Thoughts About Relationships

Last Friday evening, I had the opportunity to attend Rock and Worship in Phoenix at the U.S. Airways Center.  Originally, the plan called for me meeting with my friend Matt and his wife but after some car issues on his side and those plans falling through, I met up with a few other friends that evening instead.  Our seats were absolutely fantastic – quite possibly the best seats in the  arena.  We lounged in the suites toward the left of the stage (compliments of the big-law firm my friend works at).  Given that I raced up from Tucson after work that day, I had no opportunity to grab a bite to eat before the concert started.  Not to worry though, the suite was stocked with warm food, snacks, and drinks.   I can’t even fathom the yearly cost to buy out a suite – and have excellent access to all events in the arena.

We probably had more than a few envious glances from the other spectators below and above us.

It’s easy to see how people can become entangled in an opulent lifestyle; it’s comfortable.  At a whim, I could sit, stand, lounge, eat, chat, or walk around.  Thirsty?  Get something out of the fridge.  Hungry?  We had hot food kept warm with sterno.  Popcorn?  Chips? Brownies?  Check.  Check. Check.

As I recounted my experience to my parents, I became acutely aware that opulence is empty if it’s not filled with relationships.  Were I not surrounded by other people that I knew, the event, for all its grandeur, would have been quite lonely.  My mom remarked how fortunate I was to enjoy such a high-brow life.  Indeed, I was fortunate.  But I consider myself more fortunate to have people in my life with which to share these events.

Relationships form the base of human development; without them, life would be directionless.  I suspect that even the richest among us would openly admit that the things that provide the most pleasure in life are not tangible objects, but people, events, and experiences.  But while we crave human relationships, we sometimes trick ourselves into seeking authenticity in the security of material possessions.  You’ll never hear me state that wealth and luxury are abominable; they have uses.  Those uses, I believe, are to foster genuine relationships; relationships are the end goal.

My firm also purchases tickets for sporting and other events – and I’ve had a few occasions to benefit from – and bless others with – these tickets.   Oftentimes, these events are a way to bring other people together – others that may not have occasion to otherwise socialize.  At least, it’s that way for me.  I’m not a huge basketball, football, baseball fan – at least not as a spectator, but in bringing others along, that secular event carries much more meaning.

So, Rock and Worship went quite well – not only because the bands were objectively good (or at least subjectively good), and not only because the seats were absolutely fantastic (though that was a major benefit) but because of the relationships among those in that suite.

A Philosophical Look At Opposite-Sex Roommates

I never really expected to revisit the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student that committed suicide off the George Washington bridge after his dormmate videotaped Clementi in an amorous tryst with a fellow male student.  Indeed, I hoped that his death would serve as an awakening toward the importance of sex within the confines of the marital institution rather than a rallying point for the LGBQT community to twist this tragedy to advance its social awareness agenda. 

Beginning this August, Rutgers University will offer opposite-sex living arrangements to its freshman students.  Parents wary of this program may certainly be concerned; the parent cannot override the wishes of the student.  With the goal of creating an “inclusive community”, the ability to select opposite sex dormmates is being heralded as a breakthrough in gender-awareness at the university.  Purportedly, the response is overwhelmingly positive. 

Rutgers’ decision to facilitate co-ed living arrangements likely had its inception long before Clementi’s death.  And with the weight of public support and advocacy groups, it seems unlikely the university will reverse course anytime soon.  Like many social issues, homosexuality and its identity in society is still hotly contested.  Were it as simple as providing studies showing the effect of homosexuality within the college environment and its effect on society, an institution would either ratify or reject the proposal allowing close-quarters opposite-sex living arrangements.  Many political, social, and educational think tanks have conducted such studies – but the results are scattered across the social gambit.  Black is white and white is black.  Consider the entire debate in California regarding same-sex marriages and Proposition 8.  One side presented evidence on the virtues (or lack of detriment) of homosexual marriages, while the other attacked the findings of such “evidence.”  All else being equal, the judge merely considered the argument he judged “more right.”

In that respect, Rutgers has chosen the position it considers “more right.”  Its own studies linked with popular opinion legitimize its decision.

Whether we agree or disagree, a fundamental question underlies the entire debate: is there any one, right answer?   Or does humanity live in a world of gray where black and white are but theories in an otherwise pragmatic world? 

The tendency, I feel, is to ignore the fundamental question and instead look to the practical benefits and consequences.   Rutgers University examined a problem – homosexual exclusion – and fashioned a remedy designed to both fix the problem and serve as a beneficial template for others. 

Most of humanity reasons as such: what is right?  As much as we try to consider the consequences of any one action, we are often left with conflicting studies and opinions such that the end result is either throwing up ones hands in exasperation or recognizing that any true answer is elusive and therefore unknowable.  Likely humanity’s failing lies in its perception that we cannot fully know truth and so, with limited information, we make decisions as rational – and sometimes irrational – human beings.

Were it possible for Rutgers to see the full implications of its decision toward homosexual inclusion in housing, it’s quite possible that it would reject what it currently accepts.