10.12.2009

I'm not a divider, am I?

I beheld leaves within the unfathomed blaze
Into one volume bound by love, the same
That the universe holds scattered through its maze.
Substance and accidents, and their modes, became
As if fused together, all in such wise
That what I speak of is one simple flame.
That's from Dante's Paradiso. Because, see, almost nobody sees the one simple flame anymore--at least, almost no Americans. Indeed, it might almost be said that the one thing uniting America is everyone's entrenched belief that they themselves are not like other Americans.

I value my friend Mxrk's blog for how explicit it is in making this division clear. Mxrk isn't hoping to win Republicans over to his side -- he's hoping to whip his fellow Democrats into a frenzy by instigating laughter at the expense of Republicans. He sees no possibility for reconciliation. He gets points for speaking candidly, honestly.

Then there's MSNBC and Fox News. There's the Sunday morning talk-shows, on which you can find pundits whose lines are even more predictable and scripted than the lines doled out on MTV's The Hills. George Will, what do you think? Paul Krugman, what's your opinion? Nary a surprise to be found.

Similarly with regard to the race dialog. Few black people are anything but embarrassed by Booker T. Washington's 1895 speech at the Atlanta Exposition where he told black people and white people to cast down their buckets where they stand. Instead, most white people will do anything they can to buy homes in all-white neighborhoods (insisting all the while that it's about property value), and a vast majority of black people are not overly concerned with recruiting white people into their churches, homes, weddings, and backyard parties. These really are largely "sides," and I am 90% convinced that the center cannot hold: there aren't enough people willing to maintain "colorblindness" as an ideal. I am clinging to my 10% hopefulness, though, writing posts like I did yesterday, remaining not a participant in the ongoing division, but only an observing prophet of the dynamics of the scrum. [Note: it may be true that for the past 300 years and more, racial and gender oppression constituted the holding center. Let us go all the way through with this, then, until we rid ourselves of any center and release ourselves from the notion of unity. But then--]

You are thoroughgoing polytheists, all, despite the fact that some of you call yourselves atheists, and some call yourselves Jews and Christians and Muslims. For a time, when Obama remained a blank slate, it looked as if he might be the voice howling in the wilderness, offering a new and unified vision. But "Healthcare Reform" is never going to create a will to unity, no matter what the package does or does not include. (What if, Elizabeth Alexander, the mightiest word isn't Love?)

I'm going to consciously try to hold the center now, even as my 10% wanes. I hope I'm not the last holding on. I hope I don't have to be the one left when the whole world is divided around me. I'm calling for someone else to move into that tenuous position, to offer a genuinely unifying vision for the future of humanity. The world has always been this one volume bound by love; but I'd like to live long enough to see 90% of humankind wake up and know it, or even dare to "feel" it. From the Gospel of Thomas (#72):

A [person said] to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."

He said to the person, "Mister, who made me a divider?"

He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I'm not a divider, am I?"

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