Love is a Verb

Liz Dennery Sanders From a very young age, I always loved Valentine’s Day. Each year, when February rolled around, our local drugstore would fill its ‘seasonal aisle’ with Hallmark cards, chocolate hearts, stuffed teddy bears and those pastel-colored Sweetheart candies. I’d make a beeline for that aisle, and I’d always beg my mother to let me buy candies and cards for all my friends. I was too young to understand much about “romantic love” or “dating,” of course, but there was something about Valentine’s Day that always enchanted me: I guess you could say I’ve always loved…love.

But now, as we find ourselves in a chaotic, unsettling time, sharing loving feelings is not enough. We must channel our love into action – speak up, extend a helping hand, make contributions to organizations that protect marginalized communities and stand shoulder to shoulder with others to protect our civil liberties.

Now, more than ever, what we desperately need is strong, active love.

Two of my teachers, Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick at the University of Santa Monica always said, “healing occurs when love is applied to pain and suffering.”

In other words, love is a verb. We must apply love in our daily actions if we are to heal our wounds, as individuals and as a country.

The current administration’s divisive agenda, including a controversial ban on Muslims, a wall along the Mexico-US border, the appointment of dubious executives and tragically unfit cabinet members is a perfect example of fear in motion. And it will certainly continue to create chaos, uncertainty, and more pain and suffering.

We are inundated daily with head-spinning, “WTF?” announcements, executive orders and Facebook status updates and tweets. It’s hard to keep up, let alone feel the love.

But one of the important things to remember is that the opposite of love isn’t hate – it’s fear. Fear of who and what we don’t understand and of those who aren’t like us, or who vehemently disagree with us or challenge our beliefs.

The underlying cause of bigotry, misogyny, and racism of all kinds is the fear that the other person (or gender or race) will threaten us, attack us or simply consume us – take our place in society and deem us a lesser entity, inept and illegitimate. It is our own deep insecurity that perpetuates our fear and mistrust of another.

So what is the antidote?

Active love.

Because when our love is strong – so strong that more than five million of us march around the world for equality and justice, or thousands scream “Let them in!” when Muslims are detained at airports across the country, when Lyft donates $1M to the ACLU and Sheryl Sandberg gives $1M to Planned Parenthood, we are strongly and actively expressing our love.



This Valentine’s Day, I urge you, don’t just “feel” love or “think” loving thoughts. It’s not enough. Don’t just sit on the couch with a romantic Netflix movie, a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates and call it a day. We need you, and we can all do more than that.

Write a card to your sweetheart. Give your best friend a bunch of her favorite flowers and call your siblings to tell them how much you love them. And then, write a letter to your Senator, make a protest sign, or send a donation to the ACLU so that people who desperately need legal counsel can get it.

Seek out resources like the Indivisible Guide, 10 Actions 100 Days and the #lovearmy to stay active and educated.

Reach out to someone in your life who might feel threatened or frightened right now – like a gay relative or Muslim friend – and say, “I’m here for you. I’m thinking about you. Do you need anything?”

Because what our world needs now more than ever is strong, outspoken, active love. It’s the only thing that will bring about a positive change. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.

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