Red hearts, pink flowers, holding hands: a World Council of Churches (WCC) campaign is sharing traditional Valentine’s Day images coupled with messages that aim to prevent abuse and violence.
The WCC is encouraging people to share new images and messages created for 2021 on social media on and around Valentine’s Day, 14 February.
“Celebrate love, prevent abuse.”
“Love is kind.”
“Each day, affirm respect, devotion and love.”
These messages invite reflection during a year in which a “shadow pandemic” of domestic abuse and violence has risen alarmingly in conjunction with COVID-19-related lockdowns.
In response, the Thursdays in Black campaign has grown, with increasing numbers of global ambassadors speaking out, in many regions and languages, in support of a world free from rape and gender-based violence.
Larissa Aguiar Garcia, from Igreja Medista do Brasil, is a Thursdays in Black ambassador who encourages people in her community and across the world to speak out against gender-based violence—and to be aware of its root causes.
“For centuries we have romanticised the hardships and violence one must endure to be in a relationship,” said Garcia, who is also a member of the WCC ECHOS Commission for young people. “It can be seen in idioms, literature and all sorts of media. However love is kind, supportive and respectful! This Valentine’s Day, may you seek love that heals and that is truthful.”
Rev. Damon Mkandawire, also a Thursdays in Black ambassador, urged people not to twist the concept of love—even if everyone else seems to be.
“You have probably heard a lot of people say that ‘love hurts’—and we all tend to follow the crowd and believe that ‘love hurts’— this isn’t true,” said Mkandawire, who is a hospital administrator for the United Church of Zambia’s Mbereshi Mission Hospital. “This Valentine’s Day and beyond, remember that love doesn’t hurt you. A person that doesn’t know how to love hurts you. Don’t get it twisted. Love is an extraordinary thing.”