Monday, December 1, 2014

The Weapon of the Enemy

The living room
Sleepytime Sinus Soother Tea
Pumpkin pie (expired)

I'm starting this at home.  Will probably finish elsewhere.

This is why I never finish my housework.  Well, this is partly why.  Anyway.

If you think about it, there's only one true sin in the Bible.  Everything else is only a sin under certain circumstances.  Sex is not a sin, just premarital sex.  Killing someone is not a sin, not at all.  There are numerous passages delineating under what circumstances and by what method someone shall be put to death: female sorceresses, back-talking children, women who are raped who don't cry for help, but only if they live in the city because women who are raped in the country might not live close enough to someone who could have heard them so it's okay if they just didn't bother.

You can even steal someone else's land if you say God really wanted you to have it.

No, the only act that appears to be inherently sinful is disobedience.  Everything else seems to have an asterisk.  You can even put your beloved son on the alter if the big G tells you to.  Obeying the command to kill your child is - in a biblical context - the righteous act.  More righteous than obeying the standing order to not kill anybody (except where explicitly commanded to do so) because it was a direct order.

Even our military and police forces are expected to not obey a direct order if it conflicts with the laws established in the Constitution.

Oh, military and police forces... how you have so often failed to disobey...  How often you have protected those among your ranks who have defiled their sacred obligations.  Instead of casting these criminals out of your body, you have so very often closed in around them and formed a protective cyst, a tumor, and doomed your body to sickness.

Again and again and again...

Mix Bakeshop
Pumkin-something Macaroon

...And that's where I left it when the boys got home.  Let's see if I can finish this before closing time.

Today, we went to the library.  As the boys played with the Thomas the Train set in the kids section, we heard chanting and shouting outside.  From the window we could see another Ferguson rally marching across the street, blocking the crosswalk for a time to address the stopped traffic, then continuing on to the heart of downtown.

"No justice!  No peace!"

"Hands up!  Don't shoot!"

As their voices receded Oliver began crying.  He was upset because he had wanted to throw something into the recycling bin but Daddy had done it first.  I thought how lucky we are that that's all he has to cry about.  When I posted that later - the picture of the marchers and Oliver's incongruent despair - a friend of mine replied with "#FirstWorldProblems".

Amen, sister.

We live in another Gilded Age.  As before the Great Crash, the news buzzes about the extraordinary wealth of our age, the billionaires being churned out by Wall Street.  And the seeming normalcy of Middle America is only achieved through massive debt - student loans that may or may not be paid off before your children are ready for school, and the 30 year mortgage you had to refinance to get the loan to pay for the car repairs on that 2 door subcompact you were supposed to trade-up before you had the 2 car seats in the back, but now you can't afford to replace it so you have to string it along, and you can't put it on the credit card because you maxed it out on 4 crowns and 6 fillings - and that's with insurance! - and the Black Friday specials you sacrificed your Thanksgiving for because they told you it was your only chance to get it cheap enough and you could pay it off when you got your tax refund but then they cut the Earned Income Credit you were banking on so your interest rate just got jacked up to a rate you didn't know was legal.  But you sure look comfortable.  When everyone looks so comfortable, it's easy to think that it's your fault.

God forbid you get sick.

God forbid you're the victim of a hit and run while you're marching down to the Plaza for those among us who are dying in this Age of Gilded Freedom.  That's your ER bill.  Good luck.

This country is most definitely not well, but the worst part is that we cannot have the conversations we need to have to fix it because reality is obscured by the gilding of lies.  Equal opportunity?  Not a bit.  Not economically, not legally...  We don't even have an equal opportunity to stay alive just walking down the street.

Around the country, some of those who see the injustice, especially those who have been the victims of it, have taken to the streets to grieve, to demand change - they march.  And some, they scream their grief, their frustration - their fear - they riot.

Song lyrics come to mind... "I need something to break!"

On the right, they have been stoking fear of the president, of immigrants, and those "thugs" who just happen to, ya know, bounce less light in the sun...  Frankly, calling Obama a "tyrant" is an insult to the people of Syria and Libya and anyone else who has really lived under a tyrant.  But the fearful shall defend themselves.  They have been stockpiling their bunkers and talking openly of insurrection for years.

They want something to break, too.

What we do when we are afraid, when we are threatened... that is when we earn our humanity, or when we fail it.

When Henry David Thoreau saw the injustice of American aggression in his time, he simply stopped paying for his share of it.  And he happily went to jail for it.  He disobeyed, civilly.  That was the righteous thing to do.

But what about today?

We do need change.  A lot of it, on many fronts.  You could use the term revolution.  But I wouldn't go too far with that.  I certainly would not say insurrection.  So long as the basic structure remains in tact, we need to try to work within it.

I've known people who say we need to tear down the whole system and rebuild on whatever survives.  I don't think highly of that kind of nihilism.  I think of it as an immature human mind, the intellectual equivalent of a toddler's tantrum.  So it's hard?  So it's frustrating, and slow?  So what?  It's a lot harder to bury your sons and daughters sacrificed on the alter of revolution.  And the societies built upon the ruins of revolutions most often do not survive, let alone thrive.

There are exceptions.  But there is also a cost.  Always a cost, not the least of which is our humanity.

I have no disrespect for someone who defends themselves or their families, but only when it is necessary.  In the case in Ferguson, the only way Wilson might have needed to shoot Mike Brown dead from 150 feet away is if he mistook Mike Brown for Luke Skywalker and had a reasonable expectation that Mike Brown would imminently use The Force to steal his gun.  Which is silly, of course, because Brown could have just choked him before Wilson could reach.  Or tossed his police cruiser.

Which makes me think of burning witches.  How stupid is that logic?  If she's a witch, don't you think she could get out of it?  In which case, the only people you'd end up burning would be innocent.  Oh, the folly of the righteous...  Committing obvious sins in the name of God.  Murder, torture, destruction, violence... whatever... for the Greater Good.

Didn't we learn anything from the Lord of the Rings?  You never use the weapon of the Enemy.

If killing someone, on purpose, is wrong, then it doesn't stop being wrong if you change the scenery or put the trigger in another person's hand.  Injustice must be answered, and in a meaningful way, but you don't go outside the system you're trying to fix if there is any path at all left open.  There is no social system that will ever be free of corruption.  The strength of the institution comes from the ability to address and amend injustice within itself.

In Ferguson, there was clear abuse of power and corruption - and there are still paths left to address those trespasses of justice.  And more broadly, there is wide-spread racial injustice and abuse of police authority - and that, too, can be addressed.  There are white allies, and those in positions of power - yes, even white police officers, too - who see and will march alongside those seeking justice.

And even those of us who may only march our fingers across keyboards in suburban coffeehouses, we are doing our best to scrape the fool's gold off the bullshit that's being oversold, hand over bloodied fist, to keep us from seeing that one simply truth: There's no such thing as Other People.  We're all in this together, and we can change things for the better and be our higher human selves.

I am such a damn hippy.  Coffee shop is closing.  Time to go.

I love you all.

1 comment:

  1. Wow really enjoyed reading this, very thoughtful.