There is a song I’ve always liked by Georges Brassens, the unofficial poet laureate of France, called “Le Grand Pan” (“Pan, the Great”). In the second verse he tells us how in the old days, the gods would rush to the aid of two lovers as soon as they heard a single “I love you,” and with their aid….
La plus humble amourette était alors bénie
Sacrée par Aphrodite, Eros, et compagnie.
L’amour donnait un lustre au pire des minus,
Et la moindre amoureuse avait tout de Vénus.
Even the most humble romance was blessed
Made sacred by Aphrodite, Eros and company.
Love gave a lustre to even the worst of losers,
And the least of women in love had all the qualities of Venus.
This is the sacrament of sexual union. To sense those mutual feelings of attraction swirling, forming, taking over two “imbéciles heureux” as Brassens says, is to know what the Divine is all about. And it’s there for everyone to experience, even the most humble of us.
But the important word here is “mutual.” Those supernal energies that send us to the farthest reaches of happiness only operate when love is requited. Failing that, love withers and dies, or leaves only lust, and lust can lead to the Dark Side. Men are programmed by their DNA to look aggressively for partners, and in the not-too-distant past, they took them by force if necessary. Civilization gave us romance and a moral compass, empowering women by diverting the genetic drive of the male to reproduce. (I know, I know–women have this drive too, but the danger comes primarily from men).
The veneer of civilization washes off quickly, especially when lubricated by alcohol, and especially when people turn into packs. The horrific events in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve illustrate yet again how frightening life can be for women, even in the most civilized of countries. We don’t know all the details yet, but what we do know is bad enough: hundreds of drunken men encircling women, groping them, assaulting them, making them fear for their lives. It calls to mind events in our own country in 2000 when at the Puerto Rican parade in New York City the same thing happened, or the so called “Eve teasing” in India that can lead to the most terrifying sexual assaults imaginable.
What do we do about this? Mothers and fathers! Your first duty to your sons is to teach them that sexual union is sacred to whatever gods you serve, or if you have no gods, sacred to what it means to be human, sacred to all that life on this planet means, sacred period. Women are reflections of the goddesses and in motherhood they are heroes, bringing new life to the world at the risk of their own. We owe women so much. They need our respect. Teach your boys!