Kindness vs Chocolates

Boy soldier avoiding the draft in Roman times.

Valentine was a priest in Rome and was martyred on 14th February in the year 269 (that’s an awful long time ago but we still remember him). Some legends tell us he annoyed the emperor because he performed weddings of young men to help them dodge the draft. The emperor wanted single men as soldiers so they would not be distracted from getting themselves killed on the battlefield because of the wife and kids back home.

He is said to have written his final letter from prison to a young girl he had previously healed of blindness and signed it ‘from your Valentine” (in Latin of course).

In recent times Valentine’s Day has been a great money spinner for chocolate makers, red-rose gardeners and greeting card companies (although the internet has caused a downturn in card company profits). Giving that special person a gift on this day in February is a lovely thing to do, although spending quality time with them is probably a better long-term investment and a lot cheaper.

Unless of course, like Father Valentine, you are also in prison and don’t get quality time with anyone. Except perhaps your cellmate if you are unfortunate enough to be in a double bunking situation, but even then, quality time is usually low quality rather than high quality which I was meaning when I said ‘quality time’.

In the spirit of St Valentine, who seems to have been a thoroughly nice chap, you could take the day a step further and show kindness to everyone you meet, although not with chocolates and flowers (too expensive and could be misconstrued).  Kindness is a powerful, positive way of relating to people. Being kind is good for you and good for them. It could lead to world peace if everyone tried it at once.

Kindness involves a few simple steps:

  1. Be attentive to the other person.
  2. Listen to what they are saying.
  3. Acknowledge their emotions, i.e. what they are feeling.
  4. Should they want it, help them in some practical way (if you can).

If you are already in a long-term relationship is best not accompany being kind to others (apart from your partner) with flowers and chocolates, which have a distinctly romantic overtone. Just be kind to everyone you meet, including your partner. (Eat the chocolates yourself if you have already bought them for the wrong person and your partner is trying to lose weight).

On the other hand, if you are looking for a romantic partner this act of kindness might just be the beginning of something more lasting. You never know. By the way, I am no longer a marriage celebrant myself so can no longer officiate at your wedding – which reduces the chances of me getting martyred if your wedding is to avoid military service.

From your John

PS. That signature doesn’t quite have the same ring about it as when Valentine signed his letter 1755 years ago. From your Valentine

XXOO J. (oops, shouldn’t have done that.)

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