Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Common Thread

I dislike having to categorize where one day's writing goes versus another. Organizing my journal feels like splitting hairs. There's just one of me, why did I sprout twenty-two labels on this blog and why do I have two blogs? As diverse as the thoughts, feelings and happenings are that prompt me to write, there's a part of me that resists categories and acknowledging divisions. I don't like politics of any kind. For years I managed to pretend politics were of no account, but there is no realm where they do not seem to penetrate. School yard, grocery, bookstore, doctor's office, church, where can one go? Yes, even my notebooks...but I long to just spin and weave with a common thread... I say...with my own embroidery in mind.

Don't get me wrong about wanting to ignore divisions, boundaries are good things. For your visual and mental convenience, I've even started a new paragraph here, hoping to protect all of us from blurry thinking. I see boundaries in nature....niches of functional richness, spacial and temporal and seasonal variations of an environment both allow and limit what grows, and who sings or crawls in any particular place.

Gretchen Johanna at Gladsome Lights leaned on George Bernard Shaw to solve her dilemma of categories : "Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life..." wrote Shaw and so G. J., acknowledging her debt, labeled her archive of posts "Crude Classifications." That helps me, remembering that many of our divisions are but "crude."

Here is an example of the ubiquitous nature of politics: I recently read an interview of a young author,editor. publisher who among other literary efforts, compiled and edited a book of birth stories. Here she is discussing feedback she's received.

Despite the fact that I didn't have a political agenda when I edited the book, I've noticed that people do have a political response to the book. I didn't have any criteria for the essays except that I wanted each essay I selected to reach the highest literary standards. I've found Christians who like the pro-natal aspect of the book but object to the fact that I've included a couple of essays by lesbians. Natural or home birth proponents have objected to the fact that I include hospital births in the book. And hospital birth proponents have argued that the book is biased towards natural birth. Whatever. About half the births in the book are hospital births and half are natural births so I don’t see how there could be a “bias” from either side. And I included essays by Christians, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and who knows what. I honestly didn't care about that part of it. I just wanted to show that whatever TYPE of birth a person experiences, and no matter what spiritual persuasion a person has, the process of giving birth is life-affirming (even when a baby dies, as happens with one of the birth stories in the book) and that process changes men and women in profound and measurable ways.

I take her at her word, she either didn't have an agenda or was not fully conscious of it, but either way she has set out on an up hill battle. I see her desire; she's looking for a common thread and she, not a mother herself, chose to edit a book focused on something that we each and all do in fact have in common, being birthed. Other of her ventures reveal that she is neither unaware of nor ignores the divisive facts of life; it's more like she's willing to head into the eye of the storm in hopes of transcending them.

But of course it is very political to write about anything primal because the body politic wants control and claim over anything of the essence. That is a very old story. It does no good to proclaim our innocence, even if sitting home sewing crib quilts for peace, the critics , representing a full spectrum of goodwill to skulduggery are likely to come and point out how one's underlying assumptions are revealed by every choice, by what one has deigned to include or exclude. It is out of our assumptions that our more specific and concrete beliefs arise. And our beliefs do shape our methods and if we are worth our salt, so to speak, then our methods ought to line up and bring about our goals. Not to just circle about here, but those goals, in a life of purpose should be a practical reflection of the most primary assumptions, the foundation of our being. As tempting as it is to try and ignore politics, there is a war going on.

Divisions themselves are full spectrum, from positive and purposeful to destructive profligate, and within one division others often occur; while occasionally reunions or offers thereof do happen.

The wires of communication are hotly lit of late with news and opinions about the the recent offer that the Roman Catholic Pope has made to priests and parishioners fleeing the Episcopal Church. While some focus on the divisions that exist between these two ( three, four ?) bodies established over the last four hundred plus years, I read one analysis that explores some of the forces in the world that these entities struggle with. Richard Fernandez describes, in Lighting of the Beacons, some of the division and competition he sees this way: "From one side, there is the religion which pretends to be a political movement — socialism/communism. From the other flank there is the political movement which pretends to be a religion — Islam. Both religions have massive amounts of money, heavy weaponry and great cultural power."

It's an impressive essay, but I won't quote more of it here because it needs to be read in its entirety to be appreciated. Fernandez receives hundreds of comments within hours of posting on his web log. Many of the comments are essays unto themselves, some quite worthy of attention.

As I said, the thoughts, feelings and happenings that prompt me to write are diverse and as tempted as I am to resist nailing things down categorically, there is a difference between splitting hairs and seeing the real fissures in the world. It's a big conversation to enter and I never do so without trepidation but I trust that ultimately, whether in the wild or the civilizations of man, not one bird is forgotten and the hairs on our heads are counted. And I aim to lean into the word found in a letter to the Romans 12:18:
In as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men
In other words, while standing amongst clear distinctions, it's also up to us to find a common thread.


Gretchen Joanna said...

I know that you are gifted and skilled in this business of finding the common thread, or points of connection with other humans. And in this piece you also effectively bring together various events and writings to show how they might be part of one thread.

Ethel Rohan said...

Interesting post, thank you. Thank you also for visiting my blog and commenting: you nailed it.

How ever did you stumble across my blog? In any event I'm glad you did.


Its ME said...

In writing of books there is no end, in fact, vanity of vanities prevail in all political life, since we were born. It is never too late to reflect on the many thread which you highlighted and I do agree with many of your well defined points , especially personal opinions which may need more experience to enlighten the posts which one find in your blog(s). Yeah, it is never too late. The present is just the beginning. Blog on and listen to your heart , Jeanette. Smile.