Legend has it that in Rome during the third century, Emperor Claudius II discovered single men made better soldiers than those married with children. He outlawed marriage for young men. Saint Valentine, seeing the injustice in this decree, went against Claudius and performed weddings for young men and women in secrecy.
On this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to step out into the light and realize how lucky we are to be able to love each other freely for who we truly are.
On a campus as diverse as Fresno State’s, we see all kinds of love. It ranges from couples holding hands along the mall, friends laughing and studying in the student union, to family members helping each other with homework in the Henry Madden Library.
Political views are divisive, religious views can create tension between belief systems and cultural views may perpetuate stereotypes, but the one thing that can break through almost anything and unify people of all backgrounds is love.
Because love manifests itself in so many ways, it’s important to realize and embrace each other literally and figuratively – as long you’re into that kind of thing.
All healthy and consensual forms of love are valid and shouldn’t be questioned. Interracial relationships shouldn’t be subjected to prejudice, long-distance relationships shouldn’t be thought of as unimportant and same-sex relationships shouldn’t be condemned.
Now more than ever, the basic human rights of those around the country are at stake. At the heart of these social-justice issues lies a lack of understanding and empathy for the people whose rights could be taken away.
The bottom line is students on and off Fresno State’s campus want to feel welcomed and accepted, and it’s the responsibility of the student body and campus administrators to facilitate an environment that encourages acceptance and love.
From empathy stems understanding, and it’s with that attitude that we should approach not only a Hallmark holiday, but our lives.
We no longer have to love in secrecy. At least for right now, we have the right to love and accept one another regardless of the things that make us different.
The word “soulmate” applies to more than just our romantic partner. We find soulmates at work or at school – people we can show our true selves to without fear that we will be judged or persecuted.
Regardless of whether or not the legend has truth, what Saint Valentine did by going against a powerful leader and performing marriages speaks volumes about the society we should create.
It’s not about the candy, cards or money spent, but how we look at others and ourselves.
Students and administrators need to create spaces that welcome love and acceptance regardless of how much easier hate or prejudice might seem.
Amber Carpenter is the Opinion page editor of Fresno State’s student newspaper, The Collegian, where this commentary first appeared.