Oppression

and the cure of it.

I seek to create the Kingdom of Heaven in the world, and around me see chains of oppression. Dog eats dog. What may I do?

So much oppression! The exploitation of third world workers, people smugglers charging migrants tens of thousands of dollars for a place on a sinking boat which might barely make it to Lampedusa, Fortress Europe and Unwelcome as the response. So much oppression of women: the denial of reproductive rights, genital mutilation, domestic violence.

In the bronze age, the human relationship with our food animals was symbiotic: we cared for the cattle, and took their milk and meat. Now it is exploitative, with industrial battery farming. I could escape this one oppressive system, and become vegan. This was difficult thirty years ago, but now the work has been done: people know how to get the necessary carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals without meat or dairy products, and the foods are available, and appetising. You can go into the matter in great detail, finding vegetarian cheese or vegetarian wine- either as a constriction, refusing anything tainted and withdrawing from the world, or as a liberation, using the knowledge to reduce your vestigial oppression still further. It is in the culture. We all know some nutrition; I hear that my potassium levels may fall in hot weather, and I need potassium to retain water, so I eat bananas. That seems enough, at the moment. I could start with occasional vegetarian meals, learn more about cooking and sourcing, and eventually become an expert, excluding animal products from my shoes, clothes, house.

(Cheese. I know. Well, being vegetarian or even pescatarian could be a stepping stone.)

You can do the work. Which cleaning products are best for the environment? Which forms of investment are most ethical? What does “Fair trade” mean, exactly? You can slowly, steadily reduce your complicity in oppression. You remain complicit, and at the start your complicity far outweighs the progress you have made; yet all the progress is worthwhile.

Actually, I start to talk myself into it. When I started this post, I thought of writing how all-pervasive oppression is, and how the oppressed oppress: eg, the porn performer who needs the money, and is brutalized by her trade. As are other workers. I know what I devote myself to; but could take some of the many opportunities to reduce my footprint on the faces of other humans, or the environment.

I know that my transition is not oppression. I am called liar and rapist, but the oppression comes from others, and not from me.

I devote myself to my own freedom. I have desires and promptings. I have a Real Me, a beauty, to express and create in the world. I have internalised fear and judgment of that, and I liberate myself of it. That is my work and learning now.

Sebastiano Ricci, Resurrection

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