Was a bearcat. It just sort of surprised me, rising up out of my meditations without any conscious urging. It came, I think, from the same place that my best fiction comes from, and speaks to the pain that I’ve carried my whole life, walking between racial worlds, hearing the fear on both sides, and never quite belonging.
But race is just a visual identifier—there are so many other worlds. To belong neither to the left or the right. To fall into neither the male chauvenist or female supremist categories. To love America without worshipping her. To commit to my writing while feeling a basic futility with the limitations of language. To love the martial arts and be plagued by fear responses that kept me from entering into them as fully as I hoped…
And you know what? I suspect that, under it all, we’re all pretty much like that. And that we embrace an ideology because we fear to be alone.
I am flat SURE that Democratic feminists would have criticized Bill Clinton more publicly if he hadn’t been the Democratic candidate. I am also SURE that, if Bush were Clinton, the Right-wing pundits would absolutely skin him publicly for the performance of his administration. People lie, they hide in categories, because they are afraid.
Ultimately, I think fear is the base of much of this. Why, women wonder, have women contributed so little to literature, art, and science? Truth be told, anyone who has ever been responsible for raising a child knows the gigantic expenditure of energy and time that entails—that plus the “Old boy’s Network” and gender prejudice explains a huge amount. But every time they watch male scientists theorizing that it is primarily due to differences in brain construction, they have to go just a little bit crazy…
And men told that they are responsible for all the wars, as if they WANT to march off and get their bollocks blown away, as if women don’t reward aggressive males with sex, as if wars don’t relate to the perception of life as a zero-sum game, with breeding room and resources high on the list of motivations…
The black-white thing has been talked about at great length on this blog. I won’t touch it today.
How do we move beyond? What are our obligations to each other? How do you deal with the fact that, if you use the definitions of any group, other groups will seem inferior in comparison? (“Why won’t men commit?” women say, as if commitment, per se, is a good thing. “Why are women so damned clingy and emotional?” men say, as if independence and internalized emotion is, per se, a good thing either.)
We tried to define “Liberal” and “Conservative” a few days ago, and got very few responses—including, curiously, no response from our most outspoken Conservative reader…I’m not sure why that was, and maybe it means nothing.
But I think that we must be on-guard against the automatic urge to think that, because we think it, it must be right. To believe that what we see is all there is.
And yet, we must be able to act, and not paralyzed by endless consideration.
I think we can do this by trusting our instincts, but also being aware that on the most basic level, they speak to the animal within us…and in the right context, that’s not a bad thing at all.
Marching up the Chakras, that primal energy relates to personal survival, species survival (sex) and tribe. These three together make up the “Belly Brain”, the beast, the tribal awareness from which arises great pleasure, power, and pain. It is by connecting with the heartspace that we begin to rise above this. When we learn to express our truth, we create a fabric of conversation through the society, and as long as that communication is honest and polite, we cannot help but evolve as a society, just as honest engagement with our own demons helps us to evolve as human beings.
And spirit? You know something? You don’t have to aim at spirit deliberately. If you are grounded, the energy itself will spontaneously rise to spirit. Now, this is different from “religion” and especially from religious institutions. Institutions are no more spiritual than rocks. The people WITHIN them can be, however. I’ve met genuinely spiritual people of all faiths…and also fakers. One must be careful: the Ku Klux Klan worship the cross. Symbols are plastic flowers, with beauty but no perfume.
What shall we be? Flawed human beings, groping toward the light. We must start with honesty, willingness to examine our own flaws—and commitment to move beyond them. Every day I work with my writing. Yesterday I sent off a script of my book “Blood Brothers.” Today I’ll work on other things, and get ready for the Path Workshop in Portland next month. So much to do, and so little time.
No. That’s a lie. In life, you have exactly enough time to do everything that is actually important. And no time at all to waste.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:02 AM