St-Valentine's Day: Selfish love v "universal love"
St-Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and thus this is a good occasion to remind ourselves of what the day is all about.
Valentine's Day, like many other holidays on the Christian calendar, is of pagan origins.
All ancient societies celebrated love days in the spring to ensure the fertility of crops and the birth of babies.
The Babylonians had a feast for Ishtar and Tammuz; the Egyptians for Isis and Osiris; Indians for Kara; and the Greeks for Proapus, Demeteer and Dionysus. Ancient societies were very concerned about fertility, so these spring rites were celebrated through dances, dramas and incantations to control the unpredictable forces of nature.
When Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. When Valentine was caught performing marriages in secret, the emperor sentenced him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards –beheaded. The happy event took place on February 14, around the year 270. Nice. How do you get from what is, lets face it, a pretty grizzly execution, to dopey couples staring love struck into each others eyes?
Ironically, I know. Mid February was traditionally the time of the Lupercian festival, an ode to the God of fertility and a celebration of sensual pleasure, a time to meet and court a prospective mate. In AD 496, the Pope of the time outlawed the pagan festival, but replaced it with a similar celebration that he deemed morally suitable. Therefore he needed a "lovers" saint to replace the pagan deity Lupercus. The martyred Bishop Valentine was chosen as the patron saint of the new festival – because of his involvement in uniting young lovers, and also because before his execution, Valentine himself had fallen in love with his jailer's daughter. He signed his final note to her, "From Your Valentine", a phrase that has lasted until today.
Unfortunately for the Pope, people didn’t emulate the life of the saint as he hoped they would. Instead they latched onto the more romantic aspects of Saint Valentines life. While not immediately as popular as the more passionate pagan festival, eventually the concept of celebrating true love became known as Valentine's Day.
A "pagan" holiday co-opted by the Christians for their own fanatic purposes. Where have we heard this before? Oh yea, that's how every single "Christian holiday" started. Zero points for originality, godboys! Fortunately, we seculars are just as good at co-opting stupid Christian holidays for our own purposes. St-Valentine's Day is, fortunately, not about marriage or getting executed: it's about love, an emotion which finds its only true expression in the materialist worldview.
Love is about recognizing your values in other things or people, about sharing these values with those people. Love is a personal connection between two individuals. When shared, love is a union between two individuals, when their interests intertwine and they share purpose. It is the highest level of sharing.
The religious concept of love (agape) represents blind unconditional acceptance. One is supposed to "love God" (how does one love something which is unfathomable and with which one cannot interact?), "love one's enemies," "love one's neighbours," as a duty, with no eye to one's values. This is natural, since Christianity is anti-values and anti-individualist. It would hardly behoove such a nasty belief system to affirm any kind of love. The love they propose, this agape, has nothing to do with love. The best word to describe it is insanity.
Love is not sacrificing; rather, it is one of the most selfish emotions of all. We love people because they bring us great joy and comfort, not because it is our duty. Love out of duty and belief is worthless. Why would I want anyone to love me because it is their duty? The very notion is nauseating (but then again, so is most of Christianity).
By the way, the Cupid comes from Greek mythology, too. No surprises here either!