Love, defined by the media, is easy. What misses the mark 364 days of the year hits its heart's target with a Hallmark card, chocolates, and roses in that 24-hour period called Valentine's Day. Sadly, if that's all there is, that's about how long love lasts.
Mysterious St. Valentine was martyred in the 3rd century A.D., an experience shared emotionally by many on his namesake day. One legend says the saint fell in love with his jailor's daughter and, just before his death, wrote his feelings for her, signing, "From your Valentine." Ah, the founding of greeting card companies! The pressure! More than 8 million Americans admit to sending themselves Valentine's gifts. According to the website, "history.com," 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
Perhaps that statistic has less to do with romance than the default position of females. In the September 2009 Ladies' Home Journal, Jeannie Ralston wrote that gender stereotypes still dictate that women occupy "one of the most demanding and thankless jobs around." She labels it the "domestic decider/social director."
It requires her to remember all the special notes, gifts and phone calls. Women, holding half the nation's jobs and perhaps soon to outnumber men in the workforce, are tired of hearing, "Did you send Mom's birthday card?" If he can ask, he can do.
Even in the animal kingdom male bravado may be less endearing than just delivering the goods. In a two-summer (2007-2008), University of California study, Megan Wyman and others used hand-held, sound-level meters to come up with this: Among 325 wild bison the quietest bulls scored more mates. Whether this applies to humans is up for grabs. The curious male might watch "What Women Want," but unless he looks like Mel Gibson, the rewards are doubtful.
In October 2008 research from the University of Rochester in New York verified what women know: The color red attracts men. The study's male author, Andrew Elliot, concluded that male preferences are in a word, "primitive." New research reveals the male Y chromosome, which determines gender, is evolving faster than the rest of the human genetic code. However, Seth Borenstein, Associated Press science writer, wrote in January 2010: "It doesn't necessarily mean men themselves are more evolved."
The so-called "battle of the sexes" mirrors the human condition. We search for love in the wrong places and come up with the wrong answers. In "The Decider," Ralston admits many women vacillate in their "wants." They love the power and control of their domestic, decider-director position, but hate the helplessness it allows in men.
Admittedly, people want it all, and "all" is hard to define. A man might try this valentine message: "You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness, you sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness, you shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for you." It was written by one of the world's greatest womanizers, "after" he gave up women. St. Augustine wrote this to the God who lifted him out of despair. And that God sends "all" to all in a matchless valentine: "God is love" (1 John 4:8).
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.