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Joy in the face of brooding whiteness.

I don’t intend for this to become a political blog.

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We All Have Beauty Inside.

I’m not a religious person, at all.

But the Parable of the Talents, found in the bible, has always appealed to me.

In this story, a master goes away on a trip, leaving each of his servants a different number of silver coins (what were called talents, I guess). Two of the servants give the master more silver coins when he returns. A third returns the single coin the master gave him.

I was taught this is the moral of the parable: to be favored by god and gain prosperity, one has to be industrious and work.

But the Jesuits opened my mind to a different way of thinking about parables, particularly this one.

This parable ain’t about god: the master in the story ain’t god. The parable is about the talent – the beauty – that we each have. The parable doesn’t tell us how to behave, it simply tells us one of the laws of the universe:

We are all given talents and desires. When we are nurture them, we prosper and are happy. When we neglect them, we get a sense that prosperity is scarce and hard come by; we feel oppressed and trapped.

Has that been true in your life?

Broody Sarah Huckabee Sanders seeks to exile that beauty.

It has been a hard month in Arkansas.

Broody Sarah Huckabee Sanders Trump DeSantis (or whichever puppeteer is pulling her strings this week), Breanne “The Imposter” Davis, and “Ku Klux Dan” Sullivan are water-boarding the state with oppressive and anti-democratic laws.

These are the types of insane laws flying through the committees, without debate, discussion or input from the people, without the consent of the governed… but with a great deal of bullying and strong-arming from the Huck-a-bully crowd.

  • Repealing Child Labor laws that prevent young children from being put to work;
  • Repealing Affirmative Action laws;
  • Criminalizing any expression of identity that makes Breanne Davis feel “naughty”
  • Making it a felony for libraries to carry books that appeal to “prurient” interests
  • Defunding the public education system
  • Making it impossible for people to add ballot initiatives
  • Banning health care – and access to health care – for people who are Queer

Each of Broody Sarah’s bills, above, serves one purpose: to snuff out god’s beauty in someone else – the talents god has given to another.

There is no character in the Parable of the Talents who represents what Broody Sarah and her Brown-shirts are doing to others: no character in that parable works to actively block the master’s servants from nurturing and growing their own talents.

I suspect, if there was such a character, it would be the Devil.

But I don’t believe in gods and devils.

Whiteness has a hunger that’s insatiable.

What I believe is that Broody Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Breanne the Imposter, and “Ku Klux Dan” Sullivan grew up in abusive households, traumatized by their parents, their parents’ religion, or their parents’ white supremacy.

Rather than heal that trauma, they have chosen to pass on that hurt to other people. This cycle of abuse plays out in white society in the same way as it plays out in successive generations of individual white families.

Despite the clouds of whiteness, cruelty and hatred that Broody Sarah Huckabee Sanders has called down on Arkansas, beauty will always find a way to poke through as it did in some of this week’s pictures: primary colors reflecting off a window, the parachuting blooms of the “Tulip Tree” in spring, jonquils blooming in the cold rain, as if to spite it.

Every despot in history who has tried to snuff out beauty, color, love, and the diversity of humanity has failed.

But Whiteness is persistent and has a hunger that is insatiable.

At some point, Sarah will have to make a choice: fade away into the asshole of history with the rest of history’s overgrown infants, or start putting people in camps and killing them.

Joy has a call that’s hard to hear.

We who reject the sexual and gender binaries, or our “assignment” in them, are also faced with a choice.

Will we go back underground, hide our beauty and joy under a rock?

Or will we show them to the world?

I was arrested and jailed in March 2021 because I dared speak to the Arkansas House and tell them that their law banning gender affirming health care was unconstitutional and immoral.

Though I only spent a few hours in jail, I realized a lot.

For example, I learned I do not belong in the gender binary.

I’ve lived in the binary for 50 years; I know what that prison feels like.

I’m not going back to that cell, to being what society thinks a “man” or a “woman” is, what they should look like, or how they should act or dress, in public or in private.

There’s a lot of fear – justified – in the Queer community. To be clear, it is 100% justified fear – the attacks on the Queer community this legislative session have been shockingly broad, relentless, and cruel. It is as if Republicans are carpet-bombing the Queer community with napalm.

That tide of fear may soon reach a crescendo, spilling into violence and bloodshed.

In seasons of life like this, Joy can have a call that’s hard to hear.

Should the deep, hammering, and pounding drum of fear, as real and justified as it is, be the only instrument in the orchestra?

I don’t think so.

Drums give rhythm; that’s their job. But drums are not the whole song. We need to lay down the “melody” track.

Which brings me back to the Parable of the Talents.

I know what my Joy is. I know what my Talent is.

I’m not quite sure how best to use them, but that’s the work of a life, isn’t it – learning to use the ceaseless flow of talent and joy that we can swim in every day?

And so I am going to practice my talent more. Visibly. Letting others seeing me living in my Joy.

And, to be clear, I’m not just putting my head in the sand and ignoring this cruelty being visited upon our community.

I’m not going to suppress the fear, horror, rage, and anger.

I’m going to embrace and channel all of my strong emotions, as strong emotions are helpful guides to understand, shape, focus and express talent and Joy.

Your turn, you tell me: what is your talent? What is your Joy? How will you express it?

This week’s pictures.

I pulled together 10 photos that I think really spoke to the idea of beauty showing through darkness, of joy poking out of the decay. Would love to hear your thoughts about these images.

The captions tell you where the pictures were taken, and some have additional details.

Click on the first photo, below, to see the full photos and captions in a gallery view.

Many of this week’s photos have haiku attached in the captions – here’s why.

Click on the first photo to see the complete photos in gallery format.

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