Saturday, June 29, 2019

Shame on Us

We are an amazingly diverse species. Our diversity and adaptability has allowed us to survive and then thrive, spreading over this planet of extremes. Interestingly, the fact that humans have moved to those less comfortable parts of the planet might come from our tendency, as a group, to drive away those who are most diverse; those who are not 'like us'. The most diverse, and therefore, the less desirable folk became pioneers.

Ironically, one of the last great migrations, the one from Europe to North America, fuelled, at least partially, by religious persecution, seems to have given rise to one of the less tolerant populations of the world. 

Historically, those who are different, even if their differences cannot possibly harm others, were liable to be treated badly. That word is taking the place for a variety of ways we treat those seen as other.

A good example of treating someone badly is enslavement. After all, why not take advantage of being in the group with more power, to get others to do all of the work you would rather not do? Better still, make them do it for free, and while you are at it, give yourself a real treat and do unspeakable and harmful things to that slave under the pretext of superiority. Holdover behaviours in the present from times of slavery in Canada and the United States are subtle and pervasive, but I digress. Hold that thought ...

Badly might mean assuring those whose diversity makes them part of the LGBTQ spectrum live in shame, and if possible, making laws to control them, just in case they don't care what you think. 

Religions have used the laying on of guilt to assure what they see as proper behaviour. Of course, threating hell and other sorts of fire was their technique of choice up until the 17th century. Religions were in the vanguard in the area of law-making, telling the "faithful" that if they gave comfort to those diverse folk, they would be treated to the same sort of punishments. These days, churches that specialize in shaming members into toeing the line are by far the most popular and rich, while liberal churches have found their congregations dwindling. 

It seems to me that rather than being angered by seeing someone who is of a different from them in some way that truly shouldn't matter at all, people should get angry at others who do really stupid things, such as throwing their rubbish onto the street rather than putting it into a garbage container. Maybe that person who leaves their shopping cart in the middle of a parking spot or in the roadway instead of putting it where they found it should be shamed for treating the rest of us as though we don't matter.  

Perhaps we should shame those who carelessly reflect the failings of our past, bigotry large among them, in their behaviour today. Personally, I wish it was possible to lay a bit of 'shame on you' on people who try to control how others live their lives. Shame on anyone who advocates cuts to public education and medical coverage while at the same time telling us they are "pro-life". 

Better still, get upset and shame someone who writes silly blog posts, railing against human behaviours that may be so entrenched into our cultures that we cannot hope to leave them behind. 

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And for something to lighten the mood, a cartoon by Paul Kinsella

History of Religion

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Moving On or Moving Forward?

Major life events are hopefully joyous, sometimes earth-shatteringly devastating, and mostly in between those emotional extremes. Transition was, for me, a combination of things in that middle range. 

Lost family, and people who I thought of as friends closer than family, who are gone because I finally acted on impulses that had driven me (mostly crazy) all my life, are always with me. I cannot forget the pain of loss even if, from their point of view, it was all my fault. These people are with me just as my grandparents, who raised me and died decades ago, are with me daily. 

My spouse of forty years who couldn't stay in love with me as a woman isn't someone I hate. Memories of our times together, places we went, and people we only knew together are always going to be part of me. The love we had is part of me.  

There is so much for me to be happy about now; including a spouse who I know inside out, and who knows me the same way and loves all of me ... wow! 

Because I have continued to live and grow since the time when loss occurred, I do not feel at all guilty for the joy I feel now. Why should I? After all, that joy has to do with all the experiences, sorrows, and happiness I had before.

So, when they see that I'm happy, some might say, "you have moved on". I've never felt that way though. Moving on seems to imply forgetting. My experience is more like moving ahead. 

Nora McInerny knows about loss at a scale none of us want to experience, and she knows about moving forward with it, and expresses these feelings and thoughts eloquently in this TED talk