Friday, August 22, 2008

On Laws (The Prophet, Chapter 13) by Kahlil Gibran

On Laws (The Prophet, Chapter 13)

Then a lawyer said, "But what of our Laws, master?"
And he answered:

You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.
Like children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with constancy and then destroy them with laughter.
But while you build your sand-towers the ocean brings more sand to the shore,
And when you destroy them, the ocean laughs with you.
Verily the ocean laughs always with the innocent.

But what of those to whom life is not an ocean, and man-made laws are not sand-towers,
But to whom life is a rock, and the law a chisel with which they would carve it in their own likeness?
What of the cripple who hates dancers?
What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things?
What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?
And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters law-breakers?

What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?
They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.
And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?
And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down and trace their shadows upon the earth?

But you who walk facing the sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?
You who travel with the wind, what weathervane shall direct your course?
What man's law shall bind you if you break your yoke but upon no man's prison door?
What laws shall you fear if you dance but stumble against no man's iron chains?
And who is he that shall bring you to judgment if you tear off your garment yet leave it in no man's path?
People of Orphalese, you can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?
-- Kahlil Gibran

I was looking for a poem about weddings and found that there are far to many of those for me to find a single good one quickly. To narrow my search, I went to the Wondering Minstrels site because I think they have good taste. I was quickly rewarded with this poem which talks, not merely about weddings, but about laws too.

I like the way he talks about how civil laws cannot restrict moral agency, and that having laws but not obeying them is ridiculous. I agree that laws should not be too strict, and should allow for individual differences. Yet the overall impression I get from this bit (which may be taken out of context) is that he's a bit of an anarchist, and doesn't think we really need laws at all. Yes, if everybody followed the basic rules of loving God and loving their neighbor, we wouldn't really need all the multitudes of laws we have, but until then, I do think that society needs rules.

And that brings me to my main topic for today. With the upcoming vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman here in California, we've been asked, by the First Presidency, to help with the campaign. It's gonna be tough for me -- they want us to make phone calls and/or go out door to door -- but I believe that when the Prophet calls us to action, we should obey -- even (especially) when it's hard.

Anyway, the whole issue of gay marriage is a thorny one. If you say you're against it, political correctness says you're just being mean and denying other people the chance to be happy. At the same time, I know it's wrong. It violates God's plan, and weakens traditional marriage, which is already under attack.

My friend Jocelyn posted a link on her blog to a statement from the Church telling just WHY it's wrong, HOW it violates God's plan for his children, and WHAT some of the consequences could (and will) be for religious liberty, education, morality, and society as a whole. It also punches holes in the not-quite-right logic of the "tolerance" and "it doesn't hurt you" arguments that are used by advocates of same sex marriage. I highly recommend reading this, as it will not only give you a clear position to use in respectful dialogue with others on this topic, but also help clarify in your own mind why you feel the way you do about the topic (I'm assuming that the people who read my blog feel the same way I do -- and if you don't, then you should read the statement to find out just why I believe this way).

One of the documents referenced in the statement is the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I didn't know this document existed (though I suppose it makes sense that it does), and was curious to see what it said. The preamble is a bit wordy and flowery, but once it gets into the rights, it is very readable, and I found that I could wholeheartedly agree with pretty much everything it says. I was surprised that something that came out of a committee as big as the UN was that right-on, but I suppose that it helps that it was written in 1948, when political-correctness hadn't yet reared its ugly head. I also find it interesting that the United States did not at that point meet even the bare-bones standards of this document with regard to equal protection under law and equal pay for equal work without discrimination based on race or sex.


  1. I will study these things. Thanks!--Kathey

  2. Does anyone want a copy of The Prophet? I have at least two, for some reason. I think he comes across as someone trying too hard to be deep. He uses scriptural sentence forms to make it seem more like he's wise.

  3. I know that same sex marriage is not acceptable and I totally agree with that. But what I totally oppose today is the 1 month old law in Nebraska that allows the Safe Haven law to be extended to include children up to the age of 19. so if you have an unruly child, you can dump your child. Is there any wonder the world is in the condition it is in? and how are we to keep positive? that's what I want to know.

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