A Manifesto… or Something…

So, folks, this used to be a blog that was just about Buddhism.  I fell in love with some cool ideas, and wanted to be useful by sharing about them.

But then, like most sets of ideas (even Buddhism), it didn’t cover everything I wanted to talk about.  At all.  So I started to try to find a different -ism that I could write about.  I guess I could have just started a different blog.  It’s not as if I have a huge readership; there are probably about five of you: friends that are essentially equivalent to my Uncle Noel, who was always pumped to read my essays during my undergrad studies.

Uncle Noel particularly liked the one about the ethics of war, where I said that it may well be the case that there are ethical times to kill other people, but that I sure as hell am not about to outsource discretion on that to the government and join the armed forces.  It’s for the best; I’d surely get my ass court-marshalled.  But I also think it’s dickheadery to be aggressive towards the contributions of veterans instead of giving space for peeps to heal on Anzac Day.  It’s not simple.  Nothing is simple for very long.

So, I didn’t speak about things.  At least, I only spoke in private, because I didn’t feel qualified.  As I got a bit older (I’m at the ripe and advanced age of 35, so obviously I haven’t reached any developmental end-point), I started to notice that within public discourse, whether someone feels qualified to speak is a very poor test of whether they are actually qualified to speak.  I started to get into spats on Facebook when people were cruel or bigoted, and I wanted them to check themselves.  I started to see that speaking up is a way of occupying space in society.  I started to see that when I occupy space to help, or nourish, or defend, or question, then discourse shifts slightly.  I realised that I was contributing.

Obviously, though, my finite brain and finite experience means that I only see a tiny sliver of meaning and truth.  You, dear reader, see your own sliver.

Returning to the matter of -isms, I thought that I needed to understand a sector of culture and belong to it before my writing would have an audience.  I shushed and shushed, waiting to be more–or less–queer, less vegan, less left, more–or less–Christian, more–or less–nourished by Buddhism, more–or less-academic, and so on.  But all of these spaces/communities/ways of thinking are not static, and are not comprehensive.  I am my very own cliche of a special snowflake, in the very midst of my belonging and not belonging.

I can’t shed ideology.  I can only try to work through it and process it.  Trying to shed ideology is about as meaningful as trying to physically not exist in any specific space.  But by the same token, these ideological and cultural markers are never quite comprehensively descriptive.  I keep fiddling with them and sifting through them to try to find slivers of meaning; bits of truth.

I see it as a social evolution that we have come to the place where we generally recognise that dialogue about what constitutes healthy/beneficial relationships, healthy/beneficial ways to eat, healthy/beneficial ways to have a sexuality, helps us to be better at those things.  The dialogue (when we engage in it in a healthy/beneficial way) helps us to be happier, more well; to do good and feel good.  I think the same is true about ideology and belief.  I sure as folk don’t want to tell you what to believe.  I want for you to speak truthfully about how things seem to you, and be conscientious about seeking your answers, with conscience and authenticity.

I’d like to attempt this process in dialogue.  I’d like a space to process this stuff, and explore ideas and practices collaboratively, to try to be useful.  This might be in the form of discursive analysis, antifa criticism, theological discussion, or literary criticism.  But sometimes it will also be falafel recipes or gardening tips, because quite frankly, those things also help me cope with being a little boat in a big ocean.

 

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