Commentary: It’s love, actually

People who watch the 2003 British rom-com “Love Actually” tend to come away from it with two basic responses: They either love it or they hate it.

People who watch the 2003 British rom-com “Love Actually” tend to come away from it with two basic responses: They either love it or they hate it.

But the film, which interweaves several stories about love, and the pursuit of it, gets one thing right: At the end of the day, it isn’t about power, money, fame or Twitter followers. Apart from our primordial need for survival, the common driver for all humans is love, actually.

No matter the country, language or religion, love is the light that attracts us, illuminates us and yes, vexes us.
It is the greatest power we possess and the one which renders us the most powerless.

Think about your favorite song. Chances are, it’s about love. Unless you’re a 14-year-old boy, your favorite film probably centers on love, too.

Greek mythology explains the world in which we live by describing it as a series of stories about gods and goddesses in pursuit of love. Consider the myth of Helen of Troy, whose kidnapping by the lovestruck prince Paris from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, precipitated the Trojan War and immortalized her as “The Face which Launched a Thousand Ships.”

In 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible, St. Paul dedicated an entire chapter to love, which he described as the greatest of all virtues. Paul wrote: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (agape love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

Love, Paul added, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes for all things and endures all things … Love never fails.”

The romantic tragedies of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer of the English language, have endured precisely because they are about love, loss, death and fighting for love.

Practically every high school in America has performed a version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

By now, everyone knows the formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, audience roots for their reunion.

According to, Americans in 2016 spent an all-time record of $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day, a whopping 8.5 percent increase from 2014, and shattering the previous all-time record of $18.6 billion in 2013. The average person spends $142.31 on the holiday, which 54 percent of Americans celebrate.

The statistics fly in the face of the belief that we’re becoming less loving and civil.

Why would people spend so much on a single day?

Because, from cowboy movies to Disney princesses, we’ve been fed a steady diet of happily ever after in our popular culture.

We love the idea of love.

One hundred years from now, no one will be singing “You Can’t Touch This,” but “Night and Day,” “Yesterday” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” will still be warbled in nightclubs and in recording studios, because the universal pursuit of happiness has never been about popularity, celebrity or politics.

It’s love, actually.