Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. A day dedicated to love. A reminder to not take the people we love for granted. A special day we've set aside to let our loved ones know how much they matter to us, and how much we care.
This year, I and many of my faith, celebrated Valentine's Day by renewing our commitment to love. We took the day as a reminder of those we've been taking for granted, not just in our own personal lives, but in our wider society. This Valentine's Day, we looked for those who are victims of oppression, discrimination and even violence. We imagined a world where no one was the target of fear, abuse or hatred. This Valentine's Day, we chose to stand on the side of love.
What would the world look like if we all made that choice? What would our society be like if we chose reason over fear, compassion over indifference, love over hate? What would be different?
I imagine it would be a world where all people had equal rights regardless of their skin color, nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I imagine it would be a world where committed couples could love one other openly, supported and blessed by their community, regardless of their genders. I imagine it would be a world where everyone was free to worship as they chose, each seeking the right spiritual path, and allowing others, assisting others, to do the same.
I envision a world with love as the guiding principle of a place where all people were cared for physically, mentally and spiritually "" because they were a valued part of our wider family and not because of the contents of the bank account. In this loving world, we might find a way to end our ceaseless cycles of war. And if not, we would at least let all those who wish to serve their country in that manner, do so, counting their commitment and dedication as more important than who they choose to love. In such a world, we would stop attacking one another and calling each other names in the guise of political discourse and open debate. We'd remember the tenets of our faiths, the golden rule that is woven through all the world's major religions, "Love thy neighbor. Do unto others as you would have done unto you."
What a world it would be if we chose every day, every way, to stand on the side of love.
Valentine's Day has come and gone. The heart-filled commercials have been swept aside, replaced instead with advertisements incorporating a different symbol, the five interlocked rings of the Olympics. Five circles, representing the five participating regions, interlocked as a symbol of cooperation, competition, peace and fairness around the world. The reminders keep coming. Our dreams for the world as it ought to be "" as it can one day be "" continue. Across borders, across religious lines, across all classes "" across every division we falsely imagine to be between our larger human family "" we are continually being called to stand on the side of love.
Every day is a new day, a new chance to answer that call.
The Rev. Craig Schwalenberg is minister at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta.