Monday, June 30, 2008

Question TWO

If the first question we have to answer is, "Who am I?" one that comes in pretty close afterward is "With whom am I?" Another way of putting this is, "Who are my people?" Or, "Where do I belong?"

One answer which might be especially comfortable for progressive folks--and, perhaps, especially for progressive, well-educated, male, European-American, non-gay people--is "I am part of the human family! All of the world's people are "my people" and I belong wherever I am!" And this is, certainly, true in a sense. There is, in a deep way, only one human race and, as it says on the header of my blog, "we are one human family, on one fragile planet, in one miraculous universe, bound by love."

And yet we are also particular people. In the incredible documentary by Lee Mun Wah, The Color of Fear, an African-American man asks a European-American man what it's like to be white. When the man can't answer, the African-American man asks, "Don't you think that's strange?" And it is strange, yet the closer one is to the "cultural norm"--and as a straight, white, well-educated male I'm a veritable poster-child for the dominant culture's norm--the more one is encouraged to see one's own experience as "universal." But a lot of what I've experienced as "universal" has not been the experience of gay people, or black people, or women, or poor people, or people with physical handicaps, or . . . well . . . it turns out . . . most other people!

So yes, of course, we belong to the human family, but this question encourages us to examine the question of who it is with whom we identify, who it is we connect with--who is our particular family within the larger human family? In Richard Bach's wonderfull book, Illusions: adventures of a reluctant messiah, the character of Donald Shimoda carries something called "The Messiah's Handook" (which can now be purchased as a stand-alone book), and among its pithy wisdom is this:
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy
in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the
same roof.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. makes the same point in one of his works--that our real network of identity is far more vast and complex than simple bloodline. But as Jane Howard wrote,
"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a
family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

So Question Two encourages us to ask, "With Whom Am I?"

In Gassho,

RevWik Print this post

No comments: