Let Despairing Be Dispelled

Friends of Our Wilderness Awareness School Community,

I have been thinking deeply and with a heaviness about this for some time, and I want to welcome to conversation anyone who might be silent and feeling the same way, or is interested in strengthening cross-political friendships in this time of grief and disconnect.

As some of you may or may not know, I have come to hold some different views than many of the good people at Wilderness Awareness School. I am a Conservative.

I say this outright because it is precisely the fear of saying it which I must challenge. It is this fear of social marginalization which I carry within myself, but a roar I must run to. We are all humanely prone to move in our small bubbles, not realizing that there is more intellectual diversity among our people than we realize. We are not a truly diverse organization if we welcome diversity that is only skin-deep.

Over the past couple years I have persistently worried that I am not welcome as a Conservative (even a Centrist or a Classical Liberal who is grateful for our Western Civilization) to be open with you whom I have called by beloved community. I come from a very, very Liberal background, and was still largely identifying in this way while I was an Anake of 2012-13. But we question and we grow; we challenge the unchallenged perspectives we are brought up with.

While I still empathize with and support a number of traditionally Liberal views, I also hold Conservative, mainline-Republican views which I worry are becoming increasingly demonized among well-meaning people who also want to protect what is sacred to them. We’re all carrying these sacred things we burn to protect, and I fear this growing divide. How easily we go to war with each other, and we make our neighbor our enemy. I do not carry hatred within me. I carry human anger and grief, like you. I have engaged with Intersectional Social Justice and have come away with the conclusion that it is not healthy or humane. This is my perspective. It is not the only perspective. Other good people do not share my perspective, but neither will I accept being thought of as “hateful” or a “supremacist” for not agreeing with this ideology. Furthermore, I am concerned that this ideology attempts to gather all People of Color and all gender-nonconforming people into a small political box of a perennially suffering identity which silences their independent dissenting voices, too.

We need to not be seeing each other as our enemies. A deep connection with Nature should belong to everyone, not just those we are politically in agreement with, not just the anointed ones. Insofar as issue has been taken with traditionally mainline-conservative approaches to nature, this should mean that welcoming Conservatives is all the more of a pressing need: would they not greatly benefit from what WAS has to teach?

Speaking to this almost entirely left-leaning community, we need to listen to Conservatives among us, because that is a part of this amazingly complex, diverse reality which we as a community are missing. And for the sake of real and serious peace, Conservatives must know that they, too, can safely come to communities like WAS to learn and grow as people without being told that all their views are wrong or hateful. Let them be welcomed to meet others not like them, to find delight and friendship in ancestries and gender identities unknown to them. If you want people to listen, they have to know they will be listened to, also. Let despairing be dispelled.

One of the areas we must examine is how, as a mostly-White group of people, we are rightfully eager to be sensitive to and deeply respectful of the experiences of People of Color, but at the same time we painfully and increasingly hate ourselves with such self-abuse, because we think that “whiteness” itself is some sort of inborn social evil we must spiritually atone for. Believe me, my beef is not and has never been with People of Color: it is with other White People. This grieves me heavily, that such a time as this is upon us. While I do not assert that every person reading this thinks in such a way in their attempt to extend generosity and inclusion to minority ancestries, I do maintain that I have witnessed this self-abusing trend and I am calling it out as unhealthy and lacking kindness and respect towards ourselves. Are we so frightened of some largeness within us? We are unremarkable, just another group of human beings with our own culture and history, our own deep beauty and wretched problems, with all the good and the bad that comes with any human heritage.

There is much more I could say about this, but I will end this invitation here. I have had somewhat more brief and heated conversations with a few of you before, in moments when I was admittedly feeling less gracious and more upset. That is the product of grief, and I know I am not the only one here to have wrestled that demon. Every one of us will fail to live up to our better angels on this darkened path through the Unknown World. I am shaking as I write this, because it’s damn scary to speak up to you all about this, but it must be done. I have had good dreams. I am not masterfully practiced in every moral responsibility I know I carry as one who lives in this liminal space –not unlike other cultural liminal spaces– but which is nonetheless one unseen at Wilderness Awareness School currently. It is unseen among The Left, the ones who made me who I am. That is not an intentional maliciousness on the part of our communities, I hope, but it is a cultural shortcoming which countless communities in our civilization are now dangerously contending with. I can’t be there for all of them, but I can show up for the ones that have mattered to me. I will do my imperfect best to be a good human creature, and I welcome you in your imperfect best to join me and break open what scares us. Please, speak to me. I will speak in response. Let us listen to each other.

In Courage,

Amber

This Time, We Have Come

Slowly enough to be steady, rowing sturdy canoes,
old-speak appearing in the fog on the water
first language, hand-spoken, fur-hackles
predating the migration of babble.

The land that we love should not be carved into prizes.
Nobody owns a place until their dead are laid down in it.
Are you a wild god of fury?
Are you untamed, as suspected?
There is no safety with you, then,
Unpredictable Storm.
You are the end of safety,
but somehow you are comforting.

You would know, if you are here.
You must know, if what they say of you is true.
You too must have also suffered
a severance from family and tribe.
You must know the sadness
of all songs.

This time, O Lord of Burnt Offerings,
We have come bearing a trial of lanterns
to hunt you, whispering your darkened name

and your old shadow reclaims you,
curls in relief
down in toward wooded night comfort
slinking back into thickets
evading intrusive light.

This time, God,
we have come ready to find you,
wherever you are.

This time, Mother,
whoever you are now.

A Road Running Two Ways

It has been a while since I’ve collected my thoughts fro publication, here. I’ve been occupied with learning Japanese  (again) in long and mostly satisfying hours of study. I began learning Japanese as a child, and I have always wanted to finish the job. T and I are also looking to move, soon, and I am fixated on discarding as many unnecessary belongings as possible, a task that is at once intensely cleansing and liberating while also anxiety-producing. Among the things that have piled up lately are the stacks of journal entries in various notebooks that I have been sorting through. Here are some of these writings.

The senses are an ally. They lead us into the heart of praise and happiness. Stoicism only takes a human heart so far. After the medicine of moderating and dis-attaching from inflated emotion, it is a sweet renewal to return to the upwelling praise and astonishment at the life of the physical word.

You who bring all the stars into being, my relationship with you is changing. I feel better about it because I am not so lonely when I am not missing you so much. I am more comfortable, now, in the natural apathetic doubt of adulthood. But I do not vilify this natural distance we humans feel from you, sometimes. Because of my refusal to vilify such a naturally-occuring disinterest in constantly thinking about the divine, I feel less theistic than ever. This is peaceful in its own way. Still, I hope that the quiet between us will not last too long.

Through the human ability to form words comes rushing the ancient, pre-humanly infinite energy of creation. But because we are so limited in our articulate power and so endlessly restless in our search for the holy, I am coming to understand how a departure from such chasing of truth and intensity brings great relief to the sapiens mind. Is this a part of what the Zen Buddhists allude to?

Our species, they say, was parted in ancient days
85,000 years ago at a road running two ways
out of Africa; it was on a cliffside, imagine:
the boundless earth of beasts beyond humans,
a deep wilderness yet to know a first campfire:
we wore the same skin, then. You stood
on the edge of a dry place, my right cheek
facing north to where the earth opened up
into a cavernous trail beckoning my progeny
into a country unnamed, a foreigner’s skin.