Weekly Column by Loretta Redd, PhD
There have been plenty of political and social subjects recently to get all of our hearts pounding this Valentine’s Day. Whether liberal or conservative– wealthy, middle class or poor– buying, selling or upside down in your mortgage–or simply reading the headlines of child molesters and drugged up celebrities, there seems to be no end to the news designed to get our blood boiling.
In the midst of it all, I am searching for a little love. Not the Match., Joosk., or ChristianMingle.com type of connection, but simply something to believe in that might raise my endorphin level slightly higher than my blood pressure.
I had hoped that Valentine’s Day would be more than a marketing tool for American Greetings cards, or the method of moving mountains of chocolate into the mouths of millions. Though the sentimental expressions celebrating this day of love originated with Chaucer, a brief search of history indicates Pope Gelasius pronounced Valentine a saint in 496 AD, but Pope Paul VI removed his sainthood (along with all others in the Roman calendar) in 1969.
What harm this poor symbol of romance had done to the church, I cannot imagine; but poof, our Valentino was stripped of his saintly powers. Now that I think about it, Saint Valentine’s fall from grace was about the same time this world began to spin out of control…hmmm…1969: first moon landing, NY Jets win the Super bowl, Led Zeppelin’s first album, the Stonewall riots, Eisenhower dies, Chappaquiddick, the Nixon Doctrine, HIV/AIDS, Midnight Cowboy, cross country anti-war protests, and the Santa Barbara oil spill.
It might just be time to petition the present pontiff to re-instate a little symbolic love into the world, especially since we are slogging through the results of another malady, far worse than the emotional roller coaster of falling head over heels.
Although the word for this modern day calamity might remind you of the little cherub with the bow and arrow, poised to pierce the heart of its inamorata, its real meaning is dark and sinister.
“Cupidity” is defined as an “inordinate lust and desire for wealth,” and I’m afraid the magnitude of its “slings and arrows” have created more broken hearts, dashed dreams, and lost trust than we’ve experienced in recent history.
Because of cupidity, our world economies are on the brink of disaster, civic leaders and institutions are viewed as greedy and self-serving, our governments sell-out in exchange for power, people starve while others amass immeasurable (or untraceable) wealth, and the whole damn world has gone crazy.
When things get as topsy-turvy as they seemed in 1969, there’s only one place to go: home. And given that we live in a relative paradise on earth here in Santa Barbara, it shouldn’t be hard to find the ‘true’ meaning of Valentine’s.
Get out of your car, or off of your bike and scooter, and walk your neighborhood.
Fall in love with your city–or find yourself dismayed by its condition or the condition of those you pass by. If you notice trash– pick it up, graffiti–call it in, dog poop–pick it up, a neighbor’s home with accumulating newspapers–knock on the door, poorly kept property- -offer to help, businesses you might wish would disappear–boycott them, a sense that walking at night would not be safe–raise hell with city hall…but get inspired to improve things or to help in some way.
Joseph Addison wrote that there are three requirements for happiness: something to do, something to love and something to hope for.
Whether you take your meals at Casa Esperanza or the University Club, whether you have the wisdom and perspective of a senior citizen or rose-colored innocence of a child, there is plenty to do to make our home a more loving, more welcoming, and more livable community.
Let’s do our part locally to inspire the hearts and minds of others living on this tiny planet; whether they’ve ever heard of Saint Valentine, tasted chocolate or seen a rose in bloom. Change starts with the first action- will it be heart break or heart throb? Cupidity or Cupid? Which arrow, is up to you.