The Trend of Civilization

Imagine my joy at opening the New York Times moments after 10 AM to find that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of marriage equality for same-sex partners on the basis of the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. I thought immediately of something FDR said in his short fourth inaugural address:

“Things in life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising toward the heights–then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend.”

So for the rights of people in this country. We have much work left to do about discrimination, but here we have a large step toward the upward trend.

My personal reaction comes from Friedrich Schiller (prefaced by paraphrased Beethoven):

Oh friends, yes, these sounds! Let us sing pleasantly and joyfully!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,                           Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,

Tochter aus Elysium,                                           Daughter of Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,                                 Intoxicated with fire, we enter,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.                              Heavenly One, your sanctuary.

Deine Zauber binden wieder                               Your spells reunite

Was die Mode streng geteilt;                              That which custom strictly divides;

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,                           All men will become brothers,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.                         Where sheltered by your gentle wing.

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