In less than 2 weeks, we will feast on sweet, sweet chocolates, candies, and endless tempting confections. In celebration of love, our countries will run with cocoa and sugar and flower petals and diamonds all to say "I love you". Awww, Shnookums, you really shouldn't have!
Cocoa plantations, sugar plantations, flower plantations, diamond mines… all for a single day. In 2008, Americans spent $17 billion all for the sake of Valentines; that's an average of $120/customer (www.globalfast.org/gfx/end_slavery.php). I can't emphasize enough: there are CHILDREN being enslaved on plantations in Cote D'Ivoire to pick our cocoa beans; people are stuck in squalid conditions in the Americas picking thorns off roses; men and woman scraping the earth so that rocks can decorate our bodies; and women and children are bought, sold, used and abused because Valentines Day is a glorified day of lust. And many of us are itching to celebrate.
How about something different this year?
Yeah, I know… I know… enough already! Isn't there one thing we can keep that DOESN'T trace back to slavery?
Go to the Love146 site and see how you can send Valentines cards to survivors — children who may never have had a free and pure gift in their lives. www.love146.org
Kids… if you're planning on handing out cards to all the kids in your class, maybe step out a little bit and don't be afraid to give the shy kid, weird kid, strange kid the best card out of the lot. Be brave and show them that they matter.
If you HAVE to buy chocolate or candy, look for the Fair Trade symbol on your products. Make sure your diamonds are violence-free. Ask where your flowers came from. This might sound like a lot, but to suggest that our loved ones are more important than the loved ones in chains making our presents is arrogant and shameful. What better way to show love than to care about strangers as well as the ones you love? No word of a lie… it's hard. But it's true.
Take a look at your significant other, tell them that you love them, go do the housework or give them a massage… and then take the money you would have spent and put a basket together for someone in a women's shelter (you don't have to know anyone's identity)… give it to the relief efforts in Haiti or the Congo… perform a random act of kindness and pay for the groceries of the person in front of you… the options are absolutely endless. We don't need sweets, flower and jewels to show one another love. By indulging in such extravagance we are killing people around the world. $17 billion???? Ludicrous.
And all most of us need is a tender hug from another human being.
Love isn't wrapped up in a truffle.