Tuesday, July 8, 2008


With all his heart he wants to come close to some other human, touch someone with his hands, be touched by the hand of another. If he prefers that the other be a woman, that is because he believes that a woman will be gentle, that she will understand. He wants, most of all, understanding.
--Sherwood Anderson "Sophistication"

There is perhaps no communal experience that is more isolating than death. In its contemplation, with all the unknowable aspects to awe and frighten; there arises a need, primal in nature, to mitigate the horror by sharing the burden with another. Such sharing may take many forms, with many people, but love remains the most intimate, and meaningful manifestation.

Love forms from the trust built around exposed vulnerabilities; an appreciation of the complex and imperfect gestalt of personality as an artwork; not less desirable for its deficiencies, but all the more uniquely beautiful. To share our own weaknesses with someone who will both acknowledge and accept these shortcomings with candor and grace creates a relationship that can fashion a more complete person; one able to bear the responsibilities of conscience and charity required to fashion healthy society.

This bonding underlies the principle of betrothal; the foundation of human civilization. Such participation between individuals towards a common goals of unification, where a mutual goal outweighs private needs, must start on a personal level to afford everyone the necessary strength required for self sacrifice. Robbing individuals of this essence threatens the stability of the entire social structure, for depleted elements render the edifice unstable.

Thus, when society denies its people the right to bond with those who they love, it engages in self destruction. Each being needs the liberty to develop themselves and find others who will accept and cherish them. Government that defrauds it citizens of this process, whatever the motivation, degrades those it must seek to serve, and threatens its own integrity.

As the world becomes more interdependent, the price of ignorance and prejudice towards our neighbors rises. The antidote for the venom of fear that flows through the veins of an uncertain society is not a cowardly hatred, but the courage to learn and understand the differences in our compatriots. Accepting the humanity in others not only decreases the trepidation inherent in personal interaction, it also allows one to forgive the personal failings basic to all. Reaching out to touch another betrays not a weakness, but a strength too long underutilized. It is a sophistication to which everyone must aspire.

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