A sad and stupid day today, comrades.
House Bill 9, aka The Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act, was tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The good folks at Equality New Mexico have been working their asses off for months, years actually, and citizens from all over the state have been lobbying and volunteering. We spent hours sitting in the Senate gallery yesterday, and another few hours today, only to have the bill killed. Today there were some two-hundred of us, next to just thirty or forty opposition.
The bill was basically sabotaged by Senator Lidio G Rainaldi, a Democrat inexplicably siding with the Republicans. He put us through a solid hour of meaningless filibustering, in which he asked deliberately inane questions, insisted his questions weren’t being answered when they clearly were, insisted his statements and declarations were actually questions, and was rude to the bill’s sponsor and her expert witness, and to a citizen who’d given testimony. He called the citizen by the wrong name a half dozen times — after being corrected by both the Chairman and the citizen herself — and, since she’d said the bill would benefit the seniors she works with (which it would; some senior and disabled people can’t get married because they would lose the benefits they need to survive), he accused her of hypocrisy because, get this: she was supporting this bill and not trying to make all nursing homes free. About half an hour in we actually started to laugh after each thing that he said.
Many supporters gave beautiful testimonies. We had a few reverends reading Bible quotes about love and explaining that no engaged couple would decide not to get married just because HB 9 passed. A young woman whose husband died last year in Iraq urged the Senators to pass it, saying she didn’t want her husband to have died in vain. Another woman recounted through sobs the terrible story of how, when her partner of 13 years died of a heart attack in Mexico just a month ago, she couldn’t make arrangements because their relationship wasn’t legally recognized; instead, she had to contact her partner’s 19-year-old son, tell him his mother was dead, and make him call the US Embassy.
The opposition’s speakers didn’t make much sense. A woman stood up and cried about how, since she is a wife and mother, other couples shouldn’t be legally recognized. She made some cryptic and nonsensical comments.
“My hands are are clean!”
I don’t actually remember what the other opposition speakers said. I was chanting to myself to try to block their bullshit out.
“Your words will roll right off of me, your words will roll right off of me, your words will roll right off…”
The vote was 6:4 to table the bill. Emily and I lobbied for an earlier version last year; it lost on the Senate floor by just one vote.
At one point, the Chairman, Senator Cisco McSorley — a strong ally of ours — asked that all those opposed to the bill stand. Just thirty or so stood. I know for a fact that some people who came to oppose didn’t have the guts to stand against us when the time came. They were cowardly and out-numbered. One of them was sitting next to my girlfriend and me; I worried she would vomit on our interlocking hands. You would have, too. That was the look on her face.
The Senator asked that the supporters stand. All of us stood, rising in a wave that was poised to surge and break over the balcony, rolling out onto the Senate floor. My heart was swollen in my chest. We were a united front.
The opposing Senators apparently didn’t give a shit about us, the people, their to make our will known. I almost wish I could say that if people had lobbied harder, if we’d turned out in greater numbers, things would have the other way. This would be false, though. We couldn’t have asked for better numbers. We were there in hundreds, out-numbering the opposition by something close to five to one. Five to one!
But they did not care. They did not care that we had woken up early on a Saturday morning to attend their meeting. They did not care that so many has been losing sleep for weeks, working and working. They didn’t not care about the weeping woman who has lost the love of her life. They did not care about the babies squirming in the arms of their parents, “Support HB 9” stickers looking huge across their little chests. They did not care about the dead soldier. They did not care about the brave men who stood to tell them that religious people support fairness, too. They did not care about the sick and weeping people standing outside afterward. They did not care about the citizens who elected them.
This is not liberty.
I overheard something yesterday.
A not-very-close friend of mine was explaining to a professor of ours why she’s leaving our little art school after this semester, to go somewhere where she can study commercial design and advertising. Paraphrasing closely:
“Ten years from now I want to be on the 38th floor of a high rise, in an office with the walls all made of glass, with a personal assistant.”
I wish the social landscape had been a little different — we were in a busy, noisy lobby, during a short intermission — so I could have responded somehow. I wanted to say, “That’s the perfect opposite of where I want to be ten years from now.* Is that really what you want? Is that really the zenith of your dreams?”
I couldn’t do this, though, so I swallowed her sentence. I sat with it. I felt it sink into my stomach. I began to brood.
An hour later, after the performance**, I brought this up in the car with my girlfriend. I began to rant, to grumble, to mock this girl, her innocence, malevolence, laziness, stupidity.
I was talking fast and spinning jokes, laughing about it, trying to cover the gaping gash those words had left across my heart. For this girl, this ridiculous classmate, I had liked her, I had laughed with her, I had invited her to our festival. I had talked with her. I had wanted to be her friend. Such brainlessness, it felt like a betrayal.
My girlfriend took me at my word and didn’t realize I was so sad. She snapped back at me, witty and mean, with something to the effect of “No shit.”
With this my heart broke, my face fell, I wrapped myself in my jacket and sunk into silence, into sadness.
So much to mourn here. At least two layers of it, each deep and distinct.
The first layer is the obvious one: that a smart, creative girl, someone strange enough she’d socialize with me, would hold such conventional aspirations. That somehow, here, today, such a person could think herself smart, practical, admirable, for wanting such things, such that she could tell people with a grin on her face, her eyes gone smug and sly. There here, today, in my extremely liberal town, at my decidedly artsy school, a smart kid could think sincerely that she’d like her life to amount to so many American dollars, to a high place on the ladder, so many people working for her, a number of expensive possessions.
To be honest I wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted to knock her right in the nose.
How can you not see that all of that is bullshit? Not just bullshit, but poison, evil goddamned weapons, the stuff of wars, the stuff of famines, the stuff of destitution. Why oh why would you want to join this machine, this horrible machine that is literally destroying our world at this very moment?
So that’s the first layer, the obvious one. It’s stupid and lazy and cowardly to want such ridiculous, conventional things. It’s an injustice to yourself, to sell yourself so short, to think you’re worth nothing more than money. To think the sum total of your life, your existence in the world, should be accumulating fucking cash.
And the second layer. This layer is the deeper, darker one, the frightening one, the one that truly scares me. This is the one that I could see clearly only later in the night, as I was sunk into my self, sick with sadness. This is the one I’m stuck against, the puzzle I can’t figure out.
I understand anger, I understand loathing, I understand judgement. These things come naturally to me. As any readers know, I can tell right from wrong, and when I see wrong, I can summon the fires of hell to condemn that which offends me. Fire and brimstone are inside me, they are at my disposal.
One thing that’s a lot harder for me is love. I’ve gotten better, very slowly better, at loving myself, and from there, loving my neighbors, loving my enemies. I’ve made progress. I understand the all-importantness of love. I understand that only absolute, unadulterated love can solve our problems. I understand that when someone says something stupid, like what my friend said here, the only productive response is love, compassion, understanding, empathy. Only with such things can criticism be meaningful. Only with such tenderness will we get anywhere. Bombs cannot win hearts and minds; love can, and does, and will every time.
Knowing the things that I know, and being the person I am, something terrible happened.
After I’d sulked for awhile, it was time to move on, to stop caring, to let it go, role over, have sex, go to sleep.
I tried to stop sulking. I tried to forgive this strange offense — which of course was not committed against me, in fact had nothing to with me — but I couldn’t. I couldn’t forgive it.
I searched my heart for compassion for my classmate and I couldn’t find it. I looked and looked for love for her and it simply wasn’t there.
I am the Queen Bee of Ruthlessness. Hatred is the name of my town.
* In the desert, in a village of hovels made of tires and mud and colored glass bottles, making art with the people I love.
** The Sex Workers Art Show. More on that later.
I’ve been thinking for years now about change. About progress, about reformation. I have been thinking about things getting better. I imagine that you have, too.
There have been whole moments and even the occasional hour when I could see this change. I could see that it was possible. My eyes could see a line, lovely and direct, from here to there. From here to the other world.
My 11th grade history teacher sometimes played at playing devil’s advocate, saying things that infuriated me to the point of tears. One day he provoked us with questions about our generation, the apathy generation. Why don’t you protest this war? Why aren’t you in the streets?
It’s not a bad question. Here is my answer.
Protesting doesn’t do shit. Take to the streets if you wish to, but don’t expect a revolution. You can expect a spot on the local news or in the paper if you’re lucky, if you do something really clever. Maybe you can expect to sleep a little better, thinking yourself a model citizen. You can fancy yourself a hero, if you want to. You can call yourself a radical. I have done each of these things, more than once. I imagine you have, too.
This is not meant as disrespect to my activist comrades. I am one of you, and I admire your energy, I admire your imagination. You are smart and good and hard-working people, unshakably committed to your causes.
But activism is not enough. Activism is an activity — it’s something you do for an afternoon, or a weekend, or a decade, or your whole life. It’s something you do. It’s an action. It’s an action within the system.
Action is taken by people who still believe that the system is somehow good. That the system is salvageable, or worth saving.
This is not meant as a polemic against activism. As long as the system is here, we might as well try to make it more just.
I mean only to say that acting within the system is not enough, has never been enough. Rather than act, we must be. We must live our protest. We must drop the system like a hot fucking coal. Forget the streets; take to the hills!
This is a post along the lines of what I’ve been thinking, which I smiled to read today, to see someone else within my line of thinking. The writer draws a lot on Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn, which we read awhile ago. Both that blogger and Quinn understand what I’m getting at.
Quinn’s idea, and Dave Pollard’s idea, and my idea, is as follows: we must walk away.
I wish I had my copy of Beyond Civilization handy to quote from, but I don’t, so you’ll all just be getting a heavy dose of me instead.
We’re on a crashing plane, basically. The plane is crashing for a lot of reasons, but the most immediate threats, the threats that are sure to destroy it, are peak oil and the climate crisis. The system is going to fall apart at the seams.
And so it should. It’s an unjust, hierarchical, greed-based system. It serves money and avarice and businesses, not art or people or love..
And it’s essentially the same as many other systems we’ve had over the last ten thousand years or so, in that it fucks over entire classes of people for the benefit of the few. After thousands of years of attempted reformations, of countless revolutions, it’s clear that these are incurable, definitional components of this strange masterpiece we call civilization. Pollard’s afore linked post explains all this better than I can here; read it.
As I’ve tried to say before, if we are to survive we must do the opposite of what we’ve done, of what we’re doing. We must reject the dominant values wholesale. Working inside the superstructure is not enough and the Revolution isn’t coming.
The answer, instead, is simply to leave. This is the line I have sometimes seen. We must jump out of the plane. We must walk away from the pyramid we’ve been building (to use Quinn’s analogy). It’s that simple and that difficult. Put down the tools and walk away. Just leave. There is nothing and no one to stop you. Go like a mystic into the wilderness and build something there. Build something better. Do not go alone. Go with your family, your comrades, everyone who is willing.
I know what we will build there. It will be radically new and profoundly ancient.
It will be love.
I sound like I’m talking to and about Jews here, because I’m Jewish. But I hope anyone who reads this post will construe it as applying equally to themselves — yourselves — and to your histories, to the fullest extent possible. Certainly these ideas apply broadly to the US-American middle class experience.
I’m a high school senior, technically. Due to a critical combination of good grades, anger, and my school running out of classes for me, I get to spend this year taking all my courses at an artsy local college.
The arrangement is really perfect for this year. Next year, however, is the subject of a lot of discussion, anxiety, and crying, as I’ve kind of blogged before.
Here is the problem. From early childhood, I’ve been on track to get excellent financial aid at the ritzy private school of my choosing. I’ve been groomed for a very particular script: ace high school, move to the other side of the country away from everything I know and love (love meaning hate, presumably), and earn a badge from an institution of good repute, complete with all the elitist, capitalist, racist, bullshit baggage that kind of thing carries.
So. I’ve got my GPA and my SAT scores, and my applications should be soaring out to the Ivy Leaguers within the next few weeks.
But. But, but, but.
I’m good at writing papers. I’m good at getting good grades. But I would be a liar if I said that was what I wanted to do with my life for the next four years.
I would be a liar if I said I wanted to go off by myself to get plunked in with a bunch of strangers, try to reinvent myself when I already know who I am. I’ve already made the best friends anyone could hope to. And I’m extremely skeptical of the value of a $100,000 “education” when I already know I learn exponentially more everyday reading and talking to people than I ever have in a classroom.
Add to that the facts that I don’t know what kind of major could mesh with my interests, I don’t feel pulled toward any particular school, and frankly I want to stay in Santa Fe with my girlfriend, and there you have it.
On to the real point of this post.
At my last-ever meeting with my special ed case manager, we had a really interesting conversation about all of this. My case manager (an alum of the college I’m at this year, weirdly enough) was talking about how my high school does a shit job of offering college counseling to many of its students. Paraphrasing:
“A lot of the old New Mexican families get really frustrated with [the principal] telling their kid they need to go to the other side of the country. They have their whole family here, their whole network, and it’s just not the right path for them — they want to go to in-state schools and stay connected with their support system, and it’s unfair that other college paths get privileged over that. But, I know you’re not from that.”
My mother: “Well, we are from that — we were. In Europe.”
In Europe. Translation: before the Nazis destroyed those communities.
So what then? That’s it? We just give up on community now?
From now on we will send each of our children as far away as possible, to set up a different camp in some distant land. Our children will want nothing to do with us.
Why? Why on earth would we do this? In the name assimilation? In the name of surrender? In name of spreading out so they can’t get us this time?
Fuck. That. Shit.
Community didn’t end in with the war in 1945. Love did not end. Family did not end. Real victory does not come from defeating the enemy; real victory will happen only when we have supplanted their destruction with creation.
The existence of Israel is not a reason to accept Diaspora and disconnect for everyone else. The fact that our communities have been decimated is not — is never — a reason not to rebuild them. If there is anything to be learned from Jewish history, it is the value, the beauty, the necessity of overcoming oppression. Overcoming devastation. Again and again and again.
I believe we need community like we need water. We need real community. We don’t need relatives we hate who we see once a year because we have to. We don’t need our friends and comrades to berate us, to inflict social standards upon us, to encourage us to bow to cultural expectations and in doing so ignore our own abilities and talents and needs.
We don’t need to leave our friends and families and become new people. We don’t need to get elitist educations that will shuttle us into money-making, world-ruining jobs.
We need love. We need friends, we need siblings, we need comrades. We need the relentless daily experience of our fellows giving and working for us, of giving and working for them. We need sharing. We need understanding.
We need to gather everyone we know in our bedrooms, our attics, our backyards and basements to spend time, days and weeks and precious hours, seeing one another. Sharing ourselves.
My friends and I do this by playing songs for each other. We draw pictures and paint paintings together. We cry and scream and laugh and hug and drink and smoke and kiss and make stuff. We make everything we can. We say everything we can. We sing even when we can’t. This thing, this self-revealing, this love-in-motion, is the hardest, bravest thing in the world. And it is the reason I am alive and happy and writing this today. This is the reason I am snowed in at my best friend’s house with some of my absolute favorite people around me. They are playing Guitar Hero as I write and eat the salad my girlfriend made us, which I soaked with dressing made after my mother’s recipe. A recipe for balsamic vinaigrette that came, presumably, with my grandmothers from the Old Country.
The work of community building is the most important work in the world. It is life-saving, love-making work. And this is why I don’t give a shit about where I go to college, as long as I can do it with my comrades beside me.
I’ve added a new category, proclamations, and placed the appropriate posts into it.
I like to talk a lot about the fact that the word Israel means “one who struggles with God.” What this means to me is that being a Jew isn’t really about accepting an orthodoxy or even an orthopraxis; it’s about undertaking the struggle with God. This struggle is tikkun olam — the constant obligation to make the world a better place. It is the struggle see, understand, and love the world as it is. It is the struggle to see, understand, and love people, including yourself, and they are. It is the struggle to love your neighbor, the struggle to learn, the struggle to survive.
The proclamations category is the living archive of my struggles. It’s a relief for me to have all these posts tied together, to get them into one place. Something of an evolution occurs from the earliest of them to the most recent, which makes me very glad.
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Where to begin. This is more of this.
I’ve just been reading this article at Salon, another in the well-worn “science vs religion” vein. Interesting reading, but I was fuming mad just two paragraphs in.
Christianity is not the only religion. “Religious” DOES NOT EQUAL “Christian.” Gah.
Anyway. It’s an interview with a Catholic theologian named John Haught. Mr. Haught’s current work is developing a “theology of evolution.” He’s a big critic of mega-atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. Here’s Mr. Haught (emphasis mine):
[The “old” atheists] wanted us to think out completely and thoroughly, and with unrelenting logic, what the world would look like if the transcendent is wiped away from the horizon. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus would have cringed at “the new atheism” because they would see it as dropping God like Santa Claus, and going on with the same old values. The new atheists don’t want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism. . . . They thought it would take tremendous courage to be an atheist. Sartre himself said atheism is an extremely cruel affair. He was implying that most people wouldn’t be able to look it squarely in the face.
I think it’s time to get out the dictionary. According to my Oxford American Dictionary, atheism is “the theory or belief that God does not exist.” Okay. And nihilism: “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.”
Haught goes on to talk about how only theism can “justify” hope. Hope!
I’ve been having a lot of interesting conversations about religion lately, which I’ll surely blog in the future. But for now, I’m just going to use the insights from those conversation to examine Haught’s assumptions. This is what he (and religion in general) are saying to us:
– There is nothing in the world that could inspire or account for hope.
– The world — the entirety of the perceivable world — is not enough to give life meaning.
– The entire world is not enough to generate moral principles.
– The entire world is not enough.
– Atheism is “extremely cruel” and most people just can’t handle it.
These ideas are not the work of Haught, and I don’t blame him for them. They are some of the most insidious ideas in modern culture, and I fucking hate them. Seeing them laid out like they are above, the reasons to hate them should be pretty clear. Basically, they’re all founded on the deep conviction that the entire world is shit.
Why is atheism “cruel”? It’s only cruel if you find the world to be so awful, so incomplete, so lacking, that an entire separate supernal realm is the only way you can bear to live.
And let’s look at the world “supernal” for a moment — it comes from the Latin supernus meaning above. It means celestial, literally — of the sky. But its usage, quite frequently, is “of exceptional quality.”
Embedded in our very language is the idea that to be of the sky is to be inherently better. Embedded in our language, our religion, our culture is the idea that THE WORLD IS BAD and that to be very good means to be not of this world, to be of the sky.
And this idea causes pain. It causes actual, daily pain in the lives of real people. It has caused me pain. It has rung me through several existential crises and brought me to the brink of suicide one or two or twenty times.
I don’t give a shit about truth. I just don’t. The only thing I care about is suffering. The only work we have to do is the work of preventing suffering. When a culture or an idea or a religion causes suffering, we should reject it. We should replace it with ideas that cause joy and love.
If anything is evil, this is. It is wrong to tell people that everything around them is bad. It is wrong to tell people that everything they will ever taste, touch, see, hear, or smell, everything they can ever perceive, is bad, wrong, tainted, sinful, “fallen.” It is wrong to tell people that the only real goodness, that the divine, exists in another realm which is by definition unreachable.
So this is my message today: The fact that bad things exist in the world does mean that the world is bad. The logical conclusion of “some things are bad” is not “everything is bad.” Some things are good. Some things are very good. Some things are senselessly good. Some things are absurdly, unbelievably, unjustifiably, unnecessarily good. And we don’t need God or gods or John fucking Haught to tell us that.
Let the entire world be enough.
I’ve just been reading this story (via Pharyngula), in which a man by the name of Alexander Christian York stabbed a 28-year-old man to death. York was arguing with his victim-to-be, Rudi Boa, and Boa’s girlfriend, about evolution, of all things. In drunken rage, York attacked Boa with a kitchen knife.
York was arguing for creationism. He’s been convicted of manslaughter.
Anyway, it seems like a good enough excuse to me to talk about some ideas I’ve been wanting to discuss. Namely, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
A rabbi told me a story about a year ago about a man who went to one of the great Talmudic scholars, a long time ago, and asked the rabbi if he could explain all the teaching of Judaism in the moments that the man could balance on one foot. The rabbi agreed, distilling all of Judaism to one sentence: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”
There’s some kind of little twist in the story I don’t remember, but the conclusion is that that idea — the Golden Rule — is kind of like the bite-sized essential teaching. The real one is, of course, love your neighbor has yourself.
Which, when you get to thinking about it, is an enormous idea. More than just treating others as you would have them treat you, you are called to actually love them. You* are called to love them unconditionally, and to do for them what you would do for yourself. Make sure they have the best, fight for their survival at all costs.
There are two sides to that coin. Firstly. To love others as you love yourself is to insist on seeing the inherent humanity in your fellows. It is to acknowledge them absolutely as sentient beings, deserving of tenderness, and ultimately good. It is to see them. To look into them and see something there, see whatever is inside yourself. A waking mind. A loving heart. Etcetera.
We don’t talk about this enough. We don’t do this enough. This idea is absolutely critical and it needs to be front and center in any ideology endeavoring to be revolutionary.
As neglected as the idea is, though, I think the inverse, the second side of the coin, is still more neglected. And that side is just as necessary to justice, to happiness, to love.
If you are to love your neighbor as yourself, loving yourself is a prerequisite. Just as for others, you must insist on seeing your own humanity. You must treat yourself with unconditional love and boundless compassion. You must see yourself as a sentient being, deserving of tenderness, ultimately good. You must treat yourself as others would like to be treated.
Love your neighbor as yourself, and love yourself as you love your neighbor.
* I’m talking to myself here, by the way.
I want to expand a little on the abortion/rape analogy I made almost a year ago. To summarize, I think abortion may be murder, but abortion bans are institutionalized rape, and I think rape is worse than murder (more about all of that in the linked post).
I think the closest analogue of wanted pregnancy is consensual sex. A woman chooses to share her body with another being, in what is one of the most lovely, life-affirming human experiences. Unwanted pregnancy, on the other hand, is a lot like rape — a being commandeers a woman’s* body for its own purposes, perverting that good experience. A fetus is not like at all like a rapist — it’s not the fetus’s fault, obviously — but an unwanted pregnancy is a lot like rape.
Abortion bans and coerced abortion are both forms of rape. Not like rape, as in the case of the pregnancy, but flat-out, full-on rape, with a culpable perpetrator. In the case of a ban, the perpetrator — the actor who denies a woman the ability to decide what is allowed inside her body — is the government. In the case of coerced abortion, the perpetrator is whoever is doing the coercing (government, doctor, spouse, etc).
I like this model of pro-choice ethics a lot better than the choice model, and a lot better than the “fetus as a clump of cells” model. I’m sure it has flaws, though — any fellow pro-choicers (Emily) care to point them out?
Some reasons I think it’s better than the default models:
– It shifts away from a defensive rhetoric that’s stuck within anti-choice framing (“But they’re not babies!”)
– This is not about babies, it’s about bodily sovereignty. Grown men are fully formed humans with the right to life, liberty, etc — but an adult isn’t allowed to use a woman’s body against her wishes, either. So whether the fetus is a blob of cells or a child is irrelevant.
– It clears up questions like one I saw in a comment recently (but prefer not to link to), “Why is a fetus a lump of tissue in one instance, and Scott Petersen gets two convictions for murder in another?” Maybe it is a baby, maybe it’s always baby; I’m not allowed to abort it because it’s “a lump of tissue,” I’m allowed to abort because it’s inside my womb, where I alone have jurisdiction.
– Unlike the “choice” spiel, this works equally well for arguing against coerced abortion, against forced sterilization, etc
Abortion is an exercise of my right to remove a being from inside my own body, not my right to kill a baby I’d don’t want (a right I do not have). This argument leads logically to the conclusion that the right to abortion ends at fetal viability, at which point I have instead the right to an elective cesarean section.
Edited to add: some folks might appreciate that this line of thinking also dovetails perfectly with arguments against circumcision and female genital mutilation.
* Always a woman in the case of pregnancy. Men can of course be raped, and are.
There’s not a lot to add to what those smart people have already said, but here’s what I’ve got:
I’m a Jew. I’m figuring out everyday what the means for me in terms of belief or lack thereof in God, but I know very clearly what it means for me in terms of my relationship to governments past and present.
I once told my mother I wanted to get some kind of Jewish tattoo: a Star of David, maybe, or maybe the text of the Sh’ma. She told me I could get anything in the world but that. And why?
“You don’t know they won’t come back.”
This kind of sentiment echoed throughout my entire childhood.
“You don’t know the Nazis won’t come back.”
“You don’t know that Israel won’t be wiped off the face of the earth.”
“You don’t know that the government of the United States won’t turn against the Jews.”
These are direct quotes.
My family may be given to paranoia (just look at this blog, ha), but they’re not completely wrong. It happened to my grandparents. It could happen to you, to me. Maybe it won’t be the Jews this time. But it will be somebody.
It doesn’t matter whether I believe in God or not. It doesn’t matter whether I choose to practice. I will always be a Jew.
Romney mentioned the Jews in his speech, including them in his in-group of believers. He further said (and Hugo Schwyzer latches on to this sentence too), “Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.”
But I know who my friends and allies are, and they are not neoconservative Christian fundamentalists (all of whom look just about the same to me). I know who will protect my right to my traditions. I know who will protect the liberal, semi-secular synagogue where my brother was bar mitzvahed last month. I know who will protect my religion’s traditions of discussion, debate, and reinterpretation. I know who will protect our values of justice, education, and community. I know who will stand with us against violence and exploitation. I know who will stand with us and say, with seriousness, “Never again.”
And it’s not people who think that “freedom requires religion.” It’s not someone who would equate a “believer in religious freedom” with “any person who has knelt in prayer.” It’s not someone who completely discounts atheists, implying that being an American, and appreciating American freedom, requires a belief in his God.
It’s not someone who would say that appreciating freedom requires anything. The moment you have committed yourself to the idea that any subset of humanity is incapable or undeserving of liberty, you are no ally of mine.
As a woman, an American, a religious person, and a Jew, I trust the atheists, the agnostics, the secular humanists, the intellectuals. To whatever extent that fellow religious people overlap with those groups, I trust them, too. These are my real allies. An enemy of secular values is my enemy, too.
My final paper for Encounter with the Divine Feminine is on a topic near and dear to my heart and, I imagine, to the hearts of anyone who would care to read this blog. It is a discussion of how capitalism and colonialism created climate change, and what we must do if we are to survive it.
The prompt was “Is the divine feminine relevant today? How?” My thesis is that the divine feminine is not just relevant but critically necessary to the survival of our species. I defined divine feminine as “the body of qualities the current system subjugates” — the feminine, the natural, the indigenous; everything that gets othered — and reasoned that the current system made climate change, which nowthreatens our survival. Only by embracing the antithesis of the establishment can we escape and undo it; the “divine feminine” is necessary to overcoming global warming. In many ways it is the continuation of the ideas I started exploring here. I stuck to capitalism and colonialist white supremacy, but I think it could easily be extended to racism more generally, the patriarchy, and other systems.
Here it is:
In our increasingly integrated world, there exists a global system of power. The system is actually systems: multiple ideologies interacting and collaborating to create a pervasive dominant paradigm. Despite great cultural variations and significant dissenting factions, the system remains largely intact and functional.
All the subsystems of the establishment have something critical in common. Each is built upon a series of fundamental dichotomies, in which one quality is considered good, right, and desirable, and the other bad, wrong, and despicable. This has created a collection of almost universally denigrated qualities. The sum of these qualities forms my vision of the divine feminine.
Recently, an important new development has come to light — the very consequences of this dominant system may now be its undoing. Global climate change poses an enormous threat to the continued survival of our species, and is the product of the status quo. I will explore how two subsystems of the dominant paradigm — imperialist white supremacy and capitalism — lead directly to the climate crisis.
The divine feminine is the opposite of the current world order and the cure to the crisis at hand. The contemporary role of the divine feminine, should we choose to embrace it, is to enable a radical shift to sustainability, equality, and survival. Read the rest of this entry »