Words that get misused: EQUALITY

I have been brought out of a long hiatus by the desire to have some way of railing against the overwhelming feeling of helplessness in the face of the widespread embrace of pro-SSM arguments, as well as to clarify my own thoughts.

To start off with, I’m going to rant for a bit about the fact that the different camps use the same words, though in different ways, and this has contributed to some confusion.

First word up for discussion: equality.

Same-sex ‘marriage’ proponents usage

The general gist of many people’s arguments runs thusly:

1. Everyone who is equal with respect to a particular characteristic should be treated as such (both by individuals and by law).
2. Everyone’s love is equal.
3. Therefore everyone should be treated equally with respect to who they love.

This often gets to reduced to simply stating that “everyone is equal”, or “everyone has equal rights”.

I don’t think that they mean to say that every human being is equal in every single way, but because they leave exactly in what way they are equal vague, the matter is open to interpretation, and it often ends up meaning that we’re all equal in every way, which is another way of saying that we’re all exactly the same.

Anyone who thinks about that last statement for half a second realises that this is obviously false. However, because it’s left unspecified, people fill in the blank with whatever their vague notion of equality is.

Thus, instead of the sophisticated debate this issue deserves, we are left with people asserting merely “But Equality! It’s good!” And well-meaning folk feeling there is no other option but to agree. “Well yes, I actually can’t see anything wrong with that statement… I guess I’m joining their team.”

Marriage proponents usage*

These would agree that equality under the law is important, and should be respected. The problem arises when we consider in what way are human beings actually equal?

I would suggest that the only sensible claim to make is that we are equal in dignity, as human persons, in light of our possessing an intellect and will, giving rise to our capacity to reason, discern the good, and to make choices based upon this discernment.

It is in the interests of the preservation of the inherent dignity of every human being that the notion of fundamental human rights comes into play. I’ll go into these in more depth later, but essentially, we have the right only to those things which uphold our dignity as human persons. For example, we have the right to having our basic needs for survival being met, but we do not universally have the right to a sumptuous feast for every meal.


*NB: I refrain from using “traditional marriage” because it caters to the idea that there are two equally valid ways of understanding marriage, whereas I think that same-sex ‘marriage’ is an impossibility, hence the inverted commas, and the so-called “traditional” kind is the only kind of marriage.


The real life of a home

The following gem is from Mercatornet. You should really read the whole thing.

Deep in the human heart is the desire to be together with people that we love. Human happiness is always a shared happiness: shared especially with a small number of people. For most of us a fulfilled life will only be found in walking its hills and valleys in communion with family, and a few friends.

We don’t need the latest study to show us that we are losing the ability to live in communion, even with those closest to us. And not only does this problem start in our homes, it grows there. Home—the very word should resonate with feelings of warmth, belonging, togetherness. It should be the most reliable place of real personal intimacy, the surest antidote to the great bane of human existence: loneliness. But more and more, it is not.

Family home done right

Perhaps the central reason that we are not really living-together in our homes is that we are hardly living there at all. For starters, most of us spend very few hours of the day within, or near, our homes. But even more to the point, how do we spend those hours that we are at home?

If Aristotle is correct that the truest human intimacy takes place in good conversation, then here we have a prism through which to consider our customs of home life, beginning with meal times. Though cows usually feed in the vicinity of other cows, they are not particular about eating together. Household meals, on the other hand, can be configured to be regular occasions for communion between family members. But given the various pressures on home life today, such a configuration will need to be a conscious object of intention. Otherwise our meal practices might tend toward the bovine.

Outside of meal times there are two other main household contexts that can be suited to rational and personal communion: work and leisure. But both of these have been largely removed to venues outside the home, while what is left behind has taken forms less conducive to communion.

Households were once the primary locus of human work. Much of what was needed for human life was produced, as well as consumed, therein. Even after the industrial revolution removed much production from the home, traditional “home arts” retained a significant place in household life for a number of generations. Yet the last couple of generations have seen a notable drop of even these activities. The art of cooking seems more associated with dining out, or edgy parties with peers, than with keeping a family well fed, around a table spread and seasoned with love. The arts of growing and preserving foods, while certainly not dead, are far from commonplace. The same can be said of home carpentry, sewing, knitting and the like.

Apart from other negative consequences of the demise of these arts, our home life suffers the loss of a natural context of human presence, of being-together in a meaningful way. Indeed, not only does such work provide the satisfaction of communal achievement and shared competency, it also often allows for regular, sustained conversation. Who would not start to speak with a fellow potato-peeler, or sander of wood? The repetitive yet varied and fruitful work of such arts is one of the great hidden treasures of a way of life that for many of us can only be had by re-discovering what has been lost.

If one were to judge by the sales of flat-screen TVs and the like, it might seem that the life of leisure is alive and well in the home. But Aristotle distinguishes leisure and amusement. In a rather remarkable line, he reflects: “It would, indeed, be strange if the end (goal) were amusement, and one were to take trouble and suffer hardship all one’s life in order to amuse oneself.” Amusement—of which what we call entertainment is surely a kind—has a place in the home. It serves work by providing a break, a necessary relaxation. But such is no replacement for leisure, which is a time of richer activities.

Leisure time in Aristotle’s sense, while indeed relaxing, is much more than relaxation. Its activities are rich in meaning, and consequently have an unmatched power to unite the people that engage in them. A group reflection upon blessings received; the reading or performance of a drama; stories of family history or great heroes; music appreciation; common prayer. Here a family community is especially alive, present to one another in a unique way.

Salt gives seasoning to food. But good conversation, especially that occasioned by the rich and regular activities of the home, does more than give seasoning to life. It is the beating heart of a real communion of persons, of a happy life-together with those we love.


Life and Loves- Mariela’s gorgeous little blog

Get thee to my dear friend Mariela’s stunner of a blog “Few have been where we’ve been“.

Can’t you just feel the adorbs?

On leaving her baby for the first time, this bit really got me:

‘I don’t know how you leave him every day’, I said absentmindedly to my husband as put my phone in my bag. ‘It’s hard; I miss my family when I’m gone’, Eddy admitted, revealing the extent of a truth he’d been too kind to share with me all along. I’ve never before been so grateful that he works hard so we can afford for me to stay home with our baby.

Follow her blog for regular touching, heartwarming posts on the beginnings of family life!!


Deracination- when uprooting is the norm

Nick from Nick’s Catholic Blog has written something that needed to be written. About the problems that our overly mobile global society is having in family and parish life as a result of this ridiculous ease with which we uproot ourselves from our family.

Part 1: Roaming
Part 2: Roamin’ Catholicism

Food for thought.