Monday, February 14, 2011

The Tragedy Of Valentine- History Repeats Itself

More than two millennia after the persecution of Christians under the Roman pagans, and the execution of St. Valentine, a new form of oppression has returned to haunt us. The perpetrators this time are not Roman centurions, but rather the National Fatwa Council, elements of PAS, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister himself.

I suppose we are not the only country in the global headlines for banning Valentines Day. At least we have Iran ( yes, nuclear bomb building, extremist, US and UN defying Iran). Not exactly the best of countries to be compared with. Iran too, has spoken against Valentine's Day, the official reason being that it was getting too popular, therefore it had to be stopped. No wonder no political opponents can surface in Iran, they must have been stopped for the exact same reason. Hmph. I, for one, can wholehearted say, that I am firmly against the ban.

Now, before a flurry of assaults will condemn me as a Hallmark holiday activist, Christian evangelist, anti-PAS or anti-BN, or whatever label they wish to throw at me, allow me to explain. Firstly, I am not a particular fan of them, all the mushy gooey stuff, and flowers going round at ridiculously inflated prices. Secondly, I am not Christian. Thirdly, I have great respect for those PAS members whom are well educated, firm in their principles, and stand up for them. I cannot say the same for the latter. So you may wonder, why on earth am I kicking up a fuss about Valentine's Day since it does not really concern me?

Because I believe in rights. I believe that all of us, have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of action as enshrined in the Constitution. Every one should have the right to celebrate a day of significance. A day which, though it is affiliated with a Christian priest, has evolved throughout the ages to become something else. To prove my point, let me divulge into the origins of Valentines Day. It is said that Valentine was a priest in the Roman ages. At the time, Emperor Claudius disallowed men from marrying as he needed them ready to be drafted as soldiers. The soldiers who defied this order, and wanted to marry, went to Valentine, who as a priest, presided over their marriages. When the Emperor found out, Valentine was executed. The date: February 14. This is the generally accepted story regarding the origins of Valentines Day. Therefore, by looking at the date, it is in fact a day of mourning for a noble man, who stood up for people's rights. A man, who recognized that everyone should have the right to marry, to choose their companion for life, and died a martyr's death for that cause. So in actual fact, Valentines Day does not celebrate Christianity. It celebrates human rights! 

Now look at it from another angle. Some may argue that it has somewhat Christian origins, because it was inspired by a priest, therefore it is 'haram'. However, one only needs to look into its history to see that it was never celebrated as a religious festival. Also, if Valentines Day should be banned, so one might as well ban Father's Day and Mother's Day, with the former first conceived by a Christian lady, and the latter originating as a Greek pagan festival. My point is this: the only constant in this world is change. Sunday used to be a holy day for pagans honoring the Sun God, now it is a day of worship for Christian; the Kaabaa was once used by the Quraisy to worship pagan deities, now it is a holy place for followers of Islam. Valentines Day may have once upon a time had connections to religion, but no more. It is now simply a day where people appreciate each other, and find time to express their affection for each other. Is not showing love, and loving others encouraged amongst all races, all religions?

Another argument that has surfaced amongst supporters of this move to ban Valentines Day ( and crack down on couples) is that Valentines Day encourages immoral activities and I quote from Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, "In reality, as well as historically, the celebration of Valentine's Day is synonymous with vice activities". Rrrrrrright. So by vice activities I must assume he means consuming alcohol, gambling, not wearing panties, and khalwat. Firstly, I would like to challenge him to present his evidence to his statement. As far as I know, in reality, as well as historically, Valentines Day has always been a day to celebrate love, by exchanging gifts and what not. Hmm. Secondly, I must point out to him that Valentines Day, in no way, encourages vice. Think about it, if a person is morally right and a religious man, would he succumb to the "dark influence" of Valentines Day and fall into vice? And if a person is the type that would be inclined to commit vice on Valentines Day, wouldn't he do it every other day? Do you think a person who commits khalwat on Valentines Day does so because of Valentines Day? Think about it logically and rationally. By issuing such a statement, he is projecting an image that Muslims are so very easily influenced, and so very easily tempted and swayed, which cannot be further from the truth. If one is strong willed, he will never sway; if one is weak willed, he will always grab the first opportunity that comes along and blame it on something else.

As such, I urge the BN and PAS government to reconsider their move. Politically, rationally, socially, and in some ways even religiously, it is a mistake, and only serves to heighten racial tensions and throw Malaysia into the very very very sour 'lime' light once again. And to those who can see the bigger picture, Happy Valentines Day to you.

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