As I was writing this newsletter on Tuesday, I am surrounded by red roses, hearts and many people wearing red...must be Valentines Day!
We have been told that gift-giving is one of our “love languages.” This idea is utterly ridiculous. I love you—see, here’s this expensive shiny thing I bought you.
Gift-giving is not a love language any more than Stephen Harper is New Democrat. Gift -giving is a vapid, pernicious cultural imperative in our society, and we have bought it hook, line, and sinker. We have become consumers of love.
The idea that we can somehow commodify love is nauseating. We often give gifts to show our love because we are troubled by real love. Buying diamonds is not evidence of everlasting devotion. Commitment, trust, understanding—these are indications of devotion.
Gift-giving is by definition transactional. But love is not a transaction. Love is transcendent—it transcends language and material possessions and can be shown only by our thoughts, actions, and intentions.
Perhaps Jonathan Franzen said it best: “Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. To love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.”
This doesn’t mean there’s something necessarily wrong with buying a gift for someone, though it is far better to give the gift of experience rather than material possessions.
Love is far more important and valuable than associating it with gifts that can be better sent in attaining financial freedom.