Throughout the week there have been opponents and proponents of the law all over television throughout the U.S. and commentators have been abuzz on the web. Friday morning I watched a three minute segment from Keith Olbermann and was overwhelmed by the way he just cut to the heart of the matter.
"[Gay marriage] won't destroy the democracy; it doesn't destroy the family; it strengthens the institution of marriage and its principal premise of fidelity; and it increases the number of people living in stable and loving homes. ... This is, corny as it seems, not about politics or religion or power or lobbying. It is about love. In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is already yours. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want: a chance to be a little less alone in the world. And your acceptance of their love turns out to be your own expression of love to your fellow human beings."It's true that in 2011, the idea of love and marriage has become a bit corny yet here I am newly remarried myself and tearful at the thought that some of my dearest friends might someday be able to wed as well, for better or worse. There is a lot to be cynical about if a person just goes about life with everyday sort of expectations. Greenhouse gas, violence and war throughout the Middle East, Africa, and almost everywhere else, AIDS, poverty, illiteracy, and the rise of celebrityhood as a proper profession, are all good examples. Yet, there are perhaps 10 good reasons for hope to replace each and every negative image and idea you can come up with, including Paris Hilton.
Most days I care for an assortment of adult patients with cancer. Many are older and simply interested in comfort, some are younger than I and hope for remission and the chance to dance with little girls at their grown up weddings, or see young boys become men themselves. Those that are most hopeful are usually the least self motivated of the patients I meet-motivated by their abiding love for others, rather than fear or selfishness for one more moment of their life. Their life is no longer about them, but about those they love.
To be sure they are enduring often brutal treatment for their health, but they are inspired by the love they give and receive. The kind of love that is exponential and grows stronger with each exchange. I remain grateful I have that kind of love in my life, from my children, my family and family of friends, and yes, my husband. That kind of love allows me to wake up and go forth to work in an emotionally draining and physically taxing job and come home to a messy house and hungry children, stinky turtles and shedding dog. To sleep at night, worry about bills and taxes, contemplate graduate school and professional writing, and what mark I might leave on the world.
CNN Sports Anchor Nick Charles died today at age 64 after a two year battle with bladder cancer. In one of his last interviews with Dr. Sanjay Gupta I was struck not by his gaunt appearance or loss of his trademark curly locks, but by his continued optimism and his committment to living a life based on looking forward and remaining positive in the face of terminal illness. "I wake up every morning expecting it to be a good day." Corny? Maybe, but living a life based on love and optimism is what really allows the world to keep moving forward.
Tonight I toast the people of New York who choose to be hopeful about the state of the world and the institution of marriage, despite all the negative and nasty the world can dish out. I'm grateful to be loved, grateful for the lump in my throat when I hold a new baby, hear a love song, hold my child close. Grateful to be one of the corny, sentimental fools who keep Hallmark in business. I know I'm not alone.