Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day. For those curious, I have no big announcements or plans for the day. This is probably my least favorite day of the year, even more so than Halloween. Not because I necessarily dislike the idea of a day set aside to remind loved ones that they are loved, but because it is a stark reminder of some of the reasons I hate Western culture.

We have taken a day that was meant to honor courage, sacrifice, and chivalry and turned it into a day that honors our own self-gratification and lust of all kinds. Even for the non-romantically involved, it is a day to buy cheap candy and have a popularity contest with the amount of Valentine's one has received in comparison to others. Not that there is anything wrong with a box of chocolates, cards, flowers, or a romantic evening for those who do have those things, but it has become a day of severe social uncomfort for the less attractive among us: the ones who are alone, hopeless, and forgotten. The very ones that Saint Valentine himself would have ministered to. We have sapped the day of almost any real value and replaced it with cheap pieces of paper, over-preserved candy, and nonsensical explanations of our "wuv". In short, Valentine's Day has been completely robbed of any real meaning or true worth. It has been destroyed. It, along with a few other long-decayed days, are perfect examples of what we are currently attempting to do to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and... Wait... those are the only non-patriotic holidays that have any meaning left in them.

And what about the actual man behind the day, or what he did, or indeed what was done to him. Indeed, much of his story is probably legend, but at least the legend inspires greatness and self-sacrifice instead of our current tradition of egotism and self-pampering. Unfortunately, most people don't know his story, and those that do rarely think about it or connect it to this day at all. If you don't know the legend, I strongly suggest you look it up. It might inspire more in you for this day than the normal run-of-the-mill Valentine's Day tradition.

So here's a few ideas for Valentine's Day that I got while thinking about the real Saint Valentine. Of course we don't all have to do these; I don't even know if I will, but at least it's a chance to skip the secular traditions and do something that means something:

Instead of sending tacky cards exhorting someone to "be my Valentine", we could send a card exhorting someone to look outside himself/herself for real love. Instead of giving silly conversation hearts to our friends, we could start up a real conversation with them about the real meanings of "sacrifice", "love", and "commitment". Instead of buying a box of chocolates... Well we all like chocolate so do that anyway, but we could also send a donation to a charitable organization or helping out someone who may not be as fortunate as ourselves. Instead of spending time asking ourselves about the states our love lives, spend a few moments calling our Representatives or Senators and asking them why they haven't done anything to preserve what is left of the state of "marriage" in our country.