Sunday, February 02, 2014
Unless I pull a really bone-headed move, my wife Susan and I will have been married for 38 years come June. I realize that won’t be any kind of a record, but I also know a few people who have required multiple spouses to have been married that long. I think staying married requires some give and take, some luck, and in my case at least, a forgiving wife. I also credit some good advice on the subject from my Dad, who last September celebrated 65 years of marriage to my Mom.
Long before I reached marrying age or met my future bride, Dad stressed the importance of being “evenly yoked” when we chose a mate. I think term originated when they used oxen to plow or pull a wagon. In the biblical sense it meant having compatible spiritual beliefs, but we also understood it to mean that partners needed to share the same goal and be pulling in the same general direction. It wasn’t that you had to agree on every little thing, or even on every big thing, but at the end of the day, you didn’t go to bed mad, and when you got up the next morning you still had some common goals.
We’ve all had some married friends who decided they didn’t want to be headed in the same direction anymore, and ended up heading in different directions. Probably most of them still had some things they agreed on, but maybe not as many as they disagreed on. They might agree on most things, but the things they disagree on might prove irreconcilable. They might agree to live in the same town, but not in the same house. Sometimes they agree to still be friends. Sometimes they don’t agree on anything.
However they choose to work things out, or not work things out, most ex-couples are able to get on with their lives without doing any physical harm to each other, living in the same general area of the world, looking after their offspring, and keeping any contractual obligations they made along the way.
While it has never been quite as important that neighbors are evenly yoked, I don’t believe there is any harm in at least sharing a few common goals, and at least a small consensus on how those goals should be reached. But it’s not like it has to be required. As of late, there seems to be a widening difference of opinion among people about which way our federal government should be headed, what its goals should be, and especially how they should be reached.
There are a lot of people who want the federal government to oversee their health insurance needs and just as many who would prefer that the feds stay out of theirs. There’s also a big difference of opinion between folks on how much the federal government should be involved in educating our children, managing our retirement, dispensing our charity, and even deciding whether or not our milk needs to be pasteurized.
We spend a lot of our time and money trying to convince people that they ought to agree with us about what their goals should be, and then the government spends a lot of its time and our money forcing people to go along with those goals, whether they agree with them or not.
In a world where time and money are both limited, I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off allowing the government to use just enough force to keep us from violating each other’s rights, and otherwise let us choose freely which government programs we want to participate in and fund.
It’s not like we’re married, and it’s not like we couldn’t all still be friends and neighbors.
Or at least neighbors.