I have recently witnessed the “super religious” (evangelical) among us cling to their thirst for power over “militant secularists” who they say are behind a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order,” as former AG Barr has preached. In their longing to do away with the separation of church and state they appear willing to stomach dishonesty, cruelty, and the trashing of the Ten Commandments. How in the same breath can they proclaim their religion yet rally around opposite values? And does “secularists” includes those of other faiths?
Today I reached into my book pile and pulled out Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, which more accurately describes my own personal religion. I found nothing militant in it…
“Every person you have ever met, every person you will pass in the street today is going to die. Living long enough, each will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?…
“The only angels we need invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty and love.” I don’t know if I agree with him on consciousness –didn’t get into that chapter yet.
So, why bother: Why work and walk, when being who you were born still hurts?
1994 Baltimore, when I had finally secured the protection of a job at Space Telescope Science Institute, and was trying to make friends with co-workers, and forget my origins:
“There are people here who will not want someone who looks like you on their land.”
“The races don’t mix.”
Apparently, the South had risen, again, up in northern Maryland.
Why bother, again?
Because Adulting includes the responsibility to strive for better. Better from oneself, and better from and for our world.
Though many up north do not recognize those of us whose families have always officially been labelled “colored” (as my birth certificate reads), yet called “mulatto families” informally, the resentment remains, and so does the pain. Brown parties were real, but so were efforts to use our light skin for the good of our…
Discounted nursing home deaths because “they are going to die anyway?” NEWSFLASH! We will too, even you. On a more cheerful note here are some words from Lewis Thomas’ The Lives of a Cell (1974 p50): Lewis recalls a memoir by David Livingston about his own experience of near-death. “He was caught by a lion, crushed across the chest in the animal’s great jaws, and saved in the instant by a lucky shot by a friend. Later, he remembered the episode in clear detail. He was so amazed by the extraordinary sense of peace, calm, and total painlessness associated with being killed that he constructed a theory that all creatures are provided with a protective physiologic mechanism , switched on at the verge of death , carrying them through the haze of tranquility.”
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I just now realized why some people slurp when drinking anything hot: it helps cool it! Insight on 12/15/2020
I wonder what others have learned from the zooming endeavor?
I wonder if it’s right to interfere by force with another culture’s cruel practices?
Eerie to think mankind (via Israeli unmanned spacecraft April, 2019) has left life on the moon. “There’s no danger of the tardigrades colonizing the moon; to reproduce, they’d need to return to Earth and rehydrate.” Oh shucks… (From The Week August 21, 2019). The image of a few thousand tiny “water bears” taped between DVD-sized etched nickel discs that contain a “library” of human civilization is difficult to erase from my mind’s eye. Is it an answer to how to do it or how not to do it?
I wondet when it will be a-okay to try and interfere with privatization?
“Many of us Lowdowners read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in high school–and it’s still being taught.” The 1954 novel depicts the gradual descent into barbaric darkness by a group of English schoolboys shipwrecked on a small deserted island. “Its portrayal of innate human depravity was hailed at the time for its unblinking ‘realism’. ” Only …it was total bullshit, reports Hightower.* I won’t include many of Golding’s shortcomings as reported in the article, but suffice it to say he had not studied behavioral science, and in order to better understand the boys’ fantasized situation Dutch historian Rutger Bregman became curious about what would really happen if kids were left alone on an island.
He finally discovered a real situation that occurred in 1965, when six bored schoolboys ages 13-16 from Tonga took a small fishing boat out on a lark, but were caught in a sudden storm and blown far from home. Their mast and rudder broke, and they finally washed up on the shore of a desolate rocky island where they were stranded for more than a year. After 15 months stranded on the deserted island a passing fishing crew rescued them.
Fifty years later Bregman located a few of the 1965 survivors, curious to discover “how it went in real life.” Their rescuers found the boys healthy–physically, socially and spiritually. I don’t want to be a “spoiler,” and maybe you knew all this already anyway. I’m going to check out Bregnan’s 2019 work: Humankind: A Hopeful History.
My folks had retired to Costa Rica, that’s why they were unable to accompany me to the meeting with my rapist, as had been recommended. The Restorative Justice people made an exception and allowed a friend to join me in the session, for emotional support. They didn’t realize that Mitzi had also been raped by Hairy Harry Findley, the perp.
I’m Allison, another survivor, I first met Mitzi in my livingroom, when she attended a small women’s consciousness raising group composed of women survivors of sexual assault who were slowly learning to think of themselves not as victims, but as survivors.
We waited for Hairy in the prison psychologist’s office at Greenville State Prison. The phone had been pulled to avoid interruption, and Mitzi and I had ten minutes to wait, alone in the office. A one-way mirror offered reassurance of safety. At the time I remember wondering who the reassurance was for, him or me, since although my rage had cooled during the last year, I knew it was capable of swift re-ignition. For all my moxie, I was conscious of a dry mouth and banging heartbeat.
Mitzi and I both wore loose shirts, loose jeans and tennies, presenting as asexual as possible for the session. The stated purpose of Restorative Justice was to heal, not to dissuade reoffending, but my purpose was the latter. I’ll admit, however, that the motivation for the meeting (I thought “confrontation”) was a tad murky–I wanted to look my attacker in the eye.
We heard a small click, the door nob turned and a corrections officer ushered Hairy in, handcuffed, and guided him to a chair opposite us, across a table. He was anything but appealing as he sat slouched in his bright orange prison suit that revealed long black hairs that covered his arms and the back of his hands. A five o’clock shadow had apparently sprouted in the past hour or two, but his head was shaved. The officer left us alone.
Although I assumed Hairy’s presence was due to the hope of making a positive impression on the Parole Board some day, I said, “Thanks for coming.”
He dropped his head in acknowledgement, without making eye contact. My ears started ringing and I had to briefly shut my eyes to get centered. I said, “Why are you here?”
“Here? Do you mean in prison or in this room?”
I silently gritted my teeth. “I know why you are in prison, believe me. But why are you in this room with me?” He paused. “Curiosity.”
“What do you want to know?”
He was silent.
“Do you regret the sexual attacks?”
“I regret prison.”
“But not causing the physical and psychological harm you did to me?”
He did not answer.
“Have you ever been raped? I hear that sometimes happens in prison.”
He rolled his shoulders and snarled, “Not likely!”
“Were you mad at me? Did you want to hurt me?”
“Yes. Yes, I wanted to hurt you and all women who play so hard to get. I belong to Incel, and women won’t have anythjing to do with us. We can’t get any!”
“Any–love? Tenderness? Friendship?”
“Pussy!” He shouted.
I had read about this group of unattractive men who had clustered on an internet blog, and that their activities have been referred to as “weaponized misogyny.” Mitzi beside me was squirming uncomfortably in her chair as he ranted.
“It’s true,” I said in an aside to Mitzi. “Evolution scripts females to be attracted to males who have the most regular features.”
Hairy’s face turned red and he gave a subdued roar when he overheard me speaking to Mitzi. “It isn’t fair!”
“Nor is it fair to rape and destroy a woman’s healthy sense of self for a life in which she sees herself a victim of herself!” I frowned, regretting having used the victim word myself.
Hairy didn’t respond immediately, but began fingering his fly, whereupon I rapped sharply on the one-way mirror. I was glad to note that he wore a puzzled expression on his face as he was led out to rejoin the prison population. Mitzi sighed. I squeezed her hand.