A call to action on Valentine’s Day: Let’s awaken our humanity

by Vita Sgardello | February 13, 2024
Background media: Palestinians wait to receive the bodies of their relatives who were killed in an Israeli air strike, at Al-Najjar Hospital, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 21, 2023.

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, a universal sentiment we are all built to feel, give, and receive. No matter where we’re from, love is something we know and understand. It’s also the glue that binds the world together - people, families, communities.

As I sit at the kitchen table here in Canada, helping my children write their Valentine’s Day cards, I cringe at the branded and packaged interpretation of this primordial sentiment. Meanwhile, in Gaza, people are facing unimaginable injustice and suffering. The escalating crescendo of violence has, with the invasion of Rafah, reached a new level of inhumanity and should be a wake-up call to us all.

Instead, the daily death toll continues to rise, with no end in sight. Twenty-eight thousand people killed in less than four months - 227 people a day, almost ten people every minute. We've become immune to the pleas for help, even when they come from small children begging to be saved.

At the same time, families still reeling from the aftermath of a two-year conflict in Tigray are now resorting to increasingly desperate measures to survive. Mothers are feeding their children roots meant for animals and forcing their children to sleep for longer hours to avoid hunger pains.

World leaders have failed us

World leaders have failed us. The Canadian government has failed us. And if Valentine's Day is how we celebrate love here in Canada, then it, too, has failed us. Because how can we carry on knowing what we know about the conflict in Gaza? How can we live with ourselves knowing that children are dying of hunger in a world of plenty? How can we look our children in the eye and send them off into their lives, believing that love is what makes the world go round when clearly love has no place at the table where big decisions are made?

The dissonance between our celebrations and the ongoing crises challenges us to reconsider the true essence of love and compassion. As we approach February 14, let's transcend the confines of a romanticized Valentine's Day and embrace a collective awakening of humanity.

It is time to reassess our priorities, demand accountability from our leaders, and recognize that love should not be confined to sentimental gestures but must actively shape the way we engage with and address global challenges. In doing so, we can strive for a world where love is not only celebrated but also manifests in our actions, policies, and efforts to create a more compassionate and just society.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, let’s also take action to ensure our children grow up in a world worthy of their love.

Here are three ways to awaken your humanity today

  1. Be loud about the need to stop sending arms to Israel. Here's why and how. This terrible conflict is a wake-up call for humanity. Please act now!
  2. There is so much injustice in the world today it can feel overwhelming, but we must never stop caring. Staying informed about the crises in the world and being ready to mobilize when called on is one of the biggest gifts you can give our collective humanity.
  3. If you can, donate. Your gift will rush life-saving support to those who need it most. See what we achieve thanks to supporters like you here.

Vita Sgardello is the Communications Manager at Oxfam Canada

Mutaz's son with Down syndrome makes a love sign while standing in front of his family tent in Al Mawasi.
Mutaz's son with Down syndrome makes a love sign while standing in front of his family tent in Al Mawasi.

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