Everyday action speaks louder than gifts in love
SOME years back on Valentine's Day, I passed by a florist shop and decided to check how much the prices had gone up just for the day.
A young man was eyeing the roses that came at a heavy price. There was a "should I or shouldn't I" look on his face.
He turned to me and said: "So expensive, uncle."
"Young man," I said. "If you are still courting your girlfriend, I think you'd better buy. But more importantly, I hope, as a couple, you will both learn that love is not expressed just on this day."
He bought the roses and left. I don't know what happened after that but I'm certain there was one happy young woman that evening.
Just as on many other festivals and special days, commercial interests have taken centrestage. It is easy for businesses to play on the emotions of consumers and persuade them to spend more.
I suspect this is partly because the majority of us are so caught up in the busyness of life that we forget to be thankful for our daily blessings. So on special occasions, we try to make up for the lapse.
As for Valentine's Day, that's when love is most obviously in the air. But most of us tend to see the word "love" only as a noun, often equating it with strong feelings and passion.
I remind myself that love is also a verb - a very powerful action word. Words spoken and deeds done in love invariably make a big difference in the lives of others.
Going a step further, it has been said that we get no brownie points for just loving the people who are nice to us. Rather, real love moves us to embrace the unlovable.
Do we make an effort to get rid of our prejudices, for instance, and refrain from tarring a whole community with the same brush, just because of the actions of a few?
It is not easy but it is not impossible.
Three years ago, around this time, I reflected on this subject. The column was headlined "Love Actually, is all around us" (Sunday Star, Feb 23, 2013), a play on the movie Love Actually, one of my favourites. Back then, things were no different, and along with love, the flower business flourished on Valentine's Day.
I noted that "love is not a one-day commercialised event that deludes you into spending a tidy sum to prove your love for another person.
"The reason a bunch of roses is more expensive on Feb 14 is pure economics".
And my conclusion: "If you want to experience love, just look at the ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day.
"They are the people who walk that extra mile, share your burdens and sow love in the midst of hatred.
"These are the bridge-builders of our country. And you can be one of them."
Today, more than ever, we need people who consciously aim to put love into action - not just on one day, but every day of the year.
That expresses love far more eloquently than any amount of costly gifts could.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK