While many thousands of protesters rally in Australia’s Capital, Canberra, this weekend to have their voices heard in a cry for Freedom against government mandates, most of the rest of the country and the world will be out exercising their freedom by buying sweets, flowers and cards to send as a symbol of romantic love on 14th February – Valentine’s Day. Others of course will not. Mainly seen as another contemporary economic opportunity in a society propelled by money, most western countries profit by the rituals and symbols which have grown from probable early Christian beliefs like Lupercalia’s whipping of women in to a major day of sentimentality.
Non-Christian faiths have denounced this capitalist push for yet another spending spree as not having any foundation in their beliefs, while secular countries which pick up any threads of ancient connections to anyone named Valentine, saint or not, freely admit the origins of this day are very tenuous and murky indeed. If you pull on the ends on any of these historical threads, they quickly unravel or they are so short the grip releases.
No, I am not the Grinch of Valentine’s Day. Businesses will take advantage of every opportunity that comes along to boost their livelihood, and that’s the nature of marketing. People will be drawn in by smart marketing and choose to spend their money however they wish. I get that.
It’s just that I cannot really understand why the tokens of cupids, red roses and soppy Hallmark cards showering billions of dollars everywhere for one day of the year win over so many while kindness, love, inclusion, peaceful and neighbourly words and actions we could be promoting on every day of the year don’t have the same spending power. Well perhaps I can – it’s about gestures which help us escape from repetitive work days, escape from guilt about domestic violence, escape from the mundane just by swiping a credit card, but then allow the routines of life to return without having to commit to actions of change.
Anyway, here’s to a happy Monday 14th, however you choose to celebrate it – I am just grateful we have the freedom here in Australia to protest about Freedom and the freedom to buy red roses any day of the year.