Saturday, February 13, 2016

How best to celebrate this Valentine’s Day

Today, February 14, is St. Valentine’s Day also known as Lovers Day. An internet source claims that: “The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realising the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.” Did you know that an approximately 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas?

Already Nigeria’s entertainment industry has keyed into making Valentine’s Day celebration colourful. Musicians, comedians, thespians, promoters, radio and television stations often collaborate to organise comedy, musical and film shows in commemoration of the day. The colour code for Valentine gigs is red or a touch of it. A lot of people particularly youths make a heavy weather of celebrating the Lovers Day. They save up for the day to take out their loved ones. It’s also the day many find courage to ‘toast’ or confess their love to someone they admire and want to date. In doing so, they buy them special gifts ranging from exotic cards to perfumes, wrist-watches, mobile phones, dresses, shoes and other sundry items they assume will catch the fancy of their date. More often than not, the day ends with winning and dinning.

These days, celebration of St. Valentine’s Day has ceased to be a secular event. Many religious houses like churches are also organising feasts for their church members particularly those in SSS (single and still searching) class as well as married couples. Such events have different sessions like musicals, prayers, counseling, exchange of gifts and dinner. It’s a programme where married couples rekindle their love while those in search of whom to marry are properly guided on how to make Godly choices of life partners.

Quite unfortunately, many young men see the day as a day to lust after ladies and engage in sexual perversion. They often claim that their ‘heavy investment’ in buying their girl-friends special gifts and taking them out to attend shows and dinners should willy-nilly be reciprocated with sex. Am sure if a survey was to be taken, it would be discovered that February 14 of every year is the day people globally have sex most. This need not be so. Granted that there is no particular day sex is banned in the 365 days of the year and people should feel free to express their love to one another, it needs not be a commercialised sex in the mode of ‘I buy you gift and you give me sex’. 

Most worrisome is that the sexual escapades young people engage in on Lovers Day are sometimes unprotected which predisposes them to the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Staphylococcus and the most dreaded HIV/AIDS. Even when they are not at risk of STDs, their reckless behaviour on a day like this can result in unwanted pregnancies and concomitantly illegal abortion or unwanted children. This has the capacity to terminate some young people’s dream of good education and blissful marital life. In celebrating this year’s Lovers Day therefore, we should eschew avoidable risky behaviors including drunkenness which may lead to unpleasant consequences.      

This day should not also be about couples or lovers alone. It should be a day to show love to the less privileged in our society. There are millions of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria at present. A day like this should warrant our mobilising resources to buy them food, clothing and things that will alleviate their harrowing conditions in the IDP camps. For the rich and influential people among us, we can legally and legitimately offer to adopt some of the children already orphaned by terrorism in parts of this country. We can offer to give them scholarships to go to schools in safe environment.

Other things we could do in commemorating this year’s Valentine’s Day is to go on prison visitation and pay the fines of as many of the convicts who have been given the options of fine but could not raise it, hence having to serve avoidable prison terms. We can help with the rehabilitation of some ex-convicts thereby giving them a second chance to live a decent, crime free life. The wealthy among us can go to hospitals and assist to pay the medical bills of some of the poor, sick patients. We can go to orphanages, home for the disabled, as well as old people’s home and celebrate this Valentine’s Day with them. We can show love to our alma mater on this day by offering to repair some of the dilapidated structures or donating equipments and books that will advance learning and enhance quality education in the schools where we were moulded to become somebody of importance we are today.   The poor widows in our midst deserve our kind and financial gestures today.

Yes, love is in the air and should be demonstrated to all and sundry. The poor, the sick, the orphan, the ex-convict, the weak, the oppressed, the IDPs and many more. We can show love to ourselves too. How? By shunning our evil ways and live right. By being good, patriotic and selfless citizens. Remember, we are the world; we are the ones to make life a better place. Happy Valentine’s Day!