Subduing the earth and the Republican war against women

March 31, 2013

They seem to me to come out of the same place, the urge to “subdue” the earth and to interfere with a woman’s self-determination.  When they gets enshrined in religion, or couched in terms of claims to divine support, well, then to me, it just looks like the reduction of religion to an expression of conflicted feelings towards parents.

Some people apparently have difficulty with the fact that they were once dependent on their mothers.  While I don’t think mothers experience this as a power relationship, maybe some adolescents don’t realize that, if they themselves are going through a stage of experiencing their relationship with their parents as a power struggle.  The mothers of some people die in childbirth, and I imagine that would complicate feelings towards one’s mother.  Attitudes such as these I think have crept into accounts of our world and our place in it in religious texts and political platforms.

What I speculate from my layperson’s armchair is that some of this “subdue the earth, restrict women” attitude comes from trying to destroy the thing itself the reaction to which is making the reactor uncomfortable.  “Kill the messenger” is a similar strategy.

A way to avoid doing this is to be more aware of the emotional roots of one’s behavior.

I had a friend who became a widow about three years before I did, and she, an intelligent, savvy, and wealthy businesswoman, used to tell me how she avoided opening envelopes that came in the mail, or even giving them to her financial adviser or accountant.  She was able to gently laugh at herself, and eventually. I think, when she was ready to deal with the tangled issues, she and her team did.  Some of the issues weren’t easy, and she had that widow experience during some of the untangling of feeling, for all the pieces of help one is given, she was still alone in a way she wasn’t before.

With looking into our more abstract envelopes, we may find tangled issues, too, but they are likewise amenable to being untangled.  I think the difficult emotional experience that people may be trying to avoid there is seeing the world as it is.  For all our human desire to have changed things so that we control what we want to control, we don’t and we won’t.  But that’s a good thing, I think, because, really, I think we have no idea what we’re doing because we perceive so little of the big picture.

One particular guide I would offer is to distinguish a painful experience from one that “shouldn’t happen” — the former is an all-too-large category, the latter I’m not sure even exists.  Like water encountering obstacles as it runs down to the sea, the issue is how we respond to things.  I think we’re here to learn, not to enjoy life as if it were some carnival ride, or to try to change the “ride.”  But that’s just my own sense of things.

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