Me So Petty

Myanmar-over 38,000 deaths and expecting rains & flooding to make things worse.
Suchou-over 60,000 people still unaccounted for (my late grandmother was from Sichuan).

I can’t even process something this big, so breaking it down into manageable components: it’s people who sent their children (often an only son or only daughter–remember this is a poor part of China) ‘safely’ to school and towards a good future and now don’t know whether they are alive or dead. They have no more homes to go back to and fathers are crying over old photographs and mothers are still walking through rubble (rubble sounds small but these are enormous chunks of buildings too immense to push over even if your child’s foot is sticking out from beneath it) calling calling calling even after so many days.

But sitting frozen in stunned mode doesn’t help. We send prayers & donations and move on.

Why did this happen?
Earthquakes & cyclones happen. This was an earthquake zone–high probability zone in fact. There were building regulations in place. Problem is (probably) local contractors were so far from the capital that corners were cut to save money & no one saw the consequences till now.

We don’t have problems here, just fussing over whether or not foreign domestic maids are entitled to one day off a week.

Keith Lin wrote a comment piece on it in this morning’s ST that points out the petty short-sightedness of employers who worry about their $5,000 security deposit:

He points out:
If your maid gets pregnant, her Work Permit will get revoked & she’ll get sent home, you don’t lose your deposit which is only at risk if your maid goes missing. And even then, if she is found & repatriated within a month you don’t forfeit your bond. Plus if she is located within 3 months, you can appeal against the forfeiture. But most importantly for those worried, there are insurance schemes–an employer covered by these need pay only $250 of the $5000 in the event of a maid disappearing.

He also points out that last year 63 maids ran away and so did 430 children–but you don’t confine your children at home all week.
Plus most children don’t have to deal with culture shock, language problems and homesickness.

I know–just using that as a distraction.

And another ‘distraction’ that came in this morning’s mail. I had told Clarence after last week’s sermon that I did not consider myself ‘marginalised’. I got this reply this morning, sent to me & the rest of the church:

Thanks Ovidia and all for your comments.

Marginalization: I am not a big believer in listening only to the
ground. The experience of marginalization is often not felt by the
marginalized because of the internalization of the marginalizer.
That is why many gay people actually do not see their own trauma
from the marginalization which manifests itself as homophobia,
misogyny or androgyny. Therefore one key role the church plays is
that of conscientization – where in the larger community of faith in
our engagement with one another awakens within ourselves the
awareness of various ways in which the marginalizer’s voice has been
internalized. As we become aware of these voices we can then act to
correct them. Amongst others, this voice is internalized into us in
the forms of:

Internalized homophobia
Misogyny
Androgyny
Heterophobia
Defensive mechanisms we used to protect ourselves which are no
longer of use.

So the fact that we did not feel marginalized does not mean we
weren’t and more importantly does not mean that we do not live out
the marginalization.

He follows this up with an anecdote on how he did couples counselling (apparently he told a guy that if his partner was going for an overseas job interview he ought to go with him & make a joint decision) to illustrate how ‘marginalized’ we all are (???)

I must admit my first reaction was to say I’m out of this church, if they are going to assume I’m marginalized whether I feel it or not (if you feel marginalized, you are. If you don’t feel marginalized it must be because you don’t see it, and therefore you are not only marginalized but have internalized it & are living it out)

I don’t know what I’m meant to do now. I don’t want to leave FCC but 1) I don’t want to fight in church 2) I don’t want to pretend I’m something I not–and does remaining silent mean I accept the label of ‘Internally marginalized but denying it?’

I know–the other voice inside me says you can always find out when he’s speaking and go away. I did that for the last, but this time 1) Susan said being part of FCC is being committed to a community, not picking & choosing which parts of it we want to support (& I believe & I agree with her) plus 2) It was migrant workers donation week & I had stuff to bring in.

Yes, I could just continue as before. But apparently he’s getting mail on how that was ‘another great sermon’ and ‘the best yet’ which makes me think, if I am the only one there who feels this way, it is being part of FCC that is making me a marginalized minority, not being gay, because this is the only place where people have insisted I must be seeing myself as ‘marginalized’ whether or not it shows up in my feelings, actions or friends.

Rats–I was going to write about the great mysore class I went to yesterday. How balance comes when you focus on breathing (I’ve been breathing too shallowly, should feel it in my rib cage–expanding & rising, contracting & lowering) and drishti; and yes it is coming, along with my ‘hovering’ before landing after vinyasas.

Reminder: don’t read email before morning writing!

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Jo–yes, while no idea what caused these tragedies agree they are probably much worse in Myanmar than we are being told.

    Thanks very much Kirsten for such a thoughtful reply. I do know what you mean–& actually yes, it’s the meandering/unstructured style that fries up my brain–some of his points were good, but he started with how ‘bad’ stuff can sound uplifting when sung in Latin & played us what seemed like a 9 minute a capella recording with a translation he told us not to read… there were also asides into the music he does & doesn’t listen to & what his friends think of it, the situation in Myanmar & how visiting the migrant shelter with his god children with another aside to what he tries to teach his godchildren to be aware of and how they react to it & an aside to the aside of the aside on how people here tend to bring up their children… back to the shelter & how he was terribly upset to see some dented cans that had been donated & how very very bad they made him feel & he only hoped they had not been donated by our church… there were other discussions of plane crashes–while he couldn’t remember which plane crashed where or what was the name of the celebrity victim he wanted to bring up… but these weren’t brought in to make or substantiate a point, it seemed, but because that’s where his thoughts drifted at that juncture.

    I did try your exit strategy previously, unintentionally–went to the loo while he was speaking & just stayed there till he was finished because I was afraid I was going to explode. And then the next time he spoke I didn’t turn up… but then another speaker (who made a valid point, I thought) said it wrong just turn up to worship & skip sermons we don’t agree with.

    Wow–I’m impressed by your helping out with the children’s church I will try to do something like that if I stay! But I don’t know. It’s a small church, I am not good at keeping my mouth shut & I don’t want to upset the balance here.

  2. Ovidia, this is a minor point, but can you clarify why this minister would include “androgyny” in with misogyny and the phobias? To me it’s a descriptive term for someone who sits on the border between gender norms, not a hatred or phobia. But then, I’ve always been rather attracted to people who are androgynous, so maybe I’m missing something?

    Wait — is he saying that gay people tend toward androgyny as a protective trait? If so, and if that person is attempting to use it as a disguise, then yes, I can see how he would include it in the list. On the other hand, gender as a binary is a big part of herteronormative thought. If he isn’t able to see androgyny as another possible gender, then perhaps his consciousness-raising needs a little work in this area?

    The marginalization thing is tricky. People who respond positively to that message are going to be those who do indeed feel marginalized, which will just reinforce his own belief.

    I’ve run into similar things in feminist circles: Women who say that any woman who, for example, wears heels is automatically a pawn of the patriarchy without realizing that it is possible for one to thoughtfully and intentionally adopt a particular costume without being a pawn.

    Anyway, this is getting long but I did want to also say that I don’t see how not going to hear one particular minister would mean a lack of support for the community. Seems to me that in any community there’s a certain amount of “turning a blind eye” that has to occur for people to get along — if only for the fact that we can’t all agree on everything all the time. I’m not suggesting that you not speak out when you disagree with a sermon, just that there are many ways to participate in a church community.

    For example, I once attended a church with two ministers, one of whom had a very meandering, unstructured sermon style that drove me absolutely nuts. Instead of not going at all on her days, I’d stay for the first part of the service then go help with the children’s church.

  3. I believe the situation in myanmar is much worse than we know as the govt there has denied all foreign journalists. Some bbc journalists sneaked in as tourists and were discovered and deported .

    I heard the earthquake in Chian were caused by the dam in changjiang. There is a danger of the dam collapsing. If that happens, i cant imagine the death toll.

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