Shaping History

(Written on Thursday but delayed by a fabulous day trip to Hay-On-Wye and uni work) Half of my exams are done. The hours of Spanish and Russian songs (obviously counting that as revision) playing in the background whenever I was not complaining about the masses of grammar mind-maps and vocab cards strewn across my room will come to a halt as I prepare for the literature and Czech units. With the ascetic revision mode suspended for a day, there is time to reflect on recent history. Yet another political box-ticking unfolded, but the outcome was contrastingly auspicious to that of the election.  The equal marriage referendum was a firework of justice amongst the otherwise damp political atmosphere. A friend of mine wrote to remind me that Ireland is “the only country in the WORLD to have a public vote on the legality of gay marriage”. She also touchingly highlighted the importance the vote holds for her and added that “it’s good to see that modernity won out over tradition”. This encapsulates the event; it’s wonderful to see a crowd rejoicing but the feeling becomes all the more pertinent when pinpointed by someone who feels strongly about the topic. The positivity that shone through her words is reason in itself to share the happiness, not to mention the beautiful coverage (watch the YES rapture if you haven’t yet) of the big moment. Now, applause tends to look like a joyful wave but never before have I seen such butterfly-like flutter of hands. The result, however, led to some bitter ruminating. The numbers 62.1% ‘yes’ to 37.9% ‘no’ are somewhat distasteful. They add up to 734,300 people who actively oppose equality, hundreds of thousands who struggle to accept the idea of an innocuous union between two people who are in love. Equality may have won but the number is still a disgusting one. Funnily enough, I struggle to see why people do not change their beliefs accordingly. Is it narrow-minded of me? It is normal that views differ, right? Well, yes, but the world is fluid, and I like to imagine that people adapt their views in tune with morality and justice rather than with social expectations and prejudices. The talk of old-fashioned views and the difficulty of changing one’s mind are no longer viable excuses. Generational gap my arse. It’s never too late to recognise human rights. Our fundamental rights to happiness, that is: living in a way that feels natural to each given person instead of blindly bowing down to societal constructs. It is a shame to see that huge numbers still subscribe to outdated values, not because they are antediluvian. No, because they are often ignorant and selfish, brewing up nothing but malice and a ridiculous sense of honour and pride at protecting a tradition that has been marginalising minority groups for centuries. I know people view things differently and I know that I am not always right, but when it comes to seeing the world from a utilitarian perspective, surely happiness trumps everything? That’s what a successful society ought to be defined as – a happy one. Is it really naïve to hope for a world that is at least equal in terms of human rights, forgetting privileges and wealth for a minute, so that people can just be themselves? Prejudice is perpetuated by the incessant compartmentalisation of terms and therefore of people. As my friend rightly pointed out, the term “gay marriage” is a corrupted one, because it’s not just “gay” marriage – it is “everyone-marriage”, “equal-marriage”. If we lived in an equal society there would be no need to segregate terms. “Marriage” is all encompassing.  Despite my indignation, I know that there will always be unfortunate cases of idjits, and it is still refreshing to see such significant change. Even a pious country like Ireland embraced the fabulous naked freedom of human choice without the tacky sequins of expectation (facetious exaggeration intended) and they seem to have set off a trend (read more here). Indeed, I would go as far as to say that it is not “modernity (that) won out over tradition”, but rather justice, the recognition of nature and a unanimous pursuit of happiness over man-made laws.

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