9 reasons why women and trans people are superior to men (and should never apologize for it)

Standard

bell hooks quote for gender liberation article

  • sriram ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

First things first. I got an opportunity to write this article as a contributor to Lifehack. However a white male editor felt like it was “too heavy handed” and rejected it outright (go figure).

I’m like – meh – I can now publish it on my own blog.

So here goes…

I must start with an honest introduction. I am a man and thus acutely conscious of the fact that I am writing about structures of oppression that I benefit from, like misogyny, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. But that’s not why I jumped at the opportunity to write this article. You see, I have always known from a very young age that the overwhelming amount of love, freedom, healing, intelligence, strength, courage, and spiritual liberation that I have been privileged to have is because of the women and trans people in my life. The number of men that have provided any of that to me are a mere handful, a tiny fraction of the women and trans people who have done the same for me. I have talked about this with many, many people – in my community, among my loved ones, my friends and acquaintances – men, women, and trans alike. They all come back, in an uncannily uniform way, with the same answer – love, freedom, healing, and goodness in general come from the women and trans people in their lives (exceptions notwithstanding), while most of the violence, abuse, and oppression come from the men (again, and I repeat, exceptions notwithstanding). Go ahead and examine your own life, and you’ll realize why women and trans people should never, ever, apologize for being the superior part of humanity. But let’s not settle on easy platitudes.  Here are a few reasons why women and trans people are superior to men and should never apologize for it (bearing in mind that this is not an exhaustive list by any means).

Never apologize for being more loving and nurturing human beings than men: Think of all the times in your life when you have received love, healing, affection, a nurturing touch, boundless care, or a soothing balm for your pain and suffering  – from the time of our birth, the overwhelming majority of that loving, nurturing spirit comes to us from the women in our lives, and rarely from the men. And as we start fighting for a truly gender-liberated society, we realize that they come to us from the women and trans people of our communities. After all, the fight against the oppression of the gender binary is absolutely vital for true gender liberation to take place. Love and a healing way of living is what makes us human and it is what gives us a chance at living in communion with the earth and animals, rather than trying to ravage them for profit. We owe women and trans people our very lives and more for showing us the way forward to true happiness and freedom as a society with their loving, nurturing spirits.

Never apologize for being greater freedom-fighters and peacekeepers than men: The last few millenia saw the advent of agriculture, the nation-state, capitalism, and organized religion with distinctly male gods, prophets, and leaders. The history of the last few millenia can also be summarized thus – Women and trans people do the work of laying the foundations for freedom and peace in societies worldwide; Men take the credit and then mess things up. A current pop culture example can be found in the justifiable castigation of the 2015 eponymous film about the awe-inspiring Stonewall uprisings which were inspired by the heroic actions of queer women and trans people, many of whom were people of color. The film’s hero is a fictitious white male who is shown to lead the uprisings. Figure out what’s wrong with that picture for yourselves. In terms of less momentous examples – think of the people in your life who curbed your freedom, limited your independence, and imparted violence or abuse upon you – in your daily life, your past, your childhood, your youth, your adulthood. If folks can get past the endless neural loop of blaming their mother, I am certain that the majority of people will realize that men are the primary violators of basic human rights. Life facts don’t lie. Women and trans people are far superior freedom fighters and are the true peacekeepers of the earth.

Never apologize for being smarter and more intelligent than men: Think of all the skills we use on a daily basis – and I’m not just talking about the skills needed for your job or career, thought it includes that. I’m talking about the mental, emotional, and physical skills for life starting from birth – the way we think, react, move, talk, process, solve problems, understand the world, become ourselves, build a community, fight the good fight and so on – from the time of our birth, the overwhelming majority of those skills come to us from the women in our lives. The reason is not that hard to fathom. We live in a patriarchal, sexist world – women and trans people have to be far superior to men in pretty much every way just to stand a chance at having some independence and freedom in their life choices.  Women and trans people work much harder than men. Women and trans people use many more parts of their brain than men do. Women and trans people have a greater sense of the sheer length, breadth, and depth of life than men do. So make no mistake about it – women and trans people are smarter and more intelligent than men.

Never apologize for being braver warriors and more indomitable fighters than men: For a very brief period in my twenties I was part of a semi-underground, revolutionary group that fought against injustice and oppression in central India. While I found them to be inspiring and valiant, they were too dogmatic for me, so I left and have since embraced the idea that freedom in society ought to be brought about organically and non-violently (though with no less brave confrontation against injustice). This group had an armed wing, one which I was not a part of since I was involved as a city-based organizer. But I was privileged to meet some of the fighters, and what surprised me was the higher percentage of women in the group, including some who actively broke the oppression of the gender binary. They were the best fighters, the best squad leaders, the best strategists, and the toughest warriors. The higher-rung leaders of the group (mostly men unfortunately) preferred female fighters and leaders because the women had to sacrifice a lot more to join, and would face a lot more violence, abuse, even death, if they left the struggle and went back home. Once I left India, I did some extensive research into liberation movements worldwide, armed and unarmed, and the findings were astounding. Women and trans people were the best fighters and organizers because they knew the injustices of society in the most in-depth way. And that’s true anywhere in the world, with any society, movement, or group.

Never apologize for being better healers and educators than men: Now, I know that doctors and university professors tend to still be professions having a phallic-predilection, with an astounding paucity of women and trans people (though thankfully that’s slowly changing). But, in reality, the true healing and education of humanity is almost solely done by women and trans people. First of all, barring overpaid doctors and ivory tower intellectuals, the professional fields of health and education easily constitute 70-80% women. Nurses, teachers, social workers, counselors, therapists, healers, practitioners, case managers and more – the work is done overwhelmingly by women (and as the gender binary regression in society breaks down, trans people too), while men dominate the positions that are overpaid and provide stardom. Even in the more elite sections of the fields, women and trans doctors or professors tend to be far more caring and nurturing to their patients and students. Outside of the professional fields – in our homes, communities, and social lives – it becomes even more obvious who the true healers and educators of humanity are.

Never apologize for being more emotionally resilient and mentally tougher than men: My goddess of a partner is currently pregnant with our first child. She’s going through fatigue and nausea, the likes of which I can barely even fathom. If I went through a fraction of what she went through, I would be a whiny crybaby. She is exponentially tougher than I or any man I know. Throughout my life, my partner, my mother, my sisters, my aunts, and women and trans friends life have always provided me with emotional strength and mental fortitude when it was found lacking in me. As I started truly understanding the patriarchy and sexism around us, apart from the need for self-reflection and the removal of internalized oppression, it has also highlighted some very important truths – one of them being that women and trans people are far more emotionally resilient and mentally tougher than men. We would do well to heed that.

Never apologize for having a more liberated soul and greater spiritual grounding than men: The previous points all had real life examples and mini exercises that highlighted the truth to what I was saying. This point is all soul, so it’s more a believe-it-or-not kind of thing. Ever since I committed with my heart and mind, and most importantly, my soul, to following what I call the spirit of the gender-free divine feminine, life has never been better for me. It’s really simple to do that as a man. I’m not talking about some hoaky religious custom (though if you’re into that, it’s all good). It’s actually a very practical real-life suggestion despite being a point about spirituality. Just follow and adhere to the knowledge, the emotional depth, and the spiritual grounding of the women and trans people in your life. You will know a happiness far superior than anything you ever imagined.

Never apologize for being humanity’s one and only hope: This article is redundant. Indeed, the very fact that this article actually needs to be written is a grotesque testament to the misogyny, patriarchy, and heteronormativity across the globe. Thus this final point is nothing more than a semi-rant, mostly aimed at my fellow cis-men. Not only is there nothing for women and trans people to apologize for, all men across the globe would be irredeemably stupid if they failed to accept the leadership, wisdom, and nurturing guidance of the women and trans people in their lives in order to come out of this gargantuan mess we call the human civilization.

Gender-free matriarchy anyone? I know I’m game.

[PS: If you liked this post, you might also be interested in this podcast entitled “Honoring the gender-free divine feminine“: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dayinthelifeofthehappiestguy/2015/09/26/honoring-the-gender-free-divine-feminine–podcast-14]

Advertisements

Liberating myself from racist animal slurs by invoking the pure souls of the animals themselves

Standard

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

I have been called more animal slurs than I can remember ever since I moved to North America a dozen years ago. Generally those slurs include variations of primates, and sometimes even canines. Greetings like “sand monkey”, “Indian dog”, even “Paki cur” (or it might have been “Paki cunt” in which case I have been ascribing a touch more linguistic depth to the humans who choose to use these monikers than I need to). Also “big ape”, “ugly gorilla”, “fucking chimp” and more. Occasionally, other animals will be invoked. This one time in Toronto’s gay village I was called a “hot and spicy bear” if I’m remembering correctly, and another time in Boston I was called “the great Indian bull” (these last two slurs I think were meant to be exotic compliments by heavily deluded, older white men who were of the belief that their gayness excused them from a basic sense of humanity.)

This is, of course, in addition to the usual smatterings of other non-animal slurs. I often project an ambiguous ethnicity on the streets, so a fairly broad gamut of slurs periodically come my way.

Now, I don’t wish to project this as a daily occurrence, or even a very frequent one, depending on your definition of an acceptable frequency for folks to face this. (I’m one of those saps who thinks once is too many, but to each their own.)

Of course, barring loved ones and genuine friends, a lot of people who don’t face these kinds of slurs tend to be surprised that “this shit still happens?” when I tell them about these experiences.

Be that as it may, over the last many years, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been called some slur or the other in various parts of the US and Canada. After the first fifty or so times, one just blurs it out.

Now, I have found some awesome ways to liberate myself from the clearly dehumanizing intent of all those microaggressions. I’ve already written about how, ultimately, those who oppress or benefit from said oppression are the ones who are dehumanized, and not the ones the oppressive attacks are directed at. So I won’t belabor that point.

But what about also invoking the awe-inspiring pure souls of the animals themselves to liberate ourselves from the ugly manner in which they are twisted into dehumanizing slurs?

It worked wonders for me.

Equally importantly, it led me on a path of slowly destroying my anthropocentrism. It showed me that there was just as much love and liberation, if not more, that one could find with non-human souls as one could with human ones.

(Frankly, I’m seriously thinking of going the other direction and considering misanthropy as a solid life philosophy to incorporate – or maybe just misandry, considering women and trans folk are the only saving grace for humanity. But I think it might be best to keep the therapeutic rage for a later time.)

So let’s talk a bit about liberating ourselves by invoking the amazingly pure souls of the animals, who are unfortunately being dragged into this racism and colonialism nonsense for no fault of theirs.

But I’m not going to do it by addressing the slurs hurled at me in America and Canada. It’s easy to do that. Plus there are many eager liberals who will queue up to condemn those slurs and I don’t really feel like making myself angry right now.

Instead, what I would like to talk about is a body-image slur I faced when I was a kid, because that’s where this healing technique really began for me. Without realizing it, I used this very technique to liberate myself from the constant teasing around my pudginess when I was a kid. And when I recount that episode, it becomes easy to do it as an adult, which I hope you can as well should you ever need this technique.

In this case, i.e. my generously layered pre-teenage years, the animal used to tease me was the awe-inspiring, soul-liberating, elephant – one of my spirit animals. So, I’m going to first talk a bit about how that took place. Because it helped me many, many years later when the monkey/dog slurs were hurled at me.

Ok here goes.

So, I was a pudgy kid.

That much you have gathered.

And I got teased a lot. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dump all of my awkward insecurities on you with this article (that’s what I have my cats for). But I will have to recount some of those ego-busting moments, so try to not shuffle your feet too much.

Among the usual monikers, was your basic, never-going-out-of-style “fatty” in a variety of languages. The linguistic medium and environment of my childhood was a gorgeous mix of English, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu, and Malayalam across friends and family, with the odd bit of Telugu and Bengali thrown in for good measure (usually in the form of crude jokes we would make of our friends who spoke those languages – yo, we all did it to each other).

Needless to say, the number of ways in which you can be teased also gets that rich linguistic and cultural diversity. From being compared to a variety of large, bulbous fruits native to the respective regions that my tormentors hailed from, to just being made fun of via a particular cultural or even religious trope, I heard it all.

When you come from a land that has every religion on the planet, including one that boasts over 3000 gods, chances are that there are some fairly plump ones too, such as Ganesh, the elephant god of goodness, knowledge, and other such desirable life entities.

Growing up, I hated his guts.

Because each god in Hinduism has umpteen different monikers and stories which – in Ganesh’s case – meant umpteen different ways of teasing us fat kids.

However, the one ubiquitous mode of teasing us across linguistic and cultural differences was to be compared to the (ahem, in reality, heavily muscled but admittedly good-personality-possessing) elephant.

We were in India after all.

The elephant.

What an amazing being with such a beautiful, liberated soul.

I realized that when, as a pudgy kid, I was on this trip to Guruvayoor, a small Hindu pilgrimage town, famous for the massive temple honoring the lord Guruvayurappan, a Tamil and Malalayalam moniker – and thus a naturally more tongue-tying one – for Vishnu, one of the dudes in the Hindu holy trinity.

(But one of the meh, not-so-cool, ones. Not like the awesome bad ass – Shiva.)

So there I was in Guruvayoor, placing various gods on a hierarchy of coolness, for this annual pilgrimage that my parents really liked taking. We always drove from Bangalore. I loved those trips because we all got to drive through Kerala, one of the gorgeous coastal states of the land and consisting about 60% of my roots, primarily on my mother’s side (tongue-twisters all).

When I became 18 and somehow connived to get a driver’s license (despite the testing officer’s eyeballs nearly popping out of his socket and chastising me for driving so rashly), I got to hone my driving skills under the patient tutelage of my father during the many road trips we took – the one to Guruvayoor always being among the most picturesque.

It was in Guruvayoor that I first met, soul to soul, an elephant. I was about 10 years old and it was the briefest of meetings, just long enough for a picture to be taken.

She was a kid elephant that the mahout (elephant man) told me was slightly younger than me in terms of our respective stages of childhood.

She looked at me and I looked at her. I felt her tough hide, with hair that stuck out like the sharp bristles of a brush. I felt her majestic breathing. She turned her face slightly, and grunted softly in friendship. Her trunk lightly enveloped my hips, not holding it tightly, but what felt more like a friendly, loving arm around my torso, except from a limb that could have crushed me with ease. Even as a child, she still had a raw power that I could barely contain my awe of.

But the tingle that went up my spine wasn’t due to her physical strength.

Like I said.

Soul to soul.

It was then that I realized a very simple truth that liberated me from the supposed slur of being compared to an elephant.

This being had a soul far purer than any of my tormentors.

Oh hell yeah.

I dug being compared to an elephant.

Or a dog for that matter. Or a monkey, a cat, a bear, a crow, a bull, or any other animal soul out there that we humans dare to invoke with our hateful misogyny, our racist bile, and our colonial entitlement.

Because if there are still people who think animal slurs can be used to hurt women, or people of color, or trans folk, or indigenous people – those hate-mongers should know this very simple truth:

Invoking the pure souls of animals liberates us and defeats the hatred.

In fact, I just realized something else…

We’re also happier as a result.

Purrr…

There is a sickness running through our society

Standard

We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

There is a sickness running through our society – and we need to heal from it with love even if we have to go through some pain in order to do so. The sooner we begin, the better. Some of us have already begun, or at least we think we have. The problem is that our society, for the most part, doesn’t realize that it has this deeply malevolent sickness. And that’s because it’s currently being held at bay. The symptoms are being managed, so to speak.

This sickness is currently being held at bay via a heady and mind-numbing mixture of patriarchy, nationalism, and colonial entitlement.

But the true insidiousness of this sickness is that it’s being held at bay by the very entities causing it in the first place. They cannot afford to let the sickness erupt and thus manage its symptoms. By doing that they ensure we as a society never realize we’re suffering from this sickness and prevent us from finding ways of healing from it.

The symptom-management drugs are prescribed and handed out for free by the powers-that-be.

(I swear, I didn’t really intend for that to rhyme, because if I did I should be slapped in the face).

Seriously though. Just check out any commercial brand name, 24-hour “news” program, or vapid entertainment show that essentially keeps stating over and over, in a myriad different ways and with only so much audacity:

“Our Western society is the pinnacle of mankind and we are the greatest people on earth!”

It’s good prescription crack, no? Just hearing that must make any member of Western society positively giddy with all that artificial dopamine (especially those who can really claim nationalistic and, dare I say it, racial membership in that society).

The idea that we in the West – the US, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Australia, what have you – are more civilized, more peace loving, and more free, than the rest of the world is such a powerful, heady drug that it could provide an artificial escape from the most insidious trauma and cruelty.

And make no mistake, my siblings wherever you may find yourself free and loved on the gender spectrum – there are vast, deep-rooted, and vicious forms of trauma and cruelty across the length and breadth of our glorious West, our Great Global North, our politely civilized society. No less than any other part of the world. Of course, there will be enough to show that we have it way better than others (you know, after stealing all their shit, but who needs those mundane details, right?) And if you’re talking wealth and entitlement, we’re certainly number one in that regard.

But get this – despite growing up in a so-called Third World country and immigrating to a so-called First World country, I see no less trauma and pain in the US or Canada than I saw growing up in India.

It’s just better hidden and more efficiently sterilized in the West, is all.

Yeah, we need to throw that shitty prescription crack away, and smoke up some regular ol’ natural, honest-to-goodness, anti-oppressive, freedom fighting, weed grown straight out of our beautiful, soul-nourishing, life-force-giving mother earth.

Of course, the weed I’m talking about is the metaphorical kind – wink, wink, nudge, nudge and all…

So, friends, comrades, loved ones, lend me your metaphorical lungs, for it might just be time to light up.

It might just help us see the sickness in our society.

And it might just get us going on the healing process.

What if the refugees were white?

Standard

It’s a struggle but that’s why we exist

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

I suppose a fair number of liberals in Europe and North America were moved to a brief tear or two upon seeing that three year old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the beach after drowning while escaping persecution. The divine feminine protects him now, from the violence, the virulence, the voyeurism.

After his picture came out, and because humanity needs to compete with pop culture memes these days, the social media feeds were awash with performed, public indignation. White folk especially were positively giddy with empathy for that brief second as they peered into their smart phones before the barista called their name out for their morning latte.

Their false empathy is useless of course because the non-sentiment fails to understand two very important points. Two points that encapsulate what this is all about.

Point number one – a little known fact for all you folks out there about refugees and which countries take in the most:

The overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees are hosted by some of poorest countries in the world.

Over 85% actually if you’re interested in these weird things called facts. Nope, the biggest hosts of refugees are not the shiny, wealthy democracies of the west, but the Jordans, Ethiopias, Lebanons, and Pakistans of the world. Not that those are stellar nation-states with great human rights records, but I’m not talking about governments here. I’m merely stating a very real fact that across the globe the poor are the ones who are hosting other poor people running away from violence.

Those are the stats, year after year, from the UNHCR – conveniently ignored by the people of the Western nations. Not surprising considering moral entitlement and manifest destiny are two sides of the same coin. Westerners, in Europe, North America, and anywhere else in the world – wherever we may find ourselves on the spectrum of empathy (or astounding lack thereof) when it comes to the ongoing humanitarian crisis with our Syrian kith and kin – we must be clear on a very important truth:

The countries of the West don’t do shit.

But they certainly act like they do.

(And there’s a long history of that behavior.)

These are the same colonial countries who benefit, yes benefit, from the ongoing sectarian violence in the Middle East. The Middle East burns because the Western world constantly shoots it’s veins up with black goop coming out of the sands.

(Anyone else notice that the price of gas in Western countries always tends to be a fair bit lower than the rest of the world? Also, all those shiny streets and spanking economies? Yeah, that comes from centuries of colonialism that also result in fallouts like large influxes of refugees.)

So not only does the West do precious little while pretending to do a lot, it actually owes those running away from the persecution and violence created by the geopolitical structures of Western imperialism. It owes them big.

But the majority of the West doesn’t want to share in their ill-gotten gains. Privileged communities rarely do.

Which brings me to my second point.

Just ask yourself this very simple question.

What if the refugees were white?

I don’t need to hear the answer. I know it already. In fact I’m just going to go ahead and make my second point without waiting for the eventual disappointment that your answer (no matter what it is) will bring.

Cos, make no mistake, my friend:

Refugees across the world are treated like human garbage for one very simple reason – they are not white.

Now let me see you shed a fucking tear for that.

Progressives who emerge from conservative families (and how one might heal from the heartbreak)

Standard

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

This is an article on progressives who come from conservative families, and dealing with the inevitable pain, separation, isolation, and judgement that folks who have such life histories often deal with on a regular basis.

I would like to start this article by first laying out the parameters of the term “progressive” here since it’s such a loaded term. But let me first clarify what it’s not. It’s not meant to indicate membership to the big D party or self-identification with the big L in the apparent conservative-liberal divide that many liberals love to think is wider than reality.

I define progressive for this article as someone who is committed to anti-oppression politics, someone who values religious and spiritual diversity as well as secularism (which I tend to see as two sides of the same coin), someone who upholds humanity over nationality, religion , ethnicity etc., someone who understands the possible unearned privileges they have while also aware of the forms of oppression they might face, and someone who is fundamentally tolerant of difference but intolerant of injustice (regardless of the popularity of such stances), essentially someone who wants society and humanity to progress ever further towards greater equality and egalitarianism.

The point is not perfection, but honest, self-reflective intent.

Now, such people, when they emerge from conservative families, often find themselves dealing with the repercussions of that emergence in a variety of ways. In this post I’d like to discuss the various repercussions and possible ways of dealing with them. I’m going to briefly explore 6 points including: (1) being disowned by families, (2) families feeling sad and upset, (3) being constantly judged and harangued by families, (4) feeling like the relationships with relatives is empty and non-existent, (5) finding that relationships of blood are not as strong as they’re made out to be, and, finally (6) often realizing that one has to build one’s own family of loved ones.

I’m going to take up each of those points and discuss ways in which we can liberate ourselves from the inevitable pain that can come from such experiences and how we might heal as we do so. Let’s start with…

(1) Being disowned by families and blood relatives: This is a tough one, but it’s always a good idea to start with a tough one so some of the subsequent ones feel a little less intense. Getting disowned by any part or even all of your family can be a devastating thing. Apart from the injustice of losing out on whatever collective safety nets might be on offer for everyone in the family, you lose out on a community as well (albeit a really messed up one, but still a community nevertheless). It’s most gut-wrenching when children are involved. An example is when young children are prevented from interacting with their cousins because their cousins might have parents who are more bohemian and free-thinking. Another example could be a daughter being disowned by her parents because she married a man from a different religion, and being banished from seeing her baby siblings. Yet another example could be an elder sister preventing a younger sister from seeing the elder sister’s children because the younger sister has more liberated and humanist politics as opposed to being a fundamentalist Christian like the elder sister.

Our world is replete with such examples.

How do we heal?

I suggest that we, first and foremost, give up the idea of such members of our families “coming round” and also give up the idea that it’s at all worth it to wait for them to do so. Life is short. And there are way more people out there who love you for you truly are in all your liberated and loving spirit. More about this is written in the last point, because truth be told, if you’re going to take away one point from this article: it’s that we need to build our own healing, nurturing, and truly gender-liberated families and communities, not based on blood (though there are some blood relatives that are awesome), but based on love.

That is how we heal from being disowned by blood.

By realizing that blood don’t mean shit.

Because, as sure as the sunrise, there will be…

(2) Relatives feeling sad or upset and constantly judging you: This falls under the “not your problem” category of issues, and equally importantly under the “not under your control” category of issues. You cannot control how your family feels about you, nor really should you. It’s up to them to feel how they feel, and it’s up to you to figure out how to deal with it. Please note that I’m only talking about how they feel, not how they act. Unless they’re actively trying to change you or harass you, they actually do have a right to feel however they want to feel, no matter how abhorrent such sensibilities might often be.

As do you. Furthermore, you have the right to neither respond to nor hold space for such feelings should they be harmful to you.

That’s it.

I am amazed at some progressives who emerge from conservative families bending over backwards to accommodate their families’ nonsensical feelings and insecurities that emerge merely because this one member walked a more liberated path. It then breeds resentment because it’s not a balanced, healthy relationship.

Indeed, sometimes the most balanced, healthy relationship you can have with some people is none at all.

Thus the frustrations around such burdensome feelings and sentiments that those conservative relatives heap on you is not so much about that, but actually mourning a loss, which is what it is: a loss. The sooner one accepts that, the better.

Being judged is one thing, but what of…

(3) Being constantly harassed and harangued by families: This is on a whole other playing field compared to the previous two, which essentially follow the same healing path of forging ones own path of love and liberation, and leaving the family behind if they continue to be insular and dogmatic.

What if the family doesn’t let you do that however?

This is much trickier, because it exists along a spectrum of safety – there’s the kind of harassment that merely irritates and there’s the kind of harassment that’s actually dangerous, and there’s a lot that’s in between.

So the first thing that needs to be understood is what kind of harassment are we talking about here? What are your conservative relatives like? Are they the more peaceful kind? Or are they, you know, really out there in wing-nut territory? Please don’t let residual feelings of love blind you either way, just reflect honestly on this. Because it will determine whether you need to follow a similar, but slightly more bad-ass, version of living your life with a mental framework of ignore-with-cynical-humor-and-they-will-eventually-get-the-message-and-fuck-off kind of thing, OR, holy shit, I think I might just have to relocate in order for my own safety, health, and long term happiness.

Point being, take a call only after you have had some serious self-reflection on what kind of harassment is taking place.

One the other end of the spectrum, many progressives who emerge from conservative families…

(4) Feel like the relationships with relatives is empty and non-existent: This often happens in families where there hasn’t been any upheaval per se or any banishment or major fissure, but merely just a drifting apart via a lack of keeping in touch and a lack of anything to bond over.

This is best handled with realistic acceptance, a more healing sense of time, and a broadening of one’s idea of who your family and community truly are. Realistic acceptance that, with some relatives, the relationship is likely to be empty and non-existent with nothing much that can be done about it, unless you have to hurt yourself in order to give life to the relationship, which no one should be doing. Thus it is best left with that realistic acceptance of a non-relationship. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to hope, we just have to ensure we’re leading full, happy, liberated and loving lives while we hope that things get better with the more shittier relationships we share with some of our relatives. It’s the reason why we need a healing understanding of time, i.e. the knowledge that time truly is a great healer. Especially if we are to believe (like many hunter-gatherer, divine feminine worshiping societies) that our souls transcend time, then we can certainly believe in it’s healing powers; while simultaneously building communities and families of our own with our friends and loved ones – which is explored in further detail as  the last point. Because often we might end up…

(5) Finding that relationships of blood are not as strong as they’re made out to be (even feeling betrayed at times): This can also be devastating because it often shatters some of our happier memories and promises of our families. But, on occasion, apart from being devastating it can also be dangerous. Often conservatism can degenerate quite dangerously to chauvinism, even violent chauvinism.

Such times cannot and should not be handled alone.

Which means that a community, a family of your own, built from your friends and loved ones is a safety net in more ways than one. A community like this protects each other, stands up for one another, and cares for each other, while negotiating problems and conflicts with love. So, I think we all need to get on that organically liberating path of…

(6) Finally realizing that one has to build one’s own family of loved ones: This article really is one point said in a variety of ways (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m quite the marvelous hack as a writer), but that one point is so very, very crucial.

You need friends.

You need community.

You need a family of loved ones.

You just don’t need to rely on blood to get them.

Once we get past the nonsensical myth that blood is all-important when it comes to building a family of loved ones, life becomes a lot better, trust me. The entire world around us opens up as a potential family of loved ones, and our relationships with our blood relatives become much more rich and honest because it’s not relying merely on some common lineage for its maintenance.

For instance, the blood relatives that I keep close to my heart are also among my best friends. There aren’t many. A tiny handful of them in two cities, Bangalore and Toronto. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’m one of the lucky ones when it comes to family. Indeed, I’m constantly reminded how lucky I am and how important it is for me to honor that luck.

Now, I could view my family of loved ones and say that everyone should have what I have by being true to bullshit, conservative family values. It takes less time and is easier to do because it requires no application of heart, mind, or soul other than a mindless adherence to dogma, insularity and ethnocentrism.

Or I can view my family and say that everyone should have what I have by being true to love, liberation, healing, and friendship regardless of blood ties. Much harder to do because our capitalist societies are built to uphold the most economically productive unit of social organization – the nuclear family.

The former option guarantees dogma, insularity and soulless ethnocentrism

The latter option guarantees love, liberation, healing, and solidarity.

Figure out which option works better for you.