Tag Archives: guilt

Color Connected

A bit of a ramble today, but considering how I’ve been neglecting this blog lately (at least in comparison to previous levels of posting), a ramble is better than nothing at all.

Before I start, I’m going to apologize in advance to Tit for Tat, one of my regular commenters here and often a foil against which to fence on various spiritual thoughts. Not because I’m about to talk crap about him but because he commented over at Raving Black Lunatic on a post titled Nah, You Can Keep It and he’s the jumping off point for some points I want to make about white privilege. I encourage you to read the post and comments for context.

For those who didn’t click on the link above, Big Man basically posted on the U.S. government’s fairly lame apology for slavery. About a day after a few short comments, mostly in line with Big Man’s thoughts, Tit for Tat came in and posed the question of why whites should bear any burden for the sins of previous white generations. I got up on my soapbox and then Big Man added his own responses once he realized the comments had revived, and I’m not sure it’s over yet.

But my point isn’t to repeat any of the points I made to Tit for Tat over there, nor to call him to task for his views. Instead, I want to talk about what his comments sparked in me in relation to white privilege and the way that whites band together for sometimes inexplicable reasons.

The thing is, that post by Big Man related specifically to U.S. whites and U.S. blacks. Tit for Tat is from Canada. At first, I had forgotten where he hailed from, because he seemed to be insulted at the notion that white folks should continue to feel bad about past injustices with regard to slavery. So I responded to him as if he were  U.S. white, as I am.

I’m still not sure why Tit for Tat felt moved to make the responses he did, but it made me wonder about internal loyalty among whites and how it seems to me that we, as a group, often band together in odd ways to defend the actions of our fellow whites, even when they really shouldn’t be defended.

And what it made me realize is that across the globe, whites tend to be very connected to each other. Much more so than, say, Latino and Hispanic cultures in North and South America, or Africans. I’m leaving aside Asia and the Middle East in this discussion because they haven’t endured nearly as much white colonialism or expansionism (yes, yes, I know about India and Hong Kong, for example, but overall, the depradations have been less than they were in Africa and in the Americas, I believe).

To a large extent, whites have the privilege and luxury to stick together because they can trace their roots, and because overall, they have been the aggressors and the victors worldwide for a long time now. Certainly the overwhelming force for much of the industrial and Internet ages.

Most whites can trace their geneology and thus can feel a strong connectedness across the oceans to other white nations. Blacks in the United States, cannot do that. Their ancestors were brought here as slaves, and they have no clue and no records that give them any link to an actual identifiable past.

In Africa and the Americas, native people were harshy subjugated, slain and/or exploited by white nations. Whites had no problem putting down borders in those places based on their desires and their goals, ignoring traditional boundaries (something that also happened in that European/Asian transition point of Eastern Europe, where all sorts of tribals folks and other disparate groups were forced together because powerful white European nations wanted to build nations to their own specs).

In other words, whites have held the reins of power a long time, longer, I think, than perhaps any other race in history (at least over such a wide area and controlling so much wealth).

This isn’t to say that all whites have money. But the fact is that in a place like the United States, where I live, a poor white person typically has more chances to get ahead than a black poor person. A struggling white person is often be more comforable if an asshole white person moves in next door than if an upstanding black one does. Resumes with “black sounding” names get tossed in the garbage without another glance in many companies. A black person with the same or better credentials for a job will more often lose out to that job to a white person who isn’t as qualified or is equally qualified.

Yet whites, by and large, refuse to acknowledge this no matter how many studies show the inequities. They want to claim that the past injustices have nothing to do with them, and yet they won’t even admit to the current ones, much less examine how they link to the past.

Tit for Tat continued the discussion with me a bit via e-mail after we finished at Big Man’s blog. In fact, it’s likely still ongoing; no idea how long we’ll continue to banter about it. But he asked an interesting question, that I forgot to answer via e-mail, so I’ll answer it here, in front of all of you. He asked, more or less, that since I have two biracial kids, would I expect them to bear responsibility for past white sins, particularly if one or both of them ended up looking white.

It’s a fair question. First off, Son of Blue is almost a man now, and clearly too dark to pass for white. The older he has gotten, and the less cute and cuddly (by white American standards), the more harrassment he gets, for no good reason. So he is getting the crap from the white people who think they are better than him simply by being white, even though many of them aren’t as well off, aren’t as intelligent and aren’t as together. Those are the kinds of people who may hold him back from opportunities in the future. So, he can’t cash in on the white half of his heritage. He is seen as black.

It is clear to me already that Little Girl Blue will most likely be dark enough to be identifiably part black. So, she too will be treated by society as being black.

But what if one or both of them could “pass” as white? What would I expect? I would expect the same of them that I do of myself and any other white person. I would expect them to recognize the unfair benefits they get and to do the following:

  • Not take it for granted
  • Do their best to not misuse it
  • Do their best to treat all people equally and/or according to their individual merits
  • To recognize the manner in which the past plays into the present

This isn’t about blame or hating or revenge. This is about fairness and justice. In France, because they aren’t happy that African Muslim immigrants won’t fully assimilate and become just like every other French person, they are talking about banning the wearing of burqas by women. Whatever your feelings about burqas, it’s part of the religious tradition, and not all women feel forced to wear them. In any case, how can a supposedly democratic society ban a piece of clothing word by a single group? Easy, because it’s white privilege. White is right. White societies know better. That is the attitude that too many whites carry. It matters less to me whether whites take responsibility for their ancestors’ sins of slavery than it does that they stop acting like they’ve moved beyond racial unfairness.

Guilt Trips by Miz Pink

Why do so many people think that Christians exist only to make them feel bad about themselves? Yeah I know the concept of “original sin” sounds icky and doesn’t sit well with alot of people.

Yeah some Chrsitian folk can get all highandmighty and catalog all your sins while acting as if they have none of their own.

Yeah, some preachers like to trumpet the fire and brimstone and remind you all day long that you’re a pitiful excuse for a Christian…or a human…and that you should feel fortunate that God even offers you eternity in hell for your sins instead of just obliterating you right now.

The Chrisitians who go overboard don’t define us all you know. As human beings we are a pretty sinful lot and we really don’t treat God’s laws or even his planet…or ourselves for that matter…or other people with the respect that we need to. But when the Bible…or a well-meaning Christian…points out that people sin and that we sin against God all the time, it isn’t meant to give us a guilt trip.

Deke is pretty comfortable bringing out the family and parenting metaphors when talking about God so let me do it too, okay? I’ll even change the standin for God and have it be a mother in our little story.

So, imagine we have a guy name Stan whose mother is named Dorothy. Dorothy has raised Stan alone and although she thought discpline was an important character trait, she also loved him and provided for him. Dorothy gave up something very important to her in order to make a good life for Stan. From time to time, she would talk about her past and drop hints about what she had given up. But she never made a big point of it and she never tried to guilt her son.

Stan almost never really followed any of his mom’s rules. He lied to her alot and took things from her and talked about her behind her back and ridiculed her and ignored her. He spent more time disrepecting her than he did showing love back to her. And even as she took most of the disobedience and abuse in silence, Stan never stopped heaping more of it onto her back.

One day, some relatives who were sick and tired of Stan dumping on his mom…and who were also concerned about where Stan’s life was going to go if he wasn’t going to internalize any of his mom’s good advice…took him aside and pointed out to him that he wasn’t doing right. A couple of them might have even suggested that at the rate he was going, Stan would be really lucky if his mom even left him anything when she died or instead just give it all to a charity or something.

That’s the end of my story. No trick ending or witty conclusion. That’s it. Does it ring any bells?

God lets us make our own beds, and he often helps up out of our messes. He takes our abuse and disoebedience quietly. He gave his only son over to evil people to suffer a horrible death he didn’t deserve and to bear all our sins…just because he loved us that much. He gave up something important for us so taht we could have a future and still we don’t even try to meet God halfway most of the time. We ignore and insult and disobey. And we expect to be given a big inheritance because we think “we were pretty good people in the end.”

Stan may have treated alot of other people okay in life, but the parent who gave him everything certainly never got back the love she had earned and deserved.

Then again, maybe he finally did learn to to give her back that love and to finally listen to her…once those relatives pulled his ear a bit and set him straight on a few facts.

Oh, and those relatives would be concerned Christians who are trying to save souls and to get people who are saved to stay on the straight and narrow as much as possible.

Yeah, some of those relatives were probably assholes to Stan. But some of them really meant well and were nice about telling him what was what. Most Stans don’t listen to even the nice ones, though, do they?

How about you?

You don’t know jack(ing off)…the sequel

smiley-face.jpgSo, I was checking out various Internet searches that have led people to this blog, and checked one out related to masturbation being a rejection of Jesus’ atoning death or something along those lines. Not surprisingly, it had led someone to my post a few days ago about masturbation.

So, in using the same search terms on Google, I quickly found a Catholic site that thoroughly lambasted masturbation as a terrible sin. I spent nearly an hour going through this incredibly long discussion thread on the subject and was simultaneously amazed and dismayed. I’m not saying it was all horseshit; the discussion board manager and some other rabid anti-jacking folks had some valid points. But by and large, I was amazed at how doggedly some people stick to the notion that masturbation is always and necessarily a sin.

Here’s the gist of what I got from the anti-jacking-off side of the argument:

Non-procreative sex is a sin

OK, this is a really popular one with the Catholic church in particular. If you have sex, even as a married couple, and the two of you are fertile, don’t you dare do anything to prevent pregnancy. Be fruitful and multiply. Birth control is as evil as abortion.

Wow! Really? I can’t just enjoy sex with my wife. I’ll admit that sex outside of marriage is a sin, and one that I’ve committed myself. But the notion that using a condom or having relations that don’t involve penetration and potential insemination is a sin is ridiculous.

I guess God gave women the clitoris, a part of the body that serves no purpose other than to grant feelings of pleasure, just to tempt them or to keep them in the bed long enough for a guy to get them knocked up. God doesn’t want us to enjoy sex at all. Nope. Just procreate, guys. Not like the earth is already overpopulated and you’re using up all the resources I gave you. Just keep popping out as many kids as you can.

Aside from the fact I have a really hard time seeing masturbation as (a) a form of sexual intercourse or (b) a means of inappropriate birth control.

I just don’t know what else to say on this one. Oh yeah, I do: Horseshit!

Masturbation involves impure thoughts

OK, on this one I may have to cop to some valid points and admit that there are limits. Looking at a porn video or skin mag while masturbating probably isn’t really part of God’s ideal design. First, you’ve supported the porn industry, which does a lot of harm to the people who work in it and which creates a lot of imagery in society that encourages promiscuity. And my apologies for my part in supporting it in the past.

Second, it is true that sinning in one’s thoughts is still sin. One could argue that by looking at the image of some man or woman other than your spouse, and getting off on that, could be construed as a form of mental adultery. I don’t know if I agree with that in the case of using porn or imagining Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt or something like that, because this isn’t a person I’m ever going to meet (maybe not even a person who really exists if it’s purely imaginative), and I suspect Jesus’ warnings about mental sin (lust or violence, for example) pertained more to people we actually see around us in regular life.

Third, a point was made that you are objectifying a person (or people) in said porn images who is a child of God and was not created for your amusement. Again, not a completely crazy point, though it’s on thinner ice than the previous point.

But here’s where it got wacky on the discussion I was viewing. Someone asked, “Well, what if I’m masturbating to images of my spouse, either actual photos or mental images?” The chief poster in the discussion, whom I believe was also a site admin or owner, actually said that is still a sin because you are sexually objectifying your spouse solely for your own amusement. And lust is a sin.

(stunned silence)

I’m sinning if I feel lust toward my wife? If I desire her because she’s sexy and I want her, that’s bad? So what, I’m supposed to hold her hand, give chaste kisses and, when she’s fertile, have sex just on the hope we’ll end up with a child?

The Bible has established that sex between spouses is more than just about procreation. It’s part of how we bond. And frankly, if you’re jacking off to thoughts of sex with your own spouse at those times you cannot enjoy sex with said spouse, I think that’s a damn good sign you are well attached to that person.

And even if it isn’t my wife I picture in my mind all the time, so what? Am I really sinning and committing adultery if I make up a person in my mind? Or how about if someone is using erotic literature or sexy short stories as the stimulus? If that’s a sin, I guess I’ve committed murder every time I read about someone committing murder. I’m not saying we should wallow in mental images of sex, violence or anything else. But short of being Jesus himself, how am I supposed to keep a head full of nothing but thoughts of flowers, sunshine and helping orphans?

Yes, we can control our impulses and yes, we can mitigate our thoughts. But to throw masturbation into the pile as some heinous sin simply because is ridiculous. Yeah, if you can’t put down your equipment now and again, you have a problem. If you turn to yourself instead of your spouse because it’s easier or more fulfilling to you, that’s a problem (either with you, your spouse, or both).

I certainly don’t think God looks down and says, “nice ejaculation with that one, son.” But I also don’t think He’s wrinkling his nose at every act of self-pleasuring. Because frankly, I doubt God looks down and smiles about a lot of other things we do as part of life that are just part of life. Oh, say, eating, drinking, walking, breathing, shitting. I mean, if you think God is looking down at you on the toilet or at the dinner table thinking to Himself how wonderful you’re doing that activity, you have a pretty dim view of God. I think He has a lot more to be concerned with than our bodily functions. Like, say, the universe and our souls. Just a theory, ya know.

So, yeah, maybe that subscription to Hustler isn’t something you should renew. And you probably shouldn’t be thinking about the pool boy when you’re taking care of your personal needs. But frankly, if we didn’t have so many hang-ups about sex, particularly in the Catholic church (and I’m not a Catholicism hater…just a guy with some serious reservations about how it’s led at the top), maybe we’d have more stable people in church leadership all the way around. Looking at Catholicism, for example (since they do an awful lot of the hating toward masturbation) I’d love to see more priests jacking off and, even better yet, being able to get married, and fewer of them getting hauled away for diddling children in the congregation. I’m not for promiscuity and allowing everything, but rampant repression doesn’t do us much good, either.