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In our opinion: Valentine’s Day spending could set records today. Try giving love instead

Josue Viera gets ready to wrap a finished rose arrangement at Walter Knoll Florist company headquarters on LaSalle Street in St. Louis on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.
Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Americans are expected to spend $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day this year — a new record, according to the National Retail Association. As the Beatles’ song goes, “money can’t buy me love,” but it can buy a lot of jewelry, candy, clothing, flowers or a night on the town. True love, however, costs little in dollars and a great deal in compassion and caring.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” That sort of love, and the action it spurs, is endangered in today’s society.

Sadly, even on Valentine’s Day, hate seems to be able to dominate the headlines. Hate in all its forms — contempt, prejudice and petty social media slurs — leads to a place where rage overruns reason. Every American must call out hate for what it is and then advance meaningful conversations with love.

Citizens today are consuming, or consumed by, social media, where hate speech seems to spew faster and farther than love. Remember, though, that no one who plants thistles in the spring expects to harvest fruit in the fall. No one should be fooled into thinking that people who perpetually plant hate and contempt are expecting to reap love and kindness later.

Last week, we highlighted an excerpt from Arthur Brooks’ speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Brooks dismissed a call for “civility and tolerance” as “nonsense” — not because those qualities are bad, but because they will never be enough to save society. He explained, “If I told you my wife and I were just civil and tolerant of each other, you would say we needed counseling.” He concluded, “Jesus did not say, ‘tolerate your enemies.’ He said, ‘Love your enemies.’”

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be worth much if it were dedicated to civility. Love is indeed the answer, and applying love is the solution, or the beginning of the answer, to so many challenges.

When an interview with Brooks aired on KSL Radio, one listener, Troy, was moved to pick up a copy of Brooks’ book, “Love Your Enemies.” He later bought additional copies to give to family members. Then he took it a simple but significant step further.

In an email with the subject line “plates of love,” Troy wrote to the Deseret News, “In an effort to send a different message, other than the hate and contempt in the world, we opted for new license plates.” One car’s license plate read “LVURNBR” and the other read “LVURNME.” Love never looked better.

Courtesy: Troy Carter

What difference can one person make? Troy and his family show that you can send out love and fight contempt in simple but powerful ways.

Love is the beginning of, not just holidays, but better days for the nation. If every citizen did one thing today to show love to a family member, neighbor co-worker or friend, this Valentine’s Day will have been worthwhile.