As many of you have noticed, I don’t often submit an introductory article, or referring to allow content from others take priority and space over my musings.But, I feel like I can’t help but take a few moments to explain the theme of this issue. Yes, it’s February, and yes, I am focusing on that theme for which February is probably best known. Aside from being the shortest month, and aside from the numerous celebrations ranging from President’s Day to National Tater Tot Day (yes, it’s a thing), all seem to be drowned out by that observance of the Feast of Saint Valentine.Whether one loves it or hates it, signs of love pop up everywhere, and as the calendar slowly ambles to the 14th, imagery of flowers, hearts, chocolates, and other symbols of the day become more and more prevalent.
I’ll admit, I have grown tired of this celebration that has imposed such… rich.. imagery on the remembrance of a man who, depending on the source, was martyred and buried in 273 CE. Indeed, as noted by some sources, “apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14”. However, it is understandable as to why it was Valentine who received the honor of being the torchbearer for our modern expressions of love. Simply, legends of the saint hold that Saint Valentine was “a priest of Rome who was imprisoned for succoring persecuted Christians.”. Of the better known aspects of this legend, Valentine is said to have, “performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry” and to have “heal[ed] Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer”.
Regardless of ones religious convictions, and regardless of ones views of the focus on just one aspect of Valentine’s legendary acts, perhaps there is something to be taken from the simple principle of caring for those in need. Certainly, we in Mensa all can identify times when we were in need of help and a kind other offered it, or of having the opportunity to extend that same kindness to others. Perhaps we can each look to these principles this February and, perhaps a bit more than we might typically, recognize the humanism that seems to be at the heart of this celebration. Perhaps February 14th might mean something a bit different to us this year. And perhaps that same spirit that runs through so many national traditions, the spirit of love and unity, might manifest itself a bit more poignantly this month. Perhaps.
Dianne Khan, LocSec, Maryland Mensa