The world, sometimes, is an ugly place. A spectacularly ugly place. A place that is made all the uglier for the fact that its ugliness creeps in at the edges, smothering the beauty in its path. When you look at it through dreamy or sleepy eyes – rose-colored glasses, I think is the term – it seems unparalleled in beauty – a baby’s smile, peonies in first bloom, a new Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie – until you blink and rub your eyes and look more closely and realize that in the shadows lurks such ugliness as you have never imagined. And suddenly the baby’s smile fades, and the peonies wither, and the Buffy movie turns out to be a cinematic crime of such epic proportions to prevent you from ever seeing a movie again.
It’s the kind of ugliness, as I said, that smothers and warps beauty, turning the world ugly for no reason other than proclaim the victory of ugliness. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that an image of beauty and hope – an image of a small child nursing her infant doll – is something sordid, in order to assert their belief that nursing is ugly and that bodies are ugly and that any practice of nurture that does not accord with their limited view of what constitutes love and nurture is ugly. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that the marriage of two people who love each other and want to love and care for each other for the entirety of their lives is a deviation, simply because the people who want to marry are not of different sex, in order to assert their belief that love is ugly and that sex is ugly if these do not accord with their limited view of the character and purpose of love and sex. And so by making these assertions, they drag in the cold specters of prurience and judgment and demand that we view these unarguably beautiful things – playful joy being derived from an act of nurture, the determination of two hearts to be joined in committed love – through a chilly hateful fog. Everything takes on the cast of ugliness through such a fog. Everything.
Such a fog creates hate where none existed before, where none should have existed before. I hate those who would make me second-guess a beautiful photograph of my daughter, who would force me to defend encouraging her in something – indulging the impulse to play at motherhood, to play at nurture, to teach herself the practices of love and care – that should require no defense, none at all. I hate those who would compel me to shake my fists at the state of California and shout words like evil and stupid and unfair, who would drag me into the ring to defend, again, something that should be beyond defense, something that should just be received as a given blessing – more love in the world, more hearts bound to other hearts, more hearts in exulting in the joy of sharing a life.
There is nothing sexual about a child pretending to nurse. There is nothing sordid about two men or two women loving each other. That I even have to draw together in a written breath the words sexual-child-nurse and sordid-two-men-two-women-loving is ugly and wrong because it just perpetuates the ugliness, it just gives it air to breathe, it just acknowledges that it is there and that fills me with anger, so much anger, and so the cycle of ugliness grinds on.
So I am choosing, now, to refuse the ugliness. I am not going to argue or rant or defend. Beauty needs no defense. It just is. And I am going to celebrate it.
Teach your child to nurse a dolly. Tell your child that Barbie can fall in love with Barbie and that Ken can fall in love with Ken. Tell them that love – good love, strong love, love that doesn’t hurt – is never ugly. Tell them, teach them, that caring for other beings, is always beautiful, no matter what it looks like. Tell them to fight ugliness by celebrating beauty. And you do the same.
Let’s all do the same.
(Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down