Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dismay and cynicism

This post may be a bit more rambling and disjointed than usual (and a little more political)........for bear with me if you stopped by for knitting content........
The shootings at an Amish school in Bart have shaken me a bit. In the Anabaptist phase of my life, I knew people who went to or sent their children to schools very similar to the one where the shooting happened, so it seems closer to home that many other such shootings. I've driven by that school and worshipped at a Friends (Quaker) meetinghouse in the same town.
I heard about the shootings on my way to Yom Kippur services, which makes it seem that much stranger to me, that this happened on the day that the world's judgment is sealed for the next year. Themes that are strong in both the Anabaptist and Friends traditions that I came from and in the Jewish tradition that I now identify with are forgiveness and repentance -- and I get weepy at thinking about what must have gone on in this man's head that a 20 year old grudge could lead him to do this. I just don't understand it; I'm glad/grateful that I can't, but sorry that these young girls, their families, and the shooter's children will pay the price for him not being able to find whatever repentance and forgiveness he needed to be able to not do something like this.
While I have left Christianity (and therefore Anabaptist and Friends circles) behind, I have great admiration for groups that try to be consistent and put their beliefs into action -- and I think these Anabaptist groups are much closer to what Jesus intended than most modern mainstream evangelical groups (but that's a rant for another day.......).
Neither Anabaptist (Amish/Mennonite/Brethren) society nor Torah observant Jewish society is perfect (far from it!) -- but I'd like to think that the set cycles within a year for forgiveness and repentance (the Days of Awe for Jews, the preparation for communion among Anabaptists) do some bit to take the worst of the harshness away and give people the opening to face issues that our human pride can make it hard to deal with.
I'm also dismayed at the recent events around a member of Congress resigning because of what have been called inappropriate emails and IMs with pages. Having seen a couple of them, inappropriate is so not the right word. And to hear that pages for the last 5 years have been warned about this man..... sheesh, people. Politically, I'm sure dealing with this head on would have been hard, but no harder than dealing with the fall out we are seeing now -- and then at least the 'family values' ideals that the Republican leadership is so quick to trot out when they suit their purpose would have been given more than lip service. (Can you see that I'm in a cynical mood?)
And I so don't believe this checking into rehab........ Such a convenient excuse. It may well be needed but I don't think things like this happen if the seed isn't already there for the alcohol to fertilize......plus the timing is just too, too convenient.
So I'm sure there are people wondering why what Foley was doing (and the subsequent cover-up -- ok, so that hasn't been conclusively proven but I'm pretty convinced that some of the House leadership has done some covering up, although whether their motives were simply to retain power or because they didn't think the first couple emails weren't that bad and they were naive enough to believe his excuses) is worse than Clinton and the intern..... Well, as I see it, Clinton was STUPID for taking what was offered, but I do think she was an adult making an offer. (How such an otherwise intelligent man can be that stupid is another question.....) He shouldn't have done what he did with the intern (and then lied about it later) but this is a couple notches up the scale - a similar power discrepancy, with young people away from parental protection for the first time.....and this Foley had made such a public display of being a protector of children!
One of my big complaints about modern American society is the extent to which women are still primarily viewed as sexual objects. (Don't believe me? See recent controversies over women breastfeeding their children anywhere but the washroom when out in public......I've seen opponents of discreet public breastfeeding say clearly that the function of that part of the female anatomy is primarily sexual, rather than nourishing.) One thing that both the Anabaptist and Friends circles I used to travel in and the Jewish circles I now travel in is the emphasis on one's inner value, rather than face value. While that emphasis plays out differently in the different groups, it is very much a part of the overall worldview (despite what outsiders mistakenly view as downtrodden women).

And it is very sad that so many men who have the ambition that leads to public office view all the less powerful people (aides, interns, pages, and so on) around them as possible sexual prey. Whether this is fundamental human nature or particularly prevalent in modern America is a question I don't know the answer to........

Well, lunch is over, so back to work.......


knit_knot said...

Hi BJ, just wondering and a little worried, I sent off your chocolate swap package over a week ago and was wondering if you have recieved it yet. It should have gotten to you by Sat. the 30th at the latest.

Dichroic said...

Except now it sounds like that 20-year grudge wasn't a grudge after all, but something even worse. It's not about revenge for something that was done to him then, which is twisted but almost comprehensible if you force your mind to it (I mean, I understand grudges and wanting revenge , if not acting on it or transferring it to innocent people), but he that raped a couple of small children back then and was having dreams about doing it again.