Friday, April 25, 2008

A pondering...

Yesterday I experienced a moment that stirred up all manner of emotions.

As some of y’all know a bitch is a culture addict with a background in cultural anthropology. I have learned to celebrate the belief systems of others and to honor a person’s right to cultural expression.

But that value and honor shit has limits.

So, yesterday…a bitch was having a conversation with a friend and we were both expressing our annoyance over the allergy-based drama going on in our sinuses. Another individual joined the conversation and took issue with our “negativity”. A bitch was annoyed…partly because my fucking head hurt and my eyes were burning but also because I have a right to be negative just like other people have the right to Let The Sun Shine! Let The Sun Shine In! The Sun Shine In! all up in my conversation about allergies.

Blink.

Anyhoo, somehow or other this positive person introduced the notion that people choose to have allergies...that led to people choosing to be ill…which led to people choosing to be born in an oppressed group and be victims of genocide…which led to this individual saying that my autistic brother was born autistic because of choices made in a previous life.

Pause...sip orange soda pop...continue.

Now, that was where the value and honor other people's right to believe shit hit my mental wall.

The conversation ended...cough...and I quickly dismissed the individual because I don’t actually think this person is committed to that belief system or any belief system as much as jumping from belief to belief whenever and for whatever reason.

But the opinions this person expressed are not new and deeply trouble me.

When I was a wee bitch some preacher told my mother that my brother Bill was born autistic because she had not been forgiven for her sins. I’ll never forget hearing that…my mother told every person she knew through a multi-day phone-a-thon that the preacher was an asshole and that she would never step foot in that church again. I have heard that same opinion expressed from many different sources and, for a while, I internalized it. A bitch used to pray and pray to God begging for my brother to be “fixed” and it took me years to realize that The Divine One answered me…Bill’s perfectly autistic and a blessing as he is. He’s not a punishment…he didn’t fuck something up in a past life…he is not the wages of my mother or father’s sins.

Poor people aren’t poor because they aren’t faithful enough…middle class people aren't not rich as sin because they aren't as faithful as sinfully rich people...cancer isn’t a punishment for some lapse in positivity…Darfur didn’t have a genocide coming from some past life transgression.

The danger of this way of thinking is that it absolves us…you and this bitch and everyone in between…of any responsibility. It is a philosophy of Not My Fucking Problem that empowers believers to walk past, ignore and disdain others who may be in need. And it acquits those who do evil of what they have done and why they did it.

It also assumes an impossible level of control. If I falter…disease, poverty and misery. If I maintain…health, wealth and joy. “I” is at the center but not in a...dare I say it?..positive fashion. This bitch knows a true thing…we humans are powerless over a lot of shit, but we can control how we respond to shit.

Anyhoo, a bitch is all for positive thinking but I’m a believer in keeping shit real.

If there’s a pile of bullshit in the room, positive thinking may bring someone in to clean that stankified mess up or mayhap that someone will come because she wasn't able to stand the smell. Either way a bitch doubts the bull took that shit in the middle of the room because the occupants of the room where getting their negative on.

Bulls shit.

Bulls in rooms will shit in them.

A bitch’s secret would be to guide said bull back to pasture and latch the gate.

32 comments:

SagaciousHillbilly said...

"The danger of this way of thinking is that it absolves us…you and this bitch and everyone in between…of any responsibility. "

Bingo!

That's what the power mongers guiding the fundies want them to believe. . .

and,

"Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" "turn over a new leaf" "get your shit together" "buck-up"

Some people need to hear that shit, but you don't tell some ADHD 13 yr old that it's all his fault and all he has to do is change.

KBO said...

Oh, Bitch and Sagacious--

I needed two folks like you to make me think the ENTIRE world hasn't gone mad. From a father-in-law who told me via e-mail yesterday that 1)George W. Bush will be remembered as one of the greatest American presidents in history and 2)CFL light bulbs are a left-wing conspiracy to expose people to mercury, to my husband getting an e-mail from the parent of a student telling him that she didn't want her daughter (who came out to her this week) to join the "AIDS Club" i.e. the Gay/Straight Alliance, I've had it up to here with the straight assholes whose belief systems are based on hatred, xenophobia, intolerance, greed, and fear.

It makes me sick to my stomach. I need y'all people to keep me grounded in the fact that not everyone is a total clueless jerk.

Love ya. Mean it. I raise my virtual cocktail glass to you.

A.evilredhead said...

I am glad to see that there are some free thinkers left, who know that bad shit happens, but that KNOW that it isn't all our fault.

A dear friend of mine died this February due to an inoperable brain tumor. His widow still struggles with the 'why him', 'what could we have done to prevent this'.

The answer is there is nothing anyone could have done and there may not be a 'reason' we can grasp as to why he got sick.

But I know this just as sure as somewhere about this murky cloud deck the sun is shining, RK did NOT deserve this, his wife did not deserve this, no one deserves allergies, AIDS, Darfur, China's crackdown on Tibet.

It is a testament as to our strength that we deal with these things, stand up and try to stop evil doers and comfort the suffering.

Anonymous said...

There goes the legacy of the prosperity preachers (Hagee, Eddie Jones, Creflo Dollar, and the like) and Christian Scientists. They are a menace to society.

NancyP

Anonymous said...

This preacher has long been picking up the pieces after folks like "some preacher" who talked with your mother.

Your combination of urban bitchitude and rural knowledge of the habits of bulls is truly delightful. I'd love to share your theological insights with my parish in my next sermon, but I'm not sure the ABB vernacular would translate well to the pulpit.

Perhaps over coffee and in less formal settings . . .

Thanks, Shark-fu -- and keep enjoying the blessing that Bill is in your life.

Peterr (of FDL)

betmo said...

scientologist or fundie? oh right- that's splitting hairs ;) i don't want to have allergies either and i am all sorts of crabby and bitchy when i am suffering and i don't give a you know what who's on the receiving end at the time. it is not my choice and it is certainly tough to live with.

on a less bitchy note from me- i have two words- neti pot. for the sinuses. trust me- warm salt water washing through your sinuses brings almost instant relief. almost INSTANT!! i was delighted and a whole lot less likely to punch out folks like your positive stranger.

pluky said...

Well! You've sure kicked open the door to the grownups' room. This is my favoritest area in religion/ethics/moral philosopy. Anyone care to join me in exploring theodicy, deconstructing Job, and pondering the Noble Truth that to exist is to suffer?

bitchphd said...

This bitch would make the bull trample the person standing around telling you to Think Positively on the way back to the pasture.

The fact that you wouldn't suggests that you're less a bitch than a motherfucking saint. (And I love that your mom called everyone she knew to tear that pastor down. Awesome.)

Anonymous said...

Amen to all of the above. We have to believe that saner minds will prevail.

l.jackson said...

When did we choose the illnesses we have...oh yes, the evil of our past lives? I once was told that if we 'do evil' in this life we have to keep coming back until we get it right. Didn't know that meant the illness comes with us??? Do u think Miss Sunshine was just batting mouth to stir u up by any chance..the mind game???

ar said...

Thanks for this lovely posting. Sort of reminded me of my mother who when I would tell her about some or other plight would say I need to be positive, i.e. whatever negative happened to me is as a result of having been less than positive. I am responsible for the shit that happens to me in other words. Do you believe in that too? I don't. Shit happens period.

Anonymous said...

Long-time lurker here. Dear Bitch, how can I learn to be more like you? You actually seem to think before you react. I react (usually with a truckload of anger) and think "oops" later, and then try to recover.

girl6 said...

Yep. Some people don't believe shit stink even if they're up to their necks in it.

And another thing, while we're talking about belief: I've had it up to my braids with people jacking other folks' traditions without first learning about, honoring and experiencing said traditions they just jacked.

This one time, I was at a beach party at one of the Great Lakes. Some skinny, shirtless paleface (with a ponytail and faux Lakota tattoo) was running up and down the beach, scooping up sand and mud and sticks and shit and putting it in a pile. I watched first with curiosity and then alarm, as it was late afternoon on a Midwestern July day with about 200% humidity and dude looked he was about to spontaneously combust. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I'm building a sweat lodge." I noted that he was already sweating profusely so I'm all like, "Why?" And he says, "So that we can have a sweat and commune with the ancestors."

Because, you know, his Luthern great grandmother is gonna show up at some duffus-ass sweat lodge.

That shit pisses me off.

Macon D said...

Right said, well said. I like to think of karma running over certain people's dogma, but that "previous life" crap rankles as much as any other superstition, or, excuse me, "religion." It just inspires people to do nothing but sit around being uninspired.

Amanda Marcotte said...

I've been hearing that about allergies more and more. I blame acupuncture and chiropraction-whatthefuckever. People think you can cure your allergies by poking yourself with needles and popping your back, and they're going to conclude that it's all in your head. I mean, I blame that in part, along with larger trends you point to.

Jeff said...

Honestly, my mind still reels when I think about that "conversation." The one thing I wonder, though, is: if I had given into my urge to shove her disagreeable ass down the stairs, once she reached the bottom, would she still have been of the opinion that we bring these consequences into our own lives? Somehow, I doubt it.

mikeinportc said...

There's still a lot of the by-your-own-bootstrap TRUEBELIEVERS that think all sorts of things, especially mental illnesses are choices . "Just get over it " Bad brain chemistry doesn't exist .

( I'm thinking depression, bipolar etc, as examples . I'm not referring to autism and your brother. I know that's a whole 'nother thing .)

The just don't realize that they were lucky , along with possibly being "good" somehow . They can't understand how everybody else might not be so lucky . Life can turn on so many (seemingly)little
things. This instead of that , and it's completely different thereafter .

Btw, allergies do suck . I'm stuffed up from now 'til hard frost . Blahhh!

jsb16 said...

These "positive" people are probably also the ones who think they've earned every scrap of privilege they have on their lonesome. I'd like to swap immune systems with them. Let them feel what it's like when your body decides that peanut butter is a deadly toxin...

betmo said:
"i have two words- neti pot. for the sinuses. trust me- warm salt water washing through your sinuses brings almost instant relief."
I have a neti pot, but I've never been able to get the saline to washing through my sinuses. Any tips?

Twuppet said...

Right on. I agree on all points but one. I don't believe in evil. Yeah, obviously there have been infinate instances of inexpressable horrors perpetrated.
But I prefer to (when pressed) call it sick. I just don't believe that people are inherantly good or EVIL. We're all just people who, based on our knowledge or lack thereof, make choices that affect the world. To my mind it's a healthy thing to try to relate to others with compassion and empathy, while it's SICK to judge people superficially, or condemn them without even attempting to understand what their experience has been, or is etc.,.. I guess you could argue that it's a semantical argument, but the word we use matter. They're powerful. And to use the word Evil, particularly, I feel only serves to empower a divisive, war-mongering, antiquated and outmoded belief system.

cordieb said...

Real bitch of blog. Thanks for keeping it real!

Peace!

ouyangdan said...

Angry Black Bitch,

this was amazingly wonderful!

I am so sick and fucking tired of being told that it is all in my head or that if I would just.

whether it be horrible pain from a debilitating disease,

or that i should just "cheer up"

or that privilege is made up and that if I could find a way to admit that I would be "free".

I don't comment here as much as I should, but when I do, it really brings me home.

Thank-you.

Ashley said...

As someone who kinda believes in karma, it always causes me dismay when people get it so wrong, and particularly when they use it to justify or minimize others' oppression and suffering, or their own acting like a jerk.

As far as any major religious tradition is concerned, karma is not a system of punishment and reward. Just cause and effect. It's not some mystical force that makes everything right and fair. Anyone who really understands Buddhism or Hinduism would tell you that.

Rileysdtr said...

*Sneezecough* Help me recall - which of the new age Self-help books was this Sunshine Monger quoting (spewing) from? It was on Oprah... if you're poor it has nothing to do with your financial circumstances and everything to do with your attitude? If you're sick it's because you want to be? Too new-age-y for the Christian Presses, but close. Nuts - I'm going to have to google it and then block it from my memory again.

CERTAINLY attitude is everything; some people do malinger or whine when they're not really sick (sorry guys, but most of you are babies when you come down with so much as the sniffles...) money does not buy happiness, we carry the crosses we can bear, yadda yadda yadda but anybody tries to tell me someone has a disease because they aren't "good enough" or are paying for sins past is going to get a fist right to the nose and an innocent "Oh sorry, the Devil made me do it."

Rileysdtr said...

*Sneezecough* Help me recall - which of the new age Self-help books was this Sunshine Monger quoting (spewing) from? It was on Oprah... if you're poor it has nothing to do with your financial circumstances and everything to do with your attitude? If you're sick it's because you want to be? Too new-age-y for the Christian Presses, but close. Nuts - I'm going to have to google it and then block it from my memory again.

CERTAINLY attitude is everything; some people do malinger or whine when they're not really sick (sorry guys, but most of you are babies when you come down with so much as the sniffles...) money does not buy happiness, we carry the crosses we can bear, yadda yadda yadda but anybody tries to tell me someone has a disease because they aren't "good enough" or are paying for sins past is going to get a fist right to the nose and an innocent "Oh sorry, the Devil made me do it."

Phoebe Fay said...

Oh argh! I've known people like that! Wretched!

I have often wanted to respond to these people by smacking them upside the head and then saying, "apparently, you choose to get yourself hit today."

What with espousing nonviolence and all, I never actually do it, but the temptation... oh lord the temptation!

Anonymous said...

i hate when people say that!
what really really kills me is when you hear on the news that they saved a little girl, rescued her from the kidnapper, and "god wanted her to live" what kind of shit is that? so all of the other little girls who were raped and killed, what of them? God didn't care about them? How's about God isnt a kidnapper, and didn't make the decision in the first place?

or like when they showed the follow up to that crazy story last year about the two girls who were mixed up in the car crash and one fam though their daughter was dead but she was really in intensive care being nursed by the dead girl's family. the one who lived goes on tv and says right in front of the other girls family "god chose me to live" "i feel honored that god chose me" you could see the pain on the other family's face. it was horrible of her to say she was somehow more valuable than the other girl.

Lethal said...

EXCELLENT POINT.

Jeff said...

I am copying and pasting this whole post into my blog. You rock on witcha bad self, ABB.

jimbo said...

Kudos to your patience on this one. I'm sure the allergies in St. Louis are just as bad as they are in DC this time of year. For some people there's no escaping it, and it is certainly real.

I woulda made Mr. Sunshine snort a line of cherry blossom pollen to see if his opinions on allergies remained the same...

Paige said...

Reading you is like listening to the rants in my own head.

I love it--you cut to the heart of something in a way that people cannot miss.

La Lubu said...

If you'd'a throttled Miss Sunshine, and I was on the jury, I'd hang the damn thing if I coudn't get you acquitted. Good Maude does that happy crappy bullshit piss me off. I famously lost it on one of my mother's friends when she (1) chalked up the fact that my daughter's father fell down the meth hole to some "past life" shit he owed me for, and (2) my negativity about the matter (after she brought the subject up) was an affront to her spiritual beliefs and endangering her health (in my house. my house! y'know, the one I pay for, whose door her ass can or cannot hit on the way out when she leaves if she doesn't like it).

Ahem.

After my daughter got out of the NICU (both NICUs; she spent some time at Cardinal Glennon also!), I heard that a lot---how she "made it" because of prayers, or faith, or whatever. Frankly, it was pure grace. A gift. Those poor parents who buried their babies didn't bury them for a lack of prayers, lemme tellya.

Gaah. I start thinking eeevil thoughts around the "you picked your poison, now drink up" types. Something about needing a triple-shot of their own bad medicine.

Amber said...

I'm writing from LA were everyone is into "The Secret" and the americanized version of Karma, which sounds really great when you are talking about parking spaces, but not so good when you apply to rape, genocide, natural disasters, etc.
Didn't you know, people without clean water are just not putting that positivity into the universe...sigh.