Community and empathy are as inherent in and definitional of human being as body and mind. To be human is to be empathically bound together in communities.
The question I am seeking to answer in these posts is, How do we live more compassionately with each other and all beings? The danger in this question is the tendency, rooted in currently dominant and seemingly commonsense assumptions about “human nature,” to think that compassion and words associated with it—for instance, empathy and love—refer to virtues that we must learn, achieve, or strive to possess. In fact, as sociobiologists and anthropologists, such as Sara Blaffer Hrdy, observe, we human beings are born empathizing or feeling with, each other, including with (com) each other’s suffering (passion). We don’t survive outside of familial and communal meshes of compassionate interactions. The first answer to my question is thus that the foundational practices for becoming more compassionate are identifying, attending to, and affirming the everyday ways we and others are already compassionately interacting.
In this article, in response to three questions, I define democracy, describe the major current threats to democracy in the United States, and discuss how to respond to these threats.
abstract: Hedges’ claim that “the Christian Right” has contaminated “the Christian religion“ with “aspects” of “American” society—“imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, violence and bigotry”— that are alien to Christianity is historically false. These evils have characterized the most dominant strands of Christianity throughout its history. Hedges’ denunciation of the Christian right as heretical implicitly enacts an orthodoxy that has authorized and even required Christian “imperialism, … chauvinism, violence and bigotry.” When Hedges denounces the Christian right as heretical, he implicitly uses the orthodox logic that equates imperial might with sacred rightness, precisely the logic that the historical Jesus, according to a great deal of historical evidence, subverted.
After the tyrant’s assault
and a night of daymares and occasional sleep
i wake to the beep! beep! beep! of a car alarm
into reality as democracy
In “What We Believe” (https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/), the organizers of The Black Lives Matter Global Network explicitly commit themselves to work to “build and nurture a beloved community,” which is another name for what I call a sustainable domesticity—a way of making the world a home in which all of us and our families can flourish for generations to come. In this and the following posts, I am going to comment on each part of the statement because I have not found a clearer, more inspiring, articulation of what the work involved in nurturing a sustainable domesticity requires.
While abusive police practices disproportionately injure and destroy the bodies, families, homes, and communities of Blacks, Native Americans, other people of color, and immigrants, police have, in responding to recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, often used violent measures against and have incarcerated non-violent White, as well as Black, protestors and others, including journalists, while they have usually not used such measures against gun-wielding white nationalists protesting stay-at-home orders. These different responses expose an historical dynamic Thandeka and other researchers on “whiteness” have identified as lying at the heart of white racism in America. The owner class, which was and remains a small minority of the population, deliberately constructed and continues to promote white racism as a means of dividing and controlling the very large majority of people who are not members of the owner class. (Thandeka, Learning to be White, Bloomsbury, 2000).
I am writing today over a month after the white policemen, Derek Chauvin, murdered the African-American, George Floyd. Since then, Black Lives Matter protests across the country and around the world have been daily events.
As a number of people have observed, the murder, the demonstrations, and the violence expose the systemic white racism that has destroyed and continues to destroy millions upon millions of lives since European conquerors and colonists set foot on the land now described as the United States of America almost five hundred years ago.
I am beginning this series of posts on domesticity anew in the midst of five related global responses to five related global crises: the Black Lives Matters movement that responds to systemic racism, and especially police assaults and murders of people of color; the movement to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19; the MeToo movement that responds to systemic sexism, and especially the harassment, assault, and rape of women; the movements to respond to the current economic and political crises that expose the injustice and cruelty of dominant political and economic systems; and the movements that respond the climate and extinction crises that are already extinguishing vast numbers of species and threaten to make our earth uninhabitable for vast numbers more, as well as for most of our descendants.
bereft, one wanders
off the path, one arrives here
where the ocean breathes