Charlotte Lankard: Valentine's Day is more about goodwill than love

Perhaps love is not so much about flowers and cards on Feb. 14, but kindness, courtesy, gentleness, respect and acceptance all year long.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD Published: February 11, 2014
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Valentine's Day. It's the time of year that creates tremendous anxiety in women and puts incredible pressure on men. It's the time of year that reminds singles of their status. It's the time of year that leads to pretending, when you may not be feeling at all fond of the person you are with. And it is all about love.

Growing up as a preacher's kid, I was taught I should love everyone. But as an adult, a friend helped me understand the word “love” should be used more carefully, otherwise it may cease to be meaningful.

Author Michael Drury says if she is asked to love the whole world, she must confess she is simply unequal to the task. Love in her mind is a one-to-one exchange that rules out clump relationships.

Mother Teresa, of Calcutta, was asked how she had been able to help so many thousands of people, and her reply was she'd only helped the one in front of her.

Perhaps it is true that those who would embrace large numbers of their fellow men are often incapable of loving one person at close range.

Drury said the poet Robert Frost taught her that what the world needs is not global love but global courtesy — that easy, settled goodwill that can listen to almost anything without losing its temper or its self-confidence.

Perhaps love is not so much about flowers and cards on Feb. 14, but kindness, courtesy, gentleness, respect and acceptance all year long.

However, the romantic woman in me wants to be clear this in no way is intended to discourage anyone from sending cards or flowers or chocolates to someone special. Those gifts not only make women smile, they make our hearts sing.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at clankard@opubco.com.