February, Valentine & Love Love For Self, Others & Country

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By Fela Bank-Olemoh (FBO)

Hi there,
It’s a new month and a good time to pick up conversations around the concept of February, Valentine & Love.
Across the world, February is largely themed as the month where people express love to friends, family and loved-ones.
What does it mean to truly love, you ask?
Matt Chandler said; “People don’t like love, they like that flattery, flirty feeling. They don’t love ‘love’ — love is sacrificial, love is ferocious, it’s not emotive. Our culture doesn’t love ‘love’, it loves the idea of love. It wants the emotion without paying anything for it. It’s ridiculous.”

So, a true test of love is the willingness to give up something of value for the one you claim to love. Love being practiced with the right intentions will involve sacrificing time, money and self for the sake of the one you profess to love.
At the heart of it, Love starts with you.
Though there are several other perspectives to love; Let’s look at love from these three prisms.

Love For Self
Practicing self-love can be challenging for many of us, because of our inability to fully understand the concept of self-love. It’s not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, it’s about being in touch with the total wellness of our mind, body and soul. To understand, appreciate and express love, you must exercise self-love.

Self-love is accepting yourself for who you are with all your shortcomings as you strive to improve daily. If you can’t do this, how will you accept others? The concept of self-love speaks to you fully understanding who you are. It’s about self-examination and though this can be tough; like you being under a microscope, it is the starting point for self-appreciation and a building block to love others and country.
The reality is, someone who cannot love him/herself will find it difficult to give or receive love.

So, one of the things you should do this season is to commit to loving yourself regardless of how unlovable you may think you are; and not just in the month of February but throughout your life. Have you made mistakes before? Accept those mistakes and move on. Mistakes are part of the discovery journey towards self-awareness, that leads you to the path of a value-adding life.
Remember, loving yourself is a prerequisite to loving others.

Love For Others
We’re all familiar with the quote, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” but let’s be honest- loving your neighbour does not always come easy.
Our human nature is selfish, we find it easy to love ourselves, our family, wives and children but when it goes beyond that sphere we struggle. That probably ties into our Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest, every-man-for-himself, kill-or-be-killed predator-mindset. As tough as it may seem loving others is the right path to thread.

Similarly, love expressions can be seen in how we relate with humanity. For instance, volunteering our time and resources is one way of expressing love for others. If there is one thing we need in our world today, it is more love for others. This is because it is inspirational and the basis of human interaction.

Thus, we can see that everybody responds to love and something inside of us wants to be loved. So, you must make a choice, every single day, to care about others.

On a lighter note; Did you know that people that show love live longer? This is backed by science! Believe it or not, ‘Kind’ people age slower than the general population, and people who volunteer regularly have a 44% lower chance of dying early than those who don’t volunteer. Volunteering as you well know, is a way of expressing love for others and this I hear is even more beneficial than exercising 4 times a week!

So, with that in mind and the statistics for the average age of Nigeria’s mortality rate, which is 53.7 years for males and 55.4 years for females; it makes common sense for Nigerians to show more love and volunteer as this could indirectly increase our chances of living longer.

Love For Country
Is our country perfect? No! But we keep progressing.
Can we do things differently? We definitely can.
So, as we rightly demand value from our country, we must patiently commit to see it thrive.
Jenn Monroe focused on the future and said; “To love your country is to desire to see it become the best version of itself, to point out its failures, to recognize how we each have been complicit in allowing its worst to persist, to work together to create a community in which every resident has all that they need — love, food, shelter, health, peace, prosperity — and are truly treated as equals in every regard.”

Hence, love for our country, means engaging the country productively and not wanting to destroy it. So, you can’t claim to love your country and be corrupt or willing to cut corners. Rather, you should know that those acts bring gradual retrogression.
I have recently questioned a lot of people that claim to love this country when I saw their reactions to the different prevailing issues within the nation over the past years. I saw some people ready to tear down the nation and I asked myself if that is truly an expression of love or something else entirely.

This also makes me recall a popular judgement by a certain wise King who ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a child. He revealed their true feelings and relationship to the child by suggesting the baby be cut in two, each woman to receive half. With this approach, he was able to discern the non-mother as the woman who entirely approved of this ruling, while the actual mother begged that the sword be sheathed, and the child committed to the care of her rival. Some consider this approach to justice a standard example of an impartial judge displaying wisdom in making a ruling.
My take from this story is that when you truly own something or love something, you don’t want it destroyed.

Thus, as we go through this season of love, let’s ensure we commit to loving ourselves, others and country all through this month, year & beyond.
Lastly, to commit to all these expressions of love, love for God is essential.
So, as you love, don’t lose track of that.
Till the next time we meet here, remember we all have “A Role to Play”.