Something happened in real life that ended up being the perfect analogy to describe government. Specifically I thought of this as similar to how government has inserted itself into marriage, but it could apply to many scenarios in which government has barged in and messed things up.
A few months back I was hanging out with my sister watching my two nieces and their friend, all 5 and under, play on the swings. Although there were three kids and only two swings, this had not yet presented a problem, as my younger niece was playing nearby happily without a swing, until…
My older niece decided it was time to announce that the swing she was swinging on was her swing (actually it was the neighbor’s swing set) and that her sister could swing on her swing because she was her sister, but their friend could not swing on her swing.
Well before this announcement, the friend couldn’t care less about swinging on my niece’s swing, she had her own! Ah but the forbidden fruit! Now she wanted to swing on my niece’s swing. “No!” my niece insisted, “I just said this is my swing!”
My sister, annoyed that my niece had created a problem, and wanting to appease their young friend as well as promote sharing, forced my niece off of the swing so that her friend could have a turn. (Keep in mind there is now an identical empty swing for the taking.)
When my older niece was finally wrenched off her swing crying, so that her friend could have a turn, my younger niece swooped in and attempted to usurp the chosen swing, as according to her sister, it was her birthright. In the end one swing was empty, one was occupied by a crying friend, and my two nieces were crying and being gently restrained as not to attempt to retake the desirable swing.
In this scenario, my older niece would be the government, arbitrarily making up rules and instigating fights. My younger niece would be the anti-gay marriage people who have always been “allowed” by government to get married. And the friend would be the pro-gay marriage people, happy until others were granted special privileges by the government, at which point they felt wronged by comparison.
But my niece is actually generally well mannered, friendly, and caring, as opposed to the government. Oh yea, she’s also 5 years old! Yet everyday the government acts exactly like she did in this scenario.
Gay couples were living together and dedicating themselves to each other for life, for better or for worse, long before the government decided they were going to be the ones who said if people were married or not. But when the government arbitrarily excluded gay couples from the special marriage privileges they gave to straight couples, instead of saying, “Hey, the government shouldn’t decide who is married!” many gay couples said, “hey, we want to be married too!”
So, like the excluded friend, they left their swing, in pursuit of what appeared to be a better swing, according to the government. But with support from anti-gay marriage types, the government refused to leave the swing, and when they were finally forced into a corner, the anti-gay marriage types ran to fill the swing, insisting that they be the only ones who government calls “married”.
And in the end, no one is happy. Not the gay marriage advocates who still feel wronged, not the anti-gay marriage advocates who didn’t get their way, and not the government who’s authority to label people has been challenged.
Ah-ha, you say, but indeed there were only two swings, and three children. Yes. That is one swing for gay couples who just want to be left alone, and one swing for straight couples who just want to be left alone.
The ones who want to force their will, the ones who arbitrarily make up rules, the ones who exclude some, and reward others, in a word, government, can shove off. They don’t deserve a swing to play on.