These values were placed outside the White House by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for Valentines Day. They are, however, age-old democratic civic values that we have aspired to embody and ought to guide our conduct in the public square and in our communities year round.
These values should not preclude disagreement. In fact, our love for each other should encourage us to disagree vigorously in our pursuit of what is right, good and true and in the best interests of all. However, when disagreement leads to vilification and dehumanization of those who are different or those with opposing points of view, we have lost our way and undermined the unity forged through respect for our common humanity and the equal entitlement of each person to live with dignity, respect, freedom and security.
Love seeks understanding. Love asks why. Love sees that all suffer, and compassion seeks to alleviate that suffering. If love for one another does not reign in the hearts of a people, a community—then there is no justice and their democratic “self-governance” will only be another form of tyranny, a place where might is right.
Democracy is habit of the heart, a civic spirit that seeks the well-being of all. Above all, it is rooted in love. And love that isn’t true won’t last. May we experience a heart revolution worthy of the collective challenges we face in 2021 and beyond.
Happy Valentine’s Day.