Friday, June 9, 2017

Sometimes I write

and as I proceed I realize that I'm writing to myself as much (or maybe more) than I am to the 'reader'. It's sort of embarrassing to admit that I'm writing to myself while seeming to write to a 'reader' or an 'audience'...but...there ya go.

I recently had an email from a friend who is reading: "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI." I haven't read the book (and probably won't) but she is both liking it and appalled by what she's learning from it.  

(Note: The "and probably won't" bit reflects my efforts to avoid taking in the thinking/writing/speaking of information that comes from white men. I've been having white men to "explain things to me" most of my life and since I ended up deeply deluded I'm making efforts to drastically decrease my intake of "knowing" from that particular group of folks. I attempt to restrict my sources of viewpoint and knowledge to members of any group other than heterosexual and cis gendered white men. I realize that's no guarantee of not encountering flawed thinking but it, hopefully, reduces input from an almost invariably distorted viewpoint. White women (especially heterosexual and cis gendered white women) aren't much better. Since I belong to the white man group...you probably should be suspicious of anything I write, ok?
 

An admittedly poor rubric I use is that any thinking/writing/speaking about non-technical knowings that doesn't acknowledge racism and/or speciesism and/or sexism and work to critique the social status quo is almost guaranteed to be distorted by white supremacist and/or human supremacist and/or male supremacist taintings. There are folks around who acknowledge all those sources of human destructiveness, but they're few in number. Aph Ko, Sistah Vegan , pattrice jones , Christopher McJetters and Lauren Ornelas are examples of writers/thinkers who are aware of and work to grapple simultaneously and insightfully with these human horrors.) 

In her email she included this statement: "We are barbarians at heart...".

What she wrote made all kinds of alarm bells go off in me and so I wrote back with an elaboration of what that phrase caused me to think about. I responded:

"You wrote: "We are barbarians at heart..."

I'm working hard at being cautious about universalizing (I'm not against conscious generalizing mind you, but avoiding universalizing and instead trying to look at the groupings in universalizing seems to bring elements of clarity to my thinking). Therefore, I would mostly agree with your statement if it read: "Heterosexual and cis gendered, capitalistic white man are murderous and greedy jerks at heart...". (Well, maybe not "at heart"...about their "being" I can't know...so not so much that but dang sure in how they behave.)

The pronoun we (all of us may be susceptible to being that way but...in truth...here in the good old USA (and...pretty much world wide) the culprits are almost invariably white men) is too universal for me and...if I remember correctly...barbarian was a term used by the ancient Greeks to refer to anyone who wasn't a Greek. It's only over time that it has taken on the derogatory cast it has in English. (by the way, I believe capitalism profoundly entices anyone engaging in it to behave in awful ways)


In truth...most all the horrors in Europe and Africa and most everywhere including here have been instigated by and carried out by white men (capitalistic, cis gendered, heterosexual white men)...those who would be considered to be "civilized". (and...in the cases where it wasn't white men...Rwanda and Cambodia (Pol Pot) come to mind although there are likely others too...both were (if I'm remembering correctly) societies that had been deeply deformed by colonialism (white men again!)).

So it's all weird to me anymore...for instance, Germany...the epitome of "civilization" and culture carried out the most concentrated and industrialized campaign of terror and murder ever in the history of the planet.

"Southern gentlemen" presided over a regime of human enslavement and terror and torture for centuries here in the USA.

In recognition of those truths, I think I'll place my allegiances with the barbarians. Ya know?:-)

Pardon the didactic tone...I'm writing this more to remind myself about this stuff than anything. I'm not pointing at you...I'm struggling to teach myself.

One of the features that seems to be very much entwined in and upholding of "white thinking" is to step away from inconvenient and unsettling specificity or accurate identification of the actors of awfulness and immediately flee into ameliorating and falsifying universalizing and abstracting. 


"We are all barbarians at heart..." works to let white men off the hook and indict all humans instead.

Hence, it might be true that we're all bad stuff at heart...but...the fact is...probably 80% (at a minimum) of the human created horrors we're aware of would disappear if all capitalistic, cis gendered, heterosexual, white men were rendered powerless. 


That's a truth as far as I know and...it almost never gets said out loud. I think maybe it needs to be said often and loudly. (Be aware that doing so is risky business because that group is notoriously prone to violently subdue anyone who outs them or opposes them.)

Having a penis doesn't make anyone awful, having white skin doesn't make anyone awful, being heterosexual doesn't make anyone awful, being cis gendered doesn't make anyone awful, engaging in capitalism doesn't necessarily make anyone awful...but the combination of those has produced most of the human created horror and misery that has ever occurred...at least as far as I can tell."


That's essentially what I wrote back to her. I've re-read it several times and thought about it quite a bit...and...jeez...it's pretty much my viewpoint right now. 

I began moving toward where I am now when I went vegan about 10 years ago, then when I began working hard at becoming less ignorant about race/racism 2 or 3 years ago this perspective started emerging from the fog of human supremacy and white male supremacy I had staggered around in for most of my life. No way do I believe I've "arrived" or anything...no one escapes a lifetime of conditioning that easily or completely...but humans make much more 'sense' to me than they ever have (and it's a terrible and sad 'sense' that we make)

That's how I comprehend us (and I realize that 'comprehension' is stated in generalized terms for which a number of exceptions exist and which flattens stuff way too much to be anything more than temporary and tentative and riddled with error)...right now anyway.

 

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