Ken MacLeod is writing about Egypt and it’s implications. I recommend reading the rest of his short entry and coming back.
Sound familiar? He’s talking about breaking free of the poison that is identity politics, the poison that uses our differences to cause insurmountable divisions among us. The poison that says “you can never understand me, and it makes me angry that you shall even try, or that you don’t try hard enough, or…” This poison starts off innocently enough, with the banding together of like minded – or really, like identified – people who say “we need space and time to ourselves” for various reasons. These safe enclaves where group identity is forged can become, if we are not careful, fortresses. When fortresses are built, war comes closer.
We see this all the time in our various communities. One might say, “I am Asatruar and you are Wiccan and therefore, we are completely different. I do not need to throw in my lot with you.” The reverse has also been said. The divisions are multifold: cisgendered vs. transgendered, Caucasion vs. African American, Muslim vs. Christian, male vs. female, Kinsey 0 vs. Kinsey 6, Kinsey 6 and 0 vs Kinsey 3 and 4, Contemporary Wicca vs British Traditional Wicca, Mystery Religion vs Open Source, Thelemite vs Pagan, Goth vs neo-Tribal Hippy, Emo vs Goth, Roman Catholic vs Eastern Orthodox, Reform Jewish vs Orthodox Chasid, Working Class vs Upper Class, Magical vs Mundane…
Difference is good. Difference is healthy. True diversity keeps the cosmosphere running and interesting. But true diversity requires that each part, while distinct – with its own markers, behaviors, and job – also must function fully within the whole. There must be an acknowledgment of the coming together, of what unites us, rather than only what divides.
For Ken MacLeod, a Marxist Atheist, this boils down to our humanity. For me, a Pagan, a simultaneous non-dualist and polytheist (It’s a mystic dissonance that creates harmony. We like it.), it boils down to this: we are all part of the fabric of Being. God Herself flows through us and we flow back. Or if you prefer, the Void becomes a fecund place. Each cell of my body needs its separation in order to function, but without the whole body, its function has no meaning or purpose, and divorced from context, it flounders and dies. We are the whole and the whole is us. The places where we diverge are also points of connection. Our very symbiosis requires this separation. We need to not make the separation the thing itself.
We stand together, or we fall, regardless of how we may identify ourselves. The paper wasp can attack the honey bee, or they can both find ways to pollinate the garden, enabling the fruits of the future.
We share a beautiful garden. Let’s choose to live.