Thursday, April 07, 2011

The 30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 14

Day 14: A Photo of your main mode of transportation

Keeping with the theme of things I am grateful for, photographed here is my beloved bicycle. 

Her name is sunshine and my Dad bought it as a Christmas present for me this year. I haven’t really been able to ride her until pretty recently because the super-biting-cold air is not exactly condusive to a wheezing asthmatic like myself. But, as you saw yesterday, the weather has finally turned to sunny warmth and yesterday afternoon I hauled her out of the bike room to get my not-in-shape-butt over to the gym. I also have the Firebolt, my minivan, but I didn't have time to go to the parking lot today!

And in other news, today is Thursday… which means I had Religion class this morning, which indubitably means I have some metaphysical dilemmas that need hashing out. Prepare yourself for a diatribe.

Today came a burning question always simmering in the back of my mind when discussing the ethic of nonviolence: rape. In the line of thought by which Gandhi and Dr. King preached, rape is an act of violence that also must be endured with active Love and resilience, but not violent retaliation. While to my knowledge they never spoke to the subject explicitly, it is perhaps because they are men and therefore less at risk of being raped than women. Additionally, they were fighting for political equality (though God knows women and men were raped and murdered in that process).

We did not actually get to answering this question in class, because we moved first to speak about Plato’s Phaedo and the idea of the body as something temporal, a vessel by which our souls are carried into the ephemeral world. Plato speaks about the world of the Forms being the eternal, permanent, and Ideal world in which Beauty is in its utmost essence: pure, unchanging, powerful, and pervasive. What we see and experience here in lower-case reality are merely reflections and bad copied of the world of the Forms (essentially). Plato contends that with our sixth sense, intuition, we are capable as human beings to tap into the perfect world of the Forms. It is by this process we are capable of channeling reflections of the Ideal. By this line of thought, however, one must presume we are ingrained naturally with a sense of Goodness, Justice, Beauty, and all of the Forms.

As Plato states, it is the teacher’s responsibility to live as a reflection of the Forms so that when they are engaging their students what is taught transcends the physical realm and therefore makes the world of the Forms apparent to the pupils. Considering only yesterday I was talking about how marvelous and important I find my professors to be, I found this to be incredibly validating. Especially in this class I often find myself in the place Plato says ideally students should be: hearing the teacher but seeing the greater picture they paint with their words.

Professor Grayson went on to describe the tautology of the statement, “the end justifies the means.” That is to say, the verb in the statement functions as a grammatical equal sign, dictating the subject and predicate to be of equal merit and worth and, most importantly, held as the same principal. So what makes “the end justifies the means” to be such a provocative, dangerous, and powerful statement is that it is also “the means justify the ends.”

And everything falls into place. Nonviolence, Love, Justice, Goodness… To have Peace (capital-P Peace, as in the Peace in the world of the Forms or from the Divine, whatever you believe) real, true Peace, it must be achieved through Peaceful means. This is why war always fails, why “the war to end all wars” was a paradoxical statement for WWI, why violence breeds violence. You can never have Peace when there has been no mercy, when such atrocity has been committed.

And I believe this. If there is nothing else in this world I believe, I believe this.

But it still does not seem to answer my question about rape. As said in class, when one is murdered you do not have to process the consequences because, well, you’re dead. Yes, it is horrific. Yes, your family and loved ones have to live with that burden. But you are gone. But what of they who survive murder?

Rape is the ultimate violent act. It is the total control over one human being by another, a dictation that every ounce of dignity and respect you have for yourself is neither valid nor of importance to the rapist. You are not human, you are a tool by which not only does the rapist control you, but a tool of pleasure. And I think rape is murder of the soul- because in the act of sexual control, the rapist(s) are murdering their victim in their minds.

This is horrific.

I know I am no gender studies expert, and I have no doubt the discussion of rape is far more complex than my comprehension, but in my personal reflections from this class these are my thoughts. And I am disturbed deeply by them.

All my life I have been taught that, by nature of being female, I must fear for my safety more so than my male counterparts. That  lesson is a discussion for another time, involving gendering, concepts of the value on virginity and sexuality for women, racism, and unfortunately, a lot of truthful historical experience by women from all backgrounds. I have been told to fear being raped more than to fear being killed.

So I’m not sure that were I ever in a situation threatening my life with rape that I would respond with nonviolence. I mean, one can never be sure what you will do at gunpoint until you actually are, and it is my hope for myself and you, dear readers, that you must never have to learn.

I guess I’m frustrated in some capacity in this facet of nonviolence by the same plague the movement carries with it to many others; it just does not seem applicable. To die to save another life or to fight against a gross injustice, yes I would. To be raped for such a cause? I’m thinking that’s a big fat NO WAY.

But this is also perhaps why the second wave of the women’s movement was born out of the civil rights movement. The movement was executed on the ground by women (Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, the list goes on and on) but led by men (John Lewis, Dr. King, Malcolm X. Eldridge Cleaver…). And women were frustrated by the sexism that existed within the structure of the movement.

I know this is a generalization, and by no means do I disregard the importance of these men’s works. Obviously, I love Dr. King. I even really like Malcolm X (a diatribe for another time). But the idea of rape has been lacking in the literature I have read concerning nonviolence. And to me, this is a serious gap in the philosophy of nonviolence.

Or perhaps I am only willing to endure so much pain for such a cause. Does this make my commitment to non-violence invalid?

Do you have thoughts on this? Or literature to recommend to me?

current jam: "500 miles" the proclaimers
best thing in my life right now: i'm doing an extra radio show tonight form 6-8pm if you'd like a listen! 
days until departure: 59 
also, my friend hattie, who is also in this class, posted her thoughts on today's lecture here if you would like to have a look! 

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