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Cuts Both Ways

The Labrys is, to me, a symbol of great potency. Not just because of the aesthetic beauty, the Minoan Mother Goddess, etc; but also, because it exemplifies a perfect metaphor.

It cuts both ways.

In my world there isn’t any unqualified ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Actions, beliefs, morals, et al have good effects when correctly used and bad effects when applied thoughtlessly. Well, not quite “isn’t any,” because the world runs on perceivable rules/tracks/algorithms:

  1. Every being has free will (until they give it away)
  2. Don’t be a douche (it’s double-bladed)

The rules apply both ways; if I want to be addressed only with the pronouns ‘ze’ and ‘hir’, then when my hypothetically douchey neighbour (HDN) decides to be addressed as ‘sir’ (or possibly, ‘master’) I can’t argue with him. If I call him ‘you’, I feel that I should accept him calling me ‘you’ as well. Or I can argue with him, hoping to change his opinion. Or I can refuse to address him at all; but then I allow those tools to be used on me.

HDN goes on (as always happens, neh?) to broaden his demands. He wants sir-ness to mean ‘white males’ and for all of his white male buddies to be addressed as sir.

“Good luck with that,” I respond, “You and all your douchey buddies can huddle together calling each other ‘sir'”.

But, of course, that’s not the rule they want to apply. They (hypothetically) want all the others to call them ‘sir’ while they slap each other on the back with the douchey flock call (“Har Har Har”) and address each other as buddy.

But I live in a nation. I choose to abrogate my free will and follow societal rules (by and large; I don’t urinate in public but I do sometimes jaywalk) because I want there to be roads and public transportation, universal health care, safeguards against poverty, water and gas delivery and poop removal–and I don’t want to administer those things my own self. I pay taxes for those things as well as a (tiny) say in the administration and decisions of my nation, but my more urgent choice was to pick a nation that gives all citizens equal personhood under the agreed-upon rules and gives all humans hypothetical personhood, even if not citizens.

So, when HDN says that he only likes white people, both I and my nation get involved. He and his buddies can discuss how much they like white people inside his own house; I won’t visit. But when he and his douchey buddies post signs in his yard about his love of white people not only can I and my friends put up signs in my yard:

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But my nation will protect me when he and his buddies come over to my yard to fight it out.

Same with his café; not only can I boycott it and stand about outside with informational stuff about his decisions, but my nation will prohibit him both from putting up a ‘white people only’ sign and also from excluding perceptually-to-him-not-white people. Of course, he and his buddies can come and eat in my café and, indeed, talk about how much they love white people. But not how they hate other people and what they’re going to do about it.

Also, of course, no nation is perfectly (or even adequately) administered. The other price I pay for not having to dig out and later fill in my very own back-house poophole is vigilance.

Some people are being targeted? I must try to know when this happens, broadly transmit the examples pointed out to me, communicate with the elected officials who should be monitoring this, publicly demonstrate for redress—whatever I am able to do.

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Because it is Right Action, but also because I want my own personhood acknowledged and protected in turn. When I march up to my government buildings I expect them to be handicap-accessible and I would expect my fellow-beings to help me complain if they’re not. As a matter of fact, my province (in the name of universal health care, for which I pay taxes) just gave me 75% discount on a brand new roll-y because my old one wore out (see the shiny newness of it?)

Cuts both ways.

I’m limited as to marching, so I rely on other people to do that. But I have a little extra money, so I share it. I drive a car, so I give rides and grocery trips to people who don’t (in exchange I get someone to push my grocery cart for me). I have free time so I organize for my group. I have an ability to hear outside my species so I converse with Land Spirits and Deities and pass on information. I am blessed with several-person’s-worth of opinions so I spew them out.

But I, like everyone, have limited resources. I only confront my Hypothetical Douchey Neighbour when I feel it’s really necessary; HDNs will take up all your time if you let them and nothing will change. I prefer to act in solidarity with the people being acted on, being denied free will. Not only do they understand the problem better than you but they also probably already have a plan that addresses the problem more directly and effectively. So there are addenda to the First Laws:

Look for the victim*

(*being as sure as you can about that; sometimes when I’m in the grocery store and realize I’ve forgotten something we’ve already passed and my friend nicely goes back for it so I’m sitting all alone on my roll-y in an aisle thinking about dinner menus or the woes of the world and someone bursts into my personal space all “are you all right! do you need help! can I DO something for you?!?”)

Listen, and then share.


Judith O’Grady

judithis an elderly Druid (Elders are trees, neh?) living on a tiny urban farm in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks respectfully to the Spirits, shares her home and environs with insects and animals, and fervently preaches un-grassing yards and repurposing trash (aka ‘found-object art’).


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2 Comments »

  1. I’m having a hard time understanding here, demanding somebody use hierarchical terms to describe them is the same as using proper personal pronouns?

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  2. Yes, you are quite right and I was aware of this when I wrote it. Definitely, ‘sir’ and ‘ze’ are in different grammatical word-groups but in some persons’ usages (I’m sure those are not yours) personal pronouns are used as entitlement, much as honorifics are by Your Douchey Neighbour.

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