Written by Adeoye Oyewole - Nigeria
Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day or the feast of Saint Valentine is a holiday observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not a holiday in most of them.
Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one the earliest Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were later invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14 and added to later martyrologies.
A popular account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing wedding for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
According to legend, during his imprisonment, he helped the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, whom he wrote a letter signed "Your Valentine" as farewell. The day was later associated with romantic love in the high middle ages when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
In the 18th Century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, confectioneries and sending greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine's keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol of a tool to unlock the giver's heart."
The modern day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged cupid. The day is observed all over the world and has the same overall message of love. The celebration of Valentine cuts across age, race and social class, with embellishments peculiar to the particular group.
Over all, it is a day folks make special commitment to give love, receive love and recommit themselves to the tenets of love. The most important aspect of life is relationship, hence the measure of quality of life is essentially the appraisal of the relationship in the person's life. Beyond the material physical life, our life reflects satisfaction or frustration in the quality of relationships in our lives.
Our relationships with one another and in different settings remain the template to invest love or hatred, which invariably determines our mental well-being. It is interesting to know that the questions that constitute validated psychological instruments for measuring mental well-being or otherwise investigate the amount of love in our relationships.
As we interact with one another, we offend, cross psychological boundaries capable of inflicting psychic pain on others, no matter the level of our development. A good number of mental illnesses arise from the mismanagement of our relationships. Deeds of omission or commission, blatant insensitive words are capable of inflicting psychological injury.
Our modern marriages are challenged because of various competing selfish interests capable of causing injury to our mental well-being when love is deficient in our relationships. Even our places of work are riddled with all sorts of conflicts, community clashes and, of late, terrorism.
Beyond the barrels of gun and courtroom fireworks, love is the crucial ingredient for healing broken relationships. Love has a creative and reconstructive element to it, such that it is indispensable in any life. Every human being, irrespective of age, race and status, desires to love and be loved. No wonder the enormous commercial and social investments that go into the celebration of Valentine worldwide.
Love is a deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment and endearment. Beyond these emotional qualities of love, it also has a mystical connotation as a principle of life which makes it a central theme of all religions. Take love out of human existence and chaos emerges.
Love, at its best, transcends fleeting emotions of self-gratification, sex or intimacy. In mystical parlance, love is the bedrock of sacrificial commitment to the utmost good of my neighbour. It is a psychological capacity emanating from some form of mystical experience that transcends selfishness, social class, tribe or religion.
Genuine and mature love is more than selfish emotional gratification that refuses to take responsibility. Young people are easily deceived by the chemistry, the emotional firework they have for the opposite sex, which is mere infatuation that lacks the quality of self-transcendence and responsibility. Love, as a mental attitude, remains the most important attribute that our world needs today to heal our broken relationships that serve as substrate for mental illness.
A lot of lives are broken because of the absence of love. I wish I could make tablets of love and give to my patients to heal them. Let us make a commitment today to engage our relationships on the premise of self-transcendent love. It is the greatest investment for mental well-being as hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness will be eliminated.
This Val's Day should be an opportunity for us to heal our broken relationships and invest the self-transcendent love in all the dimensions of our lives. This will definitely add up to our overall mental well-being.