To reflect on our times, I chose the allegory of The Sacrificial Swine shared in The Way Of Chuang Tzu, interpreted by Thomas Merton. The story is here: https://tinyurl.com/sacrificialswine
It is this line that caught my attention, after the Grand Augur has decided that, though the pigs would prefer a long life of coarse feed in simple pens, rather than being sacrificed, it is a nobler existence - and it mirrors his own - to have finery and honors, even at the cost of untimely death. “So he decided against the pigs’ point of view, and adopted his own point of view, both for himself and for the pigs also.”
In the past year I have been on a journey prompted by the recent spate of police shootings of Black folks, as well as the 2016 presidential election and its outcome. I have taken stock of my enormous privilege as a white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, English-speaking citizen of the U.S. I am also cisgender (I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth), and I have materially benefited from settler colonialism and theft against the indigenous peoples of the land where I live: more privilege.
I have committed to learning more and engaging more in grassroots anti-oppression work, much of it in supporting communities of color as they face over-policing, incarceration, detention, and deportation.
In the past year, I have been thinking a lot about the points of view that those of us with privilege in the U.S. empire choose to adopt, “both for ourselves and for [others] also.”
I think particularly of our continued engagement in communities of the Global South (often known as “Third World Nations”). How noble, we could say along with the Grand Augur, to have their borders drawn by the West, and their oil and other resources extracted for the West’s finery … all while their land, culture, and self-determination are destroyed in the process.
I think of communities like Apple Farm, committed to symbolic, inner life. As members of American society, we are complicit, even if unknowingly, in the tradition of empire the last 500 years. To echo Chuang Tzu’s critique, how noble, for indigenous people to have their mythologies and symbols extracted for our essential soul work - while their families and communities have been systematically oppressed and killed.
Should we be concerned about this? If so, how should we proceed?