Ebon has been hosting a great discussion about the morality of prostitution over at Daylight Atheism. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. He and his commenters have raised a multitude of interesting points and counter-points about the economics, politics, sociology – and ultimately, the morality – of prostitution. As I read Ebon’s post and the responses, I couldn’t help thinking about Walt Whitman’s beautiful poem, To a Common Prostitute:
BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you;
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the leaves to rustle for you, do my
to glisten and rustle for you.
My girl, I appoint with you an appointment—and I charge you that you make preparation
worthy to meet me,
And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come.
Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that you do not forget me.
This poem expresses, far more graciously and eloquently than I ever could, what it means to be a humanist; to reach out and accept another as my equal – without regard to wealth or education or ethnicity – simply because he or she is part and parcel of the world that we both share.
Moreover, my humanist spirit extends beyond the species homo sapiens. All beings on this planet share common roots; all of us share common needs and urges; all of us share common fates. Humankind, as a consequence of our superior intellectual capacity for understanding and controlling events in the world, bears unique responsibility for ensuring, as far as it lies within our power, justice and well-being for all earthly beings. We should not view the world as ours to dominate. It is, rather, ours to conserve and preserve as good stewards, for our generation as well as for those that will follow. Such stewardship begins with rising to Whitman’s challenge and embracing even the lowest and least lovable among us.
“Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you.”