Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is Three Really a Crowd?

I often have very non-traditional views on life.  This is another one of those cases.  When polyamory is discussed with the general population (on the rare occasion that it is), the concept is often met with looks of disgust.  People's thoughts generally go to polygamy and certain religious groups who marry off multiple underage girls to older men in a sort of subservient breeding harem.  I want to make it perfectly clear that this brand of polygamy has absolutely nothing to do with polyamory.

 From the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association:
"Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Among the concepts critical to the understanding of consent and of ethical behaviour within polyamory are gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust, and equal respect among partners."

 From this definition we have desire, acceptance, intimacy, knowledge, consent, ethics, equality, trust, respect....  It certainly sounds like a good thing to me.

Yet, currently in Canada it is illegal to enter into any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time regardless of whether it is recognized by law as a binding form of marriage. gets worse!  It is also illegal to celebrate or assist with such a union.  Therefore simply attending a ceremony could get you up to 5 years in prison!!!! That is ridiculous!!

I personally have never been in and am not looking for a polyamorous relationship.  I think it's hard enough to find one person that you can live with in harmony.  For those who find multiple partners who are all able to live and love together, I am happy for them, and a little bit envious.  After all, human beings are complex and one person could never truly meet every single one of your needs.  There would be a much higher chance that more of your needs would be met with a multiple partner union.  In my personal situation, my additional needs tend to be met by my friends outside of my marriage - shopping or dancing or a chick flick - but I can see how awesome it would be to have that special someone right at home.

I can also see the benefits of poly families with kids.  Imagine having the ability to have dual incomes as well as a stay at home parent.  As sexist as this sounds, I have often expressed to my hubby that I wished that we had a wife - especially one who liked to cook and clean.  With all the hustle and bustle I see with the typical families these days (ringette, swimming lessons, hockey, soccer, girl guides, ....), multiple parents would make the scheduling chaos so much more feasible.

The arguments against polyamorous unions are pretty diverse, but I haven't yet heard anything that would be a catastrophic problem. 
'How would you handle a divorce?'  - Same way it's handled now.  A marriage is a legal contract and the dissolution of any contract would be handled by the courts using set rules.
'As a business owner, why should I have to provide dependent benefits to multiple spouses?  That costs me money!' - For the same reason that you provide dependent benefits to multiple children.  You couldn't make a rule that you'll only provide benefits for one child so why should the same be true for spouses.  Whether an employee has no children or 20 children, you're going to have to cover them all.  Let's face it - Even if polyamory is deemed legal, it still most likely won't be that common.  And since families seem to be having fewer children these days, maybe it will just be a trade off. 
'What about the children?  They'll be traumatized!' - This argument was used for homosexuals too and those kids seem to be doing just fine.
'This is just another form of adultery!' - No it's not.  Adultery involves deception and a general lack of respect for your partner.  When everyone involved is a fully aware and consenting adult, there is no adultery.

The likelihood of me ever being involved in a polyamorous relationship is quite low - mostly for the reason I mentioned above:  It's hard enough to find one person with whom you are truly compatible.  But if for some reason that perfect person appeared I would be very open to the possibility.  It would have to be a full triad.  I could never be in a relationship where one person had two spouses.  If I would do this everyone involved would have to be equally engaged with everyone else.  Since I am married to a 100% heterosexual man, this would mean that the third person would have to be a woman and we would both have to be in love with her and she would have to be in love with both of us.  So while this all seems wonderful in theory, seriously - what are the chances?

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Love the Atheist Community

Within the atheist community recently there has been much talk about behaviour.  It seems to have all started with Phil Plait's "Don't Be A Dick" speech.

I recently read this post on PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula and it evoked such a sense of pride in me for the humanity among atheists.

Someone calling themselves "EvolutionSkeptic" posted a comment on one of PZ's posts asking for help.

"Hey, so some of you may remember me (one can hope). I found this thread that some people told me last time to find when I wanted to ask a question. Since I have one, I thought I'd check in. Hope everyone is doing well.
All right. I read "Why Evolution is True" and "The Greatest Show on Earth," as recommended by several of you. After that, I also started reading some of the stuff on Dawkins' site, because I really liked his calm approach to the subject.
After reading there and a good bit here, I'm actually getting a little afraid, and this is where my question comes in ... I can recognize the validity of evolution and that it's true. This began to make an impact on my belief in God, but I still felt like he could have set the whole thing in motion.
But the more I read there and here, the more I'm questioning that, the more I worry that my faith may be in danger. Since you guys were so helpful the first time, I thought maybe I could come to you to ask a couple of questions again ...
  1. I truly don't mean this to be insulting, so please don't take it that way, but what is your motivation to live a moral, upstanding life without the guidance of the rules of God and the Bible? I know you guys do this, but I'm not sure I understand how it works without concrete guidance.
  2. For those of you who were once Christians (I'm guessing there are some), how did you reconcile your atheism/agnosticism with your relationship with your Christian family/friends? How do you tell them? Do you still go to church for the fellowship but just don't pray/participate? Did you lose friends/family in your process of change?
I hope I'm not interrupting a conversation here, but any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading, if you actually got this far."
 PZ then moved it to its very own post with his own reply and the suggestion that "this is one probably better answered by the diverse views of the hivemind."  The hivemind did not disappoint!

I have read the first 200 of the almost 400 comments that were added.  So many people provided their own personal and honest stories as well as their theories surrounding ethics and morality.  Many others simply put in their two cents and then wished ES luck with his/her quest/journey.  It was absolutely lovely to see all of these "strangers" come together to discuss their views, philosophies and knowledge and encourage this person to grow and seek truth.  It wasn't about telling someone what to believe, but instead giving ES an outlet to discuss what he/she believes and how those beliefs are changing without encountering any guilt or embarrassment.

I also found it wonderful that despite EvolutionSkeptic's own community which appears to be against belief in evolutionary science and free thinking (I base this assumption on ES's fears about losing friends and family based on a belief in evolution), ES is still searching for answers and knowledge.  That is a true testament of courage - to go against the herd and find answers and beliefs that make sense to you.

I was particularly touched when ES, in thanking everyone for their replies, comments that he/she is unworthy of all the attention (comment #137).  This is responded to with comments like "Why are you unworthy? We are all in this together, support is what humans do best." (#157) and "Who could be more worthy than you?" (#195). 

This thread gave me such warmth and pride for the atheist community and their non-dickishness.  It was just one big warm fuzzy. 

I wish ES a wonderful journey full of knowledge and enlightenment and new friends.  I hope that he/she will remain strong, independent and forward thinking.  I hope that his/her current friends and family will respect, support and encourage ES in this quest regardless of the outcome - I certainly do.