Why, in hindsight, Valentine’s Day is very important.
Could it be that Valentines Day is a chance for parents and teachers to tell their children—and remind their friends—of a better sexual script? Perhaps it’s a convenient moment to affirm and convey that love is caring, thoughtful, and giving. Perhaps it’s an immovable part of our cultural narrative and, if removed, would be replaced by the worst kind of narrative: nothing.
I have never been one to celebrate Valentine’s Day, mostly in a spirit of loneliness, and perhaps bitterness if I was honest. But what if all this time I was missing the point? Maybe the spirit of Valentine’s Day isn’t about my personal romance but the role of romance in society, in the beauty of marriage and commitment and parenthood. I can support that, certainly over the muck and confusion that says that casual intimacy is okay and doesn’t mess you up (because it will, no doubt).
Besides, isn’t it better to be joyful than bitter, and celebrate something good (like self-giving love) over evil (like lust). Even I may have to admit: if we give up days like Valentines, we may in fact lose something other than diminished Hallmark stock. We may just lose the only holiday that expressly celebrates what most people really want: love.
is the editor of the Give section at Humane Pursuits
. She works in the nonprofit sector in Washington, DC, where she researches investment opportunities in criminal justice reform, free enterprise, and workforce development for The Philanthropy Roundtable
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