February is the official month of celebrating love. The stores are filled with red boxes of chocolate, which still sit there – discounted – for a couple of weeks after Valentine’s Day. Another remnant from Valentine’s week is sitting in my room – the Love & Sex edition of Hamilton’s VIEW magazine. As the month of love draws to a close, it has served as a constant reminder of how distorted the world’s perception of love is today.
As I flipped through the articles, I was hoping to find stories of true love, sacrifice, and commitment to putting others first. But scattered between the ads for sex toys, HIV testing, stag shops, and adult shows, most of the articles were all about “me.” How to find cheap condoms. How to find Mr. Right. How to get better sex. What disturbs me most are the pages of escort and massage parlour ads at the back of the magazine, advertising faceless bodies with weight, height, and nationality details beside them.
This is NOT love.
Love is a verb. It is about serving others. Putting someone else first. Making sacrifices. But instead society has made it about how much we can devour, like locusts ravaging a land. How much sex I can get. How good I can make myself feel – be it emotionally or physically.
I once heard a teacher say that the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness. Selfishness makes sex tourists prowl distant lands for vulnerability. Selfishness makes companies hoard profits and disadvantage the poor. Selfishness leads to broken families. Selfishness makes human trafficking profitable. Selfishness funds massage parlours and strip clubs. Selfishness refuses to look a prostituted woman in the face, an attempt to rob her of her humanity.
Selfishness is a serious offense, and unfortunately February – instead of being a month of true love – has become of month of selfishness in disguise.
Let’s make February look different next year. Let’s pressure papers like the VIEW to discard the ads at the back of the magazine. Let’s find creative ways to actually love and serve one another, instead of seeking “me” first. And of course, let’s do this all year round, not just during the commercial season of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.