Monday, September 26, 2011

Personal Salvation

Yesterday at spiritual service, I heard a woman yell out "Jesus Christ is my personal savior" as she left the building in the midst of the sermon. Now, it could have been that the sermon was being delivered by a woman that so incensed this person, but as that was apparent from the beginning, it seems unlikely. No, something tells me that when Ms. Mason declared our synonymous spiritual state with the divine and that we are therefore our own saviors, that this crossed the line. 

 

For those unaware of my background, I grew up fundamentalist Christian, wholly sold to the system of belief that stated my intrinsic nature was sinful and an affront to the divine, redeemable only because a part of that very divine had subjected himself to torture and death for the purposes of providing an avenue for eventual reunion with him in glory. I was to believe that the innermost aspect of my being was a cesspool of spiritual deplorability, fit only for eternal destruction. For those who neither attempt to teach their children this way of thinking, unconsciously noting that to do so would lead I believe to actions on the wrong side of emotional child abuse, nor practice it themselves, acting instead that at some level they really are good people who make bad decisions because of circumstance, this focus on the supposed depraved nature of humanity may come as a surprise, albeit one with a niggling amount of internal discomfort. However, commitment to such thinking seems inevitable for purposes of consistency, if the aforementioned assumption is believed.

 

Hearing that woman cry out reminded me of that thinking, for years now relegated to the trash-heap of ideological notions, a place reserved for any and all thoughts that at their core about taking away personal power, achievement and love. Thankfully, and entirely unbeknownst to the woman, her statement brought a smile to my face upon reflection.  While she may feel a vehement desire to retain a belief in her own lack, the truth, liberating in its naturalness and all-encompassing in its focus on the interconnectivity of the universe, that we are not powerless, that salvation is not an end-goal to achieve but a current reality to more fully experience, washed over me anew. 

 

Once one admits to the truth of spirituality, wholly natural in its home of cognitive transcendence, being an intrinsic part of the human experience, the power lies in realizing that to fill up that space is a choice we each have before us. Upbringing may instill a sense of spiritual failure, of a need to constantly pit oneself against the forces of evil running the world, of personal destruction through martyrdom as a means of indicating one's dedication, the continuation of these beliefs are not necessary. Like the butterfly caccooning itself, so each person can withdraw within to see the beauty that makes life worth living, the power that drives each of us, despite the seemingly unlimited obstacles before us, to continue down a path that began amongst the millions of sperm seeking that egg, and, with that realization shed our thoughts of lack and spring forth to let the butterfly wings of our spirit take flight. 

 

Yes, Jesus may be considered a savior, but in the same sense that, as a fellow human being, we all are. Practicing that understanding will lead less to verbal expulsions of outrage and more towards symphonic vibrations of joy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Land Divided, A People Scorned


There is no greater declaration of the intransigence of the conflict concerning Palestinian statehood than this statement by Israeli settler Meir Bartler, 25: "We don't care what they're up to at the U.N. We have the bible, which says the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people." Real negotiation cannot occur when one or more parties identities themselves with a power structure outside of human consideration. By invoking Deity, the conflict becomes about religious identificaton rather than a dissimilarity of wants/desires that, while different, are still discernable from a rational critique.


Deity in this situation is about a power-play, but one that is different than that being done by Mahmoud Abbas in his bid to the U.N. Abbas, whatever his ulterior motives, is noting that the international stage is the only legitimate one for this conflict to be dealt with and that being done through the laws and statutes created by consensus and discourse. The usage of Deity in this context of invoking a particular interpretation of a "holy book" is to deny the legitimacy of the human element and place the conflict in a realm of the supernatural, untouchable by reason and leaving open only the avenue of force.

 

This issue of force is tacitly accepted by the United States. By dealing with the Palestinian government as an entity without a state, there is an inherent lack of power to their position where consideration of their desires/demands are second to that of the established country of Israel. To have a place to call one's own is not simply a matter of personal identity but one that is considered by others as consonant with mature development. "Leaving one's mark" on the world is a western goal denied to the Palestinian people that, while they may not share completely, is still determinative of how they are looked at by the self-appointed nations rooting for negotiation, e.g. the U.S., Russia, and European Union. Proper negotiations will inevitably bring with it expectations of give and take, but when one side begins from a position of lack already, the giving is seen as already disproportionate, a fact Israel continues to exploit by building settlements over what they know to be land associated with future Palestinian statehood. Put another way, if two brothers have a sandbox and the older one tells the younger to play on one side but continues to push their toys into it, the younger will of course be understandably incensed at this blatant display of contempt. 

 

The United States, in its declaration that any vote on Palestinian statehood will be met with a veto, loses their moral stance for the intrinsic freedoms inherent to all human beings. They are not "god given" but an inherent reality that people possess by their identity as homo sapiens. In denying Palestinians a real place at the table of geo-politics, the United States implictly endorses the continuation of divine power usage rather than the rational principles belonging to the procedure of negotiation they are explicitly supporting.