On Valentine’s Day we buy cards and sweets and flowers and give them to those we love. Every year we can enjoy the romance of it, or we can complain because of the lack of a sweetheart. This day points out, more than most, the need for humans to have a significant “other”, upon whom we can lavish affection. So who’s big idea was this, anyway?
Researching St. Valentine, we find that there are lots of rumors, fables, and myths that surround him. He may have been an Italian martyr who was beheaded by Claudius II. He might have been a compilation of several Saints with the same name. No one seems to be sure of the exact details of his story. Yet, here we are about 1800 years later, claiming him as the patron of love, seduction, and chocolate!
Whatever St. Valentine’s story may be, it gives us the opportunity to reflect upon those who willingly give their lives for a belief. Some people cling to their Religion strongly and will give up all else in defense of it; some people have political ideologies that they stand behind, and, in the end, will sacrifice everything to defend. Certainly anyone in the military has to take an oath to defend the principles of their Country.
There are all kinds of belief systems. Some may seem foolish to us, yet they hold validity for those who espouse them. We, as a species, have such a variety of reasons to get up in the morning. For some of us, it is our family. For others our work. Still others have the motivation to make the World a better place by helping. Almost all of us find a construct that makes life worth living.
For those who seem to derive their motivation from their own super-inflated ego and its demands, I hope today they will take a cue from St. Valentine: his name comes from a latin word that means “worthy”. Maybe they will miraculously see that to be worthy of adulation, one must actually do something for others. We can only hope.
I have read that for people to find meaning in their lives, they have to believe in something. I believe I will have a donut. Happy Valentine’s Day!