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Saturday, October 03, 2020

I Just Said What I Thought

 It just came into my mind: "I hate adulterers." And then I caught myself, because I know that I don't actually hate adulterers; I hate adultery. I have a visceral reaction, partly because I recognize the little adulteries I have committed in my own heart. They won't make the national news, more than likely. If I'm exceedingly fortunate, no one will ever know the details of any of it, except for some clergy, sworn to secrecy until they are dead.

I also recognize that I'm passionate about this, because adultery is one of the things which causes divorce. I am a childhood victim of divorce, and so I generally hate everything that causes people to divorce. If "childhood victim" sounds like too strong a word, I might dare suggest that you have not considered the gravity of divorce, and the chaos it causes. I could grant for the sake of argument that it might be sometimes necessary, but my version of "necessary" and the version of "necessary" held by the previous generation (and maybe this one and the next) is probably different.

Sometimes, I think I shouldn't let it bother me so much, but then I remember all the stories I've heard, in addition to what I have experienced, and I come to the conclusion that staying together for the kids is noble, if it's safe to do so. The thing people don't tend to do sometimes, is to work on the things that force them into this grudging arrangement to begin with. Children are literally the fruit of your love, so it had to come from somewhere. I have to believe that if you had it, you could find it again. Yet perhaps "love" is too general a term. I understand that difficulty, but then again, we have to call it something. Maybe our ideas of love aren't wrong, they're just not big enough.

I think it's often true that we are not totally wrong, but we're only partially right. Sex is definitely not exactly equal to love, by any stretch. But I also don't think you can have erotic love without it. I suppose you could still have romance without it, but the romance would be an echo, and a tribute to the erotic love celebrated previously. (Or in anticipation.) Then again, I'm just a single bachelor; what do I know?

Yet maybe the trouble is that sex is everything today, and so it is nothing. It's not part of something else; it doesn't signify something else, or tend toward something else. You know, I have always admired Katharine Hepburn. I've seen at least a few of her movies, and an interview she gave really led me to appreciate her. In the course of the interview, she said that we had become so wrapped up in ourselves sexually that we had lost the ability to tell the grand stories anymore. I thought it was a startling piece of insight, from someone who made a living pretending to be someone else, and who--to be frank about it--was an atheist. But that was 1973; you'd have to say that if she was on to something, she would absolutely know she was right, if she were living today.

I guess I would say we can take all this, and do our best not to be adulterers today. Of course, if we fail,--in some small way, or in some large way--mercy is greater than even our capacity to ask for it.