Against Quixotic Appeals To Principle

What you’re about to read is a specific complaint that generalizes. I’ll describe a particular kind of situation, and then I’ll explain how the same sentiment can be found elsewhere, and ought to be eliminated.

I’ve heard many people on many occasions lament Valentine’s Day as a “corporatist” holiday or a “made-up” holiday, or etc. They don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day because they don’t want to submit to a consumerist sham that obliges them to be romantic with their significant other, merely for the financial gain of Big Greeting Card. When pressed, these folks will often say something to the effect of, “I don’t need a designated day for being romantic. I can be romantic any day at all.” So, the argument goes, screw Valentine’s Day.

Here’s my real simple, two-penny argument against that. I get to be romantic with my wife 365 days in a year, while those people who are against Valentine’s Day only get to be romantic with their significant others, at most, 364 days in a year.

365 > 364, ergo my way is better.

Stop being a stubborn jerk and celebrate Valentine’s Day. Don’t do it for Big Greeting Card, do it for your significant other.

Now, this kind of “hot take” approach to defeating time-tested social rituals might get you a few page impressions on BuzzardFeed or whatever, but it’s ruining your life, one day at a time. First, it ruins Valentine’s Day; but that’s not one day of your life, that’s one day of your life multiplied by however many years your life lasts. The next day this sentiment ruins is your wedding day, which you refuse to plan because you’re convinced that “I don’t need a piece of paper to prove my love to somebody.” Then it ruins your wedding night and the day after your wedding, two irreplaceable unique human experiences that you don’t get to know about, because you’re convinced weddings are antiquated. Then, this sentiment ruins every single day of the honeymoon you didn’t take, followed by every wedding anniversary you’re never going to have.

But hey, some say, it’s your life. No big deal. The only problem is that if you decide to raise a child, then that child also gets to have his or her Valentine’s Days ruined, and he or she gets the honor of awkwardly explaining to all his or her classmates that he/she has a mom and a dad, but they’re not married, and they’re not divorced, and they live together, but um... they don’t think they need a piece of paper to signify their love to society. So a whole bunch of that kid’s days are ruined, too, times however many kids you decide to raise, up until the point they decide they want to perpetuate your cynicism onto the next generation, or until they finally declare that enough is enough and they’re going to start celebrating Valentine’s Day no matter what you say.

Of course, we’re really just scratching the surface here. Many of the same people who are against Valentine’s Day and the institution of marriage are also against monogamy. So their significant others not only get to be not-married for the rest of their lives, but they also get to enjoy the knowledge that you’re not really committed to them in any sort of exclusive sense of the term. You have crushes on other people and you talk about your crushes with your significant other. Boy, I bet that’s a fun convo, too. But your significant other need not worry too much about any of that if he or she is “truly secure in the relationship,” whatever that means to you.

And so on, down the list of social institutions you get to theoretically object to on some flimsy principle, until each and every one of your days is so full of non-commital cynicism that absolutely everything human civilization developed over the course of twenty thousand years gets a big fat “meh.”

At that point, what’s left to do but plop onto the couch and binge-watch Netflix. Now you’re living!

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