Monday, January 19, 2009

Mental reservations

Commenting on the oath of office this morning, a friend wrote that "having' mental
reservations' would actually be a sign of wisdom." I don't claim wisdom, at least
not on behalf of the part of me that speaks in words, but I want to speak my own
mental reservations: I want to believe in Barack Obama. The significance and
power of a nation whose wealth was built through the enslavement of people
kidnapped from Africa electing the son of a Kenyan to be President is not lost
on me. Nor is the reality that the margin of difference between the policies
promised by the new administration and those enacted by the last is a margin that
represents life or death for millions. And who could not be moved by Rev. Joseph
Lowery speaking the benediction that evokes a god older and more loving and
more real than the God of bondage evoked by Rev. Rick Warren?

But there are truths that burn so hot that the veils that once covered them can never
be repaired. And they keep me from celebrating wholeheartedly.

Barack Obama intends to keep 50,000 -- 80,000 troops on the ground in Iraq
indefinitely. And he plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Those wars and the dozen proxy wars our taxes will continue to fund are waged to
ensure the continuation of the mindless growth demanded by the system we live
under -- the growth that Edward Abbey called "the ideology of a cancer cell," the
growth that consumes forests and mountains and deserts and lives and whole
nations and whole species.I don't doubt that President Obama wants to reduce
the damage done, to render the system a little bit less brutal. And again, any
diminishment of brutality means less suffering .

But at the same time, the commitment to continuing that brutality means an
acceptanceof more "collateral damage." President Obama said "we will not
apologize for our wayof life or waver in its defense." But only when we do finally
apologize for the wayin which we have been living at the world's expense
(including apologizing to ourselves for the ways in which we have cut ourselves
off from the living Earth) can we "put aside childish things" and learn to live in a just
and sustainable way .In this country we tend to ignore the fact that systems have a
reality and mind of their own, and that they always operate to ensure their own
survival. In pledging himself to the idea of America, President Obama
surrendered a part of his own will to the systems of control that bind themselves
together under that name.

But a witch bows to no one. And I will not offer my own allegiance to that system.
I offer my love and support to a man named Barack Obama wrestling to hold
onto his humanity in a situation where great powers conspire to rob him of it.
But I have no loyalty to President Barack Obama as he undertakes the work
of attempting to guide and steer violent systems of control. My own allegiances
are to mysel(ves/f), the truth, and the living universe.Those loyalties may brand me
as an outsider -- but such has always been the way of the poet and the shaman .
Like Tomas the Rhymer I will kiss the lips of the Queen of F(a)eri(e) and be
transformed, given the gift of a tongue that will not lie that makes it impossible
to ever again be at home in a world woven from the enchantment of falsehoods
repeated so often that we no longer hear the din or imagine the possibility that the
imagination can stray outside the bounds set by that wall of noise. The tongue
that speaks the truth cuts a hole in that wall, revealing a road that leads into the
sweet, fierce ,loving wildness of the heart. I am setting out along that path.

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