Modern commerce is an utter marvel. The ability of the business world to milk human sentiment into profit peaks stuns me year in year out. It is remarkable the efficiency with which they (and we as consumers) blur the raw sentiment behind many of the celebratory ‘days’ in our calendar year.
I understand the need for the tricks and trades of modern commerce – it really is what makes our social world go round – but what I always get touchy about is how each commercial season, regardless of the celebration, whatever idea was initially behind that celebration gets translated into buying presents ‘for those we love’. Needless to say, this means giving to those who already have, both materially and emotionally.
It is definitely a good thing that we have special days, like the upcoming Valentine’s Day, to celebrate special relationships we have with people because we really do so often forget to acknowledge the importance of other people’s presence in our lives. However, it is also true that these people do tend to know that they are loved even if they are not stocked with roses and brownies 365 days of the year. Why not take the themes behind all of these ‘special days’ and use them as inspiration to celebrate it on much wider community scale?
If Saint Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, then why not use this as the opportunity to tell someone who is not told nearly enough by anyone that he or she is cared for?
Can you imagine what a group of children would feel like if another group of people came into their orphanage one lovely Monday afternoon and gave them each a little piece of cake or a toy and played with them for that entire afternoon? They won’t know who you are but the impact of someone dedicating an afternoon to making them smile is so much more substantial than you baking brownies for people who can bake their own.
From personal experience I know just how much it means to the residents of homes for the aged to have random strangers wander in and talk to them individually, take an interest in their lives and opinions and let them tease us with ‘back when I was your age...’. Why not take each resident a flower and help them remember romance past (or even present!)?
There are so many ways of celebrating this event outside of the little box we know and love so well and there are so many people in our struggling little island who need to be told that there are other Sri Lankans who care about them. So take a moment, think of someone who truly needs it and go be their Valentine.
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