Thursday, October 12, 2006

Say NO to Polygamy (essay)

Zabihullah Noori
Say NO to Polygamy

Social laws are formed from natural laws. In natural law everything has its equal counterpart, such as the sun and the moon, day and night, black and white, men and women, and husband and wife. Social laws have taken natural laws into consideration. This is why, in regards to civil rights, people have voted for one husband and one wife. The legislatures knew that having more than one husband or one wife would always lead to a very sad and depressing end; this is why they declared polygamy illegal. People should say NO to legalizing polygamy because we should not legalize what would have negative effects on the country.
Some may think of polygamy as a privilege or right. According to these thinkers, polygamy leads to happiness. Having several children playing together, living in a huge community, and sharing happiness with each other, looks like fun to them. Polygamy is like sweet poison that some people wish to drink. It looks so nice that even well-educated people like Elizabeth Joseph, a Utah attorney and journalist, are caught in this trap. According to Elizabeth Joseph in her article, “Polygamy Now!,” polygamy is a lifestyle for women (143). She writes, “Polygamy is the one lifestyle that offers an independent woman a real chance to ‘have it all (use all the chances available at hand and choose the best man available, regardless of his marital status)’ ” (143). But there is another side to the picture and the reality is completely different. She never expresses the fact that this chance will lead to the worst lifestyle. It is considered intrusive to marry an already married man and that is why it is illegal in most states. In addition to state rules and regulations, as a matter of fact, no one wishes to share what she possesses, especially when it is husband. Most women cannot stand the thought of their husbands sleeping with other women. Such behavior is called “cheating” and is strongly rejected by American society. How can one think of sharing a husband for her whole life? No way! This is why most people live with one husband and one wife in monogamous marriage and don’t believe in polygamy. There are, of course, exceptions, and Joseph’s life is one example. But rules are formed based on generalizations, not on exception, and monogamous marriage is a generally accepted rule, not an exception. In order to safeguard society from negative effects of cheating and interfering ones happy life, polygamy must remain illegal.
The U.S. constitution encourages citizens in living equally with no discrimination, as do the cultural ethics, yet polygamy leads to discrimination. This discrimination may start within a family and spread to larger communities. It is impractical to claim that all wives in a polygamous marriage will always be treated equally. The same can be said for their children. When all wives and children in a small community, a family, cannot be treated equally, it is obvious that it leads to discrimination within a family. A very good example of such discrimination is Joseph’s life. She writes, “I don’t have to worry. I know that when I have to work late my daughter will be at home surrounded by loving adults with whom she is comfortable and who know her schedule without my telling them.”(143). This itself is a discrimination, because every wife in a polygamous marriage should have the same right, while what she claims is that since she works longer hours, other wives should take care of her child. What if every wife in a polygamous family had one or two children? How can one wife take care of all of the children equally at the same time? Joseph might be happy in a polygamous marriage, but she never mentions whether or not the other wives are happy. They could be unhappy, and it may be the same in most polygamous marriages. And if the numbers of polygamous marriages grow that will definitely affect bigger communities and even spread all across the country. To avoid such negative effects on the country, polygamy should remain illegal.
Polygamy also encourages cheating among society. I disagree with Elizabeth Joseph when she claims that polygamy is a “free-market,” where every one can have the best choice available (143). However, this free market will encourage the culture of cheating and immorality. But Joseph, not considering this outcome, writes, “Why shouldn’t you or your daughters have the opportunity to marry the best man available, regardless of his marital status?” (143-144). Obviously, polygamy will give you a chance to marry the best man available, but how can you trust a man who is not faithful to his
wife? Isn’t that considered cheating? Aren’t you encouraging the culture of cheating? Most importantly, how can you trust him to be faithful to you for the rest of his life? In “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness,’” Lewis says that “women… are more naturally monogamous than men,” so this will affect a woman’s happiness in a polygamous relationship. Ultimately, at least one person in a polygamous relationship will be unhappy. Once again, society would be better off if polygamy remained illegal.
Another example of a negative result of polygamous marriage on society can be seen when a rich man has several wives and many children. After he dies, all his wives will claim equal shares of his wealth as inheritance, but they may not have the same number of children, or some may not have any children at all. It will be hard to make a fair decision on how to benefit all of them from their husband’s inheritance.
Bearing all the facts in mind, people should never legalize polygamy because it will create dissatisfaction, discrimination and virulence in a family. Since family is the stepping-stone of any society, it has a large impact on that society as a whole. If families became infected with polygamy then society as a whole becomes infected resulting in widespread sadness. To avoid such a huge dilemma, let’s simply say NO to legalizing polygamy.

Ø Joseph, Elizabeth. “Polygamy Now!” Reading Life A Writer’s Reader. Eds. Inge Fink and Gabrielle Gautreaux. United States: Thomson Wadsworth 2005. 143.
Ø Lewis C. S. “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’” Reading Life A Writer’s Reader. Eds. Inge Fink and Gabrielle Gautreaux. United States: Thomson Wadsworth 2005.146.


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