Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Public Response to a Personal Question

When Not Busy Casting the Bones & Stirring the Cauldron

I am Busy Being An American

Wherein the Wicked Witch Admits that it Isn't Politics She Loves
Her Country

Usual Disclaimer Type Stuff:  While I usually write about things from my perspective as a Satanic Witch, and that being who I am it could hardly be filtered anyway, like much of the country, politics are on my mind.  I must then repeat, The Church of Satan does not, ever, take a position on political policies, parties, candidates, or legislative issues.  They are the only church I am aware of, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong, that upholds the Jeffersonian ideal of true separation of church and state.  Therefore our members are utterly free to pursue, or not, whatever position they feel best represents their needs and principles.  Now, one would think that sort of open-minded, generous view would be seen as the opposite of the cult like preaching of politics from the pulpit that seems the norm on Sunday, these days.  

But no, the Right think we are left wing radicals with billions of dollars.  They drag up crazy Chelsea Clinton conspiracies, liberal doses of the Illuminati, and claim we run ANTIFA...blah, blah, blah.
Which, strangely, makes me more comfortable than when the Left attack. 

They think we are all the worst kind of anything that ends with "ist."  We are all racist, sexist, anti-feminist---by the time they are done listing all the people we allegedly hate I want to ask who the fuck they think is left to be in the Church?

It is hard, what the Church does.  I know because I keep writing "we," and as pretentious as I can be, I didn't mean it in the imperial sense.  I know when I am speaking I have to be clear I am speaking for myself, not the organization.

So that was on my mind after a particularly hurtful twitter battle with someone who attacked the Church from a political position, as well as all the usual bullshit.  

So, already on my mind was the futility of online politics, whether I should be concentrating on something (like, anything) else, and why it matters to me.

Then, under a full moon, with music filtering out of a small British restaurant, absolutely packed with people of any number of genders, nationalities, races, religions and degrees of sobriety, someone reminded me why I am the way I am.  What follows springs from that moment.

A dear friend, who I respect deeply, but with whom I disagree with most everything, politically, asked me a question I could not answer, properly, at the time.

He wanted to know why I would speak politically, if doing so could cause me to lose friends--was it worth it?
The timing was strange as I had been contemplating how to remain true to myself and not further confuse a specific brand of politics with my apolitical church, and in the name of self-awareness, while I knew the bottom line answer, I asked myself why I am so obsessed with our government?

I envy those who don't feel the need to shoot off their mouths.  I am jealous of those who can happily go about their lives with little or no regard for shit that, let's face it, we can't control.  They have a peace I will never know, and I don't hold that against them, but that isn't who I am. Like all of us I am a product of my environment.

I have spent a lifetime out of the mainstream.  My grandparents were unique, my parents were brilliantly weird, and so it goes.  It might strike my friend funny to know that as a kid, trying desperately to fit in, I used to beg to my parents “can’t we be normal?”  When we moved upstate from NYC our lack of normalcy became so obvious it was jarring. Picture a hippie version of the Addams Family moving onto an entire block of Archie Bunkers.  It wasn’t pretty.

Watching those neighbors, flag wavers, all shiny and clean, doing the Sunday church thing, raising perfect cheerleaders and football stars, I felt I wasn’t one of them--and trust me, whenever I tried, they made sure I knew they thought the same.  I learned about the cruelty of the majority in the most benign, bucolic, surroundings. I learned about pack mentality, not on National Geographic, but in suburban backyards. Then, as now, I found my place as the scapegoat, designated to be blamed for whatever plagued the social group. It should surprise no one that from grade school I learned that hypocrisy enraged me above all things.

I watched my father get punched in the face for having the nerve to have a peace symbol bumper sticker on his car, by a church deacon.  I watched my mother cry when she ran the local brownie group, spent hours creating and gifting the most amazing crafts, and, one moment, the girls were engaged and delighted--and the next the parents dismissed her for being “too young” which, we were later told, by the only black people in 30 miles, was code for “show business Jews, from the city!"  I had been taught that we were all Americans and nothing else mattered, but that wasn’t what I saw from suburban patriots. The had a very minimalist, but straight forward, postcard view of what an American was. We were a blot on their image, skewing the demographic, and we were resented for it.

I was lonely but I wasn't unhappy. We were the weirdos who went to museums and plays. We read books. We read and watched the news. We travelled throughout the states for months every summer. We studied history by touching it. I don't know how old I was when I realized I loved my country, but I tied it to my family, and to what we represent.

My father, from Dubuque, Iowa, has a degree in history, my mother, a true native New Yorker, had a Masters in Fine Arts, before retiring to the Rocky Mountains.  My grandfather was born and raised in the Midwest gaining engineering and literature degrees, before moving east, and my grandmother immigrated from Warsaw, Poland, with her 8 brothers and sisters, and became the first Jew to enroll in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  What I am saying is my family IS America. We embody its principles and its history. If we connect in no other way to our fellow man, we are connected by that. It is the link that ties us to humanity, and it matters. 

Our experience spans from the Midwest, to Ellis Island, to Hollywood, going back to the Salem Witch Trials, as well as a case of genetic wanderlust that has me in the South and my kids in four different states.  This really is MY country. I am ridiculously idealistic, and in the face of all things to the contrary, I’m still a believer in the American ideal. I may be a Satanist for what I KNOW, but I am an American for what I believe: Equality under the law, justice to those who harm the innocent, and opportunity for all.

I have 5 kids and 3 grandkids.  If I didn’t, maybe it would matter less.  Since I don’t believe in any afterlife beyond that which you leave behind, my kids and then theirs will contend with whatever choices we allow to be made in our name.  This country was specifically designed by people who embraced the concept of leaving it better than they found it.  They promoted a revolution through protest. They enumerated potential pitfalls, and did something truly unique for us American weirdos.

  They made us matter even if everyone is against us.

The Bill of Rights is designed to protect us from what a complete democracy can do--because in reality a complete democracy is mob rule/pack mentality.  The Bill of Rights protects the INDIVIDUAL. How can someone like me, the perennial outsider, not be grateful and do all I can to protect it?

I see the right to redress grievances as a moral obligation, in return for my children’s rights and freedoms. This is my America, and I react to those I see as damaging it like anyone would if someone was stealing the car out of their driveway.  It pisses me off. Instinct screams “No, asshole! You can’t have it!”

So, if speaking my mind about politics loses me friends or followers, despite my civil and friendly demeanor in public or private, I can’t even count as high as the number of fucks I don’t give.   All of my greatest failings, my biggest mistakes, were based on denying what my instincts and my principles were telling me. I won't deny my convictions for people who can't understand that loving America has nothing to with saluting flags and blindly accepting. It has to do with, for me, being part of its evolution, as I utilize the freedoms and institutions it gave us. I won't sacrifice that amazing gift, fed with the blood of generations of our soldiers, for something as transitory as being popular.

Not when it comes to my children’s America.
So, this election cycle too, shall pass. And most of those who need the race to be interested will post cool kitty videos and recipes, and life will return to normal, and most online bickering, forgiven. I will still be writing congresspeople, gathering statistics, in one hand, and doing witchy stuff with the other.

To sum:

“Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions”

Dag Hammarskjold

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