Years ago I made a commitment to myself about Valentine’s Day.
I made a commitment to practice compassion.
I’ve done my share of wallowing, of self-sabotage, of crying, of being angry and strange and sad about that kind of love, or a lack thereof.
I still go there, sometimes, Valentine’s Day or not.
But now this day (and as many other days as possible) is about more than my sorry ass: in lieu of wallowing in my singledom (or whatever relationship stuff), I go downtown and march.
Every February 14th since 1991, the Women’s Memorial March has taken place in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) and in other cities across Canada.
The purpose of the march is to remember and honour the women (many of them sex trade workers) who have died and gone missing from the area.
“Women continue to go missing or be murdered with no action from any level of government to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism, or colonialism. We are calling for a national public inquiry and continue to seek justice internationally with submissions at the level of the UN.” ~ (Women’s Memorial march website)
The march is in honour of the grief for these women’s families, and to acknowledge all women that still struggle daily with poverty, violence, addiction and illness.
Many women in the DTES (specifically indigenous women) are particularly vulnerable to violence of all kinds on a daily basis, and we’ve lost far too many.
These cases have been largely ignored by the police and the government—namely because many of the women were sex workers. Tragically, the media only began to take note of this situation because of the Pickton murders.
There is so much pain in that space, so much anger. But the gathering is also a demonstration of strength, healing and community support.
I’m not suggesting that everyone ‘do’ exactly this kind of thing on Valentine’s Day (or any other day): to each their own.
What I am suggesting is that there is value in having the capacity to ‘feel’ outside of yourself, even (especially) when you are in pain.
Because life is suffering, and love is the acknowledgement of this suffering through compassion.
I don’t mean that we all go around being sad and heavy all the time. I am, however, suggesting that acknowledging the dark parts—being real about them and helping each other through—is also a way for us to experience lightness in the most profound ways.
So, this is for you:
The tired, sick, and dying.
The hospital caregivers.
The broken-hearted souls.
The poor and the constantly sore.
The dis-empowered and disenchanted.
The unicorns and misfits.
The downtrodden, the forgotten.
The ones that have lost the sparkle in their eyes.
The uncoupled, the divorcees.
The ones who struggle daily for acceptance of their lives.
Everyone who chooses to live their passion, especially when their pockets are empty and the world is too busy calling them crazy to actually see what they are capable of.
This love is for the hard times and hard lives, the ones where we need to give and receive love most.
And we will. We do.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Courtney Carmody at Flickr
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