Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blood, Bonding, and Religious Rituals

Living in South Louisiana, I have been on many plantation tours. In point of fact, my mother's sister brought her family up on a plantation owned by my aunt's husband. There were no signs of the slave quarters on the land, but there was still what was called "the big house" on the property. We were not allowed into "the big house" without adult supervision. I think I saw the inside only once.

I have toured plantation "big houses,"great and small, and have heard so many tourists saying, "I so wished I lived back then." I have often stopped to remind them that, unless they were of the wealthy class, they would not have lived like the wealthy plantation owners. I have also reminded them that there was no air conditioning back then, and there was no mosquito control.

I still live in the southeast of the United States of America, where there remains prejudice about the color of one's skin, even among people of color. The plantation tours are mostly presented as "the good old days" of our nation when "coloreds" knew their places. For this reason, I have recommended the Laura Plantation tour above the tours of the more opulent plantations. Laura Plantation preserves and explains the plight of the enslaved individuals.

Today, I toured Whitney Plantation, restored as a museum of enslaved humans.  Viewing Forrest Nash's clay replicas of enslaved children, taken from actual enslaved children's photographs, kept me on the verge of tears, even without their narratives.

On the grounds, there are several memorials to the plantation's slaves, presented much like the Vietnam Memorial walls. The big difference is that the enslaved individuals' real cultural names are not listed; neither do any of those honored on these walls have last names. There is no way for any of these names to lead to the origins of one's family.

The most heart-wrenching space was the Field of Angels, a courtyard with walls naming children who were born into and died in slavery. "The Angel" by sculptor Rod Moorhead depicts an obviously black angel cradling a baby on which the angel looks with anguish. If my heart hadn't already been broken, this would have destroyed my composure.

I look at my World Pulse sisters in Africa and I see their faces and those of their children in the faces I saw today. I read stories from my World Pulse citizen journalist sisters about human trafficking still happening on our shared earth, and I want to vomit out the evil of those who call themselves human.

I retain hope because I see my sisters of color standing up and making changes in their own areas. I remain frustrated by those who continue to follow ancient religious beliefs that adore deities with blood lust and rage against their own creations.

My greatest ambition is to bring the voices of all who live by The Sacred Spirit of responsible compassion to one conversation with those who believe in rule by fear. Bonding of Spirit is so much stronger than blood bonding or sharing of religious rituals. This is the lesson that must be taught to all who wish to be, not only homo sapiens, but fully human.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Bible and Beatings

I was taught, from before birth, that God is a jealous and vengeful father who uses brutal force as a way to keep his children in line. The early books of the Roman Catholic Bible were full of instances where the men who drew the most blood from their children were favored most by God. Abraham even assented to kill his own son as an offering to his Heavenly Father.

Our churches, school rooms, Bible, and “holy cards” were full of images of the wrath of God . We had  pictures of Jesus brandishing a whip to rid the temple of money changers.  The power and authority of God the Father was passed on to us by the priests, whom we were to call “Father” and our own male parents, uncles, grandparents, and brothers.  

Just like Abraham, males were considered immune to the rules of monogamy and chastity. The “Divine right of kings” to deflower virgins filtered from God to our male authority figures. Women were to constantly seek ways to purify themselves and their children, in order to please the fathers, both in Heaven and on earth.

According to my mother, the first time I was beaten by my male parent was at the age of nine months. Is it any wonder that I kept silent as my male parent drew blood with beating of his many other children with belts, whips, and shoes? The wrath of our mother was filtered through our male parent, adding to the wrath he already displayed.

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as my mother counted our transgressions and devised tortures, such as drinking our own urine and kneeling for several hours at a time in gravel;  reporting all her “injuries” from her children to her husband so that he could beat them into submission to her and her church.

What power did I possess to stop our male parent when he kicked my oldest brother across the room while our mother silently looked on?

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as the eldest son began to taste my feminine flesh as I slept and demand that I taste his male flesh upon my awakening?

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as the priests placed their hands and lips on private places of me and my sisters?

Is it any wonder that the full six-year-old class, including the teacher, remained silent as the “Mother Superior” and principle of our school, took down a classmate’s pants and beat his naked flesh with a yardstick, in front of the whole class?

When I did attempt to speak out, I was told that the sanctity of the family and the church were more important than the actions of any man. I was told that I was arrogant and that I had a “big mouth.” I was told that I must keep quiet about what happened in the privacy of the offices of the priests and our home.  My mother and the other mothers in the family warned that I was endangering my mother’s tenuous hold on sanity.  In short, I was told to “Shut up!”

When I became a wife, I made sure that I married a man without a violent temper. Unfortunately, he also expected me to shut up and serve him and his family and friends whatever favors they wanted.  I thought this was what a “good wife” was supposed to do, until his friends started demanding sexual favors.  I became afraid in my own home.

When I became a mother, men continued stalking me, threatening to harm my child if I didn’t succumb to the sexual demands.  My mother was sure that I was bringing these issues upon myself. I was at a crossroads where I did not know how to be an obedient wife and a monogamous marriage partner. My moods became very erratic

When I realized that I was taking my frustrations out on my small daughter, I sought counseling. The counselor, a “Christian” hospital chaplain, also thought that I should be shared in sex.  My obstetrician/gynecologist told me that I should stop thinking and take up tennis. After the birth of my second child, a son, I ran away from my husband and my mother. I had no education, no work history, and no voice, but I thought I could at least bring up my children to follow a different family design than that in which I was brought up.

Little did I know that most of the earth was still telling women to “Shut up!” Only my children were forced to hear my voice. I struggled daily with fear of my own children, as my daughter was favored by her father and my mother; and my son was a male from a family of men who acted as sexual predators. The hardest thing in parenting is knowing that one must break from the mold in which one has lived all one’s life, especially when there is no support network in place to teach a different way of working and being. Every minute of every day, I had to question my own actions.

My mother is dead, as is her husband, and our oldest brother. As a last stroke of evil against her children, our mother gave a gift of cash upon her death to one favorite child, demanding that her injustice be kept secret.  Secrets are never really safe in families.

The ongoing cycle of family favoritism and hatred is well-documented in Biblical texts, yet we continue to follow the lead of the ancestors that came to power through infidelity and brute force.  Isn’t it time that we redefine what it means to embody The Sacred Spirit upon our shared earth? Isn’t it time that we admit that violence, in any form, is anti-sacred?

Isn’t it time that we stop stooping to the paradigms of power accepted by those who were just learning what it meant to be called upon to be something more than animals? Full humans don’t act only on instinct, following the alpha members of our tribes. Full humans bond with others on earth, based on a set of social contracts that promote harmony with all on earth (in the whole universe?)

Isn’t it time that we take compassionate responsibility for ourselves, our actions, and our shared earth? To give one’s life is to faithfully serve, not to offer one’s life’s blood in one great show of martyrdom.  If we discipline ourselves, the examples we set will draw others to us. This is how we create peace on earth, one baby step at a time. Commitment in continued action is what love is really all about.

I have officially defected from the religion of my parents and have broken with all my siblings. This is the only way that the evil energy of our parents isn’t still visited upon me and my family. I have discovered that there many who want to hear my voice, and I will continue to speak out for a new way to define what it means to belong to The Sacred Universal Embodiment of Energy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

We Are All Infinite

PeaceNext, the Facebook presence of The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, presents an organization “Faiths Against Hate.” It is my belief that hate comes from fear, and that fear has been the central power among religions for centuries. The question in my mind is, “How do we move from fear-based authority to compassionate bonding-based authority and partnerships?”

Parents do need to enforce boundaries based on our beliefs, which are enforced by our rituals. To expose our children to beliefs and practices that we don’t understand causes fear. How can we protect our children from influences that we don’t understand?

I know that many don’t believe in evolution, but I believe it is important to believe that with each succeeding generation of homo sapiens, we have passed on knowledge not available to previous generations.  Our offspring do not only absorb our animal instincts, but are also taught what we know and pass on to them. Why would we teach hate if we were not afraid of losing our children?

Understanding of each other and all that we encounter is the answer to fear. This is why I am constantly looking for common values among those who claim to be religious people. Understanding and responsible, responsive compassion is the only core of religious practice that seems to cross all ethnic and religious boundaries; the rest is divisive tribalism.

I will always be protective of the boundaries in which I am comfortable. Now that I am finished bringing up my own children, I am free to expand the boundaries in which I live. I am secure in my own values; therefore, I can freely move, without fear, among many other sets of values. My comfort with expanded boundaries creates discomfort in many of my former “tribe,” but this is not a source of discomfort for me.

I will not follow anyone or system that controls or leads with fear. I will welcome death before I accept a life of fearful submission to a jealous, angry, vengeful, or blood-thirsty figure of authority. I Am ∞ because we all are.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sacred Secrets of Love

The miracle of the relationship I share with my husband is a source of constant gratitude and amazement to me. Our life partnership is the center of our sacred space. We have lost several physical homes, but our spiritual home is in each others’ aura. Through our lives together, I have come to define “Love” as responsible and responsive compassion for another.

 The secret is that we are both totally naked emotionally.  We have been able to use the wounds in our individual spirits to find places to graft on the strength of each other.  We are truly one tree that puts out great amounts of the fruits of our combined spirits.  We are well-grounded in a community of friends who help nurture us.

The mark of a sacred love, in my opinion, is how much it branches out to shelter and feed others who come in contact with the couple.  This continued giving of ourselves requires that we set aside times to celebrate and renew the intense energy of our bond. In this manner, we assure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that nurturing and celebrating our relationship is the first priority in our ability to serve others.

Just as we do with important other people in our lives, we make appointments to be alone with each other. We honor these appointments like many honor religious gatherings or business meetings. Neither of us has any problem telling people that I have certain times set aside for our private time. He is, after all my partner in every area of my life, including financial aspects.

Success in life and love all depend on placing and honoring our priorities. Perhaps if we stopped calling each other husband, wife, father, mother, and simply called each other life and parenting partners we, and others, would take our relationships more seriously.

Would one do any less to maintain a Fortune 500 company? I think not.