The knowledge to enable traditional lives is embedded in the fabric of our society. It is prudent only to struggle against the current of convention when a great moral principle is at stake. If we exert ourselves over trivialities, we will not have the stamina to triumph in the most necessary of trials. A righteous man may be tempted to take upon himself many causes, great and small, simply because he believes them for the best. But a wise man will consider where his efforts will have the greatest effect, and temper his zeal with that wisdom.
When we consider the question of monogamy, we must bear in mind that any deviation is a great undertaking. If we reject the common wisdom of our society on an issue as fundamental as what sort of family to have, and what is a good relationship, we will find ourselves always alone even amongst the many. We will be pariahs, and only a very few will ever want to be close to us. That is a path of innumerable hardships. But it may have merit. The time will come when we must advance beyond the shackles of an ancient tradition from the darkest days of man, and who is to say that time should not be now?
But the most gainful of all steps forward are gradual ones, because they start with our best and improve upon that. Starting from beginnings is a most enormous chore. Added to that is a most intricate problem: we must, at every step of the way, stand on solid ground. We need to step from one belief that is workable to another that is also workable, never staying for more than moments where we cannot stand. The most sure way to ensure constant function in our lives is to take only tiny steps, always ready to retreat. A revolutionary change is a great risk, because we cannot retreat even if we later judge it a misadventure, or even a catastrophe.
The tradition of monogamy is not a great and admirable thing. It is not a thriving, growing, inspirational way of life. It does not advance; for centuries, it has been stagnant. It gathers dust, and decays, and has the stench of irrationality. All the flaws of design, exacerbated by the years, make monogamy a most treacherous thing. Divorce and adultery are common place, and pledges of eternal love are broken like twigs. Families feud and grow bitter with resentment; romantic rivals are cast aside into the darkness. But even as we focus the spotlight on lovers, the picture is stained with pain and discolored with failed aspirations. The most passionate heights are a thing of wonder, but they come only in sporadic fits. At first, each day is filled with sunshine so great the greatest flaw can be overlooked, but sunshine fades and is replaced with the light of reason and then flaws are not overlooked. Lovers grow jealous and untrusting of whom they should trust in most. The candle of passion flickers and sputters out, despite the noblest of intentions. Who but a fool would wish to stake his fortunes and his joy on such a tempestuous creature?
There is a middle ground. We could endeavor to repair monogamy, to patch up the holes. We might look through the many aspects of monogamy with a critical eye, and make the alterations we find most necessary. But this is like cutting threads that hold a most precious artifact above a precipice, never knowing which ones will cause it to fall. We must be most cautious, and evaluate thoroughly the consequences, intended and accidental, of every change we make. And further, we must communicate all of our ideas to our partner, wary of every possible miscommunication. If all goes well, perhaps we will avoid some of the greater dangers of monogamy, and still focus most of our lives on other pursuits. But if it does not, we may find that wrestling with monogamy occupies much of our creativity, and yet we fight with a hand behind our back and a blindfold, never striving with all our might to make great and lasting improvements.
So we face a question of the utmost difficulty: to throw our lot in with a fickle and faithless custom; to fight a terrible and costly battle, outsiders in our own land; or to devote a portion of our efforts to the most delicate, and perhaps hopeless, of repairs. Each option is plausible.