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Politics as Usual

It’s an election year here in the U.S. and now that the national conventions are mercifully over, there is still hardly anything on the news. The American Press cannot seem to focus on anything but our own American navels, and, alas, they are not engaged in transcendental meditation.  I will confess that I dislike politics because it is so filled with lies and advertising.  Much the same thing often.  I am a liberal, a pacifist, and druid, and Green, so I vote Democratic.  Apart from it being a political party with all the inherent tendency towards self-inflation and rabble rousing that entails, the Democratic Party seems to me to be the party which represents my own values and my own view of our great nation.

The Republican party, unfortunately, seems to have a history of not knowing who they are.  They toe the party line well, discipline their “troops” and give a good face to being unified, but historically, they seem to have represented a range of beliefs and values that would give the whole party their favorite moniker “flip-flopper.”  The Republicans started with Lincoln and were responsible for precipitating the Civil War.  As much as we are taught in school to deify Lincoln, I reserve judgment.  School children are taught that he was the president who emancipated the slaves, which is presented as an absolutely good thing.  Well, I am certainly not in favor of slavery, but I also think that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were right in that you are not doing your slaves any favors to free them and offer no support for their integration into a hostile society of rich white oligargarchs.  Washington was a member of this class, but he was also a Freemason, which may have provided a little insight into the matter of freedom.  Washington (for complex legal reasons) did not free his slaves but decided to take care of them and not to sell them, even thought it effectively bankrupted Mt. Vernon.

Now, today, the Republican Party is going along with the same sort of campaign tactics they have used for the past thirty years (at least).  They co-opt the language of the Democrats, then they twist it around to mean what they want it to mean.  Take “change” for example.  Presently McCain-Palin represent themselves as the bringers of “change.”  In a speech quoted on the news today, Sarah Palin stated that things have changed in Iraq and that was a good thing — implying that Sen. Obama was “against change” in his vote against the “Surge.”

This sort of rhetorical gymnastics is no doubt very clever but it is a clever way of lying and misrepresenting the intentions of other people, and indeed one’s own intentions.  There can hardly be any doubt in the minds of anyone in the U.S. except the most ill-informed and unobservant that any Republican ticket elected to the presidency will toe the party line and do what the Party wants it to do.  It will toad up to the oil companies, the munitions and chemical industries, the nuclear industry, the Cuban refugee lobby in Florida, and the pro-Israel Jewish lobbyists.  They will cut taxes on the wealthy and on businesses, gut government regulation of businesses, and dismantle all those federal programs designed by Democrats to make the federal government play a role in Charity.

No change there.  McCain’s “maverick” label seems manufactured as an advertising slogan designed to fool the buying into thinking that he will oppose his own party.  True, he did involve himself in campaign finance reform.  But it is also true that he isn’t any more likely to get that through as president that he was as a member of the Senate.  Possibly, but certainly nothing anyone could promise. And you will notice that McCain-Palin are not promising campaign finance reform.  If change in Iraq is Palin’s definition of “change” then we can expect more foreign wars and adventures aimed at toppling sovereign governments (the same thing we were complaining Russia was doing in Georgia when they invaded).  McCain’s “change” will include re-forming the United States in the image of neoconservative idealism.  The average American Joe and Jane seem to no nothing about the Neoconservative movement and their power in this country.  I do not profess to be an expert, but their agenda and tactics seem to be drawn from a combination of Mein Kampf and Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four.  Double think  and doublespeak are their primary tactics, and the plot to take over the world seems to be their ultimate goal.

The queer mixture of fundamentalist Christians into this soup provides emotional drive.  The religion seems designed for the use of the Neoconservatives because it is founded on doublethink.  Doublethink, for those readers who have not read Orwell (go read it now!) is the ability to hold two mutually contradictory ideas in your head at the same time and ignore the contradiction.  In Orwell’s 1984, the government Ministry of Truth controlled the press and the history books, rewriting history to suit their immediate political needs — or rather not “political” but simply power.  For, like the Neoconservatives running the Republican Party these days, the government of Orwell’s 1984 wanted only power and control over the people, and that is not really “politics.”  That is the death of politics.

The Bush Administration has outdone all previous Republican administrations in twisting words and facts and rewriting history.  Every catastrophe, natural or man-made, is used to justify war of some sort.  A war on illegal immigrants, a war on drugs, a war on “terror.”  Why intelligent people continue to vote for such deceitful people is beyond my capacity to understand.  Do they not see through the lies?  Do they not see through the manipulative rhetoric?  Well, it is hardly a surprise that the Republican notion of schooling these days is to push science and engineering (chemical industry, military industry, nuclear power industry, oil industry — remember?) and quietly see to it that Rhetoric, one of the seven liberal arts, is completely ignored.  It is in the interests of the giant industrial conglomerates to have a populace ignorant of rhetoric, who will take everything that sounds good as “rational” and true.  Similarly, it is in their interests to have a glut of engineers and computer geeks on the market to drive down the price of labor.  Even scientists are insulated from the liberal arts, and therefore have little ability at critical thinking about language and images.  They are highly intelligent, highly educated, and often do appreciate the ambiguities of what we do not know, but they can hardly be expected to be adept at seeing through fantasies.

For this is really the problem.  Rhetoric as the study of how to use language to persuade and explain has been co-opted, not actually eliminated.  As Rhetoric courses and departments have withered and been cut in universities, Advertising and Marketing courses have taken their place, teaching not critical thinking, but the negative and insidious use of rhetorical ploys to sell stuff (including ideas and ideologies).  As colleges and universities have been pressured to offer courses and degrees in Business Administration, Marketing, Finance, and so forth, Advertising has entered into the very fabric of education.  Now, I know there are a few stalwart English teachers (graduate students mostly in my experience) who teach the analysis and critic of advertising rhetoric — the use of visual images and words to manipulate the emotions and fears of the audience to buy a product as the solution to their fears.

Sadly, the Advertising mentality, the modern Rhetoricians, have take over politics and filled it with fantasies presented as if they were literally true.  It has always been that way, to some extent.  Politicians have always lied about their opponents and used ad hominem attacks rather than discussing issues and policies.  They have long also used the rhetorical ploy of co-opting their opponent’s key words or slogans and turning them around to mean their opposite.  Rather than discussing publicly the solutions they offer to the nations problems, politicians strive to manipulate their audience in order to get elected.  Once elected and in power, they are free to do what they wish, or as is more often the case, to do the bidding of the party that got them elected.  And this is what is most demoralizing to me in this political season: that it seems to lie in human nature to prefer standing in a crowd shouting slogans to reasoned and temperate problem-solving.

Can you imagine for a moment a political process in which the candidates laid out exactly what their policies and strategic vision would be, and then discussed it point by point with their opponents, without the artificial and largely disingenuous structures we now call “debates.”  If the debates were real and conducted by the rules of a high school debate team, we might have something interesting.  But we could go even further, if we were more rational, and conduct open discussions of strategy and tactics.  Imagine if our politicians were completely honest about their plans and motivations.  That Truth-telling was the universally accepted rule, and that all parties agreed that they must engage together, with their differing premises and viewpoints, to seek truth.

I think that Barack Obama is being honest.  I think he will think for himself, will assemble a team of experienced and smart people in his administration, and he will advance the ideas of the Democratic Party.  He will make the federal government an engine for Charity, seeing that it has a paternal (or maternal) role to take care of its citizens as a parent takes care of children — not by indulgence, but with love and real assistance.  As in the parable of the prodigal son, it is the erring children, the ones who are not so wise and who blow their money on stupid things that need to be helped by the parents.  The ones who make it on their own, who have careers, start successful businesses, and so forth, do not need the same kind of help.  For the successful sons and daughters, the parent must teach that they are now obliged by their success to take on the parental role themselves, to engage in Charity towards those less fortunate (or less intelligent, or less shrewd and ambitious).

The Democratic Party’s ideals today also include religious and racial tolerance.  This is not, it should be noted, hypocrisy on the part of the party.  It is true enough that at one time the Democratic Party was “pro-slavery.”  But let us look carefully at the words.  To call anyone “pro-slavery” is like calling the “pro-choice” advocates “pro-death,” or “pro-abortion.”  It is the rhetoric of the opponents.  The Democratic party in the antebellum South was defending the economic institution of slavery and implicity as one of its premises the, then, scientific idea that Negro races were inferior to Caucasion ones.  But they were also the state’s rights party, defending the political idea that every new state had a right to choose for itself on the matter of slavery.  They were “pro-choice” in this context, and against big federal government telling states what to do.  Yes, it was rationalized with premises that we would not today accept, but then the Democratic party realized that eventually.  By the middle of the next century after the Civil War, it had become the party of civil rights and activist federal government filling a necessary role of helping states and local governments who were struggling.

The Democratic party has adapted its positions on issues such as the place of black people and other so-called “minorities” in American culture.  The Republican party, by contrast has gone from ostensibly opposing slavery as an institution to supporting big-business and wage-slavery as an institution.  Maybe this isn’t flip-flopping.  Maybe that was their intention all along.  Abolish slavery to better establish a free labor market.  Later, abolish labor unions (or undermine them) for the same reason.  Maybe the Republican Party has not changed so much and it is simply our view of Lincoln that needs to change.  The attitude of Lassez-faire capitalism has always been that the way of the world is simply that markets must be free and individual people who experience hardships becuase of those free markets have to just bear up and move on.  They need to struggle, because struggle is good.  The government should not engage in Charity because Charity is a moral choice that must be made by each individual.  In this, the Republicans are “pro-choice.”

So, today the American populace cudgels their heads to try to understand how anyone can be anti-choice on these issues.  Republicans say that abortion is murder, and accept that metaphor as if it were an unambiguous fact.  Fetuses are alive, they turn into babies, and killing babies is an abomination in civilized culture.  Q.E.D. abortion is murder.  It is perfectly logical once the premises are accepted that fetuses are essentially the same as babies.  The problem is that it ignores one key difference between murder and abortion and that is that the “person” being killed is inside the body of a mother who has to take care of it.  The baby has no independent existence from the mother (unless it is put up for adoption or placed in an orphanage).  But if independent ability to survive, or even a fully developed separate personhood were the criteria for murder victims, then killing a baby after birth would also be all right.

But the fact is that nobody, least of all a young mother, is that coldly rationalistic.  Once a baby is born there are strong instincts engaged to prevent the mother from killing it.  We can see this instinct in humans partly because we can notice it is missing in some other animal species, such as swine for example.  A mother pig has apparently no idea what is going on when she gives birth and unless a farmer helps her identify her piglets as something to take care of and nurse she might well kill the piglets or even eat them, mistaking them for a tasty treat.  We can thank our brain size that we humans seldom if ever have this problem.  Another example from the animal world is cats and lions.  In some cat species (if not indeed all), male cats will sometimes kill a litter of kittens because they want to claim breeding rights with the female.  If the kittens are the offspring of another male, the dominant male might kill them.

Now, we can look back in human history and discover human beings occasionally engaged in just as horrifying behavior even as recently as the Roman Empire.  Indeed, as recently as last year or last week if we look closely at acts of war, “ethinic cleansing” and so forth.  Killing babies is fairly routine in such human activities.  Even killing fetuses in the womb.  Now, we in the West do not openly sanction such acts even during war.  But clearly such things do go on elsewhere in the world.

I do not mean to argue the case for “abortion rights.”  Indeed, that phrase is a manufactured term by the neo-conservative and fundamentalist rhetoricians to try to make the pro-choice position look abominable.  But if mothers do not have the “right” to have an abortion, then they are being forced by the government to carry every pregnancy to term and suffer the consequences.  The child then will be unwanted and may be raised badly, abused, or even abandoned.  The fundamentalists will tell you that unwanted children should be put up for adoption for all the mothers who cannot have children and desperately want them.  Does this make Republicans the pro-orphan party?  Even that argument would be tenable if only it were based on realistic facts, but I question whether the unwanted babies of black women would in fact find such a strong “free market” for babies in our culture.  The process of adopting a child requires huge resources and legal help, not to say simply time.  So, do the fundamentalists suppose that unwanted babies of non-white mothers are going to be adopted by white mothers?  And, then what?  Raised as white fundamentalists who believe Jesus was white?

That is a bizarre fantasy.  But it is typical of the fantasies being promulgated to the American voting public.  Still almost half of American citizens do not vote at all, a fact which seems not to bother the Republicans.  Democrats will at least point out the fact and make an effort to “get out the vote” which means urge non-voters to vote.  But what does that say about our system of education or our voting system? I consider myself above average in education and political awareness but even I go to vote (as I did today in our primary) and find that I know nothing about the candidates for school board or the justices and judges we elect.  That makes me feel that I am falling down on the job.  But when are we given time to do this research?  Why do we not use our mass media locally to really acquaint the citizens with the importance of voting and the importance of knowning the facts about candidates.  Young people will perhaps say, “You could research them on the Internet” and they might be right.  But unless we provide free Internet access to every citizen and training in critical thinking, and the time to devote to researching candidates, we will never achieve anything like full suffrage.

Fantasies.  A a writer, I love fantasies and deal in them as stock in trade.  But when it comes to running our nation, we do not need fantasies.  We need ideals that are attainable and that take into account all the differences that exist within a heterogenous society such as America.  Our diversity could be our strength if we adopted the ideals of tolerance and listened to one another, and if we stripped away all of this advertising rhetoric.  If we want mob rule, or decievers elected by virtue of mobs chanting vague slogans like “Drill, Baby, Drill,” or even “Yes, We Can,” then we must stop fantasizing and get to work talking a different sort of talk and listening.

And therein lies another structural problem for this society.  We do not have a forum in which political candidates will talk and listen.  The big, mass-media, appearances are all one-way.  They all involve speeches and cheering crowds.  They are completely contrived and so do nothing to advance truth.  Indeed, they undermine the advancement of truth by seeking to convince audiences through mere emotional appeals.  I do not understand the emotional appeal of drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.  I suppose it must be that this particular action is associated with power.  People who feel powerless and threatened by rising petroleum prices are convinced by rhetoric that they will have cheaper gas, and less fear in their lives, if only they will let the oil companies do whatever they want.  But why the oil companies want to drill in ANWR is never examined.  It is glossed over and instead this issue has been harped upon over, and over, and over to drill it into the heads of the audience that “this is the answer!”.

Maybe there is no more motive than that.  It allows the neoconservatives to attack the foundation of the Green conservationist ethic on two fronts.  One, attacking the idea of nature preserves kept free of industrial exploitation.  Two, attacking the idea that oil is a bad idea and that continuing to invest in oil companies will only lead the U.S. further down the road to ruin.  So, it diverts attention, all that chanting.  Chanting drowns out all voices of reasoned discussion.  When protestors of the war infiltrated the Repblican National Convention, they were drowned out with chants of “U.S.A, U.S.A.”  What did the chanters suppose they meant by that?  Well, it was not spontaneous chanting; it was arranged by the Party.  They had pre-arranged that if any war protesters were heard within the vacuum sealed environment of the convention center, everyone would immediately chant “U.S.A.”

This is a rhetorical appeal to “patriotism.”  To my mind, there is nothing more insidious and diabolical than this vacant appeal to flag-waving pseudo-patriotism.  For, among Republicans, flag-waving and chanting and invoking patriotism has all been co-opted as a way to express Party loyalty.  It has nothing to do with loyalty to the nation as a whole, or even love of one’s land and people.  Indeed, it is used by the Republicans symbolically to express their hatred for other nations and their hatred (or at least disregard) for non-white citizens of the United States.  For Neoconservatism is plainly trying to preserve white rule of the resources of our country.  Even narrower than that, it seeks to establish a nation that never really existed — dominated by white fundamentalist Christians.  Not Protestants, mind you, which used to be true, but fundamentalists.  It is if the Neoconservatives want to go all the way back in their conservatism to Massachussetts theocracy and the rule of the Puritans.

Liberals point out, on the rare occasions that they are allowed to talk over the chanting and ecstatic cheers, have pointed towards Neoconservatism as a jingoistic and chauvinistic political philosophy, one that promulgates the America 1st doctrine.  In doing so, it does not merely mean that we must think of the welfare of our own citizens above all, or that we must think of national security when engaged in diplomacy.  The latter, in any case, hardly needs an advocate since nobody in the history of the world has ever engaged in a foreign policy that did not put its nation’s interests first.  No, what the Neoconservitive philosophy means by America 1st is that we should be the dominant world power and use our military might to enforce our economic advantage all over the world, without regard for the soverignty of other nations.  It is an ideology of imperialism and bullying — Swagger around chanting and carry a big gun (or drive a Humvee).

Such an ideology is grounded not only in Puritanism or its modern form of Evangelicalism, but appeals to the ancient ideals of patriarchalism — the rule of the fathers.  As feminist critics have articulated, Patriarchalism is an ideology that includes a number of premises which are unquestioned and accepted as simple facts of life.  They are premises that are often bolstered by religious teachings.  The very name of the ideology comes from the Biblical “patriarchs” who were those fathers after Adam who inherited the absolute right of male supremacy and rule.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church religious leaders are still called Patriarchs.  The word is in fact Greek for “father-rule.”  Set this alongside our other policial terms for a moment.  Democracy comes from the Greek demos, meaning “the people” and “cracy” meaning rule.  Aristocracy means “rule of the best” — the “aristos” are considered to the the best men in the culture.  Sounds good, except that aristocracy is almost always hereditary, the presumption being that great fathers beget great sons.

The ideology of Patriarchy says that fathers rule.  Mothers and daughters are only relevant in society by virtue of their demonstrated loyalty and service to the fathers. Sons are valued only in their service to the fathers (notably in military service and in service as apprentices to their work whether lords of the land or craftsmen), and in their conformity to the ideology of manhood and male supremacy.  That latter stipulation is why homosexual sons are so violently scorned.  They undermine the rule of the phallus as the instrument for creating new life, creating a Familia, over which the pater familias rules.

This ideology of patriarchy and its assumption of the inferiority of women, was carried over into Christianity from the Romans.  In ancient Jewish culture the rule of the fathers was tempered considerably by the strong role of women in family life. However, the overall pattern of Patriarchy has been that fathers have absolute authority over their wives and offspring.  They are the Big Daddy, and the Hebrew God is the archetype of Big Daddyhood.  Until very recently, there was hardly a culture in the West that would have interfered with a father’s assumed right to use violence against his family even to the point of killing his wife or children, so long as it could be rationalized at all as punishment for disobedience or staining the “honor” of the family.

Political issues such as war and abortion and gay rights cannot be separated out from the context of the ideology of Patriarchy.  So long as a political system is based on Patriarchy it matters in fact very little whether it is a Democracy, an Aristocracy, an Oligarchy (rule by a few families), or a Dictatorship (rule by a Strong Man).  Athenian Democracy was utterly married to Patriarchy as a political philosophy.  The “rule by the people” (demos) referred only to the participation of free men in political offices.  Today, we mean something quite different and the Democratic Party in embracing Liberalism does so in part to encorporate a more liberal view of the demos in democracy.  Women, for example, are also included, and as there are no longer slaves in our society, all adults of either sex are extended the suffrage (the right to vote).

However, relatively few among the American demos are willing to question the foundation of our society in the principles of Patriarchy, and indeed it is the questioning of those foundations that launched the late twentieth-century Fundamendalist movements, both here and in Muslim countries.  It’s political form as Neo-conservatism is fighting with all of its vast resources to preserve (conserve) Patriarchy, the unquestioned rule of the Fathers.  It is worth noting that this political venture has nothing to to with republicanism as such.  A Republic is simply a form of state without a monarch.  If anything, a Republc is as step away from Patriarchy in that it illiminates the number one patriarch of the society, the king.  The idea of republicanism also comes to us from the Romans.  They had a republic ruled by the Senate, literally, the old men (senex means old man).  But they quite quickly succumed to mob violence led by strong men.  In response to these strong men and their personal armies, the Senate decided to elect a Dictator, a single man to rule until the crisis was over.  The problem, they found, as we have seen again and again since, is that dictators never want to step aside.  The crisis never ends, and in the case of the Roman Republic it didn’t end until Julius Caesar decided to take over.  The Senators made one last stab at eliminating the Big Daddy, but precipitated a civil war that ended up with Augustus becoming the Big Daddy, first Emperor of Rome.

That was the end of republicanism in Rome.  The same story was repeated in France during the French Revolution.  An attempt to do away with the King led to chaos and the new idealistic republicans and their parliamentary system created the Directorate, a collection of Dictators.  They tried to purge dissent and, violá, Emperor Napoleon.  The French then decided to restore their Monarchy.  The English revolution did the same thing,ultimately rejecting Big Daddy Cromwell and restoring the monarchy.  At least they had the precedent of a Queen.  Finally, the Soviet Union and Germany tried it, but republicanism there also resulted in the emergence of Big Daddys who wielded absolutist power.

Quo Vadis America?  Where are you going?  The way of Rome?  Have we not yet learned that the election of Big Daddys is a bad idea?  Can we not trust ourselves to rule ourselves?  Can we not teach our children how to govern themselves according to moral precepts?  Can we not recognize that the voice of mothers is equally important to the voice of fathers?  Can we not see that there is little point to family, community, or nation if all we are ever prepared to do is go to war with our neighbors?  Yet the warrior mentality still is ruling our world.  From Middle East, Far East, and Far West, Big Daddy’s like to rattle their sabres, beat their chests and hoot at each other like the greater apes.  And ever they will hold onto their women — wives or mothers — who root for the Patriarch because they honestly beleive that is the only way of the world. They will even roll out the pseudo-biological argument that humans naturally seek an “alpha male.”

Maybe.  But humans are not like other animals.  They can change their behavior and their social forms.  And I think it is a convenient fantasy that Patriarchy is unchangeable.  The only fact that can be pointed at is that men are on average stronger and more violent than women, and they always hold the trump card in being able to threaten a mother with the death of her children.  This has made it pretty difficult for women to do much besides play along with their male game and seek such power as they can through seduction and manipulation.  Very few women in history have found power through superior skill with words, or managed to seize the political reigns by occupying the Big Daddy’s role for a time.  Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Margaret Thatcher.

Is it the Puritan foundations of the United States of America that have made it such a staunch bastion of Patriarchy?  The patriarchs would continue to pull the mask over our eyes by nominated a woman governor as the “running mate” of their Big Daddy.  Nothing says Big Daddy better than a younger woman by his side, supporting him and admiring him and attacking his opponents and the opponents of Patriarchy.  I am glad that women are being elected governors and senators and appointed to high positions of government, but the fact that we still do not have an American woman as president, demonstrates to me that we are still in the death-grip of Patriarchy, supported by all the religious dogmas that have long supported it in our culture.  It is the dead hand of Rome upon us, the imperial state ruled by violence and Big Daddys.

It was a sad day when Christians adopted the ideology of Roman Patriarchy and wedded it to their religion.  Will they ever think so?  Will they ever see the doublethink and contradiction inherent in a religion that believes all human being should be free and equal and a political philosophy of rule by the fathers?  Perhaps never, unless it be possible that they will change their rhetoric and appy a different metaphor to the One God.  Some Christians have done so.  Indeed, pre-Christian Greek and Jewish philosophers did so, when they considered that the One is ineffable and cannot be reduced to any metaphor.  God is not a Father.  He is only like a good father, but he is also like many other things because ultimately he dwells inside all things and all things in the One.  Christianity offered the world new ideas, Change in fact.  Jesus and his followers said “the Kingdom of God is within You”  not within fathers or patriarchs.  The kingship is inside every individual person, even the little child.  Investing kingship in a Big Daddy is a mistake.  That is what “sin” means, a mistake.  The Patriarchal Christians would have us believe that the word “sin” means “disobey Big Daddy.”  But it does not.

There is no Big Daddy to disobey.  The One is sublime and supernal, beyond all human knowing and manifest in each of us and in every tree and fish and dog and goat and gnat.  Killing is not “disobedience;” it is a mistake.  It is a mistake  because it is almost always wrong and leads to more and more violence.  It leads to a cycle of revenge and hatred. Jesus, James, Peter, John and the rest taught that love is the answer.  Lust can be a mistake, but love never is.  Love is the only path that we can count on to lead to peace and more love. A good father knows this.  Losing one’s temper, using violence against one’s children, one’s wife, or one’s neighbor all lead to resentment, hatred, and retribution, not to mention sadness and shame that can cripple lives.

So, for me there is no question about where a Christian must stand in the world of politics.  Jesus did not live and die to bolster up Patriarchy. He lived and died becuase he called the pompous certitudes and abuses of the Patriarchs into question.  Scribes, Pharisees, procurators, governors, and kings alike.  Sadly, many in his own time wanted to believe he was the promised Messiah, who would be King of the Jews again, restoring the mythical Kingdom of David.  But Jesus knew these things were fantasies woven to make Big Men feel powerful and he gave the lie to the charade.  Yet his followers have been led over the centuries to use him simply as a rallying point for Patriarchs seeking every more power over others.  In the name of “salvation” they enslave men and women and children to their ideology of violence and injustice, all the while purring about “God’s love.”  God’s love is within the human heart, and is a liberating force, a force of salvation from tyranny and torture.  It is a power of salvation from the arbitrary and abusive rule of Patriarchs.

So, I say, down with Patriarchs and let us elect from our numbers good sons and daughters whose hearts are ruled by love, not hate, and who will listen to one another; whose opinions have not been ossified by a lifetime of toadies telling them they are right; and who understand that as a family we siblings all have to get along.  Freed from the tyranny of the fathers, let them accept what wisdom their fathers and mothers have to offer, and question every opinion of their elders, demanding genuine discussion and a search for truth, not fantasies, deception, and rhetorical tricks.  Let them demand more than shouting, ecstatic crowds, and seek quiet public reflection and deliberation.  These are the family values I honor — a family that sits down together to discuss its goals and its differences and can arrive at a course of action without resorting to one person dominating the rest.

So mote it be.

— OWL /|\

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