Editorial | Where is the love?
With February being dubbed the month of love, fluffy red and white teddy bears are already on garish display, and as we edge closer to St Valentine's Day, there will be gifts of roses, cards, candies and other treats as persons express love for each other.
By the time February 14 rolls around, the stage would have been set for the country to celebrate St Valentine's Day 2017 - in a big way. Flower shops, restaurants and jewellery outlets expect to see their sales soar during this time that is traditionally associated with love and romance.
Framed against the backdrop of the alarming levels of sexual and violent crimes being reported daily, and especially with the churches caught up in various sexual scandals, it does seem that hypocrisy is about to scale its highest peak in this country within a few days.
For families forced to deal with the anguish of seeing their loved ones raped or murdered, February 14 could be seen as a sad, pointless day. A day made even more pointless because of the levels of hypocrisy and the increasing lack of empathy in society. Where is love on the other 364 days of the year? Where has compassion been hiding when our children are being abducted and raped and killed?
St Valentine's Day has become overly commercialised, but it started out as a tribute to Valentinus of Rome, a third-century clergyman who was imprisoned, then martyred for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He not only married them but reportedly smuggled soldiers from the front line so they could spend time with their loved ones. Here was a man who encouraged love among people.
Love is in short supply in our country these days, and many have lost the instinct of kindness. Perhaps it is appropriate for the nation to pause and think about ways in which we can take love beyond words and make it an enduring quality by which we interact with each other.
We urge you not to allow symbolism to get into the way of reality. Step away from that bouquet of red roses and consider how you can help to change the national conversation and how you may offer hope to someone who is suffering from domestic abuse or other violence.
We need to return to the days when we would look out for each other. A loving society takes care of its most vulnerable such as the young and the elderly and is not afraid to get involved. Jamaica has faltered badly in recent years and there are mounting examples of greed, mistrust, sexual misconduct and injustice. There is widespread debate right now about the next best steps. There may not be agreement on how to achieve the change, but there is consensus that we need to find a formula for general prosperity, less corruption, and a safe and just society in which families can thrive and fulfil their potential.
This is one year when the celebration of St Valentine's Day will likely be overshadowed by an undertone of sadness.