The Mightiest Magic There Is

Your father was the most accomplished wizard anyone has ever known, but his sorcery is based in greed and power. There is a stronger kind of magic, Calibot — love. Love is the mightiest magic there is.

John R. Phythyon, Jr., The Sword and the Sorcerer

I don’t quote myself very often. It’s pretentious and immodest.

But as we come up on Valentine’s Day, our thoughts turn to love, and what that means, and whether candy and flowers are really what it’s all about.

The Sword and the Sorcerer may be an epic fantasy and the kickoff to a larger series, but it’s really a book about love. Calibot and Devon (whose dialogue I quote above) are in love. Calibot is estranged from his father and is resentful he doesn’t have the love he wants. And I wrote the book for and dedicated it to my wife.

Plus, since the main character is gay and is in a long-term, romantic relationship with another man, I donated a portion of the book’s sales to Freedom to Marry until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage last summer.

The central thesis of The Sword and the Sorcerer is that love is, indeed, the mightiest magic there is. Love makes forgiveness possible. Love brings happiness. Love gives strength. Love builds up others and ourselves.

I can recall the exact moment when marriage equality became an issue I wanted to fight for. Several years ago, when I was living in Kansas, Iowa became only the second state to legalize gay marriage. It’s a short drive to the Hawkeye State from Lawrence, where I lived. You can do it in a couple hours, four if you want to go all the way to Des Moines.

Some friends of mine decided to drive up to Iowa to get married. They’d been together for 10, maybe 20 years. They lived as a couple, owned property together, did everything a married couple does except file a joint tax return and have certain estate rights.

But as soon as Iowa made it okay for them to be married there, they set a date and drove up to do it.

At the time, Kansas was one of a multitude of states that had adopted a repugnant constitutional amendment establishing a monogamous heterosexual union as the only definition of marriage it would recognize. Even if the federal government recognized another type of relationship as marital, Kansas would not.

So my friends could go get married in Iowa. But when they came back to Kansas, it would be like it had never happened. As far as Kansas was concerned, they were no more married upon their return than they were when they left.

And yet, they went anyway.

What that taught me was that there was something more important in all this than in some citizens being denied certain financial and property rights. I had been in favor of gay marriage before, because not allowing homosexual couples to wed was discriminatory.

But my friends weren’t as concerned about that piece of it. What they wanted was to be able to marry. They were in love. They wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Indeed, they’d already committed to that.

They’d been conquered by that mightiest magic of all.

Freedom to Marry adopted that same approach. They made it less about property rights and more about love. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to marry the person you love? If that person is old enough to get married and sound enough to give consent, why can’t you marry him or her?

Ultimately, this is the argument that won the day. As Freedom to Marry and other marriage equality organizations pressed their point, they won the hearts of average people. They made the average heterosexual person comfortable with the idea of homosexual love and marriage.

That is the transformative power of love. Love brings us together. It allows us to see each other as people, as human beings. Love does not divide. Love does not demonize.

Yes, there were and are some people who have not been transformed in their thinking by the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. Many of them harbor anger and hatred in their hearts towards those who won the day. Some of them truly believe that they are justified in their belief that homosexuality is wrong and should be abolished by the state.

But they are in the minority. Gay marriage proponents won because love won. The mightiest magic of all transformed so many people that discriminatory laws were struck down.

I think we need more of that in the world.

We’re in an election year in the U.S., and if the polls and the first two primary contests have taught us anything, it is that Americans are angry. Leftists and conservatives alike are furious at how they perceive the system working against them. They’ve infused that fury into demagogues like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz.

But I think if we all listened a little more closely to the messages love is whispering in our ears, we might be a little less angry, a little less willing to demonize the people on the other side of the race and their supporters. We’d be a little less likely to see someone else as our enemy — whether it’s the person at work we don’t like or the supporter of a rival presidential candidate.

I have taken my own words to heart. I have learned to stop hating the people who betrayed me, who hurt me. I have forgiven most of them. I have learned to accept that most of the things people have done to me come not from a place of malice but of ignorance or carelessness. And if that makes them no less painful, it at least affords some ability to understand and accept.

I’m not perfect at it. I still have a lot of work to do.

But I believe in the power of love. I believe it can heal. I believe it can strengthen. I believe it can bridge gaps and transform both hearts and minds. I believe, because I’ve seen it do all these things.

Truly, love is the mightiest magic there is.

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