While some argue that Valentine’s Day is just a commercial holiday, meant to sell us mushy cards, chocolates and flowers to make the other partner happy (or to avoid a fight), the overall message of Valentine’s Day is an important one: love. 

While there may be some truth in the problem of the superficiality of Valentine’s Day, I cannot be too hard on a holiday intended on celebrating the love we have for each other as humans. In this particular political climate, that message seems especially important.

During the last eight years, we had a period of rapid progressive change. I get the sense that some people in this country could not handle this — the idea of the old way of life disappearing before their eyes — as the country progressed into a place where they may not remain at the top.

Growing up in a household full of love, with artists as parents who preach compassion for all humans, I have never doubted the gravity of love and the impact it can have on the world. I would go so far as to say that love is the most powerful emotion. 

On the other hand, a close friend who grew up in a more traditional, conservative environment, thinks the most powerful emotion is fear. As you might expect, this leads to some interesting (always respectful) conversation.

After the country decided to elect a bigoted, misogynist demagogue instead of taking the opportunity to elect a qualified and respectful woman president, I pondered the idea that my friend might be right. Should the saying actually be “fear makes the world go round?” Fear of progress, fear of loss of power, fear of the unknown. 

When the election results came in, I felt defeated in more ways than one. The American people feared that if we shared resources — power, jobs, human rights, freedoms — there would not be enough to go around (or at least for them to keep the majority). This fear caused a great number of people to elect a man who is blatantly disrespectful to more than half the world’s population. 

Donald Trump’s first acts as president have only confirmed the nightmares of more than half the country who didn’t vote for him. His executive orders, like the weakening of the Affordable Care Act, the “global gag rule” that prohibits international abortion counseling and of course the “Muslim ban,” that prohibits refugees from seven Middle East countries, are all directly negatively affecting the human rights of people.

It is concerning that the leader of our country is making decisions based on fear, not on love. It is also a compelling justification for the argument that fear is the most powerful emotion. 

But even after all this, I stand by my faith in humanity and love. The inaugural protests, women’s marches, immediate protests at airports in defense of refugees’ rights, celebrities and regular people speaking out against hatred, local rallies and donations to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, larger newspapers (and even small student newspapers like The Vidette) using its editorial boards to speak out against injustices and the overall collective drive to object to human rights violations gives me hope.

On Thursday, a federal appeals panel stood up for human rights on a legal level, as they unanimously rejected President Trump’s appeal to reinstate his “Muslim ban” on the factual basis that there is “no evidence” that anyone from any of the seven banned countries had committed terrorist acts in the United States.

Thankfully, Trump is wrong; the courts do in fact have a right to review the president’s national security assessments, as they should. 

If we continue to stand up for each other, we stand together against fear, hate, bigotry and evil. We need to continue to show each other love and compassion. 

Whether that be on a small scale — like  telling your boyfriend how much he means to you this Valentine’s Day, your mom how thankful you are of what she taught you, or your Muslim neighbor that she is welcome here and she can talk to you if she feels isolated by the rhetoric and actions of our changing government — or on a larger scale — like marching in a protest or donating to the ACLU — your love will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. 

People change the world. Whether we want that to be a positive change or a negative change is up to us. Let’s show the world how strong love can be.

AVE RIO is a senior journalism major and is the editor-in-chief of the Vidette. Any questions or comments can be directed to vidette_ario@ilstu.edu. Follow her on Twitter @avegrio.

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