Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Is The Color Of Love?

I am the least political, least activist person among most of my friends, so this kind of post is hard for me to write. First let me get the rant over with which is to say just once I'd like to see something amazing and positive about Kentucky hit the news. I rant this because recently my state made it into an article for the Huffington Post and I'm still reeling from what I read because I am naive enough to hope it was some sort of mistake.

Having grown up during the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Liberation, I am unable to read articles like this and remain unaffected. But as a romance author, it's also hitting my heart. I refuse to think that love is bound by color, by ethnicity, or any other man-made label used to catalog differences between people. Differences should enrich our lives with each other, not be used to try to legalistically bind our souls.

This is why I think so many romance authors are drawn to writing and creating paranormal worlds where characters are committing eternally to a werewolf or a vampire or some other immortal creature with bizarre differences from the human character who opts to love them. Committing for centuries certainly ranks above the human "until death do you part" on the fidelity scale. Then there are the cases where committing to an immortal ties your life to theirs which means if they die, you do too. That's a bit more connected than most of us ever want to be to a spouse.

The timing of me seeing this article is ironic, especially since I hadn't even opened my Huffington Post email in a week or more. Yet in Captured In Ink which released over the weekend, I start to delve into what are still referred to as "interracial relationships". I don't think of them that way, or at least I rebel strongly at thinking of them that way, but certainly there are still many people who do think of them as outside the norm judging from the Huff opinion poll at the bottom of the article.

In my fifty years of observation, a person moves along through life until romantic love steps into their path, and the human container for that love is always a bit of surprise for most of us. Odds are the person we connect to will likely be someone closely matching us in appearance or beliefs, but that is about math facts, population distribution, and the landscape of current society. Sociologists can explain this much more succinctly, but my point is that is certainly NOT the only option.

I joke about my family being it's own United Nations group. My sister-in-law is Japanese. My step-brother met and married her while he was serving in the Navy and stationed on a ship near Tokoyo. She is fiesty and fun and speaks English with a Kentucky accent because of my mother.
My son with his Scots-Irish-Cherokee heritage is in love with a woman from Kawait who is truly one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, both inside and out. If they marry, their children will be incredibly attractive. In both these cases, it just seems normal in my family that these unique couples work out their cultural differences to be as inclusive as possible, for their sakes and ours. Love provides a bridge for that. Lots of famous writers before me have pointed out that love is the only bridge that ever works. It is not a new idea to love everyone like you love yourself.

Bruce is from Indiana, of Scots-German origins, but very worldly because of his military travels. I'm from Eastern Kentucky and won't even go into the background I hale from except to say I'm from a nationally famous feudal family of Scots-Irish-Cherokee descent. But I didn't start dating Bruce for or despite his physical characteristics or even his novelty as a younger man. He was raised Catholic and Lutheran while I am Protestant in ways I typically refuse to acknowledge ever having been. He's Republican and I'm--well, not Republican. Believe me when I say I would not have had to look hard to find reasons to exclude the man I loved above all others from my life. I just chose not to.

Where do you draw the line at what differences matter to the heart?

Love is meant to be inclusive, not exclusive. That's it's natural motivation within us and that's the love I will always write about in my books. I just hope with everything in me that my grandchildren living in the connected global world of the future have the wisdom to accept the love they find for themselves without stopping to question things like the alleged acceptability of the color of the package it comes in.

Beauty is subjective and that's as it should be. We want to draw to ourselves the kind of connections that help us become more than what we are alone.

To grant permission to yourself and others to admire beauty outside the norm is soul expanding. That permission is true progress. I just get sad when articles like the one I read come along because they make me realize that I probably won't live to see that permission become the typical thinking of the future. But then neither did Dr. King.

I guess I'll have to be content with knowing I did what I could by creating a better world in my books.
 
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Addendum Note:  In double-checking the link in this article, I discovered there was a second article. Apparently, the initial decision is being "reconsidered" due to flood of angry protesting from the national church group and local attendees. Turns out the vote was 9 people out of 35-40.  Now I'm admittedly not great at math, but seems like the others could have axed the idea before it got that far by voting against it. Coming from a small town myself, I suspect small-town-people politics were involved. So the end result isn't great, but it's at least better. Perhaps there is some hope for this world after all.
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