The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Finding the Saint in Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day having recently passed, a fancy dinner enjoyed and digested, a movie ticket stub still hanging about my jacket pocket and a sentimental card from my loving boyfriend standing proud on my shelf, I can’t help but reflect on what the day has come to represent in Western culture. “Love” is the obvious definition of choice, but love for whom, exactly? For my parents, the celebration of love has become less about themselves and more about their children on whom they still dote and send on a Valentine’s scavenger hunt in search of a handmade felt heart stocking filled with goodies…despite our being no younger than 15. For many couples without children it most consistently represents a day of celebrating their relationship, much like an anniversary. Singles will choose either to ignore the holiday altogether, blaming the floral, candy and greeting card companies for the harsh reminder that they are, in fact, still single, while others will embrace the silver lining and recognize those loving relationships that exist outside of romance, perhaps in an evening of fun and games with close, similarly single, friends.

These definitions of sharing and expressing love are all well and good, but they are admittedly self-serving. It’s easy to show love to those who love you in return, but what about showing love to those who haven’t even a home, let alone someone to call their “Valentine”? How are we giving love to those who have been the victims of human trafficking and child abuse and domestic violence and any other number of horrors? Or, on a smaller scale, how are we loving those who do the tasks that make our daily lives better: the Starbucks barista who delivers your much needed morning brew, the maintenance staff who brave the university bathrooms and painstakingly dust four stories of planters and railings, the fellow driver who doesn’t give you cause for obscenities? All these should be shown at least some small degree of the outpouring of kindness we give our more significant loved ones.

Typically it’s during Thanksgiving and Christmas that we turn our gaze on the downtrodden folks. We sit at our feasts and tear through our gifts, perhaps pausing a moment to acknowledge that there are those who are less fortunate and possibly having donated a day or two at a soup kitchen or shelter to get in our yearly philanthropy. We recognize the impoverished and the victimized on those days when, for most of us, our gifts are tangible, so why not on the one day of the year when the intangible is being given? Love and kindness are just as much in demand as are blankets, canned goods and donations, though certainly the giving of such items can be representative of those feelings.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is not the only day upon which we should be loving and kind to others, but for those, myself much included, who have not fully put into practice the daily expression of love for their fellow man, we might take it as a baby step. It’s time we put the “saint” back in St. Valentine’s Day and double the celebration factor by not only loving and being loved by those close to us but to and by those who will doubly appreciate a good deed. Perhaps activist Chiara Lubich summed up Valentine’s Day best, “We should live in such a way that in our last hours we will not regret having loved too little.” Here’s to loving daily and no regrets!

-Heather Maupin


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