Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rukeyeser: "What does inner security rest on?"

In her essay "Darwin & the Writers," poet Rukeyser nails it. She is writing, as the title insists, on reactions to natural selection. I may never understand why it upsets so many religious people.

(In my simple universe, the Almighty is so beyond description or understanding all we can ever do is theorize, pray and be grateful. She is She, whether She sneezed 16 billion years ago creating the Big Bang or, like a wily Tex Avery cartoon character, played come hither with the apple, snake, human prototypes.) (Yeah, I'm simplifying.)

What do our reactions reveal about us?  According to Rukeyser,

Writers responded in terms of their own security. What does inner security rest on? was the real question they were asking in this struggle. Does it rest on dogma or transformation? If the answer is dogma, then every writer who wants to write with authority, to say, This is the way things are, is threatened.

In the late 1980s I found myself canvasing so a Quaker ceremony of commitment, same sex, would legal as Quaker marriage. In other words, in the state of Washington, legal.

I was a Member of University Friends in Seattle, and did my bit by talking to Members of the community about their concerns, resistance, repugnance.  There was much resistance. After a while, it was pretty clear, to me, anyway, that people who were offended by same-sex marriage were uncomfortable with their sexuality.

I realize I can't accuse any and everyone who disagrees with my views as simply being afraid, but I note that fear is a factor often unexamined. Always examine fear. It is the common enemy. Transformation is the promised land.

"Darwin & the Writers" by Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980), was published in 2009 by the CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, LOST & FOUND series, CUNY Grad Center.

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