A former senator announces his marriage to a man, and his debt to Martin Buber

Ron Kampeas

In the New York Times on Sunday, Harris Wofford, the former Pennsylvania senator and a founder of the Peace Corps, describes his 50-year love affair with his late wife, Clare, and his marriage this week to the man he has been seeing for 15 years, Matthew Charlton.

It’s a lovely, poetic take, and it hinges on his own capacity for hope and how much he misses Clare’s skepticism.

Wofford recounts this 1963 meeting with Martin Buber, the great Zionist thinker, as a vindication of his own predilection for hope:

In 1963, we enjoyed visiting the philosopher Martin Buber in his quiet Jerusalem study. In his “Paths in Utopia,” Buber says a good and great idea will rise again when idea and fate meet in a creative hour. Hopefully, I asked him if he saw that creative hour coming soon to achieve peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Before he could answer, Clare laughed skeptically, saying, “From what I’ve seen, it will be a long time coming.”

Buber said to Clare, “You are right, that the time between creative hours can be very long, but they do come, and I hope that when one comes, your realism will not make you miss it.” And as we parted, he told me, “You are obviously a romantic, my friend, and I hope you recognize that a romantic needs a realist like Clare.”

Later he writes that “idea and fate” came together again to “produce same-sex marriage equality.”

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Wofford, 90, has for decades been deeply invested in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace. May his luck with “creative hours” rub off on the region.

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