Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Awareness Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

This is more of Margaret Cho's blog musings. She isn't kidding when she says that this is Not For The Faint Of Heart.

I have to say, I am just beginning to read back through her blog entries. I have always liked her comedy, but am really just beginning to really pay attention to her. The level of deeply personal sincerity she lays out in her writing is amazing. This isn't done anonymously, but she isn't holding back or softening the blows. Few people display this level of awareness in intimate conversation, much less a public forum.

It kind of gets at the whole reason this blog is named "Awareness is Painful." It is sort of that flip side of "Ignorance is Bliss," but please note that I don't make this comparison as a criticism of awareness or a celebration of ignorance. Quite the opposite.

One night in a discussion with my boyfriend, when I talked about the value I placed on awareness and the work I put into it, his response was "ignorance is bliss". "Ignorance is death," was my reply.

I understand the desire for ignorance though. If you are very, very lucky, it can be a pretty place to stay. I just also know that it is too late for him (any of us). You can't return to ignorance. You can cultivate apathy or hide in denial or paint the world with convincing assumptions/rationalizations, but these aren't ignorance. And despite their pretty promises, they have no bliss to give, only hope to steal. Ignorance is ugly and naked. It smiles down the barrel of a gun. It is dumb and boring and was wisely left back in old dull eden.

The closest drug that can replicate ignorance is avoidance, but again this is one that requires being taken with awareness to keep you out of danger. If you aren't aware of what to avoid, avoidance doesn't do a whole hell of a lot of good. But the faint hearts do get good at knowing what to avoid or knowing how to only acknowledge the tragedies 'over there' that are happening to 'them.' (if you didn't read it already, more on ignorance in my last post)

The thing is though, I don't have a negative outlook on the world and I think you would be hard pressed to argue that Margaret Cho does either. Awareness is painful but it is also so much more. Some things are so bad and so ugly, but so much is so beautiful and amazing. A while back I whittled most of my prayers down to "Wow," and "Thank you," and started directing my demands for a better world towards my fellow citizens. I learned better than asking them for justice; they just twist and screw it up. I ask instead for mercy and grace.

It will never cease to amaze me how important these two things are to central Christian teachings and how rarely (if ever) our christian-right loudmouths and their minions call for either unless it is for their demonstrably righteous own, or even really credit God's capacity for these things. falwell, dobson, reed, and the nekkid emperor all preach justice and revenge and holy holy holy, but charity is a side note and if all those different people weren't so different then maybe they would be blessed too. Go fuck yourselves.

Before I get carried away, Margaret, you made me cry at work today. Thank you, for the tears and your witness (the beautiful Quaker 'bearing witness' -not flinching and turning away from or rationalizing away the pain you see-, not the creepy southern baptisty conquestial 'witness').

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