Watching the media deal with sex scandals is an eye-opening mirror of our own values.
When powerful men are discovered to have fathered a child outside their marriages, that child is often called a “love child.”
I had thought this term might have originated with Diana Ross. It seems a nicer, more inclusive label than “bastard.”
The phrase has actually been around since the early 1800’s. Prior to that, the term “love brat” was also used.
For the longest time, I thought “love child” was another name for a hippie, or a peacenik, one who wore “love beads.” I wanted to be a love child.
It turns out that I was. Though hidden from me for many years, my mother’s marital status in 1962 was not what she claimed it to be. Did her friends and neighbors in our small Long Island town really accept her cover story that she had been married, impregnated and immediately divorced whilst at college? Or did they call me a love child in judgmental whispers?
I often remind distraught parents and scared teenagers that, if it weren’t for unplanned pregnancies, there would be very many fewer folks on the planet. It has been a part of life for as long as life has been. And still we have not learned to be kind in the way we deal with it.
Watching the Schwarzenegger scandal unfold, I am struck with compassion for both the unnamed “love child” and for Christopher Sargant Shriver.
Christopher, it turns out, was born around the same time as his half-brother. I wonder how he must feel, hearing this child of his household employee referred to as his father’s “love child.”
What exactly does this term imply? That children born of a marriage are not loved?
Children born without the benefit of married parents are singled out by a special title. From that perspective, the terms “love child” and “bastard” are both hurtful.
Why can’t we be decent enough to simply refer to a child as a child? If the headline read “Arnold Admits to Fathering Child with Housekeeper,” we would still know what it means.
It must be confusing for all the Schwarzeneggers, to hear the word “love” bandied about in a situation that may be making them feel a bit unloved. And even though we don’t know the name of their half brother, he is old enough to know that he is the center of a scandal. That might not feel so loving for him.
Spiritually, all children are love children. Every child is born of love, in the sense that every child is part of the Divine, and the Divine is love.
Arnold is not the only villain in this story. While I am glad the press as it now exists can still do proper reporter sleuthing, I am not sure that a family’s personal struggles need to be national news. On the other hand, I am glad he is exposed for what he is.
Nonetheless, it is the media that spins this story for us, and reminds us that two children, sharing the same father and similar age, have two different titles, and two different lots in life.
The Lovers card, from the Major Arcana of the tarot, has something to say about this story. In traditional decks, it shows Adam, Eve and an angel. Adam looks at Eve longingly, while Eve gazes at the angel.
Water is the element of love and emotions, Fire is the element of sex and passion, but the Lovers card is associated with the element of air. Air is the element of communication, thoughts, words, integrity, trust, logic and intelligence.
From this, we can infer a great spiritual lesson. To be a love-er, one who loves, one needs to come from the head, not from the heart. There must be trust, truth, and wise decisions. When we fail to do this, we may not be acting out of love. We may be acting out of ego, greed, power, fear, or some other less positive motivation.
In the Lovers card, we are offered a distinct choice between lust and purity. What will our focus be? Will we focus on the carnal, like Adam, or on the spiritual, like Eve?
While this image may originally have reflected a Christian sense of shame and taboo about sex, we can interpret it in a more helpful way, too.
Air is all about attitude. So it is, as we look at love and sex from the perspective of this tarot card. If we, like Arnold and Adam, approach relationships without the benefits of the Air element, and with the focus on lust, we will make poor choices.
If we embrace the Air element, and focus on the spiritual, our union will be a blessed and balanced integration born of wisdom and trust.
Every child is born of love, though some are born of their parents’ poor choices. It’s probably better to call a kid a “love child” than a “poor choice child.” But it would be better still to simply call a child a child.