Emotional Spring Cleaning
Affirming core principles through Kabala.
The last few years have been very hard on me. I am amazed at the extent of my marginalization as a person with a dis-ability, and as an activist who dares to speak up for Palestinian human rights. The nexus of the two has had an enormous impact on my life. Almost every time I leave my home I am exposed humiliating and even dangerous situations. I have had to limit my contact with the outside world. Pwds (people with dis-abilities) don’t have a ghetto to fall back into (except the gulag of healthcare facilities and skid row.) We can’t gain comfort in the exclusivity of our exclusion. We make due in the world of those who may some day join us in this marginalized identity, by illness or accident, (serving as a deadly reminder of their own vulnerability). Andy and I are building a space where I, where we can work, where people can gather, where we can hope to develop a community based on values other than moral relativism, cronyism, opportunism and greed; though it’s hard to go against the grain of the pervading culture. Fueled by the motion picture industry, this is a tit for tat (and a tit and ass) city, and it filters down into almost every relationship. “What can you do for me?”
This year has been especially devastating for me. Even limiting my interactions to my own home– an amazing compound that includes supportive neighbors, a small urban farm, a work studio, a gathering place to build connections, I am still constantly hit with messages of marginalization, usually in emails attacking my body politic, defending privilege, making excuses for exclusive events that don’t consider the input or inclusion of pwds as important, essential or valuable.
For middle class activists who have only minimally suffered the ravages of capitalism (if capitalism isn’t a boot on your throat, it’s all theory) there is great impatience. Friends think I should be “over” this. Since it isn’t “over”, since the blacklisting and the ridicule and exclusion continues, this demand demonstrates their own intolerance, their own need to see oppression as something that happens somewhere else to someone else, not someone like them. Their activism is more about assuaging their guilt in measured bursts that don’t challenge their privilege, than about a real battle of life and death. It shows their own inability to understand that for many people, life is a series of events for which there may be little or no escape. Tragedy isn’t the occasional experience, it IS the experience. Their activism is based on charity, not solidarity. They fear and reject seeing any connection to their own lives, the lives they attempt to defend. In my case, and it isn’t just my case, tragedy has revolved around loss of my job due to dis-crimination, the poverty and isolation of single parenthood, the marginalization of my own illness while raising a child with a serious condition, the brutality of the health insurance and “care” system, the social service industry, the educational establishment, lack of services, lack of respect for single mothers, discrimination against my gay, Jewish Mexican son, political marginalization, dis-ability discrimination,death threats, vandalism, sabotage etc. etc. etc. This isn’t a reality one simply snaps out of. I can’t just show up at a dinner party or a social or even a political event and discuss these matters as if they were happening to someone else, far away. I can’t avoid bleeding on fine linen. For me, the death spiral of the capitalist system isn’t theory, and it isn’t temporary.
I find myself in the grip of a profound depression, afraid for the end of the world, the incredible loss of life of those who are expendable to a brutal machine that needs our labor and our minds less and less. Somedays I wish I could stop breathing. My grief is very deep. I have an intractable hopelessness. AND MOST OF ALL, I AM TIRED OF PLATITUDES. Telling people to “think positive” when they are under attack and in the midst of a terrible reality is actually a very cruel and negative act. Though it is much easier than actually bearing witness, listening, and taking appropriate action.
Today I woke up, bathing in despair, thinking, “something has got to give.” Somewhere in all of this, there has to be some salvation. I hope that I can at least break from my own complicity in the attacks against me and rise up from under my own self doubt, hatred and demoralization.
Counting the Omer
Starting on the second day of Passover, it is tradition and enter into a 49 day period of study of the principles of Kabala. *1 Keter-“Crown” 2 Chochmah-“Wisdom”3 Binah-“Understanding”4 Chesed-“Kindness” 5Gevurah-“Severity” 6 Tiferet-“Beauty” (Secondary emotions:) 7 Netzach-“Victory” 8 Hod-“Splendor” 9 Yesod-“Foundation” (Vessel to bring action:) 10 Malchut-“Kingship”
So here I am, at a point where I am personally, politically and spiritually mandated to do exactly what is simultaneously indicated by the Hebrew calendar. I appreciate such sinchronicity. It is rare in my life.
Of course, there remains my own rebelliousness. Study of Kabala is forbidden to those under the age of 44, and I started studying Kabala when I was 40. It is also not traditional for women to study Kabala. But unlike many of the Mosaic laws I have broken, I don’t think this one is a capital crime, so there is that!!! (The religious enforcers may put down their stones at least on this account.)
A few years ago I underwent a deep study of Kabala. Using my own drawings and writings as meditations, I published those writings and drawings on this blog. Feel free to join me and meditate with me on these principles. I am very lost. very very lost. Help me find my way back to something resembling wholeness.
Day one: loving kindness in loving kindness: