A time to say you love them

February 11, 2016   ·   0 Comments

No doubt you have noticed, especially if you are a patron of the dollar stores, that Valentine’s Day is coming (next Sunday, gents, in case you haven’t noted it).Well, I am all for chocolate and flowers, saucy little bits of underwear, a titillation in the air. A romantic dinner in or out, depending on the arrangements about washing the dishes later (“much later, sweetheart…”) and the restaurants appreciate the patronage.

Patricia always reckons Valentine’s should be a holiday. “A day celebrating love,” she declares, “deserves to be a national holiday!”

Of course, she is not talking about just romantic love, although she does have a terrific boyfriend. Her point has always been that it all counts. Mother love (pardon my gush), siblings, friends – all that are all to be celebrated on Valentine’s.

It goes back to the famous story of the monk, St. Valentine, who was put in a Spanish jail a thousand years ago. However, rather than brood on his own miseries, Valentine remembered the suffering of ordinary people, the poor, the disabused and he used to write little notes of love and encouragement. He found a way, so the story goes, of releasing these notes out his cell window so that they could be found by anyone walking by and bring a moment of light into those lives.

What of our own acknowledgement of this important date?

Maybe, our nation could celebrate Valentine’s in this manner: it is a wonderful, Canadian thing that we are bringing in thousands of refugees, saving them from unimaginable horrors in the Middle East. A pity that no one can stop that war – those wars – who can keep count?

As a young teenaged Syrian once said on a television interview: “We don’t want to leave Syria – we don’t want to come to your countries – we want to stay here – just stop the war!”

Still, they have to come here, there and anywhere to get out of the danger and the mess. Just imagine Syria, which was never a Third World country but one of an ancient civilisation with a history going back 7,000 years; there are (were?) ruins in Palmyra with samples of our first writings etched into columns; the fabulous city of Petra carved out of the red mountains (now partly destroyed, I believe); this country was rich in commerce with a population of many reasonably well to do and well educated people; now all are reduced to nothing but refugees escaping as best they can, along a trail of nightmares, with nothing left of their lives, which were quite decent even under the harsh regime of Bashar al-Assad.   

So, we have, with so much of the rest of the world, reached out to them and are bringing them to what they all hope will their new home. This cannot happen without difficulties, some of which have not even been considered yet. Those are slowly raising their ugly heads in the way of bigotry and suspicion, especially from the Americans who have reason to be fearful of who might come in on that wave of immigrants with “rush” stamped on their permits.

Back to how Valentine’s Day should be a marker for a re-view of an old government promise.

The real difficulty here will be the back lash from or on behalf of people struggling to survive in this country: there are Canadians who are poor, homeless, or being cut off by the outrageous Hydro in mid winter. Worst of all are the Canadian children going hungry in this rich, rich country that can afford to bring in 25,000 strangers, to rescue them – as we believe we should, keep in mind – to house and feed them for a year; find jobs for them where unemployment is an increasing problem – and so on…

In order to fully justify our own laudable charity toward people in peril coming from abroad, we must, at the same time, bring the level of despair and poverty under control amongst our own citizens. The 1989 promise to end child poverty in Canada by 2000, specifically, only ended in an increase to that national shame.

When we finally get our act together as to what our commercial strengths actually are: no longer oil and gas, for which it is now not economically viable to increase production for new pipelines. Now is the time to focus on our inventiveness and our brilliance, for when these begin to push the economy in new directions, Canada will become the economic powerhouse it should be.

Meanwhile, as individuals celebrating Valentine’s Day, please tell those you haven’t told for a long that you love them; extend an invitation – for tea, for anything. Use the day to indulge in the warm and fuzzy. It’s still winter, after all.

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