The things we never outgrow.
A friend of mine, a teacher, has been telling me about her efforts to ready her third, fourth, and fifth grade students for a pint-size production of The Music Man. Things aren’t going well.
As enthusiastic as the children were to put on the musical—as excited as they were about trying out for featured parts, putting on costumes, and practicing the dances—the bloom is off the rose, now that it all comes down to actually memorizing lines, hitting marks, and, especially, emoting. Several of the parts call for outsized performances, and some players are feeling self-conscious.
You remember. What if I go big – step out – say the line – and: nothing? What if I’m standing there, flushing scarlet, as people look at each other and whisper, “Did he really say that? What a fool! Wayyy over the top.” Better to just say the line as quietly, non-commitally as possible, and let the show roll on. Being “okay,” even being “bad,” is better than being embarrassed.
“Whatever you do, be cool,” the kids tell themselves, and each other—just as we told ourselves, and our peers, at that age. You can’t be cool if you stand out from the crowd. Rule No. 1 for being cool is: blend in. Makes it hard to teach showmanship. Or courage, for that matter.
That’s what my teacher friend’s plight makes me think of, as I watch the manufactured groundswell of public support for redefining marriage. I say “manufactured” because the big new media / political / intellectual show on this issue, like any well-rehearsed performance, invites the audience to suspend their beliefs and buy completely into the premise of the plot ... however fast and loose the drama may play with the realities of life and history.
Early reviews have been deceptively enthusiastic. Despite what studies have long shown, and what voting in polling booths in 35 different states have significantly revealed—that most Americans still believe marriage should be between one man and one woman—some change began to seep in with the last elections. Pop cultural and political pressures that have been building for years suddenly erupted in one massive, full-on, coast-to-coast promotional campaign, with seemingly "everybody who’s anybody" in line to make a commercial or call a press conference or do an interview that suggests they’ve “always supported” matrimony for same-sex couples.
To favor this fundamental change in the most basic of human institutions … this seismic shift in every legal precedent from every corner of the globe … this complete reversal of every traditional understanding of right and wrong as established in every culture and society in human history … is now, officially, “cool.” And to oppose it is very much otherwise.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.