We know. Valentine’s Day—yet ANOTHER holiday that’s been co-opted by commerce and, thus, has lost it’s proverbial soul, watered down and reduced to the meaningless buying of terribly vapid cards, heart-shaped boxes of mass-produced chocolates, and cookie-cutter jewelry (“Oh, he went to Jared’s…”). And don’t you even get us STARTED on prix fixe dinners, man.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not the don’t-invite-them-to-the-party types that’ll talk your ear off about how, since you’re ordering Chilean Sea Bass, you’re effectively putting a choke-hold on your unborn baby or anything like that. On the contrary—we spend much of our time making fun of those types. I mean, how many people do you know that went vegetarian or stopped going to the circus because they were yelled at or guilted into it by the higher-than-thous? Not many, and there’s good reason for it.

But I digress, our point is, yes, Valentine’s Day could very easily be viewed in a realistically negative light. Why do you need Hallmark to tell you that you should do something for someone you love? You don’t. But, that said, I personally love an excuse for any sort of celebration. There are far, far, far too many moments in life that genuinely call for remorse or sorrow or hard work to make things better, so, in my mind, I will take any and every opportunity to celebrate a damned thing. Even if that damned thing has a copyright mark by its title. Thus my penchant for drinking heavily and singing Irish folk songs in March and my strong desire to smell a pine tree indoors and give prettily wrapped gifts in December and my unwavering habit of inviting far too many friends over to eat far too much food in November. So it comes as no surprise, to me at least, that I very unashamedly feel the need to celebrate my love for my dear wife February 14th, despite the fact that I know little to nothing about this St. Valentine or his supposed sweet tooth. Does that mean I don’t want to celebrate said love every other day? No. But, on the 14th, I get a free pass to go a little overboard, and I like that.

To that end, I have a suggestion for anyone reading who may feel a similar need to, say, buy jewelry or some such pretty thing for a loved one—check out Falling Whistles. Because, in this case, you have the opportunity to pair your desire for gift-giving with your desire to do some good in the world—100% of the proceeds from your purchase of a snazy, cool, and unique Falling Whistles necklace or any other merchandise will be used to restore the lives of war-affected kids in Congo through rehabilitation programs and stateside advocacy. If you don’t know what’s going on Congo, don’t feel bad—it’s woefully underreported here in the US. We were recently exposed to the conflict there and just how terrible and wide-reaching it is through some educational work on conflict-related sexual violence for UNIFEM and simply couldn’t ignore what we learned. We strongly urge you to check out FW’s site because they put everything into context and explain the situation much more adequately than we could. In short, though, it’s a living hell on earth for the people who live there and stands as one of the largest and deadliest wars since World War II. And the good people at FW, who have been there and seen this first-hand, are trying to do something about it. Of course, there are many, many worthy organizations that have been doing good work there for years, but we feel the need to call out Falling Whistles. They’ve created another access point for people to learn about the tragedy going on there and exposed many who may have never heard a word about it to this cause.

Each whistle comes with a very nicely done little ‘zine that explains the story behind the group (why a whistle, for instance) and what’s going on in Congo which, yes, is a very sad but still heart-warming read. And each whistle can be worn with pride, acting less as a totem of ‘hey, look, I care about this thing’ and more as a sign of protest—’hey, I learned about this thing and I won’t ignore it.’ So, if you’re looking for that perfect gift, fuck Jared. Go with this instead.