Friday, September 25, 2015

A Clash of Antagonistic Ideals

Comes a revolution to change the circumstances of our dehumanization. That revolution begins with a more dynamic sense of our potentials as human beings. At some point it falls to each person to make a decision as to whether he or she will continue to permit the kind of victimization that robs one of one’s true humanity. This is the seminal moment in which every true revolution begins. It begins with the idealization of the notion that one can own and control the circumstances of one’s life. It begins with a rejection of victimhood.
The culture of oppression takes root with the imposition of ideas that limit the rights of the oppressed to a life characterized by the essential qualities of liberty. A life in which the pursuit of happiness is claimed as a human right. Thus liberation must begin with the rejection of ideas that limit one’s right to life fulfilled. The clash of civilizations has its genesis in a clash of antagonistic human ideals… A clash of opposing aspirations. A revolution is inevitable when the hopes of a determined group breeds despair in another group which is equally determined to claim and live out their perceived potential. Every struggle begins as a clash of ideas competing for supremacy in the common experience of peoples. First the ideas… Then the fists.
The conscientization described in the preceding paragraph leads to the determination to get rid of the spiritual, cultural, and physical shackles that weigh down the dispossessed. It expresses itself in the determination to collectively work for the change necessary to live into the new reality of a life liberated. This new consciousness is powerfully articulated by Marley when he declares: “You can’t educate I For no equal opportunity: (Talkin’ ’bout my freedom) Talkin’ ’bout my freedom, People freedom (freedom) and liberty! Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long: Rebel, rebel!”. Marley, in the powerful anthem called “Redemption Song”, calls us to live into a revolutionary consciousness. He reminds us of the responsibility that we each have to personalize the work of personal redemption when he channels Marcus Mosiah Garvey: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds… “.
 The Season of Rebellion Beckons
The Season of Rebellion comes. It is inevitable. The contradictions inherent in the perpetuation of hope and despair in our social and economic relationships must be resolved. The societal dysfunctions bred by this antagonism cannot be wished away.  That resolution of which I speak must necessarily lead to a better world in which the hopes of some do not breed despair in the lives of others. The prophetic vision of a more just society fuels the fires that burn in the hearts of displaced and dispossessed people everywhere. That vision is the tip of the burning spear that threatens the old status quo of the cultural and economic domination of the many by the few.
Those who have ears to hear can hear even now the voice of the prophet Amos as he declares: “… let Justice roll down like a river, and Righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” An economic culture in which CEO compensation increases over nine hundred fold while the average worker barely sees a five percent increase must be rehabilitated. A political culture that perpetuates the cult of vampires must be obliterated by the cultivation of enlightened self interest in all our economic relationships. We cannot continue to accommodate corporate greed while people are left to subsist on a less than livable wage. The militarization of the police to suppress the just rebellion of people against the brutality of law enforcement must end. The use of the police as enforcers for a parasitic political culture must cease. The injustices that find expression through racism, sexism, and genderism, must be exposed for what they are… Injustices.
The Season of Rebellion beckons us into a new, more liberated sense of ourselves. It calls us to be the definitive architects of our destinies. As architects we reject the world imposed on us. We claim with our every breath the responsibility to build something new with our own hands and hearts and minds… Something more in keeping with our own needs and aspirations. As the prime movers in the new, more hope-filled world we desire, we look forward to that more fertile earth in which we can realize a greater rootedness. And so we live in anticipation of the showers that will “water” our just aspirations. By the same token we rise up in affirmation of our own fecundity, and against every dried out idea that would suppress our innate abundance.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Preoccupation With Trump... A Case of Preemptive Rubbernecking

Rubbernecking: a human trait that is associated with morbid curiosity; a voyeuristic interest in someone else's business or affairs. A common example of rubbernecking is drivers trying to view the aftermath of a traffic accident.

The American media in particular, and the vast majority of the American public are waiting for the political phenomenon called Donald Trump to crash and burn. There is a general perception that candidate Donald is the antithesis of everything that we have come to expect of an aspirant to the highest office in the land. If the polls at this stage of the game are to be taken seriously, "The Donald" is  turning conventional wisdom on its head. The more he rises (in the polls), the greater the anticipation of a catastrophic end to what has been a most unlikely candidacy. Instead of the kind of inspirational rhetoric that we have come to expect from any serious candidate for national office, he has engaged in the kind of demagoguery that has blown up other campaigns in the past.

The list of his transgressions are long, and continues to grow. He has alienated the fastest growing demographic in the country. Trump's unfavorables among Hispanics, according to Gallop, is the highest of any of his Republican rivals. He has insulted women in ways that would sink the candidacy of other aspirants. In America, women elect Presidents. Trump has an unfavorability rating of over sixty percent among women. Among African Americans, that number is close to eighty percent. He has demonstrated no fluency in any of the issues that demand the attention of an American leader. What Trump is very fluent in are the gross insults and indecent aspersions that he carelessly casts at anyone who dares to require him to speak intelligently to any issue. Instead of any effort to be a meaningfully articulate candidate, what we have in Donald Trump is a carnival barker... And he is the show to which he invites all who are unfortunate enough to be within reach of the sound of his voice. It does not take a genius to see that this character has no chance of being elected to the Presidency. That being the case, we might ask why the "lamestream media" follows him around to the extent they do. What explains the apparent fascination with this "entertainer"?

It is easy to exploit the well cultivated frustrations that many constituents have toward the average politician. Any charlatan can establish a soapbox from which the sins of our political culture can be bellowed and exploited for gain. It does not take much to get loud agreement from the discontented with the fact that idiocy, general incompetence, and wanton graft are rampant features of our governing class. We are all aware of these obvious problems, but the idea that we should replace our political undesirables with a charlatan who presents his gross vanity as his only virtue is immeasurably untenable.

The Media's preoccupation with Trump is an exercise in preemptive rubbernecking, based on the expectation that he will at some point suffer a catastrophic failure. He will either wear himself out via the unsustainable nonsense he espouses, or he will crash and burn on the low road he takes in his vile attack on others. The anticipation of what is expected to be a spectacular descent into ignominy is what is fueling the feeding frenzy around what is essentially a circus of political bigotry. Trump's braggadocio has become his trademark. As a feature of some kind of existential comic relief, it is excusable. As a quality of leadership it is generally reviled. The voyeurism that this character invites is repulsive. This morbid fascination with Mr. Trump will come to an end. The sooner, the better.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Exploring the Absurd : Religious Objections to Variations in Gender Identity

The Christian doctrine of Creation teaches that God made a man, Adam, and then because the man was still without companionship after all else was created... God put the man to sleep and took "a rib" from the man out of which he made a woman. We won't complicate matters here by pointing out that the word "Adam" is more exactly to be interpreted as "Mankind". For the purposes of this little piece we will stick to the notion that it is the name given to the first man. Eve was therefore...essentially an afterthought. Please excuse me... I'm just trying to think this through.

If woman was a by-product of Man, isn't a woman essentially a man with the capacity to satisfy the companionship needs of Man? Again, you have to excuse me... I'm just trying to make sense of this... Story. After all, the Omniscient One didn't take a different kind of "clay", into which he breathed the "breath of life" and then declared "You are Woman, because you were engineered to be the biological opposite of Man!". No, no, no, ... She is Woman, because He made her "out of the man"... That is what Adam said, "bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh".

And then there is the Doctrine of Salvation. You see, the woman that was made from the flesh and bone of the man was tempted by a serpent and sinned. She then led her man to sin, at least that is what he claimed... He told his Creator that he messed up because of "the woman whom thou gavest me". He ate of "the tree of good and evil", and wasn't bold enough to take responsibility for his actions when confronted by his Creator. I guess he bent under the pressure of his guilt because he was missing a rib.

According to the Christian doctrine of Salvation we are all screwed because of the sin of Adam. So, to save us from damnation the Omnipotent One found himself a virgin (who was by the way, engaged to one Joseph) and put his holy seed in her. Seriously? Seriously. Joseph was mad as hell when he found his espoused "with child". But the All-powerful One sent one of his angelic crew to let the young man know that it was OK... This was the doing of The Boss. So Joseph cooled off and went through with the marriage. To paraphrase Bonhoeffer, a Christian theologian in Hitler's Germany: When the Almighty One wants someone... He takes him...or her, repercussions be damned.

The holy rollers among us believe these things. They declare to us that "all things that were created, were created by Him." I'm reminded of the hymn we sung very often when I was in elementary school:

 "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small; all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings." 

All things, from the great eagle to the bumble bee, He made them all. Which takes me to the issue of gender and sexuality in our human experience. 

Let me get straight to the point of the religious objections to variations in sexual identityFundamentalists like to shout down our homosexual peers with the rebuke that " God didn't make Adam and Steve; He made Adam and Eve." Well I hate to screw with your facts here... But that isn't true. According to the story in Genesis, God made Adam. Period. And then, from that same piece of enlivened clay, after putting Adam to sleep, he took a part of the created Adam and made Eve. Eve is a  part of the same piece of the enlivened clay called Adam. Herein lies a subtly inconvenient truth that we mostly ignore. The truth of the story of the creation of Humankind is that  the woman was originally incorporated in the man. Adam is male and female unseparated. Read it in your Holy Book.

If the salvation of our souls is the ultimate goal of religious dogma, then let us be clear about a few things. Believers hold to the idea that God is the Creator... Of all. As in the story of the Virgin Birth, this same God does not ask our permission at critical moments when our experiences are entered into by Fate. Our common experience teaches us that we can as much choose our gender identity as we can choose who our parents will be... Or what color we are born.

This God that Christians believe in  "came upon Mary", and the result was that she became pregnant with the child before whom all "Believers", hypocrites included, now bow. It didn't matter what her social class was. It didn't matter, in a culture where your name was important, that her name means "a rebel". It didn't matter that she was engaged to Joseph. It didn't matter that she was still a teenager. It didn't matter that she would be stigmatized for being pregnant "out of wedlock". It didn't matter what the definition of marriage was at the time... Joseph may not have been able to explain to the hypocrites around why he was still marrying this girl, but he did any way. Imagine explaining to family and friends that... Oh, "an angel of the Lord is the daddy of her baby...". Hah! Which takes me to how we view and treat others whose experience with gender identity is at variance with our dogmas.

Who are we to judge? Who are we to persecute our children and our neighbors because they find themselves in the dilemma of Adam undifferentiated? As for the issue of "Marriage"... Only the most ignorant of hypocrites among us would insist that the standard is, or has always been some version of heterosexual monogamy. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small; all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. That is what you say you believe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Many Voices Calling Out To Us

On our journey through this life there will be many voices calling out to us. Among these will be the many adversarial voices. These include, but are not limited to, the voice of experience; trying to tell us that we can only be who we have been as a result of fortune or misfortune. There is the voice of inexperience; trying to tell us that we don’t know enough to aspire to the greatness we feel tugging at the hem of our consciousness. There will be the voice of guilt and shame; always trying to tell us that we are not, and will never be good enough because of the errors of our past ways. There will be the voice of authority; seeking to limit us to the mould that serves the duties to which we are assigned.
We will, as a function of our senses, hear these voices; but we must not listen to them in ways that limit our lives to their beckoning. Instead let us find time and space to pay attention to the voices that speak in an affirmative way about our unlimitable potential, and our most noble aspirations. Let us listen attentively to the voice telling us that we are never limited to our past with its many scares. Let us give ear to that voice which names us in accordance with a destiny bubbling over with the abundance of our most noble ideas. Hold on to those ideas with the power of your every breath. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Treatise Against Trumpism - Beyond Walls... A More Humane Vision of America

Throughout our history people have come to this country in pursuit of a better lifeSome come to escape wars and famine, others just in search of greater freedom and better economic opportunity. For whatever reasons...this is a land of immigrants, by immigrants, for immigrants. 

We come here and we give our talents and our blood and the blood of our children to build and to secure the “land of the free and home of the brave”. 

The absence of homogeneity is what makes us unique as a nation. We are more than “a people”. America is a product of the whole human experience. This country offers the richness of what it means to be a person to all who are courageous enough to venture into the formative possibilities of its melting pot.

As Americans we have a moral duty to cultivate a vision of our society that is greater than that which is reflected in the convenient political opportunism that colors the ambitions of myopic individuals. 
Those who want to close the door behind them once they and their households are in will find that door constantly battered by the winds of human opportunity that brought the first ships to these shores. This country is a force of nature powered by the aspirations and the inspirations of the immigrant. Ours is a hope hinged on the hopes of those who dare to rise up against hopelessness.

According to our census experts there are close to 12 million people living illegally in the USA. They build our houses. They help us care for our children. They do our landscaping. They work in our restaurants and hotels. They do our dry cleaning. They work in our livestock industry. They raise and kill and pluck the chicken that is an irreplaceable staple of our daily diets. They do the work that many of us think is too hard.  We underpay them because they are afraid to speak out against exploitation. They are forced to forego any recourse to Justice because of fear. And they are not the factor that they should be in the tax base that goes toward the building of a more viable society. 

Beyond the convenient parochialism of some of those who aspire to leadership, we are inspired by an older and more hopeful vision of this country. It is a vision articulated in the poetry of Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

We are a nation of laws, but we must be more than that. Laws evolve. Let us be a nation of Justice. In the ongoing evolution of civil society, let us author laws that nurture the hopes and dreams of the widow and the orphan. This nation must continue to be a refuge for those who seek safety from cruelty and famine. 

Let us be fair to those whose only transgression is seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The suggestions that we build walls along our northern and southern borders wreaks of the kind of existential backwardness that is best left behind us. While they may "break the law", there is nothing criminal about seeking a better future for oneself and one's children.

Like Lilies In Spring

There is a bulb buried deep inside us all that longs for the end of the season of dormancy. It contains, and is the symbol of all our ...