Valentine’s Day and Kindness All Year Round

In fifth grade I went to a Jewish day school. Since Mr. Valentine, whose day we celebrate on the fourteenth of this month was a Christian saint, Valentine’s Day was not an observed holiday at my school. In an explanation as to why we weren’t allowed to exchange candy or cards, one of my teachers said, “It shouldn’t have to say February 14 on the calendar for my husband to bring me flowers. ”

Sensei Snyder demonstrating a split

Even though this didn’t mean much to me at the time, she had a good point. Men should bring their wives flowers all the time. No, seriously, she was talking about needlessly reserving a human showing of affection. As members of a community, we should be able to tell our friends and families how we feel whenever the mood strikes us, and not have to wait for a special day. The special day is a great reminder, and one of my favorite holidays, but if communities function as they should, we shouldn’t really need it.

Imagine if no one ever expressed gratitude except on Thanksgiving. How would we know we were appreciated? Love is one of the basic human emotional needs. It has been proven that infants who are untouched for their first few days of life either die or develop horrible social problems. A part of their brain is missing, and there’s no way to make up for that lack of affection.

Valentine’s Day is a time to show how much we appreciate each other. But this year, make it a resolution (yes, resolutions can be made on days other than January first) to show appreciation as a habit.

Karate Includes Appreciation

Use Karate as a basic starting point. In Karate, we show appreciation for each other all the time. Think about it: We bow to our Sensei, to the class, and to the Dojo twice per lesson. We bow to our sparring and pairs partners. And we try to avoid hurting each other in most cases. In a grappling match, no one leaves a submission hold on once their partner has tapped out. It would be completely unacceptable and very dangerous, but it would have another result that’s rarely mentioned. It would be a blow to that person’s esteem. It would make them feel uncared for as a partner, as a companion, and as a person. It’s not just a matter of respect and consideration—it’s a matter of showing someone you care, even on a rather impersonal level.

The point is: Love in all its forms is one of the most important emotions that we as human beings can feel. We show our love by respecting others, and watching out for each other. We don’t reserve love for Valentine’s Day. If we did, the world would not function properly. Celebrate your love for your family and friends every day, even in a quiet way, and never keep your love bottled up for one occasion. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sensei Emily Snyder (c) 2022