Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who’s Really In A Bubble?

Bubble

It’s a trick question.

Answer: every single one of us.

The better question is: what sort of bubble are you in?

It is nearly impossible to climb outside of our own experiences. That’s why, nearly 20 years later, Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack remains so relevant. That’s why this recent story about workplace sexism resonates so much. What each of us experiences in life is normal for us, and it’s difficult to resist the thought that it’s therefore normal for everyone. Teasing apart what is unique to me versus to my social or identity groups versus universal is really tough.

Which brings us to bubbles.

Since the election, there have been approximately 4,236,747 stories about Trump voters and how we should all try to understand them because their experiences are real and their pain is real and they’re the real America that us coastal elites in our bubbles ignore and disparage yackity-smackity, mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa (and leaving aside that it’s the RIGHT WING elites who disparage the rural poor).

And you know what I’m talking about, because you’ve read AT LEAST one of those 4,236,747 stories. The setting is nearly always the same: Small Town in largely rural area. 90%+ white. Not an immigrant, refugee, Muslim, or person of color to be seen anywhere, except maybe in a ghettoized neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks or near the local toxic waste dump. The Factory – whether it was coal or auto or textile or food processing – shut down years ago. Walmart moved in a year ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago, promising jobs, and they delivered, sort of. There *are* jobs, but the people who work them qualify for SNAP and Medicaid and other forms of government assistance, because Walmart pays poverty wages. You can buy cheap shit there, but in the meantime, Small Town’s Main Street was decimated. Educational achievement is low, and rates of opioid or meth addiction are high. Everyone watches Fox News and listens to Limbaugh – or worse.

And I’m supposed to buy that those Trump voters AREN’T in a bubble, while I am?

Bullshit.

I do live in a blue, highly educated, high income/cost of living coastal city. My neighbors – as in people I know and speak with on a regular basis on my block – are black and immigrants and gay…and white couples with kids. I have a Black Friend (actually more than one, and Muslims and Jews and Latinas and Hispanics and Asians and LGBT people, etc., etc., etc., and yes, these are people I see regularly and who come to my house and I go to theirs and we know each others’ families and other friends).

Before I left the church, I spent a summer as a teenager on a missions trip to poor, rural Missouri and worked with the kind of people profiled in those Trump voter pieces. And yes, that rural poverty is dire. My dad was the first person in his family – and the only one of his generation – to go to college. His sister and brother-in-law and their four kids, who live in a Habitat for Humanity house, have been on public assistance of one sort or another for 30+ years, and his other two siblings and their spouses are blue-collar. On the other hand, both of my mom’s parents had graduate degrees, as do both of her brothers, as do I and one of my 13 cousins (although many of the rest of them also did not go to college).

I volunteer on a regular basis with two different groups that bring me into contact with all sorts of people – school groups, workplace groups, people with intellectual disabilities, people doing their court-mandated community service, kids from under-privileged neighborhoods. I have ongoing relationships with some of these people. I ride public transportation almost every day and encounter a rainbow of people there – all colors, all ages, all social classes, all religions and sexual orientations and gender expressions. I get to eat food and hear music and see art and attend theater from all kinds of cultures every week.

I don’t watch TV news  – it’s shallow and detracts from, rather than adding to, our national discourse – but I read a wide variety of reputable mainstream and left news sources (yes to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, MIT’s Technology Review, Vox, and The Atlantic – no to the purely partisan alt-left that’s nearly as bad as a alt-right, The Intercept and your fellow travelers, I’m looking at you). I’ve traveled to the overwhelming majority of the US states, including most of “flyover” country, and I’ve been to a bunch of places outside the US, too, and not just western Europe and the tourist Caribbean.

I’m not saying all this because I want some sort of pat on the head. I would guess that a decent amount of what I just related holds true for many – although certainly not all – of the people who live in my blue, highly educated, high income/cost of living coastal city.

I still live in a bubble. But my argument is that my bubble is pretty big and varied.

And I’m the one who needs to understand people who’ve never traveled more than 50 miles from the town they were born in and who’ve chosen to drastically narrow their world view by the media they elect to consume?

I don’t think so.

Do you remember The Fresh Air Fund? You know – the organization that packs city kids off to live in the country for the summer, so they can experience trees and cows and crickets and whatnot? They’re still out there, after 140 years, and that’s a good thing. But I think we also need a, for lack of a better term, Smog Air Fund, to bring kids from small town rural communities into the city for the summer, so they can see that our cities are not the dystopian hellholes so-called President Trump is trying to convince them we are, and meet some people of color and immigrants and gay people and see that they’re just regular people, and see some art and eat some interesting food and maybe go to a play or hear music they wouldn’t normally encounter, and expand their bubbles a whit.

I need to bust out of my bubble. I need to read Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. And Edward McClelland’s Nothin’ But Blue Skies. And Maharidge and Williamson’s Someplace Like America. I get that. But fixing the problems in the US isn’t – and can’t be – all the responsibility of one side. It’s time for those on the right to step up and own their bullshit, too.

Image found here.

And So the Food We Had Became Sacred to Us

Words for Wednesday

President Donald Trump Signs Executive Orders

I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman
~  Susan Griffin
(1973)

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
by a slave-master (because she
talked back), and who
had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law, I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially
when I think of the problem of
feeding children.

The legal answer
to the problem of feeding children
is ten free lunches every month,
being equal, in the child’s real life,
to eating lunch every other day.
Monday, but not Tuesday.
I like to think of the President
eating lunch Monday, but not
Tuesday.
And when I think of the President
and the law, and the problem of
feeding children, I like to
think of Harriet Tubman
and her revolver.

And then sometimes
I think of the President
and other men,
men who practice the law,
who revere the law,
who make the law,
who enforce the law
who live behind
and operate through
and feed themselves
at the expense of
starving children
because of the law,
men who sit in paneled offices
and think about vacations
and tell women
whose care it is
to feed children
not to be hysterical
not to be hysterical as in the word
hysterikos, the greek for
womb suffering,
not to suffer in their wombs,
not to care,
not to bother the men
because they want to think
of other things
and do not want
to take the women seriously.
I want them
to take women seriously
I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
and remember,
remember she was beat by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her greivances
and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from
slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied the laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously.
I am tired of wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now
as I have felt suffering in the womb, and
I want them
to know
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
for retribution
and that time
is beginning.

Picture found here.

Hat tip to Amy Stewart.

This Is a Prayer to Aphrodite. This Is a Prayer for Resistance.

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This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for love and beauty.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for wine and roses.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for orgasm.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

Turning my eyes from ugly times, I cry to the Goddess of Beauty.  Beaten down again and again, I cry to She Who Enjoys.

“Aphrodite!” I cry.  “You wear sea foam, You stand on a shell, You are surrounded by cherubim.  Send, Great Goddess, Your cherubim to bring beauty back to the world.”

My Goddess lifts Her left foot, Her left foot covered in foam.  She shakes off the foam and begins to dance.

This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for mirth and irreverance.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for perfume and starlight.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for artists and lovers.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

In a time of cruelty and hatred, I cry to the Goddess of Love.  Out of sorrow and deep depression, I cry to She Who Stirs Passion.

“Aphrodite!” I cry.  “You take many lovers, You admire Your own beauty, Your shining eyes light up the world.  Turn again, Great Goddess, Your eyes upon us that we may remember why we Resist.”

My Goddess looks at Herself in a mirror.  My Goddess takes joy in her own beauty.  Slowly, She holds the mirror up to us and invites us to see what we can create.

This is a prayer for foot rubs and sex toys.  This is prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for dancing and music.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for the reasons why.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

Picture found here.

 

Monday at the Movies

 

Hat tip:  Sia

Sunday Ballet Blogging

The Magical Battle for America 3/18/17

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Thank you to everyone who has been engaged in this Magical Battle for America.  To reorient yourself, you may want to re-read last week’s working.

A large part of the work that we are going to be doing, just as was the case with the working that Dion Fortune did during WWII, is to protect America by, as she said, “getting in touch with the Group-Mind” of the nation.  Hence, the work we have been doing to bring into focus well-known American archetypes such as the cowboy, the underground railroad, Paul Revere, Helen Keller, Johnny Appleseed, and, of course, Lady Liberty herself.  As our work makes these archetypes more and more vivid in our minds, they will become stronger and stronger in the American group-mind.  As Ms. Fortune explained, “Our work is to formulate and re-formulate day by day the mental link between the spiritual influences and,” what she called “the group mind of the race.”  Today, we’d use different language, but we certainly recognize that there is an American Psyche and that it has, over the past year or so, been polluted with everything from Nazi symbolism to increased racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, Russian propaganda, false news, etc., etc. etc.  A large part of our working is going to be to counter that pollution — what Occult Librarian would call miasma — within the national psyche.

In particular, this week we are going to work to dispel the Glamour of Cynicism that has slowly, over the past few decades, spread like a cloud of smog over our national psyche.  It seems, to me, to have begun about the time that Gordon Gekko proclaimed that “Greed is good,” and to have snowballed rapidly.  Today, this evil Glamour tells us that there’s no point trying; everything is crooked; all politicians are alike; government can never do any good; the smarter you are, the more you “see through” the system and know how hopeless it is to  get involved.  It’s all “rigged.”  Only naive bumpkins and deluded do-gooders think they can make any real difference.  Better to snark on social media and never get involved.  Protest marches don’t do any good any more; letters to your representatives are useless; town halls won’t change policy; your one vote doesn’t count.  Whatever some silly person is upset about is just a “distraction.”

In the law, we have a saying:  “Qui bono?”  It means, “Who wins?”  Who benefits when most Americans become cynical?  Who wins when we give up before we even start?  Well, I think we see the answers writ large in Trump’s hopes to give billionaires tax cuts by gutting everything from Meals on Wheels, to arts programs, to health care.

And, so, for this week’s working, after you ground and center, please cast a circle and anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Breathe.

Return again to our American plain on the astral plane.  See the prairie grasses and feel the wind.  Watch the bison graze in the distance.  Find again a small hillock where you can comfortably sit and observe.

Breathe.

See again the glowing banners at the points of the pentacle:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, Lady Liberty.

Stand up, look out over the prairie, and resolve within your own heart that America will be protected.  Know that you have it within you to summon great forces and to do what is necessary.

Turn to the Northwest and see the banner with the salmon, leaping against the waterfall to secure the next generation.  Watch the salmon try over and over, avoiding the fishing bears and eagles, swimming again upstream, curving its body to leap out of its natural element and into the air so that it can do its part to turn the Wheel of the Year.  To America’s First Peoples, salmon were a symbol of determination and prosperity.  The Celts saw the salmon as a symbol of wisdom.

Walk to the Northwest and stand beside a cold mountain stream.  See the foam from the waterfall.  Hear the cries of the eagles overhead.  Feel the chilly wind that blows through the ferns and the pines.

Call to the determined salmon who does not become cynical and will never give up.  Watch the sunlight glance off salmon’s scales into a thousand shafts of rainbow.  If a song comes to you, sing softly to the salmon; sing as your ancestors may have sung.  Listen to see if salmon answers back.  Perhaps your gift to salmon may, instead, be a dance, a heartfelt prayer, a promise to work for clean water.  Give thanks to salmon for continuing to leap, over and over and over again, until it vaults the waterfall and swims toward the next obstacle.

Now, walk back to your sacred hillock in the middle of America.  From there, send the message of salmon out into the national psyche.  See people in cities and towns, on the internet and in coffee houses, staring at tvs and cheering at sporting events.  See all of them absorbing in their own way salmon’s message of determination, salmon’s refusal to become cynical.  See the miasma of cynicism blowing away like smog before a clean wind.  Affirm that this is already so.

Breathe.

Slowly, come down from the hillock on the plains and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink some water.  Have something to eat if you like, maybe an orange or hot tea with milk.

You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.