other definitions of love.

But to me, love has to do with our performance of acts of benefaction for needy and helpless people without anticipating or expecting that they will requite us for our good deeds. It is the unconditional help that we give to people who are neck-deep in trouble. When the feelings of empathy well up in our hearts and propel us to help the poor and vulnerable, then we have carried out acts of love.

St. Valentine is reputed as a man who performed legendary acts of love during his sojourn on earth. His great acts of love necessitated the setting aside of a day called St. Valentine’s Day. However, the many versions of legends woven around him have not destroyed the foundation of his historicity. Rather, we concur that St. Valentine was a historical person who was imbued with the virtue of love.

So now, we have St. Valentine’s Day, a day set aside for people to demonstrate their love or affection for their friends, spouses, and relatives. People who are possessed by love may have been influenced by religious teachings to which they are exposed. No religion is known for its adherents’ espousal of hateful teachings.

The Bible, the holy book of Christians, encourages love for one’s neighbours as much as oneself. 1 Peter 4:8 emphasises the importance of love in covering sins. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, saviour, and redeemer, paid the ultimate price of death to save us from eternal damnation.

But today, a great number of practitioners of Christianity do not follow the precepts, teachings, and commands of God, which were conveyed to us by Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Those intensely religious people who are without the virtue of love do make a show of faked religious piety while they are inwardly vile. The actions of Nigerians who belong to diverse religious faiths negate the teachings of their religions. So our world has become an abode of evil.

Nowadays, religious monks, who own churches, exploit the helplessness and naivety of vulnerable people to fleece them of their money. Some randy pastors do bed female worshippers who attend their churches under the pretext that they are giving them cures for their infertility. Are the evil deeds that they are perpetrating borne out of their love for humanity? The answer to this question is a categorical no.

St. Valentine symbolises love. And St. Valentine’s Day has been set aside for us to exchange love with one another. But the fact is that love is a very scarce commodity among us now. Millions of Nigerians are without feelings or love. We are, simply put, living in a milieu of lovelessness.

Many Nigerians are committing homicidal acts without just cause, with political leaders looting public finances, kidnappers abducting people for ransom, and others planning to manipulate the system to amass wealth. The celebration of St. Valentine’s Day is incongruous with the societal behaviour and evil acts committed daily, highlighting the need for a more responsible approach.

The commemoration of St. Valentine’s Day commends us for changing our old and evil ways. It also commends us to imbibe the virtue of love, which is the cornerstone of all religious teachings. Didn’t Jesus Christ, who is our saviour and redeemer, possess love? When we are imbued with the virtue of love and live in accordance with the teachings of our diverse religions, our world will become an oasis of peace and unity.

So, I exhort us to rekindle the dying flames of love in our hearts and learn to be our brother’s keeper. Only by doing so can we have justification to commemorate St. Valentine’s Day.

Chiedu Uche Okoye; Uruowulu-Obosi: Anambra State. 08062220654