I was, like everyone on earth with a television set, invited to the royal wedding today, the wedding of the brand new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was a beautiful event, one which I do not in the least mind getting up at 3 am to witness.
I wish those kooky, wacky, nutty kids all the best.
Seriously, I love weddings. I'd never do one that frou-frou for myself, but I love the show. I think most people, deep in their heart of hearts, love weddings, too. Weddings are about three big things: Family, community and social contract. I believe in family, community and the power of social contract. We got invited to be part of their community, while they expanded their families, by being allowed to watch the ceremony -- we watched as they stood before the Archbishop of Canterbury, his grandmother and God and 'pledged (their) troth' (which is such a charming phrase, no?)
I do not mind admitting that I welled up a bit.
The news lately has been so gloomy, stressing about the mess the world is in (and I will admit, it is a mess, but can we honestly say it was ever tidier?) and to see such a happy event gives us all something to be optimistic about. These two families have joined together through these two people and the couple has pledged to one and all to take the families forward, into the future, through their children. And the community has recognized this promise and the alliance of the families (forming a new, larger family) and shown their acceptance by throwing a huuuuuge party on their behalf.
Community, family, social contracts.
Some are going all sour, using this as an excuse to criticize the royal family, criticize marriage, criticize, criticize, criticize. Come on, people, can you not just be happy for these two young people? Irregardless of who they are, they're really just two young people in love (if you don't recognize that look on their faces when they look at each other, I suggest you get out more, make some friends or something), celebrating it and promising to start a family together. Yes, their family has done, in the past, some truly wicked things. That's how you get to be king, people. As Terry Pratchett once said (and I paraphrase), the difference between kings and regular folks is that their fathers were bigger murdering bastards. It used to be a quality people prized in royalty.
But times change, and the sad part is some people get ground up in the grist wheel of that change. Yes, there have been bad times and mistakes made, but they're human. And humans are flawed and make mistakes and sometimes, yes, do nasty things to each other. I'm not better, to be honest, so I don't throw stones.
I've noticed that the sour people are generally people who feel they've been burned by one aspect of the wedding trifecta: community, family or social contract. I know that's why I used to hate weddings. I felt very left out of community and burned by the concept of social contracts.
I've softened a bit since I lost my job two years and change ago. I have friends, I have a social group, I no longer feel the social contract has been broken between me and others. I am not afraid of community, and I now fear the loss of my community more than I thought I ever would again. My community makes me feel safe and gives me an extra family. I'm so much happier than I ever thought I could be!
So, I now love weddings again. And it might get me some criticism, but I realized as I was thinking about this that denying homosexuals the right to marry is the most cruel, cold bigotry. We're essentially saying we have no room for them in our families, our communities or our social contracts, on the basis of some factor of biology over which they have no control. How can we do this to each other? How can we treat fellow human beings with such indifference? To not allow others into our communities, our families or into social contracts with us, when they have committed no crime against us, is barbaric. In the day, in America, blacks were not allowed to marry. They were property, chattel, and considered less than human. I have hope that one day, just as now black people are allowed to marry (even marry white people! Oh, how times have changed) we will come to terms with our anger and unhappiness and accept, even if we don't like, homosexuals as human beings.
Happy people are nice people. Happy people are kind to others, even others they aren't quite sure they like or approve of. Happy people are generous, open, friendly and accepting. If you are so miserable that you cannot offer even the most basic kindness to others, maybe you should look at how you're living your life and make some changes. Everyone, everyone has the capacity for happiness, and thereby kindness and generosity for others. I know I never thought I could be happy, and yet here I sat this morning, weeping like a grandmother for two people I'll never meet as they smiled at each other and promised to love, honor and cherish each other.
Best of luck, William and Catherine. May you have all the happiness the world can bring!