Although I'm no longer a practicing Catholic (or Christian for that matter), February 14th still resonates with me as a committed activist and evolving spirit. I understand why so many loathe this holiday because, once again, capitalism has robbed it of any substantive meaning. But if you look at the history behind this day, there is much to inspire both politically and spiritually, especially in these times of economic crisis, global terror and greedy warmongering.
In a nutshell, Valentine was a priest who was martyred for marrying soldiers. The ruler of his time was a relentless hawk. Because he waged endless war and this weighed heavily on the morale of his homesick soldiers, he banned marriage. Valentine defied him and married couples in secret until he was caught and executed.
Valentine's spirit particularly resonates with me today because of the movement to nullify the legal union of thousands of gay couples in the wake of Proposition 8. As a heterosexual woman who has the right to marry (and intends to one day soon), a person who is committed to social justice, a spiritual being that understands that the opposite of love is not hate but fear, and a heterosexual citizen who owes a great deal of debt to LGBTQ activists for my sexual liberation, February 14 holds new meaning for me. And it really is irrelevant to me whether or not marriage is an institution worth fighting for. The choice to express one's authentic self or not is alway worth fighting for, and until all of us can make that choice, that freedom is under constant threat for everyone. This is why one of my acts of love and resistance today will be devoted to beating back the forces of hate that would deny gay people the right to marry. Give them the choice. Let them decide for themselves - as heterosexual people do -- whether it's something they want to do or not.
And as a socialist at heart, I'm really not about conceding anything -- least of all a positive spiritual concept -- to the crass agenda of capital. I'm thankful for thousand things everyday, but I still make a point to be extra mindful on Thanksgiving. So I celebrate Valentine's Day, not because I don't show my love or appreciate the love I am fortunate to know every single day. So I send cards, blow kisses (real and virtual), call my loved ones, and continue to fight the good fight. To me, reclaiming this day and making it my own -- my socialist, feminist, spiritual-but-not-religious own -- is an act of love for myself, my family, my friends, my, community, my ancestors, my comrades.
It is also an act of resistance.
To watch a fun video about the man behind the holiday, click: