Monday, June 13, 2016

1119 Roundup


"The crucial difference between
Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bi-Sexual,
Intersex and Questioning people
and other minorities is this:

In every other minority group the family shares the minority status.
In fact it is often something that unites them.
But gay people are a minority group within the family.
A minority of one."

Magda Szubanski
Yesterday I went to see the exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects, and I was thrilled to be able to see many objects from throughout history that I felt I knew so well - the podcast that inspired the exhibition being my favourite listening for relaxation and inspiration.

I walked through the exhibition with four women who are part of the external safe space in my life - the writing group I run which welcomes all writers in all genres, as long as they do not identify as male. This group is full of humans of great intellect and passion, and on Sunday three of them were discussing each object so completely that a volunteer guide asked me if we were a guided tour group. No, I replied, just some learned humans who like to share their knowledge.

Many of the objects that I walked through in the exhibition form part of the internal safe space in my life - history, which over and over again teaches us that today's discrimination and fears did not exist at many points in the past.

Statue of Mithras, replaced by Christ across the Roman Empire

Every culture on every continent throughout time acknowledges the self-evident spectrum of gender identification and sexuality; it is reflected in their pantheons of gods, their shamans and spirit leaders, in their societies and culture. Only Western Christian capitalist culture is obsessed with the binary and fears the spectrum that is right before their very eyes in their friends and family; and that fear and discrimination is outside of humanity and outside of rational, scientific and historical observation.

Arabian Bronze Hand and Seated Buddha from Gandhara

History also shows that religion is a universal human need, and for all its variety the basics are similar across time; there is polytheism or monotheism, and the basic precepts are care for your family and neighbour, and seek to act with your life after death in mind; whether that is the idea of your own life after death, or that of your descendants. The absurd concept of a modern "clash of cultures" dated from a certain day at the start of the 21st century needs only be rebutted with a look at any 100-year-span of history from any continent to prove that religions rise and fall, clash and combine, and it is not caused by anything other than human irrationality or fear.

Today as the world spun on, as our friends who are minorities in their families mourned death in their created families, as Australian and American politicians tried to squish two irrational fears into one short-term political slogan, I longed to push through time into the past, where the stories of all those who were not white, christian and male wait for us, and I longed to bring back to my time a little humanity from those who were wiser and more observant than we.

Carving from the Great Stupa of Amaravati

Bending the Faith to the Facts

To me the most humanist aspects of each set of beliefs speak of three pillars, not three schisms. Science speaks in terms of rigour of inquiry into the real, Philosophy in terms of individual vision and speculative progress, Religion in terms of selfless connection with the past, present and future. I do not see that these three sets of belief cannot work together, especially as all serve humanity; humanity is, after all their creator, their subject and their future.

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