Candy and flowers are nice, but you might feel better if you gave to a charity or nonprofit that is promoting democracy.
THIS Valentine’s Day, my wife and I decided to forego traditional gift-giving in favor of preserving our democracy.
We have been intensely worried about the claims President Donald Trump has made following the election about the supposed millions of illegal ballots that cost him the popular vote. Newspapers and fact-checkers have discredited those claims.
We believe that were Trump to lose a re-election bid in 2020, he would renew the very same claims — a further insult to our democratic election process.
As a result, my wife and I agreed to forgo gift giving on Valentine’s Day and instead give to nonprofits that might help avert this disaster. We started this idea last year, when we gave gifts to nonprofits tackling global poverty — our top concern then.
We developed our new tradition as a means to be more intentional about expressing our love for each other. My wife told me of an interesting study that found that people who give to charity tend to feel happier than those who spend money on regular gift-giving. The researchers gave people money and asked them to spend it either on themselves or on others. Those who spent it on others experienced greater happiness, and there is some anecdotal evidence it might even lower your blood pressure.
So we shifted away from giving candies and liquor, which, while fun, hardly improve one’s health. Now we want to give each other gifts that will improve our mental and physical well-being, and help the world by donating to charities in the name of the other person. This way, we could make each other feel a little happier and perhaps healthier and help others at the same time, doubling the impact of spending the same amount of money.
We decided to donate $50 each, and keep the recipient of our gift-giving secret, presenting our donation to each other at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Our only stipulation last year was to make a gift to address global poverty using guidelines from The Life You Can Save, a charity evaluator that recommends over a dozen of the most effective charities.
This year, we decided to do the same thing, except donate to organizations that fight political falsehoods. I’ve enjoyed researching organizations that want to tackle the myth of massive voter fraud or those that advocate against political fake news. I’m eager to go on our outing for Valentine’s Day and present my wife with my gift, and find out what she got me.
I invite you to have a similar conversation about Valentine’s Day gifts. Such conversations would help show true love for your partner and improve her or his health and happiness, as well as address deep social problems. Is there any reason not to have that conversation?