Turn And Take A Hard Look [on Flawed Wednesday]

Systems are living things and like all living things will fight to the death when threatened. It is, I believe, what is at play in these un-united-united-states.

I love the irreverence of the questions taken from a mock conference agenda, published in the October 2017 issue of Real Simple Magazine. Who bears the bulk of moral responsibility and what’s the appropriate punishment? Beneath the humor, the real question is made clear: why are women expected to mold their bodies, often in torturous ways, to fit an impossible ideal? It is a centuries old phenomenon.

There is a very telling photograph from 2017 of an all male White House task force discussing health benefits that included women’s health issues. This photograph is nothing new. The ideal represented within it, is ubiquitous. A headline from The Guardian reads “These 25 Republicans -All White Men – Just Voted To Ban Abortion In Alabama.”

A system is a living thing. It will fight to the death when threatened.

This paragraph from Rolling Stone Magazine [May 17, 2019] captures the essence of the fight, the core of the system that is under threat: The Republican movement behind forced-birth bills is truly ignorance allied with power, as James Baldwin once warned us about. The rhetoric may be more vociferous and reckless now than it was when the religious right was first revving up, but it is no less cynical. Even if it escapes the lips or is written or signed into law by women like Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama, the primary goal of that revanchist talk has always been to take America back to a time when the word of white men went all but unquestioned.

“The unquestioned word of white men.” The system as designed is now being questioned. And so, ignorance allies with power. The Big Lie. The Republican party is afraid to investigate-and-talk-about what happened on January 6th because of what an investigation will reveal. Ignore-ance.

Taking America back to a time when the word of white men went all but unquestioned. We never actually left that time but had certainly broached the subject of progress toward the promise of equality for all. And so, the system is fighting. It is threatened like never before so it is fighting like never before. Voter suppression laws. The legal assault being mounted on a woman’s right to choose. Fearmongering BLM rhetoric like Ron Johnson’s inanity.

Black Lives Matter. Women’s Rights. Voters’ Rights, Civil Rights…all embodiment of the ideals that we espouse and yet, all are threats to the system. All ask questions of the unquestioned white men.

In a speech yesterday, President Joe Biden said that America is based on an idea. “It’s the greatest idea in the long history of humankind. An idea that we’re all created equal in the image of Almighty God. That we’re all entitled to dignity, as my father would say, and respect, decency, and honor. Love of neighbor. They’re not empty words, but the vital, beating heart of our nation.

Division is the control-mechanism designed into the system to keep the word of the white men unquestioned. Colonists everywhere installed the same mechanism in their colonies. Powerful women, powerful citizens of all colors and sexual orientation, united, are a threat to the system. And so it fights. It lies. It blocks scrutiny. It screams that Black Lives are a more dangerous threat than a white insurrection on the capitol. Antifa! Socialism! Fear! Divide the people. Keep them fighting each other. It’s a strategy that’s worked for centuries.

It is more than time that the idea of America, at long last, punch through the wall of the system and fulfill its promise, its highest ideal. What is there to fear in equality?

Pre-torn jeans made of elastic. Who bears the bulk of the moral responsibility? Beneath the humor, the real question comes clear: do we have the capacity, at long last, to stop molding ourselves in tortuous ways to fit an impossibly conflicted system? Can we turn and take a hard look at our empty words and fill them with the promise, the beating heart of the idea? Equality. United.

read Kerri’s blog post about Pretorn Jeans

Observe The Rituals [on Flawed Wednesday]

washed fruit copy

Like you, we are practicing new rituals that two months ago would have seemed like so much science fiction. We wash and disinfect all the food we buy. Dry goods stay in food-quarantine for 48 hours before they are allowed in the house. The mail is disinfected and banished to in a safe spot for two days before we open it.  Rituals of safeguarding. Rituals of necessity.

All are rituals of distance.

Rituals of cooperation. We walk everyday. We have always walked everyday but in these days we cross to the other side of the street if someone is coming our way. Or they cross to the other side. At first, this who-will-cross-first ritual was negotiated, awkward. Uncomfortable. In just a few short weeks it has become conventional, intuitive. In the time before the pandemic, it would have been a statement of rejection to avoid contact. Now, it is a statement of participation. We cannot safely visit our neighbors yet we daily street waltz with strangers. The world is upside-down.

Rituals of obfuscation. I read this quote this morning: The whole concern of an intelligent person is to see the facts and understand the problem – which is not to think in terms of succeeding or failing [Krishnamurti, Think On These Things]. In these days of pandemic, the President holds a jaw-dropping daily ritual to whip-up a counter-narrative to the facts of his inept leadership, to shut down his experts, to shout down or otherwise maul questions that do not support his pathological lie.  It makes for great TV ratings but lousy governance. And, a substantial number of people are so distracted by the clown that they do not grasp the reality of the fire raging outside of the circus tent.

Rituals of revelation. Marie Antoinette famously said of her starving citizens, “Let them eat cake!” I told Kerri that each week of this pandemic has brought me an understanding beyond the abstract of a specific episode in history. Today, the courts in our state, the Supreme Court of the nation and the Republican party of Wisconsin are essentially blocking the citizens’ capacity to safely vote. They are either gobsmackingly ignorant or astonishingly cruel. The choice: gather and vote in the midst of pandemic or vote not at all.  So few of those trusted with representing the will of the people of this nation are actually concerned with the will or the safety of the people.  It’s a win/lose game played by the privileged few in which the people are disposable. Let them eat cake. I now understand in my gut the moral outrage of the starving citizens of 18th century France.

We wash our fruit. We cross the road when others approach. We try and get out everyday, seeking places that  others have not yet found. We watch the numbers of deaths climb exponentially everyday. We shake our heads in disbelief at our bloviating leader. We call our friends. We now routinely say, “Webex” and “Facetime” and “Google hangout” when we used to say  “get together.” New rituals born of distance. New rituals born of separation in an era of gaping divides. Surely, one day, the pendulum will swing back the other way, the circus will pack up and the clown will go down the road. We will come out of our houses, greet our neighbors and remember what it was like to bridge divides and begin embracing the rituals shared on common ground.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WASHING FRUIT

 

? website box copy