The question of the nature of love is something of significant importance to many writers. Even those of us who do not write books where romance is central, usually cannot help but include a little of it in our stories. We have romance subplots or love interests or something of the kind. Love is too much a part of being human to avoid altogether when writing stories about people.
But what is love? Various answers are always being give in various media. Some talk about hearts skipping beats and butterflies in stomachs and call that love. Some talk about the joy of being with a certain person and call that love. Some mention loss of appetite and weak knees. Some maintain that love is not love unless there is physical passion to accompany it.
In almost every circumstance, I find the definitions of love given by books and movies and such to fall far short of what love should be. So I would offer a definition myself:
Love is putting the welfare of another person above your own.
All those other things I listed above are either symptoms or side effects of true love. They are not the thing its self, and yet they are continually mistaken for love. And because of this, real love has largely been lost to this modern age. No one is willing to place another person's well being entirely above their own anymore. Most people don't even seem to understand the concept.
We are all too concerned with our own pleasure and our own happiness to truly love another the way we are meant to. And we don't even realize that to do so, to love another before yourself, is the only way that lasting happiness can be achieved.
Today is Valentine's Day and popularly it is a day for making expensive and romantic gestures based around cards, candy and flowers. It is a glorification of everything superficial in romance. It is an insult to the Saint which it is named after.
You see, Saint Valentine, or Valentinus, was a Christian martyr. There is not much known about his life, but tradition says that he was a Roman priest who was condemned to death by Emperor Claudius II for aiding Christians under persecution. You see, he put the welfare of others before himself. In my opinion, that is the only kind of love worth celebrating.
(Aside: I'm very sorry for signing up for two blogfests on Saturday and Monday and not participating. I seriously over-committed myself and ended up being too busy to post. I'll try not to do that again!)