Editorial, Feb. 14, 2019

Feb 14, 2019

Living on the edge

We all know that Maine is a rural state and in many locations having a vehicle is essential to everyday life. So, it should come as no surprise that a recent GasBuddy study revealed 86 percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed in January depend on availability of gasoline in their everyday lives.

More surprising, we think, is that most people consider budgeting for gas a priority over health care or savings. And that two thirds say purchasing gas limits what they are able to spend on other things, particularly those in the younger demographic of 18 to 24 years old. As well, most people who participated in the survey would chose a free fill-up over finding $20 in the street or having their dinner tab paid.

The larger take-away from this national study, in our opinion, is that so many people are living on the edge of disaster. We understand the sentiment of choosing a free fill-up — most of us need that fuel to get to work to be able to afford other life necessities like a roof over our head and food.

But the sad reality is many people have to choose. Mainers are proud folk; most would rather work and earn money to pay our own way than have things handed to us.

We are lucky to have so many service organizations in the area that offer the proverbial “hand up.” Almost anyone who has had to go to a food pantry, or clothes closet, or soup kitchen, or received heating assistance would tell you they didn’t plan to be in a position of dependence on the goodwill of strangers, or friends, for such things.

We hope, as residents head out to their annual town meetings (yes, some of you don’t meet until June but many still meet in March), voters will keep in mind this recent study and not try to nickel-and-dime local service agencies out of much-needed funding.

Claudius the Cruel and Valentine

Whether you observe Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day (inspired by Amy Poehler of "Parks and Recreation"), or Friendship Day (Finland), the following information about the origins of Valentine's Day is from history.com:

On Feb. 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on Feb. 14, in or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.” One was a priest in Rome, the second was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On those occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that Feb. 14 be celebrated as St. Valentine’s Day.

Gradually, Feb. 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts, such as flowers.

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