While today is Valentine’s Day, and while many will take to romantic dinners and flowers and chocolates will be abound, now would also be a good time to discuss how we can show love to not only each other but also ourselves.
We live in a world where love is, for the most part, nothing but an illusion – something people say that often doesn’t have much meaning. And it has almost lost its meaning within a society in which there is only callousness and emptiness. We see this everyday, where the poor are blamed for their circumstances, society demands that the oppressed remain calm and respectful when asking for their grievances to be addressed, and the lives of marginalized people are not viewed as important or meaningful while being relegated to the back alleys of history.
The lack of love in our society is so pervasive that not only do we not love each other within the confines of our own homes and communities, but also within ourselves. We are constantly berated by images that consistently undermine our self-esteem and our sense of self worth to the point where we are willing to buy anything and everything to erase our perceived inadequacies. Such problems are made all the worse for those who do not ‘fit in’ with status-quo ideas of beauty or normalcy, which encompass race, class, disability, and other social aspects.
However, this lack of self-love also expands to our communities, where we are conditioned to not care about those who are suffering around us unless they are directly related to us in some way. Thus, not only do we have an internalization of society’s views of us, but we also aid in its perpetuation and step on those who are beneath us rather than lifting them up.
The only way this can be combated is through community building, self-love, and self-care. The latter two must come first though; because if one does not reclaim themselves and learn how to love and care for themselves, nurturing within themselves a resilient love that can withstand the pressures of this world, they will find themselves unable to take part in the building of such social institutions that serve the community as a whole.
Our movement must be driven by love; not a love of power or wealth, but rather a love of the people around us. A love so strong that it is infectious and able to be a rock upon which we can build a foundation to gain our freedoms.
Love is the only way we will survive in these times.
– Devon Douglas-Bowers