Tag Archives: Current Events

Aside

Well, it’s been too many months since I attended to this blog.  The spring gets crazy on the farm, and riding takes precedence over writing often when the weather gets good.  But now….something is happening in my beloved funky tolerant Albuquerque that it drives me to communicate, to reach out, to proclaim to the world how deeply disturbed we should all be by these events.

What’s happening?  An organization called Voices for Family Values, a “nonprofit, nondenominational” organization that states on its website that its mission “. . .  is to promote Biblical worldview. . . ” is organizing a drive to pass a 20+ week abortion ban in the city of Albuquerque by a ballot initiative.  They need 15,000 signatures to get this on the ballot. They are hoping to pass a city ordinance in order to do an end run around our state legislature, which has consistently refused to limit the rights of New Mexican women to a complete range of therapeutic options for their health care.  Since Albuquerque is by far the biggest city in the state, and is the home of the majority of the abortion providers, they think they will thus be able to indirectly end late-term abortion options in New Mexico.

In the meantime, the fundy nut cases are poised to descend upon us.  An antiabortion extremist group, the “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust”, based in California, are planning to come to Albuquerque and launch an assault on our local providers August 5th -10th.  These folks are really dangerous. They have been linked to bombings of clinics and murders of providers.  I will be standing with the clinics on those days, doing what I can do to keep the patients and their family members or friends safe, as well as the providers. Since their website posts photos of the three women who provide these services at the targeted clinic, I would consider them a direct threat to life and safety.

I am disturbed on so many levels by this kind of cruelty, by “political action” designed to intimidate, threaten, harass, or harm other people who are making choices and taking actions of which these folks disapprove.  This particular action has potential to make tragic circumstances far, far worse for a lot of people and families who struggle with making the decision to abort an advanced pregnancy.

Only about 2% of abortions are done after 20 weeks in the US.  88% of abortions are completed in the first trimester.  The risk factors for later abortion include Black race, younger age, less education, domestic violence victimization, and life chaos (defined by researchers as having 3 or more severe life events in one year.) Many of these women do not have access to resources of knowledge, information, or money, and that causes a delay in care.   And then there are those families who find out in the 5th month that their child is in some way severely defective, some to the point of nonsurvivable flaws.  And here in New Mexico, there is another problem:  rurality.  Women in rural areas must travel to seek this care.  It takes time, it takes money, and it takes being absent for a couple of days.  For some people. those conditions are very difficult to arrange.

All this is to say, women don’t have later abortions because they want to make their unborn child suffer.  Blaming those whose lives already are difficult and frightening because they don’t react quickly to a new problem is ludicrous. It’s unkind. It’s just plain mean.  Why not work on providing outreach and services to help women learn about their bodies so they will know how to avoid pregnancy and how to tell when they are pregnant?  Why not support women who are in need of pregnancy termination with kindness? They will never forget their decision, or their abortion experience, or their nonborn child, I assure you.  Bludgeoning them with barriers such as no health insurance, no local providers, slutshaming judgments hurled without knowledge of the true circumstances, only increases their pain.  It’s cruel.

I will be actively working to squelch this law, and to defend these women and their health providers from the forces of allegedly-Christian judgment and harassment.  And I will be back to blogging, because I have just had it with women, and pagans, and other non-privileged non-dominant members of our society being harassed and silenced. I am angry that the First Amendment, which as enforced at present provides only precarious protection for those  of us who belong to non-Abrahamic religions, is being used to justify the implementation of Christian fundamentalism as public policy.  I am sick to death of misogyny.  Women are the faces, and the bodies, and the hands and voices of the Divine Feminine, and I can no longer be silent while my Goddess is being abused.

All of my reactions on this issue relate directly to my spiritual path.  As a witch, I have a deep reverence for life, and for the miracle that is a woman’s body.  I have a strong belief in self-responsibility and the imperative that people must make their own choices in order to advance themselves both spiritually and in the mundane world.  I understand that death is not an ending, and that life and death must exist in balance.  I know that science and spirituality can co-exist, and syncretically augment our understandings of the inner and outer worlds.  And I know that the Divine, by whatever name you may know it, is also Love.  And Love is kind and helpful, not cruel, exclusionary, judgmental, and violent.  It saddens me that there are folks out there who cannot act with forbearance and generosity, particularly when they claim to follow a prophet who was himself kind, humble, generous, and nonjudgmental.

I am not interested in changing anyone’s spiritual path or beliefs. But I will stand with the Goddess to defend the vulnerable from attack and to keep these fundamentalists from imposing their bizarre, mean-spirited, scientifically unsupportable ideas about appropriate health care decision-making on others.  If you would like to join me, please email and I will make sure you are informed about any local opportunities for advocacy or support.

May the Lady of Love and the Lord of Light bring all of you support and strength when you need it.

Reproductive Rights and the Goddess

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Tragedy and compassion amid the short attention span society

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On Friday, a gunman went into an elementary school about 40 miles from where I grew up.  He got through the locked security door because they knew him: the school was where his mother (whom he had already murdered) had worked.  On gaining entry, he systematically murdered more than two dozen people, most of them children under 10 years old, before killing himself.

Now, the internet is alive with all sorts of memes and debates. The categories I’ve noted so far are: pro and con gun control; prayers and condolences to the families and community most directly affected; social commentary on why these things happen;  and, amazingly, discussion of whether it is “respectful” to the bereaved to even talk about how to prevent such things.  Some folks have “acted” abruptly:  the Michigan legislature immediately “tweaked” their gun laws to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom, stating that this would “prevent” such things as happened in Newtown.

So let’s talk about prevention. Let’s talk about gun related violence in our society. Let’s talk about mental illness, and the fact that we do not have any effective system for identifying and treating people who are high risk for violent outbursts.  Let’s talk about the growing inequities in our society and how they breed alienation and violent behavior.  Let’s talk about how we glorify murderers and other monsters in the press, giving the otherwise anonymous the fame that so many of our people seem to crave like crack.

But we better do all this quickly. Because the tragedy of the week will wane. People will think they did something because they posted a meme of a child/angel or a candle to their Facebook wall.  Politicians will object to “politicizing” this problem, because they would have deal with it that way, and they are far too interested in sucking up to their donors rather than serving their nation.  They should be leading us into solutions for the dreadful social conditions and access to murderous tools that cause these episodes to happen over and over again, but instead they will keep taking money from health insurance companies and gun manufacturers, from all the big money interests who are growing rich from the tragic status quo.

A few weeks down the road, the families who lost their children, the town that lost its innocent belief in safety, will still be reeling, but the American public will have moved on to the next episode of whatever the media tells them is important at the moment.  Few if any of the internet commenters who claim it’s time to do something will ever even bother to send an email to a legislator about this tragedy.   And we’ll keep not dealing with our social problems, and not dealing with reasonable limitations on the availability of weapons, because we just don’t  actually want to do the work to tease apart the underlying issues. We will stay mired in our factionalism, unable to come together productively even on such a no-brainer as “mass murder  is wrong and should be prevented”.

I’m not going to tease apart all the issues, and tell you what my perfect solution would be (and imply that you’re some kind of idiot or moral failure if you don’t agree with me).  There are plenty of people out there on the internet doing just that, if that’s what you want to read.  I am only going to ask one thing of any of you who are talking about this mess:

What are you, personally, going to DO?

The end of the world, the beginning of the world

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ixtab

It’s 12-12-12.  For some reason the odd coincidence of this date’s numbers has people excited. So does the fact that the Mayan calendar ends on 12/21/12.

Now, one could argue that the Mayan world ended a long time ago, so fretting about this is kind of like my house burning down but being upset because the calendar that survived will end later that year.  Why is the Mayan calendar ending? Well, one reason is that the Mayans were destroyed a long time ago, so they haven’t had a chance to update it lately.

Another reason is because this is a cusp between two ages in Mayan time.  It’s the sensible time to take down the Quetzalcoatl calendar and put up the new one featuring pictures of Ixtab, the suicide goddess (always depicted with a noose around her neck).  We are moving into a new age, allegedly one in which humans will transcend all our flaws and learn to connect with each other spiritually to create beauty and harmony on earth (or on other noncorporeal planes, depending on the exact New Agey myth you buy into).  We will move into a place of wisdom in which we are able to claim our true birthright as magical and spiritual beings.  We will give up materialism and cruelty and social inequity and economic definitions of human worth.  We will transcend the mundane.

Some folks have pretty entertaining ideas about how this will play out. I’ve been told (apparently in all seriousness) that Jesus Christ is one of the rulers of the universe now, part of some kind of Cosmic Coordinating Committee that is talking to the New Agers through channelers.  Oh, he goes by a different name now as a member of the CCC, but they know who he really is….must be the bloody robes that gave him away.  Hard to travel incognito with stigmata.

And what do I think?  Well, I think that all of the above ideas about where we’re headed are probably right (except the Jesus thing and the CCC).  Being a witch, I embrace science, and I am a firm Darwinist.  It makes sense to me that we would evolve in our capacities.

We no longer allow evolution of our physical bodies in the “first world”. We devote a great deal of resources to facilitating the survival of flawed physical bodies of children with what should be fatal birth disorders, to helping people with clear severe  physical flaws reproduce anyway.  Nature can be harsh if left to her own devices, and we’ve chosen not to do that.  So….our bodies are what they are.  We aren’t selecting for the strongest, most functional, healthiest bodies any more.  If we didn’t have appendectomies, we would probably eventually not have appendices.  But we do, so we’ll keep them, and a bunch of other physical risk factors that eventually would breed out of a naturally selecting animal population.

So our evolution will have to be on some other plane of our existence, because the one thing I am sure of is movement.  Nothing stays the same.  “She changes everything she touches, and, everything she touches changes.”  So if we are not evolving as a species physically anymore, what’s left? Our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and our psychic capabilities.  But evolution is a slow process, and this kind of evolution takes work, and who wants more work?

Humans have an odd habit of picking a certain day when everything will get better all of a sudden.  Thinking the Golden Yak will swim up the bathroom drain is easier than thinking one might have to go out and create one’s own soap scum (thank you Ren and Stimpy).  Magical thinking is adorable in toddlers, but annoying in adults.  Life does not get better suddenly without our effort.

And in some respects, it won’t be able to get better no matter what transcendence happens nine days from now.  The best and most cogently analyzed climate change data appears to indicate that it is basically too late to fix that problem, or to moderate our behavior so we are not accelerating it as extremely.  Long after I am dead, but probably not before my friends’ children are old, the water levels will rise and the climate changes  that go along with this will result in a complete inability to maintain our current “civilization”.  I think of the earth as a sleeping dog and humans as fleas. Eventually she will yawn and stretch, and scratch vigorously, and the irritating pests that have thought they were in command will be destroyed.  A tragic apocalypse for the fleas, a momentary annoyance for the dog.  The earthquakes caused by fracking, the floods and megastorms caused by polar ice cap melting, are just the first yawns and twitches.  Just wait until she stands up and shakes herself off.

Apocalypse predictions are not new.  In 634 BCE, the Romans thought their city would end as a result of the mistaken analysis of a prophecy involving 12 eagles.  Turned out 1 eagle ≠ 10 years.   An understandable mistake, right?  And we keep coming up with this kind of stuff. In the past ten years alone, the earth failed to end and the “rapture” failed to occur and the aliens failed to show up dozens of times.

For some reason, humans place a great deal of weight on calendars.  Which are, of course, something we made up in order to convince ourselves that we are in control of time’s mysteries (and to make sure we all get to the drum circle at the same time).  So looking at certain dates as auspicious simply because of their numbers is completely circular reasoning.  Why is the date 12-12-12?  Not because of some numerological miracle, because we numbered it that way!  It could as easily be 328/213/99, if the calendar had been designed differently.  So imputing received wisdom to this kind of thing is just plain silly.

But we keep doing it.  And getting our hopes up for a transcendent change in humanity that will happen because it’s a certain date.  So we won’t have to fix anything in our day to day lives, individually or collectively, and we won’t have to work on becoming wiser, better, stronger, and more beautiful,  because all of a sudden one day things will miraculously turn into something better for everyone – or for those few who believe the same delusion as me, anyway, and who cares about the ones who are wrong?  Often, the prophesy indicates that the others, the ones we don’t like or don’t agree with, will be swept away, leaving the earth/humanity/Age of Aquarius/end times/(insert post-apocalyptic vision of your choice here) to those the prophet likes.  So belief in a lot of these prophecies boils down to:  I don’t want to work hard to improve myself or my society, but I would like it very much if everyone that I disagree with would be killed suddenly, and me and my friends would take over, and then we wouldn’t be held back by Them anymore, and we would all become divine beings and fix our problems and live happily  ever after.

Guess what? It’s not going to happen.  No matter what 12/21/12,  or any of the other myriad projected apocalypse dates already on the calendar, brings, we are still going to have to learn to deal with those we don’t like or agree with. We’re  going to have to learn to project the outcomes of our actions and inactions, and use those projections to make responsible choices for the future of all beings.

Each day a new world forms around us.  Each day, old ideas and technologies die and new ones take their place.  Change is incremental, not apocalyptic.  We can sit on our duffs and lazily wait for a catapult to launch us into some fantasy of the ideal world, or we can start walking toward it on our own two feet.