I asked Alexa if she loves me.

The amazing little “Dot,” incapable of love, responded with a wisecrack. “You’re looking for love in all the wrong places,” the familiar voice responded, echoing a song by Johnny Lee.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the unasked question we all hold deep within the recesses of our minds centers on one of the most basic human needs ... to love and be loved.

When I was in second grade, children would playfully chant “Johnny likes Susie.” In our little kid lingo, it meant the two kids of opposite genders were boyfriend and girlfriend. The more daring would say that “Johnny LOVES Susie.” In our second-grade minds, there was no difference between the two verbs for degrees of affection.

These days, we “love” everything from our pets to our homes to our lifestyles. We toss the word love around freely, discarding it when the object of that affectionate phrase represents something with which we disagree. Often we “fall in love” without consideration of commitment. In our throw-away society, we are ill-prepared to be “in love.”

The divisiveness that has our nation ill-at-ease, in my humble opinion, has only one workable solution. The reason we are suffering from a national angst has little to do with impeachment, political partisanship, racial divide, religious differences or the host of other matters that dominate social discourse.

My conclusion, and maybe yours too, is that we have forgotten how to love. Sure, we can be passionately “in love” with another person or a whole host of people. But do we love? We don’t always love what others do, say or stand for, or even believe. But do we love one another?

Sacred Scripture and scholars for centuries have noted that love fails when it is bound by unrealistic conditions. Love fails when it is motivated only by selfishness.

Scripture offers the perfect admonition by the only person to walk the Earth in perfection. “Love one another as I have loved you.” And, He explains, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Tall order, of course, and one easy to ignore with excuses. Perhaps the only one fully capable of that kind of love is the person who recounted the two greatest commandments. But, does that mean we should pick and choose any of God’s creatures to love, so long as they are not “different?”

I am unsure of their origin, but I continue to see yard signs with the simple suggestion to “Be Kind.” That’s a start, for certain.

Kindness does not require us to like or love actions that are harmful to us or others. The purveyor of the unconditional love message loved those who committed grievous sins ... but not the things they did.

Before dismissing this as being too “idealistic,” kindly consider where rejection of ideals has gotten us today.

My heart breaks for a nation that has been blessed far beyond what people around the world have ever experienced; yet, continue to look for love in all the wrong places.

Being kind is a start.

Striving to love others without condition is an objective.

The reward for each of us can be ...


Mr. Tom Clinton retired as executive editor of The Messenger in 2011. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Lone Oak.

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