It’s what I do, what folks say I’m good at, but what happens when words are not enough That happens when patience and acceptance can no longer excuse reprehensible behaviour? When words fall upon deaf ears and ignorance changes to become a wilful intent to deny the truth of the situation, then all of the words a person may use in education, negotiation, or reconciliation are as a whisper against a storm.
Then the time for words ends and the time for deeds arrives. The only way to be heard over the storm is to become a storm. The only way the willfully ignorant can be made to acknowledge truth is by being louder than the fingers they put over their eyes and ears, becoming the embodiment of your truth and rising with the storm of stand for that which is Right for all and not just for yourself.
The world is rocked and burning right now. As I write these words global protests have taken over from global pandemic. What could be more harmful to our species than the Covid-19 virus? Well that's not hard to say, because it’s the same thing we have been battling against for generations. Racism.
I find myself caught in between. I am a white cis het male and though I have had troubles in my life, the deck has always been stacked in my favour. I’m the nice white irish man that you would introduce to all of your friends. I’m the well educated, well spoken person you would stop and listen to when he speaks. I’m the person who would never be ridiculed for holding hands with my partner in public, beaten because of my sexual preference, or denied medical care because the name I gave did not match ‘people's perception’ of how I appear. I am the person who would never be stopped by the cops and gunned down whilst jogging, or placed in a choke hold until I died calling for my mother.
Now at this point I will address something that should head off one of the worst most infantile forms of disagreement. “Well you can never say never.” This comes from the same thread as “All lives matter”, “Not all cops” and that old gem “Not all men”.
The answer to this is yes, I could be said to have made an inaccurate statement by not making specific allowances within my language for variances in everyone of these scenarios. In a debating hall, following the philosophical analysis of the error of “All vs Some” my argument could be found at fault for this oversight. Of course I could adjust my language to swap ‘never’ for the relevant miniscule comparative statistics to show how, yes, straight white cis men do suffer from these issues in order to secure my position within the debate, but the thing is, this is not a fucking debate….!!!
If you want to focus on symantics and linguistics in order to centre yourself in this discussion and carve out a space where you can feel less guilty about your privilege then you too are part of the fucking problem. When people are being killed in the streets only a serious lack of compassion would drive a person to twist the narrative into a debate over words.
If this makes you feel uncomfortable reading this then Good! Sit with that feeling because it is yours and as part of you as any other thought or feeling you may have. I wrangle with the same discomfort every single day. I don’t want to be the bad guy, no one does. I don’t like being identified with those who are statistically more likely to abuse. Statistically more likely to assault, or even kill. I don’t like it… but that doesn't make it not true!
I find myself caught. I’m not the target of this oppression. I can’t say that will ever directly impact me, but it does directly impact those close to me, from my non-binary polyamorous, bisexual partner, to our gay non binary child, my trans sibling and every person of colour I know.
It’s funny, in a kind of tragic way, but I keep recalling an episode of the Simpsons. Grandpa and Lisa are sitting at the kitchen table bemoaning their positions in society.
Grandpa: ‘.I’m old, no one listens to me.’
Lisa: ‘I’m a girl, no one listens to me.’
Out of nowhere Homer, not the most intellectually gifted character in the series enters and opens the fridge to get a beer stating;
‘I’m a man aged thirty to forty, everyone listens to me!’
Again, as uncomfortable as it may make me feel….Homer and I have many things in common here. So, If ‘everyone listens to me’...what do I have to say?
I find myself turning over and over a certain story from Irish lore, concerning the Dagda, God of druidry among the Tuath De Danann. It’s the story of how he came to build the fortifications of Rath Bres, now known as the Hill of Tara in Ireland.
It speaks of a time when a king ruled over all of Ireland, but instead of supporting equality and offering every person of the land fairness and justice, Bres chose to favour one side of his bloodline over and above all others. The Tuatha Dé Danann were marginalised and oppressed, leveraged by oaths into servitude (NOT SLAVERY to be very clear) such that there was no yield of kine nor field, even unto the very smoke from the chimneys, that was not taxed. These tithes Bres took and gave to the Fomorians.
The Tuatha Dé Danann pleaded with the king for fairness but he would not hear them. Eventually the Dagda was called before Bres to answer for a crime he didn’t commit. Credienbeal a Fomorian bard had been gluttonously taking advantage of the Dagda, every night threatening him in his own home and taking the three best portions of his meal. When words would not resolve the matter, deeds were needed. The Dagda’s son slipped gold coins into the meal and the bard was slain by his own greed in consuming the coins. Bres being biased towards the Fomorians lead him to pronounce a biased judgement, presuming the Dagda’s guilt without due process and sentencing him to death. Dagda called out this unfair treatment as a false judgement and demanded proof of his guilt. When the fomorian bard’s body was properly examined it was found to contain the three gold coins, proof that the lampoon had choked upon his own greed. This began the fall of Bres’ failed rule as king, yet when he was fairly deposed he went to the Fomorians and incited them to war. His own father told him it was wrong to try to take by force that which he could not hold with Right Justness when he ruled, yet Bres would not be stopped and brought other warlords, hungry for power and profit against the Tuatha Dé Danann. This conflict became known as the Second Battle of Moytura and it all started when the wrong ruler offered bias, inequality, incorrect judgement, poor hospitality, and a lack of respect and compassion for all people he ruled over.
This is by no means the full story as the Dagda is said to have taken to the battle with equal parts spells and smiting bringing all of his immense power to bear in the support of his people and the defence of Ireland.
Maybe you already know why I’m thinking of this story so much right now. The Dagda stood up to false leadership, demanded fairness and equality, and used his words to warn Bres that his judgement was ‘that of a prince’ and not fit for the seat of kingship in which he sat. Words once again failed to fix the system of bias that Bres enforced and so the time of deeds came and those leads are now known to be a war.
The Dagda is anti facist.
He stands up to oppression and inequality, with words, but also with deeds when words fall upon deaf ears. He was never out for conquest, dominion, power or riches. He wanted justice, fair judgement and equal opportunity. I don’t care if you think I’m wrong. I care that we stop oppressing, marginalising and killing each other over something as stupid as how much sun our ancestors were exposed to.
The thing is, I’m afraid. I have spoken of story and lore and God’s but with any conflict there is always harm. Among the slain upon the field of Moytura is listed Nuada, their first and just king and his wife Macha who battled hard at his side. There could have been a time when words would have stopped the war, but those words were not heeded and so the victory was bought with blood.
We’re already bleeding. Bodies already lie in the streets and voices have time and again been raised to plead with the rulers of the land for justice, and equality. All across our world voices are raised speaking the names of the fallen, decrying the actions of killers and calling for change in the system that supports them. A system used with specifically targeted laws to intimidate, oppress, harm and even kill. Of course all lives matter, but until some other demographic is as attacked, targetted, abused, or marginalised Black Lives Matter…MOST.
I am uncomfortable in my whiteness… but I SHOULD be, because it’s simply the lack of melanin in my skin that sets me above others, making me less likely to be a target, less likely to be judged prematurely, less likely to lose in life. It is the way our system is currently set and it’s wrong.
So why shouldn’t we fix racism and marginalisation of indigenous peoples? Why can’t we get sexism sorted and move closer to a global eutopia? Why shouldn't we strive for a better world for all?
All lives matter has to start with those who need the most help. Making a better world for the most disadvantaged of us helps everyone from the bottom up. Why would anyone not want a better world for everyone?
We all have thoughts and perspectives and opinions. Its simply part of the human condition as a socialized species. So In the interest of insight, this is where I will share my perspective and opinions.