Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Who am I? Myself

Well, the election is over. Mercifully! I suppose I'm glad Obama won (as opposed to the other one). It's historic. It's good for the African-American soul.

But I was for Nader. I'm always for Nader. Hence my problem. I am also so myself, always have been, and yet I've never been at peace being myself.

The last two years have been interesting and burdensome. My Christian evangelical friends -- mostly the white and hispanic ones-- kept expecting Christians to vote for McCain. Good lord, the way they were acting it was as if Obama was the anti-christ himself. In fact, I remember getting an email to the effect that someone had dreamt that Obama was indeed the anti-christ. Nah, I don't think so. (Of course I could be wrong, but who knows?) I just think Obama wouldn't like me as a friend. I think he'd think he was better than me. I think he'd scorn me -- in much the same way atheists scorn me.

Then there were my black friends. Whether Democrat or Republicans, most of them assumed I would vote for Obama. But why exactly should I vote for him?

Honestly, I'm 48 -- soon to be 49. I've spent a great deal of my life being treated badly by Christian and atheist whites and by rich and poor blacks. I could tell you stories but I won't go on. I tend to go through life on the borderline. The way I figure it, I live in God's kingdom. To the white christians, America is an extension of that kingdom. And to the black christians Obama's success is some kind of joyous enthronement of good.

A part of my problem is that I've been so wounded by every side that I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. I just don't give much of a damn about what certain herds to which I ostensibly belong do or have or praise. Besides, as I have said, I don't really believe Obama would include me in his herd. But the other part of it is that I always think that Ralph Nader speaks deeply on the issues. When I say this, folks say, "You're throwing away your vote!" So? If my integrity says to do something I do it. My integrity is not dependent on who will win. I'm a Christian, after all. If I knew Jesus would have been crucified I still would follow him. I have no great need to win. Besides, voting for Nader helps the guy pay for his campaign and helps to establish the third party system.

In the meantime, I have returned to myself. And I am brave enough to say it here. Hopefully this bravery will help remove the woundedness I often feel when I get rejections from those who think I should be more herdlike. Truly for someone who walks the borderlands and who has integrity I care way too much what people think of me. And that isn't good for one's health. But at least I'm being a tiny little bit brave. On this day after the historic election, I dare to say that I voted for Nader. Life's fine. And perhaps I'm learning not to care what either of my herd thinks.

Part of the situation is this: I have never been able to be swept away or carried away by anything earthly or human. It's probably not exactly the best of traits but alas that's the way I am. I didn't get all swoony when Mel Gibson created The Passion. I don't go into paroxysms of grief when some great leader of the black or Christian or whatever community dies. And if I get all carried away about anything or anyone, it's usually about someone no one else in the world would have liked or thought twice about. And it's often about someone the world has hated. In short I save my extreme joy and my extreme grief for God and for those very like Jesus. I don't try to do it. That's just the way I am. It takes a lot to rock me; what can I say?

Wow!!! Mattilda also posted on not being too excited about Obama. Nice. We folks who battle fibromyalgia are definitely fighters against the norm...even when we seem to be fighting those normal expectations of those who are supposedly on our side.


J. M. Butler said...

I'm glad that you voted where your conscience told you. You're the one that you have to be accountable to, and I think that you are a person with a beautiful soul. We don't have to agree on everything for me to think that, so I would like to believe for you that the same will be true of your audience. Keep up the good work, stay true, and keep writing. God bless you!

Carole McDonnell said...

love you too. thanks. -C

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole!

You will always be my online buddy(even though I voted for Obama), but in my blog, I do mention that it can be a gift and a curse to us to have him as president. I already noticed today how some black men behaved either haughtily, or actually opened doors for the ladies!

And now I have noticed that Black females need to really step it up. I don't look to the president as a role model, I just pray that he will do as God leads him to.

Blessings, :)

Dawn Fortune said...

Carole, I enjoy your words and your spirit shines through them. Something you said struck me strongly: "I've spent a great deal of my life being treated badly by Christian and atheist whites and by rich and poor blacks."

See, I've been treated badly for many years by white people who call themselves Christians. I have nearly zero experience with black folks here in rural Maine, but I am inclined to believe that people are the same all over, no matter skin color. You see, I am a lesbian and a solitary-practicing pagan. As you must be true to yourself, I must be true to myself. I tried for many years to not be a lesbian, and for many years I tried to adhere to the tenets of my Catholic upbringing, but neither fit my nature. My spirituality is deep, profound and personal, and I believe it is not much different from your own. We both strive to do the creator's will each day, we work to bring comfort and justice to our communities, and we struggle with the madness that surrounds us in this world.

Something else you said made an impression on me as well.

"A part of my problem is that I've been so wounded by every side that I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. I just don't give much of a damn about what certain herds to which I ostensibly belong do or have or praise. Besides, as I have said, I don't really believe Obama would include me in his herd."

I admire the curmudgeon's spirit and aspire to perfect it myself. I, too, do not much care what others think about this or that, but there are times when I am profoundly frustrated by the apparent UN-thinking ways of the people around me. I think there is too much noise in this world and far too little quiet contemplation.

And I think that you would be as welcome in Mr. Obama's world as you would allow yourself to be. Sometimes it is safer for me to reject others so that they do not have the opportunity to hurt me with their rejection or judgment. I hold people at arm's length so that they cannot get close enough to hurt me. I wear my class-based anger as a chip upon my shoulder, daring the wealthy (or merely the better-off middle-class) to touch it. To what end does this serve? What benefit do I gain from this? I am not hurt by strangers, true, but what love had I walked past in my rush to keep people away? What peace have I missed? What kindness could I have offered?

It is a struggle, still, for me to cross that barrier and open myself up to know people who are not of my kind. I look at my family, and I am the first to do this. No one else has ever ventured beyond the safe confines of their Irish Catholic world to meet new people, to taste new foods, to explore new ideas. God made us in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors and styles. Why do we seem to want to believe that ours is the only right version out there? Why must we try to make others conform to our standards? I do not ask you to become pagan, would you ask me to abandon a spiritual practice that brings me peace and serenity? I would hope not.

Your words have inspired me already and prompted some good writing, and I thank you very much for that. I'd like to come back and visit again and read more.

Carole McDonnell said...

Hi Dawn.

I think we would get along quite well if we knew each other. If you can, get a copy of my book Wind Follower. It's my experience with the pagan world and with Christianity. I won't should on you...but just be careful with paganism.

Catholicism is interesting. That's all I'll say cause I know many folks who have managed to find a true spirituality inside Catholicism. I don't agree with it in many ways because it is so about giving power to the higher ups and not acknowledging the power God has given his people through christ. It makes folks helpless and dependent...and ...but I'll stop here.

I walk the borderlands. So although I have certain things I totally believe and know to be true, I can't insult or hurt others who are also walking in the borderlands. Life is too wounding. It must be tough living in Maine sometimes.

Be brave and strong.

Carole McDonnell said...


ooh, forgot to add. Nah, I don't think I'd be welcomed in Mr Obama's world. I really don't. Trust me on this. -C

Dawn Fortune said...

I think we'd get along well if we met, you and I. Yes, it can be tough living in Maine sometimes, but it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. When I lie in bed on a summer night I can hear the buoy bell off Otter Point. I wake to the smell of salt. The ocean is a healing entity. Did you know that our bodies naturally the same salinity level as the ocean? It balances me to be this close to the source of all life.
I do not practice paganism in what most people consider the usual way. I tend to worship nature more than any phalanx of gods or goddesses, and I find all religious ritual to be flat-out silly. I believe that the earth and the universe are our creator, not personalities with names. This also explains part of why I am a solitary practitioner. The other part of that is that I believe my worship and my spirituality are not things to be worn on the outside to show off to the world. Spirituality to me seems like it should be a personal, private relationship, not something you dress up for to do in a group. With all that noise, how could I listen?

I have bookmarked your page and return to it here and again. You got a mention in last night's post. I do hope you don't mind. It is true that reading what you say inspires me to think difficult things, and I value that greatly. Please stop by for a visit and let me know what you think. My posts are mostly about feelings and politics, sometimes about work, sometimes about my superhero dog (9 pounds of enthusiasm!) and my relationships with the world around me. Occasionally I get quite cranky, but not often. Take a look. I value your opinion.

Carole McDonnell said...

Will go to your website. I think the thing about ritual is that they are silly if they have no power. Christianity's ritual are rituals of power. They are sacramental, which means they affect the world somehow. Of course some churches thing aesthetic ritual is good enough. They think the beauty of the ritual is all there is. For example: communion. Communion for some is a gooey kinda beautiful ritual. But for me, it has power like all the rituals of Christianity if one believes. I totally believe that eating communion every day is healing medicine. For me it is truly bread indeed and drink indeed. And many people I know have been healed by communion because they truly believe that taking it is eating the true bread from heaven. For instance, my friends, the Sherrils who wrote the book on Corrie Ten Boom were healed by communion from cancer.

A ritual doesn't work if one doesn't bring faith to it, however. And so it might seem silly to some. The same thing goes for all the other rituals: marriage. I totally believe that my hubby and I were made into one person by the act of marriage. The ritual of prayer is also powerful. Laying on of hands, too. I totally believe that healing virtue and other prophetic gifts are imparted through those rituals. So I can't say that rituals are silly. Many of them are accretions to christianity, of course -- the ringing of the bells before communion, for instance. For historical reasons. But I've often found that when someone has grown up in and finally leaves one demonination of Christianity they often think that the rest of christianity is also useless.


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