Dorothea Mordan’s Good Day Neighbor Column, 2/2023
Traditions come from somewhere.
Saint Valentine is a composite of historic religious figures that includes St. Valentine of Viterbo, St. Valentine of Raetia, and others who share martyrdom because of their beliefs. Their lifeworks, and stories have combined into the legendary St. Valentine, patron saint of such disparate areas as love, epilepsy and beekeeping. St. Valentine is thought to have been a priest and physician. In his life as an early Christian priest he married couples according to that faith. This was in the 3rd century, A.D. during the end of the Roman Empire, and so was against the laws of that time. As a physician, St. Valentine was said to have cured blindness, including that of a daughter of the jailer where he was held at the end of his life.
Changes in society’s tolerance, religious or otherwise, happen over long stretches of time. Christianity, once established, was just as capable of producing leaders who would martyr nonbelievers, as did the Roman Emperors who fed Christians to the lions. Social change has long inspired humans to kill. It was, and still is, bad behavior.
The almost 2000 years since St. Valentine’s death have delivered us a holiday to celebrate love and chocolate. The story of St. Valentine, though, is at its heart, the story of a caregiver. One reason his story persists is that we each need acceptance and understanding. What is more proof of that than having a day to celebrate your partner in love and life.
Caregivers have the same objective as the St. Valentines of the world — to shake up society, hoping to bring change for those in need. Whether it is medical, spiritual, or economic, the groups that inspire them are usually the under-served and forgotten. Consider if you need what the St. Valentines of the world do.
The impact that caregivers have, is an inspiration for cultural shift from “me” to “we”. A large amount of our current public political debate is centered on what is good in it for ME. Just by saying that private business/medical practice and our social structure and economy would be better than a social safety net organized by the government doesn’t make it so. The reverse is also true. The government, no matter how well-intentioned, cannot replace…