A Valentine’s reality check

I was always that person who wore black on Valentine’s Day, and even today it is hard for me to understand the appeal of a holiday that does nothing else but spread manufactured joy. Call me a pessimist. Call me bitter. Whatever it is, I see something wrong with Valentine’s Day.

Newspapers print fluffy stories about high school sweethearts or long lost loves. Everyone hands out candy and cards. For the record, I blame the handing out of candy and cards on Valentine’s Day for most of my problems as an adult.

I don’t think it can get more embarrassing for a young, dashing second grader only to receive cards in class from the teacher and the girl who picks her nose.

I could be exaggerating, or I could be on to something.

Some might say when the world is bombarded with negative images of intelligence malfunctions and “wardrobe malfunctions,” taking retreat in a holiday that promotes love and togetherness is a good thing.

I say why spend one day forgetting about reality when we can spend more time living in it. Why on Feb. 14 do we hand out little pieces of disgusting candy that say “Kiss Me,” when two days earlier we wanted to tell that same person to kiss something else?

There are people in this country who believe our social fabric will completely deteriorate if two gay adults get married. Those same people believe that inserting discrimination into our Constitution is the best idea since the George Foreman Grill.

There are millions of people dying across the world because of AIDS; little girls are being trafficked for sex. Parents are losing their jobs; sick kids are getting sicker because their health care coverage ran out and minorities are still being persecuted because of their faith or the color of their skin.

College-aged students get together on Valentine’s Day to party, go out to dinner, club hop and have a good time, basking in their independence and freedom. They forget about school and homework and think about that one other person in their life who means so much to them.

Think about Srey Mom and Srey Neth, two teenage prostitutes rescued from a Cambodian brothel. Their story and the deplorable problem of sex trafficking was highlighted in a brilliant series of columns by The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof detailing how he purchased them to set them free from a life in prostitution.

If college-aged students, and all people for that matter, really want to make a difference in the world, spend this Valentine’s Day thinking about someone else. Think about the men and women fighting for our freedom in Iraq. Think about the children whose parents can’t afford to put food on the table. Think about the hundreds of other children in this country who are abducted and murdered every year like Carlie Brucia.

Valentine’s Day is about more then just wearing red and pretending you’re happy, even though a lot of people, including myself, will be spending yet another Valentine’s Day alone. I know the holiday is about more then shallow, self-centered, egotistical, corporate manufactured bliss run rampant.

I don’t mean to sound negative or, believe it or not, bitter. I think we live in a world where people blow themselves up to kill innocent people, and all of us should spend more time thinking about the reality of life. We should spend everyday like Valentine’s Day, minus the candy and chocolate, because we know what that can do to you.

We should all promote a world where war is fought only as a last resort, where politicians rely only on the most reliable intelligence and where people live side by side equally, no matter their race, gender or ethnicity.

So, that said, have fun this Valentine’s Day. Hand out little pieces of candy and chocolate and let this Valentine’s Day be the first day of a new way of looking at life.

Charlie Eder is a sophomore majoring in mass communications and political science.