Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Forbidden Passions.

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 2: Romeo and Juliet

If I had to take a quick guess about whether governments, churches, or families have been most oppressive to the romantic desires of lovers, my money would be on families. But it’s definitely a horse race.

Throughout much of human history — and in much of the world today — romantic love is an idea subversive to an established order in which marriages are arranged by families for reasons of finances or politics. It’s not only daughters who are treated like commodities when families arrange marriages, either. A potential husband has to be financially stable and of a character likely to remain that way. Beauty and sexual attraction hardly register at all when marriage is handled by a family’s mergers and acquisitions department; wealth, social standing, power — and of course not being a dreaded outsider from the wrong caste, clan, color, church, club, job, language, politics, or place of origin — are infinitely more important.

So it was in the 1590’s when William Shakespeare adapted to the stage Arthur Brooke’s poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet into his most famous play about two feuding families whose teenage children fall in love and seek a marriage forbidden to them by custom and power. Romantic love was still a novelty when Shakespeare wrote about it, and Romeo and Juliet — first staged when it wasn’t even socially acceptable to have the role of Juliet played by an actress — was as subversive in its day as Tea and Sympathy was in 1956 when it portrayed a romance between a 17-year-old boy and a married woman twice his age, or Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner was in 1967 when it portrayed an interracial couple, or 1973’s La Cage aux Folles was in its portrayal of homosexual lovers.

Readers familiar with my articles critical of the politics of gay marriage might be surprised to learn that I am as absolutely supportive of the rights of same-sex couples to fall in love and spend their lives together as I am for opposite-sex couples. My problems with the semantics of calling such couplings “marriage” — and populist defense of congregations’ and voting populations’ rights to decide on a definition for their church and polity that restricts the definition of marriage to couples with “one-each penis and vagina” — do not in the slightest mean that I wouldn’t place myself as an armed citizen in between any bigot seeking to interfere with a bonding ceremony between a same-sex couple, or dissociate myself from lowlifes who can’t find it in their heart to accept same-sex couples as respected members of their community, workplace, or social set.

But the news and entertainment media’s over-exertions to defend one underdog aside, there are still many, many more opposite-sex lovers on planet Earth whose romantic desires are being foiled by family, religion, or law, than there are same-sex lovers … and it’s not my intent in this book to succumb to special pleadings.

The freedom to fall in love and commit oneself to that person will never be entirely non-controversial. My grandfather, Abraham Schulman, was 26-years-old when he married my grandmother, Anna Rosen, who was 13. Even then, at the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, the age difference was shocking enough that my grandmother added several years to her “official” age. I never would have learned the truth if later in life my grandmother hadn’t been afraid to lie about her real birth date as beneficiary to my father’s life insurance policy. But by today’s standards, my grandfather was a child molester who would have been sent to prison. Had today’s laws been applied back then, I could not be writing this since my father was their fifth child.

There are still parts of the world today where arranged marriages are the rule and marriage for romantic love is discouraged, if not forbidden.

Customs vary, even today, such that the definition of an “incestuous” relationship might forbid relations between step-children or adopted children with no biological consanguinity; on the other hand, in other parts of the world brothers and sisters may still marry.

Even leaving out “one-each penis and vagina” as the minimum needed for natural human reproduction, both multiple-participant marriages — and all variations of coupling outside state- or church-sanctioned monogamy — allow for far more variety of human romantic passion than is customarily approved of in the average rectory or county clerk’s office.

And here’s where I shall sound as quaint as did the fictitious version of H.G. Wells in the 1979 movie Time After Time. I’m here to defend Free Love.

The decision to follow one’s heart — damn the local customs, full speed ahead! — has to be a hallmark of human liberty.

No, I won’t defend relations between adults and children. Biology, and thousands of years of customs derived from biology, have long established puberty as the dividing line between childhood and adulthood, and most cultures when not invaded by imperialists have rituals making it clear who is marriageable and who is not according to whether an individual has grown into the physical capacity to reproduce. Pick up a book by any honest and non-judgmental anthropologist. Or just find the nearest Bar Mitzvah. Some customs, merely by not going away, become subversive to piety and its secular edition, political correctness.

But between or among consenting adults, the right to love whom one does love is one of the pillars of freedom.

That is why this freedom — the right to love — is at the top of the list for tight controls by those among us whose main passion is to be your ruler.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter III: Pirate Radio

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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