Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at What’s Left Undone! And by all of us, I mean me and my dogs.
I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. It seems to be just another obligatory holiday manufactured by the greeting card industry to increase sales. *Yawn.*
There’s something really toxic about the whole Valentine’s/wedding/love industry, too. It sets ridiculous standards for what a relationship should look like — and unfortunately for all of us, too many women seem to embrace the ridiculousness wholeheartedly.
First of all, what does it even mean, to want to be treated like a princess? That you want to make endless public appearances and have your every move scrutinized by a vicious press corps?
And secondly, we all get it: You’re a special snowflake. But that doesn’t mean you get to behave like a twit — despite the fact that our culture seems to idolize superficial twits.
I tried to watch the movie Love Story — the 1970 flick that’s been held up as a gold standard of “true love” — one day last year when I was home with the flu. Ali McGraw’s character was so annoying that ten minutes into it, I was snorting lines of Theraflu and chasing it with chopped up Advil, hoping to black out.
Because you probably have a lot of apologizing to do today, I’m going to keep this short. I just want to share with you a brief tale about Nicholas Winton– a man who lived a life of quiet heroism, driven by LOVE: real, deep, profound love.
Not romantic love, with glitter hearts and flowers, but love for humankind, with sacrifice and humility. The kind of love that doesn’t require recognition of its inherent sparkly superbness.
Nicholas Winton was a London stockbroker who went to Prague in 1938, shortly after Germany annexed the Sudetenland. Hundreds of Jewish families were already living in refugee camps in Czechoslovakia. There were no programs or plans in place for the rescue of the Jewish children, and it was obvious to Winton that their lives were in terrible danger.
So Winton created — through a network of bribes and secrecy and forgeries that put him directly in the crosshairs of the Nazis — a pipeline to get Jewish children out of Czechoslovakia and into safe homes in the UK.
At huge personal expense, and with tremendous danger to himself, Winton organized and funded eight trains — whole passenger trains! — to carry the children, armed with fake papers, to foster parents he selected in England.
Seven of the trains made the journey, safely relocating 669 children to England.
The final train was caught when Hitler closed the borders. The children in it, all 250 of them, are thought to have been killed in concentration camps.
Nicholas Winton never once spoke of his efforts, even to his wife. She only learned of them when she found a dusty record book full of names and ages and transport details in her attic in 1988. Her husband urged her to throw the book and the paperwork it contained away, but she didn’t. Instead, she contacted the BBC.
If you do nothing else today, take the minute and a half to watch this clip, and remember what LOVE actually looks like.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Nicholas Winton (1909-2015). I hope the angels are celebrating you.