Posted by: Dan | January 23, 2015

We Have All Been Betrayed, We Have All Been Abandoned: Redux

I know a gal who doesn’t believe in god. She never has. She went through more than any child should ever have to go through, as many children do. I played her a song about a child who died and the singer asks why wasn’t god watching, why wasn’t god there, for this girl, and the singer imagines the girl, young and full of trust and laughter and playfulness, and she died, she was taken, her body was found beside a highway, and the singer asks why and why and why, and this gal I know who doesn’t believe in god, this gal who has never believed in god, broke down and cried while she listened.

God is such a lovely fantasy. And it seems that most of us look back on moments when we lost our innocence, when parts on the outside and inside of us were broken or taken and at least some part of us wishes that we had been protected from that moment that someone, something, anything, god, whatever, had been there because we were young and we were innocent and we were full of trust and laughter and playfulness and part of us died, and was taken, and we were left behind, alone, undone. It would have been lovely to have been saved from all that. Gods and salvation and happy endings, these are such seductive ideas.

~

Last night, I sat with Ruby in my arms and played video games with Charlie. At bedtime they sat in my lap while I read a story. I tucked them in and then sat beside Ruby’s bed and rubbed her back until she fell asleep (I always do this, and people always say something like, “oh, that’s so sweet!”, but if I don’t do it, she won’t go to sleep and is constantly in and out of bed). Ruby fell asleep quickly and I stood up and stroked Charlie’s forehead and cheeks (he’s in the top bunk) and ran my fingers through his hair. He rolled over so that he was closer to me and smiled with his eyes closed and then he fell asleep, too.

I’ve given up on trying to sing to them because Ruby always tells me to be quiet and covers her ears. Instead, I tell them that I love them and that they are beautiful and that they are smart and strong and brave and wonderful and make my heart feel so happy—so happy that sometimes it feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. I spend a lot of time telling them that they are good. It may seem like an odd thing to repeat, “you’re such a good girl, you’re such a good boy,” but it took me more than thirty years to shake the sense of guilt that was planted in me as a child and I don’t want them carrying that. Children need to know that they are good.

~

A couple days ago the CBC was all over a story about how a former high-level manager for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, who was also a director for the British Colombia Youth in Care Network (a foster parent himself) had been arrested for possessing child pornography. I knew this man. During the last year or so of my time working for Covenant House Vancouver (a shelter and residential living program for street-involved youth), he was hired on as an Assistant Program Manager. He was a prick but that’s pretty par for the course when it comes to Senior Managers within the non-profit industrial complex. He was smart and manipulative and was very talented at working people to his side and his advantage. I guess those are skills you want to learn if you’re a Senior Manager or a child pornographer.

I don’t ask why to god about this sort of thing anymore. If there is any god out there, responsible for creating all of this, then all that can be said of us is that we have all been betrayed. We have all been abandoned.

~

Ni dieu ni maître!” is what Blanqui said and earlier anarchists and socialists and labour movement members agreed with him. They also agreed with him that wealth was not going to be redistributed in the absence of violence directed at the hoarders of wealth. But all of that has mostly been pacified now. Now we have protests full of spiritual-not-religious bourgeoisie eager to point the finger at anyone who breaks a window or tips over a garbage dumpster. Not surprisingly, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

~

Not that anyone I know has a problem with the idea of a justice and peace and love kind of god. A god who can heal all wounds, wipe away all tears, and make all things new? A god who can bring about shalom? Sure, I’ll take four, please. Oh, wait, this god doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything tangible for anyone around these parts? Oh, wait, “the family that prays together still probably dies in the fire.” No point in waiting around here then, especially given all that other things god is used for. And if that kind of justice and peace and love and healing god shows up? Well, what did Heine say? “Gott wird mir verzeihen – das ist sein Beruf.”

But, wait, who wants to be forgiven by a god who has abandoned us? That seems a little backwards to me. Any god who shows up proclaiming, “I forgive you!” is no better than a parent who abandons her children in the middle of a war zone and then comes back thirty years later saying, “I forgive you!” Fuck that.

~

Ruby likes me to take her by the hands and spin her around when we dance. I painted her nails for her the other day and she was so excited that she gave me a giant hug – lifting her legs off the floor and kicking them back behind her, like we were in a cheesy movie and I was her long lost father and we finally found each other at a remote airport in Indonesia in the rain. She is most ticklish on her legs just above her knees. Her laughter is pure laughter and when I laugh with her
mine
is
too.
Isn’t that something, eh?

When I walk down the street with her and Charlie in my arms, or with one on either side of me, holding my hands, I may grumble about how much they weigh, or I may complain about my bad knees (am I eighty already?), or the snow in the air and the ice on the sidewalk, but really in my heart I know that I am the luckiest fellow in the world. And I don’t need a god to know that I am blessed and that each one of us is sacred and that the earth we walk upon is holy ground.

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Responses

  1. Well said.

  2. I am afraid too. So its hard to say thanks for these recent posts. I already expend so much consciousness vainly dwelling on the horrors of this world (but not actually doing much to help or or heal the horror) that I sometimes wonder about persisting in this life. Of course the murder of children, the innocents, the world, continues regardless and my fears for my own children and grandchildren are part of why I do not fervently confront these evils (banal and otherwise) in any substantial and meaningful way. I often experience and battle with the desire to surrender my life and will to the dominant ideologies of self-interest, so called ‘family-values,’ personal/national security, manifest destiny, etc., and yet even though I have such a small measure of faith and hope (or a large measure of wishful thinking and self-delusion) something inside of me keeps me resisting, at least in my mind. Of course, I confess my identification with all those child-murdering nazi guards or other patriotic soldiers who slaughter(ed) whole villages of Indigenous peoples in usamerica or Africa or pretty much everywhere. But I am even more identifiable and complicit with the folks who moved into the homes and onto the lands of murdered Indians, Jews, homosexuals, Palestinians, Ukrainians…., and all the other folks like me who groom the dogs of war, engineer the trains and cattle cars, punch their timecards at the Zyklon B factory, while a thousand times a day choosing to ignore the stench in the wind and the silent falling ashes.

    I am not a god, but I have also sometimes betrayed and abandoned others, even those that I love. And I have also been abandoned and betrayed. Now it might be useful, even necessary for some folks, to abandon god. I can’t imagine that god is too concerned about this and neither am I. But I have found that disbelieving is harder than one might think, even with all that I imagine that I know about the real world–of course, I probably know less about the ‘real world’ than I know about the ‘real god.’ Indeed, I often pray to god to save me or those that I love from this wonderfuly/wretchedly ‘real’ world. True, it may just be that my anxiety about the contingency and brutal indifference of ‘nature’ is one cause for the invention of a counter-balancing benevolent power/god, but I’m not sure that posing one set of fabrications against the other will really work for me in the long run.

    Once in awhile I too get overwhelmed, angry, depressed, and I cry out to god accusingly, maybe trying to hurt god’s feelings, to make god suffer like I am suffering. But most of the time I am not as courageous as you, I am too afraid of some sort of divine retribution to speak my mind like you did here. Maybe that’s why we humans seem so determined to destroy this world, its payback for measles, volcanos, sudden infant death syndrome, and computer viruses?

    And so that last sentence, *…I am blessed and each one of us is sacred, and the earth we walk upon is holy ground,” puzzles me a bit, and yet it finds a welcome place in my convoluted heart (convoluted in the sense of a field plowed into wound-like furrows). I would like to hear more about this sacred, holy, blessedness, and of course news about Charlie and Ruby is always appreciated. Blessings.


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