This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slow-mo
The way we look to us all
I was looking at Cape Breton this morning, specifically Inverness because I wanted to know just how far I'd have to drive to go back this time. It's funny how we perceive time and distance from our pinpoint on the globe. Embedded in a culture-centric frame of reference, we seem much bigger than we really are. It's hard to think about the world from a single point of view. Go ahead, click the link and have a look at that globe. If you view it just so, drag the globe this way and that, you can turn the 3-d earth all the way around from just about any angle. At the right size, you get pinpoints of places on a map of the world. The pinpoints of places are viewing points, not points of view.
From a species survival perspective, having a point of view is a hardwired sort of thing. It's really hard to pull back. I think the most dangerous people in the world are the people who believe it's easy, the people believe they have all the points of view that matter. It's kind of like a god complex; I am best and right and bigger than most. The truth is, I have to work pretty damn hard at it. The other truth is that this doesn't make me any less dangerous. After all, my sensibilities are my truths and a truth is a finite thing, right? Maybe.
In an effort to introduce me to God, Aunt Annie gave me a book titled Mr. God, This is Anna. I must have been eleven or twelve, maybe still savable in spite of my fundamentally atheist father and non-committal Midwestern Methodist mother. God was vigorously banished, canceled, and erased from the home as one might scrub away all remnants of a bad relationship. He turned over the family bible with a lecture about religious and cultural respect, but with no other explanation. He had to have known I'd read it. That's what I did when a book was put in my hands, I read it. I've got to tell you, The First Testament (it's Book One, OK?) was a lot harder than The Tempest. It was also a great deal more entertaining. I don't mean to be blasphemous. Look at it this way, if you put an epic story into the hands of a young reader without context or frame of reference, the book is exactly that, a book.
Mr. God, This is Anna was also exactly that, a book.
I learned two things from Anna; the fallacy of separation and the concept of viewing points. Forty-five years later, that shit's still flowing through my veins.
I accepted one other religious book, got halfway through it, gagged, and put it down. I don't know if I returned the book but I do know I never accepted another. She'll still peruse her shelves, holding one after another up for inspection and I always decline. I understand where she's coming from. She has a point of view and she loves me. I don't really think it's about conversion so much as, I want to share this with you because when we talk, the intersections of our beliefs are vast. She's got a point, and also, I already have some of those books. The ones I think matter.
Isn't this what happens in the Venn Diagrams of humanity? I think so.
With Aunt Annie it is gentle and accepting; she isn't invalidating who I am or my beliefs, or lack of them. She is actively interacting at the intersections. There's really only one other person with whom I can have theological discussions without being wrong. I don't want to make him wrong either. However, having a theological discussion with an avowed atheist might cost you a limb or two. From my point of view, Atheists and Christians represent the Radical Left and the Radical Right; they have far more in common than you might think. I think they are the same, but my algebraic equation doesn't include God.
Mr. God, Anna tells us, doesn't have a point of view. Mr. God has viewing points. This is a hard thing to wrap your head around. How can multiple viewing points exist when we live in a single point of view? You've got to get out from under those attachments to the way the world is. You have to be willing to put aside personal beliefs and that's a bitch, don't you think? After all, our personal beliefs and experiences inform our perception of everything. Can't be helped, this is who we are. On the other hand, if we get past the binary long enough to set these things aside, then it's possible.
Trigger warning: I'm about to be disturbingly politically incorrect. Have a paper bag at hand because I'm going to ask you to set your outrage aside and breathe into the bag instead. Just for a bit.
Black Lives Matter. No doubt. BLM is incredibly important right now. Hell, it's been critical for hundreds of years, but unless you're one of those Black Lives, this isn't your fight. The implied and direct shame associated with not towing the party line is astonishing. The word Fascist comes to mind every time I hear a militant white voice demanding that a population think, behave, and speak from the same book. We can't do that, it's not possible. An attack on the black community is not an attack on anyone but the black community.
When we excuse violence on the grounds that oppression eventually explodes, we are not supporting the black community. There is a huge difference between excusing violence and understanding why it is happening. We are supporting our own beliefs. When we excuse violence in the name of fairness and equality and all things 'good', we are supporting our own needs with very little thought to what our needs might cost another. This is the militant left and the militant left is just as dangerous as the militant right.
Why would anyone at the Capitol, with purpose on January 6, blame the attack on Antifa? That doesn't make any sense. These people had a tremendous sense of purpose backed by an unshakeable belief that they were doing the right thing. Why blame Antifa? Antifa isn't even a thing, its a behavior. It has no leader, no core, it's just a cover for a particularly violent battle cry.
Could it be possible these people are so angry that this was the only way to call the Left out on its hypocrisy? Not even the Left can call out the Left. How could they? Their belief system cannot support it.
Hang in there.
Women's rights, the woman's movement, women's beliefs and experiences are ours and ours alone. A woman can label herself a feminist, but no one else can. Her choices are driven by her inherent beliefs. I have to check myself on a regular basis. I'm triggered by women far more than I am by men. Looking outward in any direction there will be women who do and say things that drive me batshit on both sides of the fence. Men do what they do and I try very hard to choose my battles. After all, I've been at war since I was old enough to notice. That's a long time.
A man is not a feminist. He cannot ever be a feminist. Even should he become she or they, hesheorthey are living a very different story. A man can be an ally. God knows we need every ally we can get. What a man can't do is tell a woman what she should think, or believe, or how she should behave. Does that sound familiar? It should. Where is the difference in these two statements?
- You should really pay more attention to these micro aggressions. These are the things that are most important right now.
- You should really stay home with your babies; it's the right thing to do, it's the only thing to do.
The second statement came out of the mouth of a self-described male feminist. It also comes out of Mitch McConnell's mouth in one form or another on a regular basis. That stings, eh? For me, those statements from the mouths of women are even harder to swallow. To be fair, when I refer to a woman as a breeder the moment she tosses her network and resume in the trash in exchange for the baby that slips from her womb and perceived economic safety, I might as well be tossing molotov cocktails into a crowd.
You can put the paper bag down.
Anna says one more thing. She tells us that God is in her middle. God is always there, right inside of her no matter what. God is not held accountable for anything other than being God. God is not finite, limited, or of any particular flavor. That's us. We are the particular flavors, not God. We hold our point of view because we're human. We have a tendency to personify God. Based on what I've read, that's not possible, but we do it anyway.
God is in Anna's middle. Later she qualifies that statement by telling Fynn (he wrote the book) that Fynn is also in her middle. If Fynn is in her middle, she will always know where he is, the same way she knows where God is. Anna has been in my middle for about forty-five years, and so has God, but it's my God, not your God. That's a terrible paradox until you find your way to enough viewing points and step into the intersections of the human Venn Diagram.
I am not part of the Progressive Left. I do not have any sort of religion. What I do have is an unreasonable amount of faith in the human capacity to love, forgive, and include.
These are the days of miracle and wonder, this is the long distance call...