Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Few Thoughts on Valentine's Day

"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies have not traditionally posted a Valentine's Day message, but maybe it's not a bad idea.  It's a holiday devoted to romantic love, one of the highest and best things that can happen in anyone's life.  Love is one of the things that makes life worth living, and yes, it's worth celebrating.  Here are a few unrelated Valentine thoughts.

1. Romantic love is often thought to be a relatively recent (in historical terms) invention, a cultural thing, mostly Western.  Nonsense.  This is crackpotism.  Romantic feelings come naturally to people; it's not some recently acquired cultural behavior that we've just learned.  As evidence, you kind find it around the world, in entirely different cultures.  Maybe recognition of it, or a public emphasis on its importance, is relatively recent -- after all, it's a very individual thing, built from the values and feelings of two individuals -- but that's different.  The ability and tendency to it is inherent in us, reminding me of the notion of "aptic structures" (something I picked up reading Julian Jaynes).  In that sense, it's like our "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange," i.e. to engage in mutually beneficial trading.  It's always there, but only in a society which values each individual and protects her/his rights can it flourish.

2. Valentine's Day is un-Islamic, or so say the experts.  It invites lust and causes one to focus attention on useless matters.  Just in case it's not clear, romantic love is also un-Islamic (see "Firstly" and beyond).  Celebrating Valentine's Day is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and can one into considerable trouble in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and few other places that appear to have nothing in common other than Islam.  Here's provocative essay on the matter that links Islamic condemnation of romantic love with similar condemnation from the radical left.  It's a sort of corollary to my observations in point 1.  Creeds demanding total obedience are threatened by individualism and the rights of the individual.

3. My Valentine's Day, alas, wasn't what I'd hoped.  I had planned to see my Julie, who has brought so much happiness into my life, but weather issues made this a bit problematic.  (I was driving in intermittent whiteout, zero visibility; after I turned back I learned the highway ahead had a multiple car accident owing to this.)  It's a little depressing, but there's something much more important.  having someone I love, who loves me, and who is so ready to share adventures outweighs any momentary disappointment.  So from UC chief blogger Charles N. Steele -- Julie, I love you, and Happy Valentine's Day to our always-appreciated readers!

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