Saturday, May 19, 2012

If you don't believe in it, don't do it!

Academy Bed & Breakfast now
Academy Bed & Breakfast after September

John Irving, author of The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, was on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight the other night. (See Irving has been a stalwart supporter of equal treatment for people regardless of differences—in gender preference particularly. Stroumboulopoulos played a clip of Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, on a homophobic rant while he was still in the running and trying to turn a tide that was quickly shifting against him. (Remember the “I would close three federal agencies: commerce, education and . . . and . . .” speech?) The question to Irving was, “What do you think of comments like that?” If you click on the link above, you can hear his reply; if not, it was something like: “If you don’t believe in gay marriage, my best advice to you is to avoid falling in love and marrying someone of the same gender. Likewise, if you’re not pro-choice regarding abortion, don’t abort your foetuses. We don’t tell you hard liners what to do, why do you feel you have to direct us?”

There’s something of American “individual rights” mentality in that response, but there’s some food for thought as well. In a similar vein to Irving’s point of view, I would tend to add: “If you believe the Bible literally read to be the one and only true source of instruction and guidance for humans, read it carefully and apply it to yourself as best you can, but refrain from applying it to your neighbours. Encourage them, rather, to study it for themselves and act upon it if it moves them.” The urge to use civil government to enforce a uniform ethic is always there, as witness the current attempt to hold a parliamentary debate on “when life begins,” a conundrum that can’t possibly be resolved in a debate in the Canadian parliament at this time.

Is human biology ethical? moral? We’re designed for a scenario in which procreation was mandatory for survival, so important that the urge to copulate had to be as strong as the urge to eat lest indifference cause our species to dwindle. Unfortunately, in our age survival hinges on our ability to limit procreation, while the libido designed for an earlier aeon ticks on. Imagine what the world would be like if we could devise a new way to procreate. In order to have a baby, suppose two people would have to face each other for ten minutes while kneeling on dried peas, tapping each other on the shoulders continuously with peeled birch sticks and chewing a special gum. After ten minutes, they would exchange DNA by swapping their wads of gum and one of them would develop and pass an egg, which they would take turns tending until it hatched nine months later. Accidental or unwanted pregnancies would be rare and we would certainly have resolved the abortion debate. Sexual union would be just the most pleasurable way of expressing intimacy and love, or, perhaps, be available as an alternative to Scrabble.

I thought I detected the exasperation of weariness on John Irving’s face at the question; that “must it always be about this?” ennui that we’re all beginning to feel over the questions of same-gender marriage and abortion. His “If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it” may be as close to an answer as it’s possible to get on these issues
 . . . and a few others you could undoubtedly name.

No comments:

Post a Comment