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Op-Ed

Don’t say ‘straight’

April 22, 2022

Why is it that gay men and women never try to pass laws about the way other people live? Or holler and scream about the private lives of strangers? And try to shame people for being how they are?

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Could it be — and I’m just guessing here — that the average gay man or woman today is a better person than the average right-wing Republican politician? And so does not feel an overpowering urge to pry into the lives of other people, and tell them how they should live. And does not feel himself better than his fellow men and women — about whom he knows nothing.

Just asking …

Here’s another question: Does the average right-wing Republican politician today seem to you a happy person or an unhappy one?

I don’t think I’ve seen a happy one yet.

And they already control damn near everything: Wall Street, the banks, the NFL, the U.S. Congress. So what else do they want?

And what comes next?

Do Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and all the Republican governors goose-stepping in his slime, really believe that they are protecting our nation, and making it better, by parading around with their butts clenched, pretending they are ‘O, so sad,’ about strangers who, from most indications, are not only happier, but better people than DeSantis, et alii ad nauseam

Why are right-wing Republicans so unhappy? Or pretending to be?

Stepping out of these deep waters, let us consider Marcus Aurelius, who was not only wise but happy, and a philosopher, and the Emperor of Rome — a grand slam never to be repeated.

”As you arise each day tell yourself, today I shall meet with ungrateful people, arrogant, deceitful, envious, plotting busybodies. All these things happen to them because of their ignorance of what is good and what is evil. But I have seen the nature of the good, and that it is beautiful, and that the nature of the bad is that it is ugly, and that the nature of he who does wrong is akin to mine … for we are made of similar substance.”

  • Meditations, II

Marcus wrote these lines in a military camp nearly 2,000 years ago, at Caruntum, Pannonia, on the south bank of the Danube, a day’s march east of Vindabona, modern Vienna. Aurelius camped there for three years, during his war with the Marcomanni (Germans). 

I resort to Marcus in times of strain, and he’s never failed me yet. Not that I think he’s a God or anything. Here’s some more, from another war camp against the Germans, 1,850 years (70 grandpas) ago.

“Whatever does not make a man worse does not make his life worse, nor does it harm him in any way. … How much trouble the wise man avoids by not looking to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only looks to his own actions, that they be just. … Does another do me wrong? That’s his problem. … What is your duty? Why, what else but to do good to men, and practice tolerance and self-restraint; but as to whatever lies beyond the limits of your poor flesh and breath, to remember that it is neither yours nor within your power.”

These arguments apply today to the issue of abortion, another anathema to the same arrogant, deceitful, ungrateful busybodies. Today’s Republicans claim to hate big government and be all for freedom and individual choice, while they are passing so many laws in so many states that restrict women’s and men’s freedom — not to mention teachers’: Don’t have sex this way; don’t even try to teach a third-grader what sex is; don’t have an abortion; don’t drive to the next state to have an abortion; don’t assist a poor girl outaluck to have a safe abortion; or — in Texas — for paying the father or brother of a girl who was raped $10,000 for reporting that she had an abortion — whether it was incest or not. Thank you, Texas — for what?

Help us, Marcus: 

Only one thing here is worth much, to pass your life in truth and justice, and show benevolence even to liars and unjust men. … It is in our power to refrain from any opinion about things and not be disturbed in our souls; for things in themselves have no power to force our judgments. … Take care not to feel toward inhuman things as humans too often feel toward each other. …

Always bear in mind that very little is needed for a happy life. … You have wandered far and long without having found happiness anywhere. What is happiness for you, then, and how has it escaped you? Nothing will ever stand in your way of acting justly, soberly and considerately. … If you take away your opinion about what seems to give you pain, you yourself stand in perfect security. … As bathing appears to you to be oil, sweat, dirt, filthy water, all things disgusting — so is every part of life and every material thing. What does it matter to you what other men say or what opinion they hold about you? … Speak as it seems to you most just, only let it be with a good temper and with modesty and without hypocrisy. … All comes to foul smell and corruption in the end.

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