Children of a future Age
Reading this indignant page;
Know that in a former time,
Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime. Wm. Blake
Words are miniature time capsules. They contain within the space of a couple of consonants and vowels an entire history of long forgotten points of view, footprints of ancient journeys, evidence of other realities. On close inspection they shed light on the present order of things, on our myths and madness. The epithet "pederast" is laden now with censure and contempt. But when we rub away the patina of millennia we find that 'paides' is Greek for boys, and an 'erastes' is a lover. To the ancients 'eran' meant to be _in_ love, as opposed to 'philia,' merely to love. Hence a pederast does not just "like" boys -- he falls in love with them.
What follows is no apology for pederasty, a futile effort. One might as well apologize for clouds in the sky or foam on the ocean. Pederasty is a facet of human existence. Boys and men have always seen beauty in each other, and will always fall in love. The issue is how do we, individually and as a society, relate to these facts and how does our language reflect and shape our attitudes.
I can still recall the glow of pride I felt when, barely eleven, it dawned on me that my closest friend was the best looking boy in class. I remember too the first days of high school, when I wistfully realized the charm of the kids around me was fading fast. Now, on the brink of middle age, my feelings have changed but little. The glimpse of a young boy still turns my head, and the fleeting taste of his lips breaks my heart every time. Being in love with a lad who returns my affection measure for measure is the very stuff of life for me. When that love is missing nothing satisfies, and when I have it I need nothing else.
Chance enchantment gave way to mute yearning as I grew older. It was mute because I found no word or paradigm to express what I felt. I gradually became an outsider. I found solace in the imaginary universes of science fiction and in science, where I discovered the comfort of reason triumphant. They became counterweights for my impossible, unreasonable emotions. Uncomprehending, I lived with an unfillable emptiness from grade school on. This void was punctuated by the exquisite beauty of the boys around me which, like a ghost trapped in the land of the living, I did not know how to touch. At eighteen the gears stopped grinding. I dropped out of all my courses and in politely seething turmoil went to Bob P., the college therapist. There, able to hold it in no longer, the shame and guilt of my truth erupted as I quivered across the desk from him. I tremble still as I think of these things. Far from reviling me, he received me with warmth and understanding.
Bob laid the corner stone upon which I haltingly began to rebuild my self-esteem. But he was powerless to help me fit in without denying a part of myself, made all the larger for being covered up. Indeed it became one of the pillars of my identity. Later, as a Buddhist, I would understand that all that was insubstantial, but that did not make it any less real. I felt I had to fully own that which I encountered in me as a first step in letting go. With hindsight I can say I took on a double task: discovering within myself a way to be in which decency and the love of boys could coexist, and integrating my illicit desires with my more conventional ones.
This task, never complete, has occupied much of my life. During this time I studied, worked, went through therapy, began to meditate. I also fell in and out of love with several girlfriends and married one with a big heart and a big mind, one with whom I did not have to wear a mask. Mindy and I raised dogs and children, ours and countless others who gravitated toward a household with open doors in which everyone was welcome. My life would have been barren without her love, yet after thirst was quenched hunger remained. An invisible thread tied together my various pursuits: the search for a way to reconcile the demands of living in modern America with my boundless fascination with young boys.
When in the course of my readings I came across the link with 'eran,' to be in love, I was struck by how accurately that term mirrored my own experience. It was clearly no different from the experience of those who first described and celebrated pederasty. It was one of many landmarks that guided my search for a cultural lifeline, and for an idiom of self-understanding that would define this side of me in terms that came from neither a medical nor a legal lexicon.
Along the years I too have fallen in love with boys, and they with me. Gradually, the path that opened before me was that of being true to my forbidden feelings. The rapport I sought arose naturally. It was the result of the affection and respect I felt for the kids who passed through my life, which was invariably returned manyfold by them, and which occasionally set the stage for greater closeness. I found that many boys hide within themselves the desire to sing the natural song of the body in the company of a man. This need, resonating with my matching longing, proved more powerful than the artificial bounds of the society we found ourselves in. It is not a road devoid of danger, especially not in a fin-de-siecle America roiled by reactionary puritanism, but it is a road well worth traveling for those who find themselves at its beginning.
The greatest perils are not intrinsic. They are the artifacts of circumstance, the fallout of the fear and hate surrounding pederasty. Tenderness and intimacy do no harm. Joyful and exuberant, they bring out the best in both man and boy. What hurts are the myriad deceptions, obligatory handmaidens of living a double life, which insinuate themselves until the very fiber of one's being acquires a duplicitous hue and one becomes detached from oneself. There are also the loneliness and self-doubt of the outcast, the fear of exposure and ostracism. The demons of conformity, manifest as prejudice and xenophobia, cause the damage.
I feel obliged to mention, however, that confronting such perils brings with it its own subtle reward . Urged by the truth of their passion to step beyond the conventional paradigm, both the man and the boy stand to gain the perspective of the outsider, no longer accepting at face value the conventional wisdoms of the time. Relationships, politics, the media, history, education, mores and popular prejudices, all are subject to the scrutiny of eyes no longer clouded by the veil of complacency. It may be, too, that along with the gnawing pain of ostracism, love itself has a hand in lifting that veil. As far back as ancient Greece pairs of lovers were often at the heart of political ferment. The tyrants understood this well, and many tried to ban pederasty upon grabbing the reins of power. Can taking outer liberties translate into inner freedom? Can love awaken, as well as blind?
Homosexuality is not the issue, since neither I nor the boys I have known happen to wear that label. It is simply inaccurate. We have stepped here into a third realm; it may coexist with homo- or heterosexuality but it is an independent domain. Witness the repudiation of pederasts by the gay community, and the images from times and places where the love of boys raised fewer hackles. From ancient Greece to old Baghdad, from modern Amsterdam to Marakesh, from feudal Japan to imperial China and on to the timeless islands of the South Seas we see time and again that the bond sung about is one between a grown man and a boy ". . . smooth like a gold coin."
"'So what?" some will say. "Slavery too has a long tradition, it too has been practiced on every continent. This ode to pederasty is so much specious sophistry." In answer I can only urge the reader to look beneath the surface. Whether a relationship is degrading or uplifting is determined not by its label, but by its motivation, method, and result. The spectrum of marriage, for example, ranges from mutilation and enslavement to free association grounded in mutual respect. Only intelligent analysis of the particulars, as opposed to blanket generalities, can expose the truth of a situation.
History excuses nothing. Its fields are littered with the corpses of mistakes and failed social experiments. But pederasty did not die a natural death. It was murdered. The motives include, no doubt, justifiable self defense against atrocious abuses of past ages. The dynamics of its demise are analogous to those that effectively abolished monarchy in the modern world. Unfortunately for us all, despotism did not die with monarchy. And in like fashion, the banishment of pederasty has not put an end to child abuse. It has merely killed off for countless men and boys the freedom to walk hand in hand through the garden of their mutual passion.
Many will register disbelief at the thought that a boy may be interested in such a relationship. The sexuality of adolescent boys is varied and complex. There are many who yearn to throw off their clothes and romp naked with a man, to taste sexual joy with him. Our laws capriciously deprive these youths of both freedom and self-respect. They deprive them of the great adventure of feeling cherished by a man, of being found beautiful and desirable, of the oceanic feeling of falling in love with him and the exhilaration of entering his greater world. Boys after all live in a male society. Within its confines they find their comrades, their enemies, and often their lovers. Though some might be attracted to their schoolmates, most will prefer the safety and liberation of a friendship with an older man. It has been said that the natural companion of a little child is his mother, of a boy is another boy, of an adolescent is a man and of a young man is a young woman.
Looking back at the boys who passed through my life the pattern that emerges is a dance of intimacy. Its nature and extent varied; only occasionally did it culminate in a sensual embrace. That is not necessarily the goal, though it is delightful and potentiates the entire relationship. The mutual quest for closeness, whether intellectual, emotional, physical or sexual, is the driving force. Intimacy is what satisfies, excites, enriches. Adam opened my eyes to that unexpected truth. We met during the course of a three month meditative retreat that his mother was attending. We grew as close as his age allowed, then lost touch afterwards. Years later, out of the blue, he phoned me. A continent away and now in his mid-teens he had run into that turbulence through which we all must fly that time of life. I tried to talk him through his troubles, and we began a correspondence that over six months and two dozen letters brought us closer together than had we been eyebrow to eyebrow. In the midst of it I realized with surprise that our renewed bond had the full measure of breathless magic, even without setting thirsty eye or roving hand on him.
Each boy I've known taught me how to love him, each in unique fashion. How is this different from the experience of other mentors, who would recoil at the label of pederast? With many of these boys, there came a time when by word or gesture or wink of eye I pointed out a door left unopened; most smiled or frowned decline, and rarely was our friendship the less for it. A handful flung it wide, each in his own way, all with great glee. Once Damian, not yet in his teens, an imp in knee high boots, asked me if I danced. "Not well" said I. He walked over, kissed me on the lips and, looking me in the eye, said "I'll teach you!". And he did.
In time I came to value my ability to relate to boys, and I concluded that the real crime lay not in loving them but in squandering that talent by withholding my affection. My friendships followed no map; each was a new exploration. Whether it strayed into erotic territory or not depended largely on the inclination of the boy. Certainly he should not be pushed, all will agree. By what rights then should he be denied? Again and again Colin would filch my leather key pouch and stuff it down his pants. That is a universal language that needs no translation, and a request that has only one proper answer.
A friend of mine when confronted with such ideas objected that I was leading children into danger. Perhaps. The emotions unleashed are a force of nature. Handled wisely though, they anneal and purify. We invite danger often when raising children. There are perils in teaching a kid to ride a bike, taking him sailing, or mountain climbing, or letting him walk to school by himself. At every juncture in a child's life he will confront new hazards, and each hazard faced and mastered will enrich that child. Should sex play be excluded from this panoply? On what grounds? The precedents of prohibition do not bode well. This society has time and again attempted to forbid people from exploring their minds and bodies, always with disastrous consequences. If there are perils in having teenagers explore their sexuality with men, better to introduce them to these risks within the societal fold than to shove them out into the wilderness.
When a boy decides to explore this terrain we should guide him and teach him the needed skills. The map and the territory are his patrimony, and so are his journey across and the thrill of discovery. This empowerment, the transmission of acquired knowledge from one generation to the next is what sets us apart from most animals. Why should that process break down when the subject is desire?
The man too must be prepared. Desire alone is not enough; he needs empathy, gentleness, and strength in the face of social antagonism. Equally important, he better not care too much whether the relationship waxes erotic or not. As Yamamoto Jin'emon is reported (in _Hagakure_) to have taught, it is best if the boy himself requests the relationship, a common occurrence for those awake to such possibilities. Not least, a finely honed sense of the ridiculous is indispensable. It cuts a path between the extremes of sentimentalism and self pity, and must be exercised by any bearded man who seeks true love in the eyes of little boys.
Any discussion of danger that skirts the issue of disease is disingenuous. After a couple of decades of safety we have returned to a status quo in which a wrong sexual decision is a death sentence. Short of hermetic chastity, absolute safety is not to be found. However it is safer for a boy who will be sexually inquisitive to be involved in a stable relationship with a responsible, loving adult, especially one who is likely to put the boy's welfare before his own. We should note here that recent studies have shown that generally man - boy sexual contacts are non-penetrative (a finding consistent with my own experience), and thus not conducive to contagion.
Quite commonly the twin issues of equality and control are invoked in the argument against such relationships. Yes, it is true that these relationships are not between equals. That is precisely what makes them so valuable. The partners complement each other, and fulfill deep needs that an equal could not. The boy gains a friend with experience and stability, whom he can trust with his inmost fears and desires, with whom he can feel safe and protected. The man can play out his natural role of mentor, revel in the beauty and freshness of his companion and reconnect with a level of spontaneity rare indeed in the adult world. Paradoxically, in this mutuality of unequals a boy can begin to grasp that equality which he so fervently desires and which exists nowhere else in his relationships with adults.
The issue of control may interest many, but none so much as the youngsters involved. Every boy who has drawn close to me, without exception, first tested the extent of his power within the relationship. Only when reassured by his own experience that he had complete discretion to say both yes and no to intimate contact, only then did he fully relax and explore the bounds of his new-found freedom. In a society that has, for the first time in human history, relegated adolescents to the condition of impotent chattels such a relationship may well be the only place where a boy can approach true equality and real control. We might even look at this empowerment of teenagers, which stands on its head the consensual definition of their status, for an explanation of the social excommunication of pederasts.
Another friend, upon learning the nature of my loves, exclaimed with a hint of pique: "But that is so temporary!" That is an incomplete truth at best. Yes, it has been said that the love of boys is like a passing dream. Their lithe grace is evanescent. The mystery begins to fade even as it comes into bloom, but any love worth the name is blind to the turning of the seasons. After the blush of ardor pales the friendship remains alive and vibrant, strengthened by the memory of past caresses as well as by their passing. Master - apprentice, captain - mate, tutor - pupil, mentor, friend, lover . . . I and the boys whose love I won played many parts over the years. The prism through which these special friendships must be seen is that of total engagement, dynamic and fluid in nature as both partners change. The roaring bonfire of the passion Damian and I had for each other when he was fourteen and I thirty, when we spent every free moment absorbed in each other, and the warm glow of affection we have for each other now that he is a young professional and we meet for dinner every couple of months are both the same and entirely different.
If all this is so innocent, why hide behind a nom-de-plume, why use fictitious names? I do not trust others to not judge me by the criteria of their preconceived notions. I have seen all too well that process of depersonalization at work. In an instant the camaraderie of many years is replaced with a prepackaged set of attitudes, the fruit of a lifetime of societal programming. It reshapes in the minds of friends and acquaintances the albeit imperfect image they have of me into the fully polished (tarnished?) icon of "Pedophile!", a procrustean process from which neither participant emerges unscathed. Ours is a society so steeped in dogma and ignorance of history and human nature that even intelligent people seem to be unable to distinguish between a man who's sweet on boys and one who buggers babies bloody in the bushes. As long as my work and liaisons continue I will not offer myself to the vultures of reflexive morality. Wrong time, wrong place.
It is however always the right time to reach out to others who find themselves ensnared by the beauty of young boys, honey stirred with broken glass, to say to them there is no way out, only a way in. Don't waste your youth. Don't fight your calling. Love whom you love! Acknowledge your desires, join them with courage and humanity, with all that is best in you. Faced thus this love ennobles.
As I look back I see my adolescence and my early youth were spent not merely in jail, but in solitary confinement. I know now the loneliness and torment I weathered were needless. Still I feel profoundly marked by that ordeal, in ways I have yet to fully fathom. No one should have to endure what I went through as I grew up. I say this not in anger or lament but in the hope that this glimpse of another's journey will help other boy lovers see into their own hearts. Together with a sense of historical perspective it can begin for them, as it has for me, a healing process most do not imagine possible.
And it is high time to suggest to those who are not part of this involuntary fraternity that there may be another way of understanding the men who are now so readily tarred with the brush of "child molester" when it appears, as it often does, that their affection for children (for which they are endlessly praised) extends to young bodies as well as minds.
If pederasty is truly thus, a nurturing relationship leading to growth and self-discovery; a voyage into intimacy that gentles and deepens and nourishes the travelers, why then is such opprobrium directed against those men who practice it, why are they the object of such widespread repugnance? Prejudice has its roots in anecdote. It is a distortion, a self-serving exaggeration of an underlying reality, and so with pederasty.
Children are vulnerable. Most can be easily manipulated to serve the ends of the adults in their lives, and have not yet formed a sound value structure to protect themselves against actions that appear harmless but entail hidden risks. There is no shortage of adults ready to take advantage of their inexperience. But let us make a crucial distinction. It is not love, but hate that is at work here. How else to characterize those men who rob the young of their tranquillity, exploiting their bodies by force of wit or money or just force, then to say that they are acting out of hate. We are fully justified in doing whatever is necessary to protect our children from such behavior. What is less justifiable is the leap from condemning the ravages of hate to demonizing pederasts. It is this blanket indictment that strikes me as prejudiced. To say that a lover of boys is invariably a child molester is the logical equivalent of saying that a young black man is necessarily a criminal.
Next to the vulnerability of the children we must range the absolute lack of path encountered by pederasts growing up in this society. As Albert Einstein wrote: "The best in man can flourish only when he loses himself in a community." Instead, boy lovers in the west today are forced into utter isolation.
Imagine a twisted world where it is an abomination for a man to love a beautiful woman. Your desires and emotions have suddenly become unspeakable. They are blocked by an impenetrable wall of fear and silence which sets you apart from those around you. You mimic your peers in order to blend in, but your inner remoteness increases day by day. For the youth who discovers the love of boys in his heart this is no Orwellian exaggeration but daily reality, a nightmare from which he can't awaken. What are his choices? Abstinence? In the absence of a strong spiritual practice, how is that different from suicide? Not everyone is cut out to be a monk. However if he should decide to follow his emotions he is fated to blunder through without support, guidance or structure until he learns to discern the territory and to reconcile his passions with his humanity.
At worst he will be trapped by societal expectations, and come to believe and act out the role set out for him in the media, that invariably depict men who desire boys as deviant monsters. These all too real sociopaths have not arisen in a vacuum. They have arisen in a cultural environment that deprives them of the means to understand themselves in positive terms, and in which they have no apparent way to fulfill their desires. As a result their otherwise empty lives are filled with fear, rage and self loathing, and when their festering resentment finally explodes we all pay.
Between these two extremes we have the quiet predators, whose weapons are deception, fear and bribes. The damage they inflict is not the less for being hard to spot. Here too are those who seek in lewd pictures, or trips to Thailand, satisfaction for their sexual appetites. For all their geographic remoteness these actions, far from being less odious, are uglier still. Accessories to their own degradation and that of their hosts, they use the crowbar of economic necessity to pry from hungry youngsters that which once bought loses all value.
Who am I to criticize? I have escaped these pitfalls, but I can still espy my face in the pictures of the madmen who make the headlines, like one who, in startled disbelief, recognizes his transmogrified features in a funhouse mirror. For my safety I have ancestral strength to thank, and the tools at the disposal of the educated middle class. Meditation, therapy, shamanic rites and the extensive literature of pederasty have been staff and shoe leather for the broken social landscape in the midst of which I found myself and which I have learned to inhabit. We would do well though to wonder about those who do not have the benefit of money and culture. What will happen to them, and to us, as they warp under the weight of societal oppression?
Psychiatry, for all its ability to liberate and inform, is also at fault for the current wave of intolerance sweeping the western world. It should come as no surprise that the words and context in which an idea is presented color our perception of that concept. I am reminded of a flight I took a couple of years back from Colorado to New York. I was carrying a ceremonial Japanese bow, seven feet long, strong yet delicate. The airport personnel were aghast. "That's not a bow, is it?" "This is a yumi, a Japanese shrine object," I offered reassuringly. All were intrigued, and the verbally transformed weapon got aboard without any further hinderance. The reformulation of boy-love in medical terms, as opposed to the pedagogic, philosophical or sybaritic interpretations, has the opposite effect. It takes an essentially benign behavior and paints it in the lurid hues of pathology. This represents an usurpation by the medical profession of territory that does not rightfully belong to it. In contrast with the accepted role of the doctor, who gets called in when something hurts, here the doctor has by his intrusion caused a hurt that did not previously exist. The general population participates in this travesty by its abdication of common sense in favor of mute deferral to authority. We all forget that these are the same people who a generation or two ago were lobotomizing homosexuals.
The real perversion here is the bending of science to suit the purposes of politicians, aims which are ultimately dictated by religion. It is well known in academic circles that any research suggesting that pederasty is harmless or even beneficial is an immediate professional death sentence, regardless of the quality of the basic science. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for politics to drive science. Witness, for example, the diagnoses of 'creeping schizophrenia' meted out to political dissidents in the Soviet Union.
It should be abundantly clear by now that by taking the path of total prohibition we have gratuitously invoked a very real threat and effectively stoked the fires of the self-fulfilling prophecy that the love of boys is a great evil. With their customary perspicacity the moralists among us have succeeded in creating a state of affairs that protects no one, not the boys, not the men, not society at large.
I would like to propose a structure which would offer that protection, a framework within which men and boys would come together to engage in all the activities that have bound them from time immemorial. For the boys they form a bridge to manhood; for the men an opportunity to pass on their wisdom and a reminder of a freshness that need not be lost. There would be no barriers against intimacy, no censure of eroticism, no fear of passion. In this culture the bounds would be imposed by kindness and caring. Physical relations would be neither proscribed nor prescribed, friendships would be free to take their natural course. Men would be part of a loose brotherhood in which the ethical standards of intimate relations with minors would be taught and upheld, while boys would feel safe enough to be able to boast of their lovers, if they so chose. Elements of such a society have existed on every continent, and will exist again after the steam roller of Judeo-Christian morality has passed on. It is merely a matter of time.
For the foreseeable future though such tolerance is a pipe dream. As the saying goes: You can't get there from here. I do propose however that we set aside our preconceptions when we come upon a man and a boy in each other's arms, and judge each case strictly on its merits. Yes, we should exert vigilance in monitoring who our children associate with. But once we have satisfied ourselves that their companions are trustworthy we should step back and let the relationships evolve naturally. We think it right to admonish our children to choose their friends carefully; we might counsel them to choose their lovers doubly well.
No dread calamity here; they should be so lucky as to fall in love. A boy in love can be reached as no other. His mind and senses are wide open. He can drink his fill of the older man's experience and knowledge, all alienation and contrariness swept away like leaves in the autumn wind. Deep love, like all that touches our inmost being, engenders an irreversible awakening. Settling into the arms of a loving man, sharing their naked grace with him, these acts do not force boys to be something they are not. Of their own free will, how could they be anything but themselves? The discoveries and realizations are their own. Joining the body with the mind fulfills their potential, makes them complete. Fully fifteen. "Be all that you can be," exhorts the US army inanely. Love however makes that real. Need we be reminded that the disneyfication of childhood, that fairy tale depicting children as sexless and chaste, with its misguided equation of ignorance with innocence has no basis in real life?
Consider that menace-laden phrase, "interfering with children." It should in all fairness be applied not only to those who would abuse them, but equally to those who, for all the best reasons, would impose constraints so tight as to impede them in their blossoming. The sad reality is that a boy's natural right to the freedom and pleasure of his own body has been furtively replaced with the mental fetters of fear and homophobia. Stronger than any medieval chastity belt, this inculcated paranoia sets the mind against the body, resulting for many in an inescapable undercurrent of tension and anger. Rigid and uptight, they are terrified of showing any tenderness or affection, let alone desire, toward another male. The emotional strain of living in this mental prison is hellish preparation for the rigors of adulthood. In a world rife with meaninglessness our strictures tragically bar one of the few paths to fulfillment, and irretrievably rob growing boys of experiences that, once missed, can never be recaptured.
Finally I will recommend that we look at our minds when confronted with this topic, and notice how we react. Are we automatically appalled? Do we mechanically evoke grotesque images, revolting scenarios deserving of censure? That is the mark of prejudice. As antidote we might conceive of a situation in which mutual desire between an adolescent boy and a grown man could have a positive, healthy outcome. Many will bridle at the thought, but only by shifting our perspective can we understand other points of view.
Though we pay lip service to ecology we are still busy subjugating the natural world. Even our inmost habits and traditions are being scrutinized and sanitized. It is a materialistic process driven by the belief that the human psyche can be re-made from the outside, analogous to the re-shaping of the wilderness. We have bridged dangerous torrents, cut roads though deep forests, built waterproof roofs over our heads. We have put down fierce wildlife, macroscopic and otherwise. We have created a safe world, but to the extent that we have taken that too far we have destroyed its essence. Who has walked the geometric grid of New York streets and not mourned the hills and streams sacrificed to the efficient movement of goods and workers?
The inner world is no less under attack. Willing accomplices, we trade our exotic selves for the apparent safety of conformity. This trap ensnares all but the most irrepressible, whose feelings burst through and who are saved by the wisdom of their folly. Whom we love, and the age love first flares up is for no one to dictate. Still the campaign to slash and burn the fertile jungles of our minds continues unabated, and the machineries of compliance loom over those who would follow magic where it leads them.
I would not want this discussion to be reduced to a debate on where to peg the age of consent because the subject is far deeper than that. It is not a matter susceptible to legislation simply because the dances of the heart are not subject to the rule of law. We seek safety behind rigid codes, but this issue does not lend itself to simplistic solutions.
We might all be better served by reverting to the principle espoused by the old speed limit signs out west, before the government decreed that everyone should drive at 55 (does anyone?). The signs used to read: "SPEED LIMIT: REASONABLE AND PROPER." They were a reflection of a standard that requires a greater level of individual responsibility. It presumes judgement and analysis, not mere obedience. It repays us with greater freedom and control over our lives in a richer, more inclusive world. The alternative is the society we live in now, rule-bound at the expense of common sense and trapped in cycles of self-mutilation.
There is a perverse irony in being called a child molester by this society because I like to share my love with boys. If we want to find real child abuse, we need look no further than the billions of dollars spent on the cynical campaign to seduce children into becoming tobacco addicts. We need look no further than the trillions of dollars borrowed by a myopic government to purchase weapons that will kill the very youths we claim to protect, to be repaid by the survivors. We need look no further than our despoliation of the natural world, robbing our children of the peace and serenity of pristine land and waters, and we need look no further than our public schools that systematically fail everyone. We have turned the tables, we have become the prodigal parents. When will we come home and beg forgiveness of our sons?
Currently the social climate in America is anything but receptive to such concepts. Public consciousness is whipped daily by the media to new heights of frenzy, positive models long ago cast aside. That is no reason for discouragement, just further impetus to get the message out. To that end it would be useful to form an organization (I suggest calling it "THE SOCIETY OF MEN") to address the following key issues:
Gathering the heritage. Current attitudes are the result of a campaign of cultural annihilation. It is necessary to reverse the process by collecting and disseminating relevant historical and anthropological information (all of which clearly shows our's to be the only major civilization to deny men and boys sexual freedom with each other) as well as literature, film and other artwork inspired by this theme through the ages. Not only do the latter have inherent artistic value, born as they are of authentic passion, but they would be rare balm for those men sensitive to the magnetism of boys, for whom the greatest danger is coming to believe, however subliminally, the vilification unleashed at them.
Unraveling the web of deception. It is high time word got out that the myths we read in childhood were expurgated. Societal outlook would be liberated if all children grew up comfortable with the knowledge that Zeus took Ganymede, the handsome Trojan boy, to bed, that samurai made love with their younger brethren, and medieval knights took off their shining armor at night to lay with their pages. The refusal to acknowledge the intertwining of pederasty with every aspect of our history, and the bowdlerization of the mythos upon which we build our self image, originally perpetrated at the instigation of the Christian church, has deprived us of the means to recognize the totality of our being as sacred, and thus contributed to the emergence of the conflicted society we live in today. When cultural legacy is carved up it is the spirit that is wounded. Is it surprising that we feel essentially incomplete?
Healing the damage. It is crucial to address the problems of child abuse and pederast abuse, two sides of the same coin, by reaching out to those at risk of losing their balance and offering them an integrative vision of themselves. We need forums where they can gather, free from fear and hounding, in an ambiance not of "cure" and repentance but of appreciation and respect. This refuge from antagonism would defuse the time bomb of pent up tensions. The resulting validation and sense of community would ground these people and help them discover their basic decency and gentleness.
Unearthing ancient foundations. It has traditionally been the role of strange men (those outside the nuclear family) to enter young boys into manhood. These traditions blend pedagogy and sexuality. They reach back beyond classical Greece and can still be found in "primitive" societies all over the planet. Technologically naive but spiritually erudite, these cultures are far ahead of us in implementing social structures which fulfill deep psychic needs which, if left unfulfilled, lead to the alienation and dehumanization that are the trademark of our dominant western civilization. We need to consciously re-connect with these long-forgotten cornerstones of our manhood, interpret them in ways that harmonize with the world we find ourselves in, and build upon them a stage for men and boys of all persuasions to play out their eternal complementary roles.
It should be clear to even casual students of semantics that words do not merely describe the world we live in, they actually determine what and how we see. With that in mind, we would do well to untangle another errant thread in the fabric of language. We generally distinguish forcible rape from making love, though to an alien observer the actions might well seem identical. Why then do we lump pederasts with pedophiles? External similarities notwithstanding, the terms should not be interchangeable. Pedophilia is a clinical condition. Pederasty is a state of grace.
Words exact a steep price. In exchange for shelter from chaos they parsimoniously dole out the thin gruel of mundane existence. There is another level where experience runs free, unbounded by labels or definitions. Its echoes reach us as poetry, there we taste desire and gaze upon our lovers. Seen from that pristine wilderness, all efforts to parse the passion of one human being for another are incongruous, doomed to fall short. Love, like the surface of the sea, is ineffable.
I mistrust all labels, "pederast" included. It means different things to different people, does not explain my past or predict my future. Popeye had it right. I am his acolyte. I yam what I yam, and that too changes from day to day. When we define someone we gut that person of all substance and end up with a convenient shrunken head that mocks the real man. Far better to shut up and let experience speak.
It is time to admit that the authoritarian model of social control has failed. The indiscriminate proscription of pederasty, ostensibly enacted in order to eradicate its undesirable aspects, has backfired. The "cure" is worse than the "disease." The freedom of well intentioned and civilized individuals has been curtailed while the violent and the brutish carry on unhindered.
The perspectives of history and anthropology suggest an alternative. They unveil the infinite variety of sexual customs, and highlight the capriciousness of taboos and the universality of the passion between men and boys. They prick the balloon of our cultural arrogance and force us to re-evaluate heretofore unquestioned assumptions. It is our responsibility, especially those of us who claim to glimpse a vision of a world based on enlightened principles, to no longer blindly, cruelly and futilely attempt to legislate such an integral part of human nature out of existence but to incorporate it into the structure of our society and thus with one stroke control its harmful manifestations and harness its enormous power for good.