What is it that makes babies so spiritually powerful?

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I will never forget that very first feeling I had when Daya was born.

That rush of spiritual energy.

It was indeed immense – throughout the entire process of birth – filled with no small amount of love, high emotions, gratitude, focus, relief, and pure joy.

But at the very root of it all, there was one particular feeling that stood out when I first held my daughter in my hands, all gooey, and sticky (and ever so calm, come to think of it).

Awe.

I was in awe of this being  that had a spiritual power far superior to anything I could ever hope to possess or be.

I was in awe of this entity that seemed to be able to look right through me and calm me down when I started getting scared.

I was in awe of this tiny little baby that felt like I was holding the spirit of the earth herself.

So fragile.

Yet so radiant and powerful.

This feeling of awe has never left me. But it has also resulted in some strong spiritual beliefs.

For instance, I am of the firm opinion that the souls of babies are quite possibly the closest we will get to a living embodiment of divinity.

(Of course those souls will eventually get the ever-loving shit kicked out of them, especially in boys, due to patriarchy and sexism…but you know, I’m in a happy place here, so am going to focus on the cute and cuddly side of life for now.)

Needless to say, I am and continue to be in total awe of my daughter and the strength in her soul. I doubt that will ever stop being the case.

My little baby warrior and freedom fighter.

I have often thought long and hard about why Daya is so spiritually powerful. Indeed why all babies are so spiritually powerful.

And I realize that they are the embodiment of the very essence of humanity.

They teach us that love is the only entity that can save us from ourselves.

Equally importantly babies teach men that love should never, ever be taken for granted.

They tell us, in no uncertain terms:

I don’t care about the way things have been all these years.

I don’t care if you’ve lived your life taking the love that has been showered upon you from birth for granted.

I don’t care about the unearned privileges of patriarchy nor the pyrrhic benefits of sexism that have swaddled you for thousands of years.

Love me, and love me properly.

Because I and humanity deserve nothing less.

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Dear daughter, this world we’ve brought you into…

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What can I say about this world we’ve brought you into my love?

What can I say about the privileged misogynistic scumbags, and their fathers, who populate the elite hallways of this world?

What can I say about a world that is built for the benefit of men and white people (and the few privileged women and people of color that the colonial structures let into the club)?

What can I say about the hostility we as a family face from white men everyday we step outside the bubble of our home?

What can I say about the evil inherent to the male of the species that evidently the majority of men are blind to?

What can I say about the soullessness inherent to colonial society that evidently the majority of white people are blind to?

What can I say about the fact that there are times when I daydream about gutting the life out of any man who dares cast an evil eye on you (empty and horribly masculine though those flights of fancy might be)?

What can I say about the harsh sadness I’m trying to mask with that anger – a sadness stemming from the fact that, try as we might, your mother and I cannot protect you from all the evils of the world?

What can I say about this all-consuming fear that I will fail in providing you the tools and weapons you need to fight the evil blanketing this world?

What can I say about a world of nation states and borders, where patriarchy, privilege and profit take us ever closer to a likely violent resolution?

What can I say about a world where people in the dominant colonial power are choosing between a demagogue and a plutocrat  to be their “elected” leader (both as white as freshly driven snow in a wealthy suburb)?

What can I say about a world where nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and misogyny seem to be the go-to bastions for the fearful majority of people, privileged and vulnerable alike?

What can I say about a world where I truly believe humanity and the earth would be better off if 80% of the world’s men would simply drop dead  – proportionately across all countries and communities (I am extremely egalitarian when it comes to hating men)?

What can I say about a world where I often up that figure to 90%?

Well…

When I’m at a loss to say or do anything about the oppression and evil in this world we’ve brought you into…

When I feel depressed and weak in the knowledge that this oppression and evil is so vast and deep…

When I feel the urge to build an impermeable, self-sustaining life pod for our family to live in forever…

When I feel the need to embark on a multi-generational, quantum physics research project to transport us to an alternate universe where matriarchy, freedom and egalitarianism prevail…

I look at you and I see the power of your soul…

And the warmth of your heart…

And the depth of your mind…

Only matched by your mother’s (in all three departments, mind you)…

I then rest a little easier…

For I know the evil flourishing in the world today is ultimately no match for your divine strength.

Dear daughter – I’m sorry for my failures (but know that I won’t fail you)

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Hi love,

As I hold you in my arms and see those rascally, angelic eyes slip into a deep sleep following a majestic poop explosion, I often reflect on yet another parenting cycle – a cycle usually consisting of three very regular stages:

Stage 1: a general failure to address your immediate needs with my efforts, followed by…

Stage 2: a blundering,  occasionally teary, attempt at redeeming myself, usually by adhering to the grace and wisdom of your mother, followed by…

Stage 3: simultaneously amusing and irritating the crap out of you with energetic, puppy-like adoration – a manifestation of this fascinating new spiritual feeling I have; I think it could be paraphrased as the deep, singularly unique, and mind-boggling love a parent has for their daughter or something.

Now, it’s easy for me to get caught up in stages 2 and 3 of the cycle – it’s generally more pleasant to focus primarily on the redemption and love.

But truly if I want to ensure that, despite my failures, I’m still being the best parent I can be, then I absolutely must focus on the failures themselves.

And I think the first step is to name them and apologize for them. But don’t worry, I won’t stop just at this perma-sorry for my myriad failures. I will actually try to learn from them. I just need to retrain my hitherto dense and regressive brain, swaddled as it has been in patriarchy for so many centuries. You are way too awesome for anything less.

Plus, your mother and I are hell-fucking-bent on ensuring that we as a family (cats included) fight for the freedom and happiness of all souls on earth. Thus, as your parents, we especially want to fight for that kind of life for you, and it takes some honest reflection to keep fighting well.

So, let me begin by first apologizing for the times I get frustrated, irritated, even angry when nothing I do seems to meet your needs. For the most part I’m frustrated, irritated, and angry at myself, but let’s face it, the feelings inevitably home in on you. When I step back to think about it, I feel shame, my darling. I – your adult father with over three and a half goddamn decades of life experience – actually get frustrated and irritated at a 2-month old kid whom I love beyond life itself. All because you, divine soul, try very patiently (and in the only way you know how) to communicate to your father, guiding him to hold up his responsibilities properly. I know I keep the frustrations “inside” or at least try to, but I also know that I cannot ever fool the spiritual bond between us.

Because I know it upsets you.

For that (and all the other fuck ups, just to be on the safe side) – I am so very sorry my love.

Please don’t mistake this for false humility or something. I can’t stand that shit. I have a galactic sized ego, and really have no real issues with self-confidence or thinking I’m the coolest (i.e. luckiest) guy on earth. I get the big picture. As your parents, I know that your divine mother with me as her pet lout and loyal sidekick, will strive with every sinew of our beings to engulf you in love, joy, health and happiness. We also have an awesome transnational community of family and friends who will provide a very privileged safety net for all of us. So life will likely be more good than bad for the most part.

However, having plied my trade as a trauma therapist and community health worker across three countries for many years now, I am well aware of the numerous forms of abuse and violence that parents and adults in general can impart on children. No doubt, all violence exists on a spectrum – with the horrendous sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse existing on a particularly traumatic side of the spectrum. We as a society have this dangerous tendency to think that abusive parenting solely consists of those egregious acts of violence – and we forget that patriarchy is not just egregiously violent but also insidiously covert.

I know that, no matter how sincere and loving and caring, I will make mistakes that will hurt you. It is violent when my frustrations are directed at you. How can it not be? Your capacity to harm me is pretty much non-existent. You didn’t choose to grace our lives with your glorious presence. You’re not the one with decades of human experience. Most importantly though, patriarchy has made our relationship unjust from day one, with you getting a really shitty deal.

But while patriarchy is indeed guided by power and oppression, you, your mother, and my mother, among others, have taught me that patriarchy can be challenged, undone, and eventually dismantled with love, liberation, and a veritable fuck ton of struggle.

So I make this simple, and hopefully ever-evolving, promise to you (very much extended to our larger family and community and, oh what the hell, the world in general):

  • I promise to spare no effort in being the best parent I can be and ensure that our relationship is always egalitarian and just.
  • I promise to love you, nurture you, and fight behind or alongside but never ahead of you for your inviolable rights to freedom and happiness.
  • I promise to dismantle internalized patriarchy and oppression from within me, no matter how many lifetimes it may take.

Ok, so I might have been a little hasty to classify this as a “simple” promise but whatever. I assure you, I will keep this promise even if it kills me because it’s neither political revolution nor mass social change that motivates me, but love. And without love, my soul would cease to exist. So, please feel free to whip my ass into shape whenever your powerful self desires, because you already know more about winning this fight than I ever will – and I would never say no to being guided by your wisdom, your spirit, and your courage.

But, sweetheart, I think this piece needs to be ended because you have just had another poop explosion.

And a fresh diaper – maybe even that gorgeous smile of yours – beckons.

Being in love with a brilliant freedom fighter

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I often speak about my soulmate (and mother of our soon-to-be little one) in many of my posts. Today I’d like to dedicate a piece to her because she liberates me, herself, and others in ways that I can only dream of achieving.

Being in love with this brilliant freedom fighter has been the greatest experience of my life. Sus brings love, light, and liberation to a world easily consumed by hatred, darkness, and oppression. And she does so disarmingly, as if it’s the easiest thing to her.

Make no mistake though, she makes it look easy because that’s what real freedom fighters do, but easy is the last thing it has been. Very few know of her struggles, the mountains she has had to traverse, the battles she has had to fight, the grief and pain she has had to endure.

And while I’m not going into the details for various reasons, I feel very privileged to have a vantage point in my life that allows me to learn, from the inside out, just what it takes to be a lifelong freedom fighter – for that is what she is.

Sus doesn’t do bombast or arrogance. (That’s my forte.) Sus fights the good fight with all her might while embodying an organic framework of care, solidarity, and spiritual self-reflection. She fights for freedom because she knows it’s the only way – no matter what might be thrown her way.

That’s because Sus doesn’t do cowardice either.

She fights against patriarchy, colonialism, and racism because she sees it playing out in oppressive ways in her own life. But many people, especially privileged folk, see it play out in their lives and don’t do shit – happy to turn a blind eye so they can continue wallowing without being inconvenienced. Not her though. Sus is made of sterner stuff.

Like I said – she’s no coward.

This is one fearless warrior-goddess.

She teaches me that organizing and fighting for freedom happens across the length and breadth of life. It happens in our homes, at work, on the street, and within our families. She doesn’t shy away from any battle, and she gives her all to each and every one of them, no matter how small or big the fight may be. Because she knows that it’s in the small battles that the fight against oppression is won.

I know a lot of activists who do what they do to get their street cred going or to showcase their radical political chops publicly to others. I know a lot of do-gooders who do what they do to build up their altruism cache and seem like a great humanitarian. I know a lot of progressive thinkers and writers who do what they do to generate acclaim and praise for themselves. I know this because I was one of them, all of them, and likely still am.

Which is why it is so fucking awesome to be with someone like Sus. Her liberated soul and deeply compassionate heart blazes a trail for lesser mortals like me – a trail which almost always leads to healing and happiness – even when we have to occasionally come through pain and sadness.

For Sus is no run-of-the-mill activist. She is no privilege-mongering do-gooder or elitist-minded writer.

Sus is a freedom fighter. The very best there is.

And, if this wasn’t already bleedingly obvious, I’m the luckiest man on earth.

I pray that everyone finds this kind of love in their life.

There is a sickness running through our society

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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.

6 things men can do to be better human beings on public transit

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sara ahmed quote

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

I am such a goddamn dick of a man-child.

Really.

I take up way too much space as a dude and I’m a loud, obnoxious asshole. It eats away at my soul. I dehumanize myself by being that way and I hurt others, especially women and trans folk, including those whom I love dearly.

Thankfully I have some amazing warrior-goddesses in my life – starting with a partner whom I truly believe to be the pinnacle of humanity – all of whom graciously and patiently guide me to greater humanization and being less of an asshole, even though it is none of their responsibility. To say I am blessed is the greatest understatement in the world.

So this article is quite personal.

(Hell, which one isn’t?)

Now, I travel a lot on public transit. I regularly hear and read about the daily horror stories that women and trans people have to deal with while on public transit with the unending supply of entitled, oafish men. It lit the spark for this piece. It’s written especially for men (i.e. cis-gendered men, i.e. those referred to as “men” across the vast majority of the world’s population, i.e. the overwhelming majority of asshole evil-doers on earth.)

So if you’re a woman or trans person reading this, consider forwarding this to some dudes you think would benefit from it. I don’t get enough hate mail to satiate my monstrous ego, so feel free to help out.

But really, all this focuses on is how men can be better human beings on public transit and life in general.

So, lets start with the first lesson.

(1) When sitting or standing, ensure that you occupy as little space as possible: Here’s a little practice exercise for all men to try out.

Take a chair.

Now sit on it.

So far so good?

Excellent.

Now bring your feet closer together, as close as you can, no more than a few centimeters apart.

(You’re doing great bro, keep going.)

Now that your feet are close together, bring your knees closer, approximately the same distance apart as your feet are.

Amazing.

(You’re almost there, just keep at it son. Take a beer break if you need to.)

Ok, now let’s work on your hands.

Tuck your elbows against the sides of your torso and hips.

Now place your palms on your knees.

Voila! Perfect seated position that takes up as little space as possible.

Try the same exercise standing and then again standing while holding onto something. Just remember that the best way to take up as little space as possible is ensuring that opposing limbs are brought close together and with reverence to the women and trans folk around you.

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice practice.

Way to go man-child! What say we work on your facial expression and eye line now?

Onward, kind sir, to lesson 2.

(2) Look away or look down and make efforts to show you are not a threat by practicing your “pleasant face” (don’t be overtly friendly by default): Looking away or looking down indicates that you’re not really interested in interaction, and ipso facto not interested in being a threat to anyone. It is an easy way to ensure that your fellow women and trans travellers feel safe and comfortable to travel. (You know, one of those gosh darned “human rights” that the bleeding hearts are always going on about).

This may seem unfriendly, but I beg to differ. I am of the opinion that, due to global gender-oppression, it’s really important for men to refrain from being overtly friendly, because it can often make women and trans folk feel extremely unsafe. Practice the simple art of speaking only when you are spoken to, ensuring that you are polite and thoughtful. Only engage to the limit that makes the other person comfortable, and then go back to looking away or looking down.

But remember to also practice your “pleasant face” for this. All men are capable of pleasant faces. It’s less to do with your countenance and more to do with your attitude really. Below is shown a simple exercise for you to try out.

Stand in front of the mirror and think of something that makes you smile. Then practice making that smile slight, i.e. not super obvious but still noticeable. The Mona Lisa is a great template to practice with for that perfect slight smile. Don’t smile too wide (that could get creepy). Once you’ve got that down pat, remove traces of a scowl or furrowed eyebrows as much as possible. Then look at your eyes. Try to get a sense of calm and peace of mind to get those eyes into a lovely peaceful gaze that shows the same level of threat as The Buddha (the real one, not the pot-bellied garbage hawked to eager white folk who recently returned from a trip finding themselves.)

And there you have it, an easy practice exercise for developing your “pleasant face.” When in doubt, think of someone you really care about, and the pleasantness will show on your face with greater ease.

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.

Way to go man-child! What say we work on tone of voice and way of communicating, talking, and laughing now?

Go forth, intrepid gentleman, to lesson 3.

(3) Don’t be a loud, obnoxious asshole (especially when children, seniors, and other more vulnerable populations are around): Now dude, before you get all whiny, please note that no one’s telling you not to enjoy yourself. Joy and laughter are gorgeous things. Just don’t take up so much space that it’s just you and your equally loud, obnoxious friends doing it. And remember that there is way less social and cultural space for women and trans folk to speak loudly, enjoy themselves, or laugh with abandon.

(Why, only recently, we had the lovely Napa Valley Wine Train episode where a group of Black women were essentially told by authorities that Laughing While Black And Female is a strict no-no from sea to shining sea.)

It is our goddamn responsibility as men to ensure that we are taking up as little space as possible to create more space for women and trans folk to be able to express joy and emotion.

(For our own sake bud. For our own sake.)

All you need to practice in not being a loud, obnoxious asshole, especially with more vulnerable populations around who might be justifiably nervous around this kind of behavior.

Again, very simple to implement.

When in doubt as to whether you are being loud, quieten the fuck up.

When in doubt as to whether you are being obnoxious, quieten the fuck up.

In fact, in general, unless necessary, just quieten the fuck up.

If you actually need a goddamn reason to do that, try to imagine someone you care about who might be more vulnerable and who might feel threatened by such behavior. Try to behave in a way that would make that person proud to share your love.

If you catch yourself being loud and obnoxious, be open about your contrition, apologize even (don’t worry, no one really gives a shit about your posturing, only about what kind of a person you are).

And then, oh yes, quieten the fuck up.

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.

Way to go man-child! What say we work on general demeanor and way of being now?

Stride forward, caring human being that you are, to lesson 4.

(4) Don’t ogle, stare or pass lewd comments. (Also, don’t wear sunglasses in closed spaces unless medically necessary): Do I have to actually write about how you might successfully implement this point? Really?

Fuck me. Alright, here goes.

Ogling and staring makes people feel extremely uncomfortable and unsafe. Women and trans folk, as well as many people of color, immigrants, homeless folk and others face this all the time. It’s a violation of space, it’s a violation of a person’s fundamental human right to feeling safe, and it’s just a really, really dickish thing to do.

Same goes for passing lewd or offensive comments. Again, when in doubt, just shut the fuck up. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any good by being this way. You hurt others and you dehumanize yourself, damaging your soul in the process, eventually becoming a pathetic shell of a human being hanging around other assholes merely because it’s only assholes who will hang out with you.

(And then you die, and the great goddess Kali feeds you to her tiger companion, as she does with all assholes on earth, but that’s another trip…)

A small, but important, side-point to the ogling issue – unless medically necessary (and we know what those sunglasses tend to look like, so don’t try fooling people) please try and refrain from wearing sunglasses in closed spaces. The reason is that many men use sunglasses to cravenly cover up the fact that they are, in fact, ogling at someone.

Now, we can’t really do much about it outdoors (though if it’s night time, the unsafe creepiness factor goes up by about a million). So just try not wearing them inside. If you absolutely must wear sunglasses inside, stare the fuck out the window or away from people whom you know might feel uncomfortable with your line of eyesight. Or just engage in conversation with your companion if you have one travelling with you.

An added issue is that even if you’re not actually doing any nasty ogling, but just zoning out or something, many folks will still get uncomfortable because your man-child peepers are hidden behind tint.

(Yes, dear ol’ backward-hat-wearing, beer-brat-inhaling, pal of mine – sexism is an extremely intricate and leviathan social structure. And it’s our responsibility to ensure we’re not reproducing that shit as much as possible.

For ourselves bud.

For ourselves.)

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.

Way to go man-child! What say we work on social skills and trying to be a more caring, egalitarian human being?

Gleefully hop-step-and-jump, oh polite and kindhearted beast, to lesson 5.

(5) Always stand the fuck up politely and give your seat to seniors, pregnant women, folks with accessibility issues, and other more vulnerable populations: This is a simple one that doesn’t really need much detailed instructions to implement. Just do it without questioning it or being a dick about it. For starters, not only is it (again) the fundamental human right of vulnerable populations who need seating more acutely than others, but it also marks you out as a decent human being, and therefore also someone who is unlikely to be a threat to anyone.

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.

Way to go man-child! And as we wrap up this session, what say we now work on the kind of mindset that would make men better human beings on public transit?

Carry on, with a heart that brimeth over with love for humanity and the world, to lesson 5.

(6) It’s totally fine to be a nice person, but not a creepy person who doesn’t respect personal space: Be a nice person.

Really.

It’s awesome if you’re a nice dude. So do practice the fine art of being a nice person, a goodhearted person, a person who cares about people, and is keen on ensuring their health and safety to the greatest degree possible.

But also remember that it’s not anything more than should be expected from you.

(Truth be told, I’m stroking that ego so you’ll stay with me here. It’s ok, I don’t mind, I know how pathetically fragile a man-child’s sense of self is.)

Thus, just as it’s important to be a nice person, it’s equally important to not be a creepy person. Often what is “nice” behavior according to you could come off as very creepy and unsafe to someone else. The best mindset that you might occupy is one of empathy and honest-to-goodness care.

Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.

Congratulations man-child! You did it! You made it all the way through to the 6th lesson.

Oh, I am so proud of you. I wish there was a certificate I could print out or perhaps an embossed, laminated membership card into the illustrious Platinum Club Of Marginally Less Dickish Men.

Here’s a thought – why don’t you make one for yourself and carry it around with you on public transit? Check it out whenever you find yourself regressing on some of this stuff. It’ll do you wonders.

But wait…

There’s more!

Since you successfully completed the course, we have a bonus lesson…

(6a) Bonus lesson for boneheaded jocks – coming from one who is currently undergoing an intense, 12-step, Boneheaded Jock Rehabilitation program called Assholes Anonymous (we meet secretly at tailgating parties): Listen bud, it’s fine to love sports, get fit, build muscles etc. especially if you’re doing it as part of a transformation to becoming a better person.

Just don’t be a dick about it.

In fact, this entire article can be summarized with one very succinct sentiment that all men on public transit, indeed all men, all the time, would do well to implement in their daily lives. It also happens to be a great sentiment to taking that first step in purging all that misogynistic gunk that clogs their soul:

Don’t be a dick.

With that rare brevity on my part, I’ll sign off.

Bye for now, man-child.

Now go practice, practice, practice until all this becomes instinct.

(And if you expect to be applauded for this shit, consider stabbing yourself in the eye with that spork you just used to eat your Hungry Man microwave dinner.)

Healing from an America obsessed with Donald Trump

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michelle alexander quote

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

Try as one might, it is next to impossible to ignore the US presidential primaries. It’s the shit show that keeps on giving. Most of us seem to be laughing in order to distract ourselves from our fears of a rather petrifying future. In a GOP primary that has taken on new levels of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, the rhetoric is nothing short of chilling and batshit insane at the same time.

But despite the horrifying guano being showered on us all, candidates like Trump are not what disturb me the most. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for a human being like Donald Trump. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for humanity like the Republican Party (not to mention the equally pathetic Democrats, who seem to be nothing more than a whinier, less entertaining, version of their right-wing cousins).

In fact getting disturbed and grossed out by Trump currently happens to be the most entertaining thing in the mainstream media for pundits across the board, both liberal and conservative. (Indeed, the name “pundit” – derived from the ancient priestly class of the abhorrent caste system in India – seems really apt considering the mainstream media is a rather accurate representation of America’s very own racialized caste system.)

What is truly frightening is that Trump is only saying what a really large section of the American population wants to hear – a much larger section than a lot of naive, fresh-faced liberals would like to believe or acknowledge. Trump is not speaking to some extreme fringe, though he is very much appealing to it (as a rather nice article in The New Yorker pointed out). Trump is very much a populist, which means he is popular, which means he cannot be popular without large sections of America salivating over his odiousness. The extreme fringe is actually all around us, and Trump is speaking their language.

So make no mistake – Trump is America, even if he fails to get the nomination. For there is little chance of Trump getting the GOP ticket, despite all the craziness of the last many weeks. No doubt, greater miracles have happened, but it’s still highly unlikely.

However, even if he eventually crashes out, the people who salivate over him aren’t going anywhere. Sure, they’ll thumb their noses and vote for Bush or Christie or Cruz or Rubio or whichever wannabe-murderer-in-chief gets the ticket (all of whom have made equally horrendous statements by the way, while floundering to stay in the limelight hogged by The Man With The Do). But the disgruntled masses of America’s broad right are getting angrier and angrier at a rapidly browning and diversifying country. And while I’m of the firm belief that these chauvinists are certainly not in the majority (though only just so), I am one of those people who considers them extremely dangerous simply because of their large and increasing numbers. Yes, increasing. In no small part due to the mindless whipping up of bigoted anger and fear that demonizes racial equality, migrant justice, and gender liberation (in a country that has more wealth than any other, mind you). The worst part is that this trend doesn’t look like ebbing any time soon

And there are plenty of reasons for it.

In general, privileged communities don’t share well, and right now a lot of marginalized people in America – women, racial minorities, immigrants, queer and trans folk – are fighting hard for their inalienable rights as full human beings, despite state and corporate efforts to suppress them.

So there’s a long struggle ahead, and a lot more chauvinism and violence to come from the more privileged sections of American society as historically oppressed and marginalized communities keep fighting that good fight for justice and true equality.

But my lovelies – we’re going to have to heal from all that hatred and abuse as we do so, no?

Those of us who believe in the liberation of humanity and the earth over the close-minded insularity of nationalism, patriarchy, and religion have to ensure we privilege healing as we enter some dark decades to come.

So, let’s get started – below are a few thoughts on how we might do so, using the current presidential primaries as a case study. First of all:

  • Don’t buy into the mass bullshit (aka the mainstream media): The mainstream media truly is a whole load of mass bullshit for the vast majority of the population. It has to be when all the media houses are controlled by a handful of rich, powerful, white men. Sure, they have their Benetton-ad-type, sufficiently diverse (and conventionally good looking) talking heads, but make no mistake: the mainstream media in America, including the so-called “liberal” channels, are catering to the existing power-ridden status quo. Ditch that shit, or if you do end up being a news junkie like I am, figure out how to consume that crap with a critical eye that can catch the bullshit and read between the lines. It is this same mainstream media that gets sickeningly titillated by human filth like Trump and the rest of the gang. You will be a whole lot better treating the filth and the voyeuristic talking heads with the disdain they deserve. Simultaneously…
  • Remember, there be many who hate, but there also be many who love (and they be a whole lot more): Those who hate will ultimately never outnumber and never defeat those who love. I don’t say this out of any sappy sentimentality. Really (despite the sap I have liberally doused some of my other articles with). On the contrary, it’s cold, hard logic that guides this particular thought. It’s really simple. To truly survive and thrive as a species, which equally means living in communion with the earth and non-human souls, our only shot is to trust in love in its broadest and most universalizing sense. We either live together or we die alone. Most of us know this. It’s hardwired into our DNA. It’s how we survived as a species many millenia back. We survived with love, community care, and solidarity, not hateful insularity. And those of us who believe in love and community ultimately far outnumber those who don’t. Don’t buy into the bullshit that power, authority, and domination ensure survival. They only ensure power, authority, and domination – and only for a temporary amount of time; a few centuries at best. Eventually the shiny, wealthy societies of the Western world are going to crumble into the dust and at that time, the choice will become much clearer for those who feel it is their right to consume and appropriate at the cost of the majority of the world (and then get angry when marginalized communities fight for greater equality and refuse to accept the scraps that fall from the tables of the privileged few). Don’t wait for the state and corporate elites to get their act together. They’re never going to get there. Also don’t wait for the hate-mongering assholes who support them. It’ll be too late if we wait for them. So it’s best to start without them and hope they join us eventually. Which is why it’s crucial to…
  • Seek community with others who are also fighting the good fight (and focus on caring for each other): This is so crucial, so very crucial. My friends, there be dark times ahead and it doesn’t matter who wins this election. America, and the West in general, is hurtling towards some major clashes with the more marginalized populations (inside and outside national borders) fighting for their rights as full human beings. And as we fight this good fight, we must remember that we need each other now more than ever. Let’s seek each other out and actually start caring for each other. I had written about this in a previous article that examined healing while fighting the good fight to be free. There are a lot of people in various struggles for freedom, both in their personal lives and in larger mass movements. And we ignore each other’s pain and suffering at our own peril. Indeed, I am of the opinion that it’s even more important that we actually care for each other and build solidarity with each other rather than just focus on public campaigns or activism. I’ve been in so many organizing meetings where people who fight for all these great causes of justice and liberation don’t give a shit about their own comrades sitting across the table from them or standing next to them at a picket line. (Men tend to do this far more often and regularly than women and trans folk, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone). It’s depressing to see, and I think most so-called progressives have it ass-backwards. Let’s fight for each other first before we fight the power. When we fight with love and solidarity, power doesn’t stand a fucking chance in hell. Therefore it naturally stands to reason that you should…
  • Never, ever place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal (even if they are of a similar political hue): Please don’t do this. And if you have been doing this, stop right now. I know how easy it can be to get sucked into thinking about the next great hope. But there’s no such thing. It’s all bells and whistles. The rates of black people being incarcerated or immigrants being deported has remained depressingly static under Obama, if not higher. The Obama regime deported more immigrants than Bush, while incarcerated as many if not more black men and women. It doesn’t surprise me in the least. When you place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal, all you do is two things – (1) inadvertently dehumanize yourself as somehow less worthy than some talking-points politician who is nothing more than a puppet of predatory capital and (2) eventually feel rather stupid as the reality of the bullshit settles in. Why bother? Fight the good fight alongside your loved ones, your friends, your comrades. They are the people who matter. They are the next great hope; and not some power-hungry authority figure who truly doesn’t give a mangy rat’s ass about you. In that spirit, please also…
  • Remember that the most liberating changes in society happen organically through people like you and me: This is the other side of the coin to refraining from deifying political leaders. Truly liberatory change has only ever happened through “ordinary” faceless people. The civil rights movement came before MLK or Malcolm X, stayed long after they were assassinated, morphing into different forms, and was the real reason for the victories. No doubt MLK and X were exceptional human beings and awe-inspiring martyrs for the cause, but they would have been nothing more than unknown ministers with exceptional oratorical skills had it not been for the unknown masses braving bullets and bombs for their collective freedom. Black liberation struggles have existed ever since the earliest times of slavery. We tend to think of great changes in society as emerging from one leader or one moment. In reality those are, for the most part, iconic cultural moments that inspire but do little else. Because real, grassroots change for the better evolves and emerges over time through masses of faceless people like you and me doing our little bits in struggle and solidarity with others like you and me. So, in that spirit, let me conclude by saying that…
  • Most important of all – never let the forces of oppression defeat you: The Trumps of the world and their murderous minions can never defeat us if we refuse to accept their authority and power in our hearts and souls. Please note that I’m not suggesting that this will prevent us from getting hurt, violated, even killed by the forces of oppression. What I am suggesting that is that we will not allow ourselves to be dehumanized by those attempting to dehumanize us if we simply refuse to be defeated by them no matter what they throw at us. Really, just try it out. Look deep within you and tell yourself that you will not be defeated by the forces of oppression. Do it as many times as you need in order to believe it. Once you believe, and I mean truly believe, that the forces of oppression might tear your body, heart and mind apart, but can never defeat you, it becomes a very powerful tool to fight that good fight while importantly healing in the process.

Fight for love, fight for liberation, and laugh like you know it.

Them bigoted jokers got nothing on you my friend.