Friday, February 14, 2014

The Missed Opportunity of Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day. And when most people think of this day, they groan and moan about being single, or, if they're fortunate enough to be in a relationship, the obligations and expectations that arise out of a forced 'romantic' holiday. Valentine's Day today amounts to a large retail cash grab, an excuse to use emotional blackmail and slick marketing to convince people to spend money they don't usually have on overpriced dinners, flowers, chocolate and the evil empire that is Hallmark.

When I see Valentine's Day, I see a missed opportunity. Consider who Saint Valentine actually was and the relevance of his story. Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who defied draconic laws set out by the Roman state in times of war that couples could not marry. He's a political activist, as well as a romantic. He was martyred for protecting the fundamental right of people to love and marry freely without interference from the State. The State cannot tell you if you can marry or not; and in today's world, that argument can be expanded to WHO you can marry.

You know what I would like to see on Valentine's Day, other than Hollywood pumping out another bad formulaic movie that makes women look doe-eyed and hysterical? Other than the cheap chocolate hearts and paper trail Cupids? I would love to see advocates for marriage rights reclaim this important message and re-emphasize to the world that people are free to love. That people are free to choose. Millions of dollars are wasted on superficial trinkets and shallow expressions of love. Wouldn't it be good to see it put to better use?

I choose to see Valentine's Day as a reminder of the sacrifices people have made in the name of love and human rights. I hope that there's a time in the not-too-distance future where other people choose to do the same. Because marriage oppression is not a thing left to our distant past; for many in the world, it is still their reality and I can't think of a good reason why it should be.

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