Day Twenty-Nine (pursuit of happiness).
Posted on July 4, 2012
It is pretty much inevitable that you will have a wedding at least one weekend during the summer you are studying for the bar exam. Ours was last weekend. Ours was just brilliant.
My childhood best friend, Scottie, married his love, Tim, this past Saturday. That picture up there captures Scott and Tim mid-hora, courtesy of the lovely and way-better-with-a-camera-than-I Jenn. Down to a person, everyone in attendance was over the moon to be at their beautiful, elegant, fun wedding and, more importantly, to see our two get married. They are fabulous, and they are fabulous together. And, frankly, there is something sacred about being at a wedding that is so right, and which was, not too many years ago — and still is, in the vast majority of places – unconstitutional. Scott and Tim’s wedding was as precious as its grooms.
Though today was the Fourth of July, Kristen was back in full-on study mode. While Kristen spent six hours taking a nasty mock MBE, in between walking Daphne and being really quiet, I had time to do a bit of reading. This included thanks to Ryan McKeen, of Kurt Anderson’s New York Time’s article “The Downside of Liberty.” According to Mr. Anderson:
From the beginning, the American idea embodied a tension between radical individualism and the demands of the commonwealth. The document we’re celebrating today says in its second line that axiomatic human rights include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – individualism in a nutshell. But the Declaration’s author was not a greed-is-good guy: “Self-love,” Jefferson wrote to a friend 38 years after the Declaration, “is no part of morality. Indeed it is exactly its counterpart. It is the sole antagonist of virtue leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others.”
This reminded me of a line I loved from Scott and Tim’s wedding ceremony. Their rabbi explained that the three responsibilities of marriage are to take care of yourself, to take care of your partner, to take care of the world. That line was so striking to me because of the obvious but rarely mentioned truth of the first, and even more obvious and even less often mentioned truth of the third. Jefferson and his comrades, as we are so often reminded in other contexts — for example in furtherance of the argument to deny Tim and Scott’s right to marry — came from a Judeo-Christian tradition. The good parts of that 18th century Judeo-Christian tradition resulted in the Declaration’s being written by folks who did not need the same reminders as we do about the necessity to make taking care of the world an equal priority to taking care of one’s self and one’s spouse. Again, Mr. Anderson:
People on the political right have blamed the late ’60s for what they loathe about contemporary life – anything-goes sexuality, cultural coarseness, multiculturalism. And people on the left buy into that, seeing only the ’60s legacies of freedom that they define as progress. But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967. Thanks to the ’60s, we are all shamelessly selfish.
It is thanks to the gay rights movement that began in the 1960s that Scott and Tim can be married and pursue their happiness, and for that we are tremendously indebted. In 1814, Jefferson wrote “that our tendencies toward selfishness where liberty and our pursuit of happiness lead us require ‘correctives which are supplied by education’ and by ‘the moralist, the preacher, and legislator.’” Scott and Tim’s rabbi did just that.
The union needs more glorious gay weddings.