Is it possible that Sisyphus, the mythical figure condemned to an eternity of futile labour, is, in fact, happy? In September 2021, Charles Larson (La Châtaigneraie, 2013) delivered an impassioned plea on the topic during the annual Michel Nançoz oratorical contest. The competition is organised for the young lawyers of the Geneva Bar Association.
Photo: Bettina Jacot-Descombes
Charles believes that there are aspects of modern society – with its relentless “métro, boulot, dodo” grind and injustices – that can feel Sisyphean, but we must nevertheless strive for our own pursuit of happiness. Throughout his oration, Charles made several allusions to the same sex marriage movement and the struggle to obtain equal rights for members of the LGBTQI+ community. His plea, along with his quick-witted responses to questions from an illustrious jury, earned Charles the top honour: meilleur plaideur.
While preparing for the chance to be crowned the most eloquent and compelling litigator before a crowd of 800 lawyers, Charles also turned his plea for redefining marriage in Switzerland into action. He volunteered as an activist for the “Comité national Mariage civil pour toutes et tous” (the “National Same Sex Marriage Committee”) and channelled his gift for persuasion into digital marketing and event-planning for the local Geneva chapter of the committee. The campaign’s legal and grassroots efforts paid off when nearly two-thirds of Swiss voters backed the introduction of same sex marriage in a referendum held in September 2021.
While Charles had been confident that the movement had the support of the public, he was nonetheless “overjoyed” to see “the federal map swathed in green.” Behind this historical moment for LGBTQI+ rights and social justice, one cannot be surprised to find an Ecolintian on the front lines fighting for equality.
This article was originally published in the winter 2022 issue of Echo magazine.