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Pick-up lines and picket signs

Love doesn’t take a day off after Valentine’s Day.

Illustration by Miranda Andrade-Ceja

Illustration by Miranda Andrade-Ceja

Estela Garcia, Staff Writer

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Valentine’s Day is over. Couples can stop pretending they like each other and carry on with their lives. Singles can stop faking their loneliness and continue on in their peaceful solitude. Sell your wedding bands, burn your fresh-picked roses — oh wait … that isn’t how it works, is it?

The constant obsession with dating and relationship statuses continues all year. But why do Americans spend $18.2 billion on chocolates, presents and dinner reservations, according to a report from the National Retail Federation, to emphasize that we love each other just one day out of the year?

This idea of celebrating each other and shared love should be an everyday action that needs to be practiced in real time. And in 2017, it couldn’t be needed more.

So much tragedy has occurred in the last few years that it’s easy to put selfish needs before anything else. Hard times prompt the question: where is the love? Violence stricken by public shootings across the world; racial discrimination and segregation remains unchecked — images of innocent lives being torn apart continue unnoticed, forgotten. Every day, people are subject to violence because of their lifestyle choices and the conditions they live in. This terror seems like dystopian fiction, but it is what has led many to give up hope in positive revolution.

We have rewritten the definition of love. It remains a proclamation of passionate feeling one has toward another person, object or idea. And new ways of supporting one another through empathy and direct action have extended our ideas of love and compassion.

We have seen the amount of protesting and organizing the has happened in the last three years. People protest against injustice and stand up for their freedoms. Marches and protests are powerful tools used to bring attention to certain social issues. When police violence against black individuals erupted, the Black Lives Matter movement sparked a new era of social activism. The marches for women’s rights, immigration reform, even the election of a new president, all represent a society coming together to display a form of comradery.

As a self proclaimed hopeless romantic, I believe there is light wherever there is darkness. Loving each other is what makes us get up in the morning, what makes us work hard and what allows us to continue on.

The need for change in this country does not make love an outdated concept. If anything, love incites change and vice versa.

Although some deem protests as demonstrations of hate and militant resistance — they are actually symbols of solidarity. Whether it’s standing up for another person’s life or representing populations of marginalized people or helping others stand up for their rights, putting someone else before ourselves is an act of love that can never be doubted.

This is what we should celebrate everyday, not only on Valentine’s.

We need to celebrate the potential of radical love; love that sees no color, no borders and no time. And yes that sounds completely and utterly cliché but it is the truth. Nothing can change that. No laws or religion can ever contain the care that exists in this world.

We hear stories of families being separated, of children losing hope or of people left in the unknown, disappeared and done in. We live in a time where we’re told to expect the unexpected, even if it is harmful.

We each have a way of looking at the world and I’m sorry to say that they are not all the same. But, therein lies a unique beauty that gives us the potential to welcome natural diversity.

Still, because we view the world so differently when it comes to race, religion, gender, sexuality — the list goes on — what someone sees as a positive display of affection or love may be seen by someone else as a challenge to themselves and their beliefs.

We hold our values so close to our hearts and minds that we push away any idea that differs it. Negativity is created by the neglect of others.

Nevertheless, negativity can always be erased and it has been done so before. The evidence lies in the many acts that we have been able to witness in our everyday lives:

The people who identify as LGBTQ who hold hands while walking down the street.

The people who defend Muslim-American people when they are  subject to racial profiling.

The person who immigrated from Mexico for a chance at a better life or a better way to support the people they love.

The student who learned about the world’s indifferences and wanted to ignite change with her knowledge.

These acts of love and so many more are what create issues and conflicts within conventional values.

But, that’s where we get it wrong. Love is simple and pure. We mess it all up when we begin to apply what one or someone believes their definition of love is better than the rest.

Love isn’t right or wrong. There are different conceptions of love and we may not all agree with one another. Love is respecting each other and putting our own selves second to someone we care about.

Valentine’s Day is much more than a red-heart holiday about romance. It may have started way back in the 14th century when some guy named Geoffrey Chaucer thought it’d be a good idea to let those in love smother their love onto other people’s faces.But we have evolved. Yes, we still have cards — and flowers and candy. Now, we live in world where symbols of devotion, demonstrated through direct action and solidarity mean so much more.

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