Loving v The World

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Supreme Court civil rights case which invalidated all laws that prohibited interracial marriage, Loving v Virginia.   The groom was white and the bride was black and they were in love but could not get married in the state in which they lived, as interracial marriage was illegal…It was against the law, a crime, for Mildred and Richard to marry the person they loved because the person they loved had skin that was a different color than their own.  Let that sink in…This case was a big deal, a very big deal.  This weekend also marks the 51st anniversary of the marriage of my parents.  The groom wore black and the bride wore white and Mary and J got married at a small church in a small town called Surf City, and had their small reception party at the small home of the bride’s parents in a small town called Ship Bottom, and nobody told them that they could not get married,  there were no laws preventing them from starting a life together as lawfully wedded adults, it was not at all a big deal and just another random wedding in June at the Jersey shore.  It seems rather unfair that J and Mary could just get married because they wanted to and Richard and Mildred had to contact the ACLU and fight all the way to the Supreme Court.  It’s hard enough to find somebody to love in this world, harder still to find somebody who loves you back, and then to find somebody who loves you back enough to want to make and share a life with you, and become your lawfully wedded mate is really, when you think about it, almost impossible…what a cruel joke it must have felt like, to be a man, with the last name “Loving,” in love with a woman who loved him back, and wanted to make and share a life with him, and to be told that their marriage was unlawful.

What if it was illegal to marry somebody who was left-handed if you were right-handed?  What if you were ambidextrous and had straight hair but could not marry the woman you loved because she was born with only one hand and had curly hair?  What if there were laws against marrying outside of your own height, weight, or what about the length of your toes???  My father grew up “well to do” and my mother, well she didn’t, and his parents had a summer beach house on the small island where my mother grew up…what if there had been rules or laws like an Indian caste system here in south Jersey, my mother and father would not have been able to marry, despite how in love they were, both with each other, and with the idea and dream of creating a life together.  In this modern American life, I can’t imagine such gross levels of intolerance, but I studied law, I know how real it was, and for too many, still is.   Too many do not understand, even now, that we are one human race, despite our visible differences.  Those who see the differences, more than the sameness, are in my opinion, more often than not, a far bigger problem for a civil society than those of us who just want us all to love each other and live in peace and harmony.  Can you just imagine what it must have been like for a man whose last name was LOVING to be prohibited, BY LAW, from marrying the woman he loved??!!    I am very old-fashioned about a number of things and thinking that marriage matters is one of them.  I feel as strongly about the right for blacks to marry whites as I feel about women to marry women or men to marry men.

The world and the people in it can be very ugly.  When we love each other, everything can be more beautiful just because of how we feel inside.  This idea might be a little bit too much Mr. Rogers’  Neighborhood for you, but I think it’s true.  Love and kindness and inclusion and acceptance and all those feelings that some attribute to being sappy or weak, are really what makes all of us stronger.  Being loved, truly and deeply, like how my dad loves my mom for example, makes us humans far more capable to handle life and all that it throws at us.  Why some adult consensual love is legal, allowed, and celebrated,  and some is considered wrong or criminal, is just nuts to me.  I think love should be encouraged and applauded because we live in a world where there is just too little of it anyway…

Not all of us have the good luck my parents did, to find ‘their person’ and make a life together that is loving from day one.  I have a number of friends who have been married to their person for more than twenty years, something I always dreamed for, to have something even remotely similar to the relationship and life and family my parents built,  but it’s an area where I failed miserably, time after time.  That I know people who are doing it right like my parents did, makes me very happy, to know that it CAN be done, even though my happiness was always shrouded by a twinge of envy because it was ‘my something’ I never managed to do for myself…When I write that I am the daughter of a great romance, a line I once stole from a Dar Williams song, I mean it on many levels.  When you grow up in a loving family, you have to really try to NOT be a loving person in adulthood, I mean you have to really make an effort to not be a person who loves deeply…I think that whole nature vs. nurture idea is very real; if you are raised by parents who are deeply in love with each other, and really love you, it sure takes a lot of effort to NOT be full of love for others and for your life.  Wanting to find ‘your person’ to love becomes as important as being on the receiving end of  love…it’s like you are filled up with so much that is good and wonderful, that you just want to have somebody who you can share it all with…like Freddie Mercury sang, Find Me Somebody To Love…it has always mattered…and it always will.

You want to know what love is?  I took my granddaughter to church this morning.  My sister took her last week.  My granddaughter is nine and expressed an interest in learning about religion and so, despite the fact that I am not a christian, nor do I believe anything I was taught in CCD class, I spent my morning today at catholic church with a little blonde girl who means the world to me.  I love her with almost all of my heart.  Her sister gets almost the rest of it.  One would think my love was spent between those two girls, but here I go again, loving more and more every day…There was a guest speaker, a nun from France who works with a missionary group in west Africa and you know what she said today, she said “love matters, the more we love each other, the better the world is, when we include our brothers and our sisters in our love, the world is better” and I thought to myself, see, that little French nun gets it.  I grew up in a house full of love and I bet Mr. Loving just wanted that too, to live in a house full of love.  I know that was the plan my parents had.

This world is filled with a whole lot of hate, and I think if you have love in your life you should celebrate that today, and in your thoughts, wish my parents a happy 51st and thank Mr. Loving for thinking that it mattered, that he should have been able to marry his person, in any state he darn well wanted to.  If you are unsure if there is enough love in the world, I encourage you to do something today that you don’t really want to do, but will do it for the person you love.  If you are looking for love, well, I hope in this Loving weekend, you find it.  The world is a better place with more love in it, which are words I wrote the other day when I started this blog,  and this morning a little French nun, from a west African mission, at a church I don’t belong to, in a religion I don’t believe in, said almost the exact same words…so there you have it…Loving versus The World should be a total knock out…Love will always win…

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