I imagine that across the world (at least in some industrialized nations), people are gearing up for Valentine's Day. Before the madness sets in tomorrow, let us consider this holiday:
--I feel the same about this holiday as I do about New Year's Eve--why spend that extra money just because marketers have decided that we should?
--To me, this feast day is essentially a manufactured holiday, yet another one, designed to make us feel like we must spend gobs and gobs of money to demonstrate our love.
--If you want to show me you love me, don't spend thousands on a bauble. Go ahead and pay down the mortgage. It may not seem romantic on its face, but what could be more romantic than ensuring that I have a roof over my head and a door that locks.
--And there's a larger social justice element, even beyond the question of how we spend our money and the best use of that money. This blog post reminds us of how many of our Valentine's Day traditions are built on the backs of abused workers--and not just abused workers, but enslaved workers and children: "70-75% of the world’s chocolate comes from cocoa beans harvested in West Africa, where almost 2 million children work under violent and hazardous conditions. Many of these children are kidnapped or sold (some as young as 7 years old) and forced into such labor." The statistics are similar for our roses, our diamonds, our technology, and our stuffed animals.
--I do understand why people want a holiday in the long winter months to celebrate love. But I also understand how this holiday is painful to many: those who have lost the loves of their lives, those who have never experienced the love for which they yearn, those who love in a different way. After all, this holiday doesn't celebrate all love, but one certain kind of love, and the societal hype reinforces ideas that may get in the way of a realistic approach to relationships.
--Every day, ideally, should be Valentine's Day, a day in which we try to remind our loved ones how much we care--and not by buying flowers, dinners out, candy, and jewelry. We show that we love by our actions: our care, our putting our own needs in the backseat, our concern, our gentle touch, our loving remarks.
--I think that in America we do a bad job of learning how to manage our emotional lives. We think our feelings are real. We forget that the emotion we have today will likely be gone by tomorrow. We forget that our bad feelings are often triggered by all sorts of things that have nothing to do with how we really feel. Low blood sugar has caused many a fight--and probably more divorces and break-ups than we like to think about. Many of us go through daily life fatigued. We think our boredom and sadness are caused by our families or our friends or our jobs--and that might be the case--or we might just need more sleep.
So, as we begin the mad rush to Valentine's Day, let us take a moment to remember the gift of being able to love each other. Let us remember God, who first loved us, and who will love us long after all other love falls away.
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago