- Vancouver, British Columbia -
“The creation of rules is more creative than the destruction of them. Creation demands a higher level of reasoning and draws connections between cause and effect.” -A. Zittel
I was at a friend's birthday party about a month back when a curious discussion started. I can't really recall how it began but it led into a conversation about Bountiful, the small settlement in British Columbia that has much controversy surrounding it. To fill you in, the community is a polygamist Mormon fundamentalist group and there have been many allegations regarding child abuse in forcing children under the legal age limit to marry and have sex. I don't know much beyond that and this article doesn't focus on it. Rather, I was shocked at some of the statements made by my peers. They said that the main problem with Bountiful was the child abuse. Okay, granted. Then they said how there isn't really anything wrong with polygamy. The idea was that there shouldn't be a problem with it as long as all the parties involved agree on it and they're full grown, well-informed adults. Rather than expressing discomfort, most people at the party jumped right on board with that idea, agreeing that our monogamous relationships are outdated or even going as far as talking about how there being more women than men in the world makes guy/girl coupling an unfair system.
Perhaps this is just me being too conservative or perhaps I'm not thinking “progressive” enough, but have we completely lost our minds? Did this discussion really take place? Am I so detached from my generation that I missed the memo where it was decided that polygamy is an okay thing?
Right, so men and women aren't exactly 50/50, but I think that extra 1% difference is leveled out by the amount of circumstance there is in life where people split up, die, or just have no interest in marriage whatsoever. And yeah, some people might get left out, but that's life.
This also rules out a lot of facts about human nature and denies truths about love. The truth is that love is jealous. That statement sounds bad, but it really is actually quite healthy. I'm not suggesting that you be that guy who attacks any man who you suspect checked out your girlfriend, but rather a man should feel a great amount of sorrow if his woman was in the arms of a third party. How could you say you love her if you simply dismiss such a betrayal?
Furthermore, I'm really not sure what a well-informed adult is, nor am I convinced that it really exists. Does a man suddenly become responsible when he turns 18? Actually, in British Columbia, the age is 19. Or what about the USA where legal drinking age is 21? Is that when Americans become a well-informed adults? Where is this line and when did I cross it? There are cultures where you aren't considered a man until you perform a torturous exercise involving bullet ants stinging your hands until they're purple. Does that mean that after a moment like that you can make an informed decision about having multiple sexual partners? Similarly, I know that at the age of 13, I made better decisions with my life than some 30-year old men do. I also know that at the age of 20, I made some pretty horrible choices.
This leads me into my main point. Believe it or not, this wasn't even really about polygamy. Rather it opens up a much larger issue. Has our society become so focused on being progressive and accepting that we've chosen to strip away the very rules that have kept our society functioning? The big question of the birthday party was why couldn't a man or a woman marry more than one person if they want to? This is a reflection of a reoccurring question that my generation seems to be faced with. Why can't we just do what we want? Why shouldn't we just follow our desires and discard the rules as we know them? Whether you believe the laws we follow were made by God or some old wise men who founded the country, you must believe that they were in place for a reason.
About two years ago, I lived with my nephew, Andrew, who at the time was 2 or 3 years old. He has always been a bit of a handfull and like most kids his age, he wouldn't always do what he was told. One day my mom was working on a project and had her sewing machine on the dining room table. I was sitting at the table while the sewing machine was left alone and Andrew came and sat beside me. He looked at the sewing machine, still plugged in, and started reaching for it. I stopped his hand and told him “no” and told him that it could hurt him. I let him go and without hesitation, he reached again. I stopped him again and explained that he couldn't play with the sewing machine. He was old enough to understand. And as if on cue, he reached for it again forcing me to shout at him and make my point very well known. He cried of course and ran off, but I figured that was a better alternative to him getting his hand stabbed by a needle.
I often see this in our race as we walk around this Earth, thinking that we have our lives figured out. Andrew didn't understand at first that the sewing machine could hurt him, but he longed for the experience just the same when I explained the dangers to him. Similarly, people continue to feed their addictions and hurt themselves knowing full well the consequences, but it gives them what they want. Or many people are damaging their lives without even knowing it. Perhaps a teenager who gets stoned at parties regularly doesn't realize the long term consequences of his defiant lifestyle. At the time, it just seems like something fun to do.
I don't believe that the intention of these rules being stripped away necessarily came from a bad place. I think for the most part people do things with good intentions. Obviously we don't want people to be left out. There have been rules in the past that have been done away with for good reason and society has been better because of it. People of different cultures and women have been oppressed in the past and sometimes it is worth breaking rules to fight for equality, but I think we're starting to take things too far. We now want people to be able to make choices to follow whatever lifestyle they want. But ultimately, if we let everyone do whatever they want, there are no boundaries. We are trying to create a society that discards what we consider our social norm and put in its place one where every individual lives by his own rules. Complete freedom is a system that does not work because it doesn't take into account that people make bad choices. Our current society with limitations comes from generations' worth of mistakes. Why are we so willing to let our ancestors' blunders go to waste? These rules are there to guide people into making better decisions for their lives and weren't created to simply inconvenience us.
At work just over a year ago, I was talking to a 16-year old girl who had aspirations to become a lawyer. She then admitted that she has had some problems with the police and she doesn't have too many more strikes before it will become impossible for her to get a job in that field. Essentially, she had a lot of friends who were drug dealers (whether or not she participates is unknown to me) and by associating herself with them her future was being compromised. I didn't entirely understand what the problem was. My obvious solution would be to stop hanging around people who are obviously violating the law and giving themselves and her criminal records. The thing is, she wasn't even aware that there was this alternative. That was the way life was and obviously teenagers exist to break the law. Are we reaching the point where it isn't even an option to live a healthy law-abiding lifestyle anymore? Is this where our youth are headed? I don't think it has been that long since I was a teenager and I managed to keep my nose pretty clean. How rapidly are we degenerating?
My intention is not to try and criticize others or say that we should all be perfect squeaky clean citizens. I don't necessarily even think that every aspect of the law is morally right as politicians are people and are certainly known for making mistakes with repercussions. And I am not better than them either. There are desires that I give into that are damaging to me. I'm not a drug addict, nor am in trouble with the law, but I certainly spend too much time on the internet. That doesn't sound very bad, but I lose a lot of sleep and waste a lot of valuable time that I could be using in forwarding my career as a filmmaker. With the hours I've spent watching videos, I could have finished several screenplays and started producing some of them. I don't think I'm exaggerating. There is no rule that says I shouldn't be allowed to do that.
I feel that what society needs to do is consider what we need and put that ahead of what we want. I'm not implying that we ignore our desires entirely, but we shouldn't compromise our morality, health, or future because of it. Every person has their vice, some much more extreme than others. I suspect most people are like me and deal with issues like poor time management, but there are people who drink too much or indulge in drugs and hurt themselves and others in the process. Or how about how liberal we seem to have gotten regarding our sexuality? I don't think monogamy is as outdated as some would like to think. The kinds of wounds left by cheating spouses sometimes never heal. I would recover much easier from a physical punch to the face.
Anyone who has accomplished great things will tell you that they had to make sacrifices to accomplish what they did and I believe that this is what our generation is unwilling to do. All of our desires are so easy to obtain that we feel that everything we want should be ours. It is now apparently reaching the point where there are discussions amongst educated young adults that polygamy is not a bad idea and we should be able to have more than one spouse if we so desire. As no one man had enough knowledge to choose our lives for us, the only way we can make smart healthy decisions is to consider the boundaries set for us and ask ourselves why they are in place. Because frankly, I love my fiancée more than anyone else in this world, but I wouldn't want two of her. I can say without hesitation that that is one rule there for our safety.