Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Settling down, settling in  §

They say time heals all wounds, but they forget to add that time also often alters realities without changing any material facts.

Things seem to be settling down. Maybe because we’re creeping back into denial, but I somehow think it’s more than that. We had our indulgent crisis of faith in our own abilities and in society and we worked ourselves into hyperventilation about the degree to which everything in life was collapsing around us, but now it’s a few days later and some facts on the ground have become obvious:

1. Un/under-employment can be reversed unless you’re dead

2. It’s February, not April

3. Life goes on unless you lay down and die

4. You have never totally screwed up beyond all hope

No, we’re not in objectively better shape than we were two weeks ago when it seemed as though the sky was falling. Turns out, through, that maybe we weren’t entirely objective about things two weeks ago, so it makes sense that they look a little different to us now.

There is time to maneuver. We can, hopefully, make it work. Yes, we will follow through with our contingency plans and make sure to have plane tickets and organizational regimes in place that allow us to make a tidy, orderly escape it if should come down to that.

But at the same time, there is at least a month and maybe a hair longer than that to try to right the ship. This is New York. There are jobs in New York. We are not that far out of the game; we are not starving, homeless, or living in Penn Station. Yes, we need to be attentive, careful, and on top of things, but we do not need to pretend like this is some kind of suicide pact.

Opportunity is also on the horizon. There are things happening that, while not immediate, look good for the future. Things we’d hate to leave prematurely before we see whether or not they can work out.

Maybe we can stay here after all.

We do have to get busy, but we’ve done that before. It could work out that way. And even if it doesn’t, there’s no need to sacrifice a virgin and self-immolate afterward, or anything like that.

We’re just getting on with it.

As an aside, it sometimes is driven home to me just how much troubling irreconcilability there is between myself and the world of religion. I was listening to NPR today and heard the statistic that (as I recall) went something like this: as the result of missionary activity, there are now more evangelicals in Brazil and South Africa combined than in the United States. This, of course, on top of the incredible spread of Catholicism around the world since colonialism.

These sorts of statistics make the religious amongst us feel tremendously pleased; people are getting to “learn about Jesus” and “let God into their lives.”

At the same time, it aggravates and depresses me. If it was up to me, the missionaries would be brought up on charges. Maybe all missionaries would be brought up on charges. It’s cultural imperialism, the destruction of traditions and identities, the spread of western market ideologies and the justification of current economic and power relations.

This sort of thing makes clear to me just why it’s tough for me to make peace with family members and others that are very religious—because the very things that they want to happen most in the world, that they want most for others are the things that I want to save the same people from.

The “saving people” that they are overjoyed about, as though they’d saved a life or even many lives, is precisely what I feel a deep wish to save people from. We both think that the others are spiritual murderers. The religious are killing the spirits of the world’s cultures, replacing these with western ideology and the western structures, architectures, and practices that go with these. They see someone like me, who would try to stop missionaries and to stop anyone from being persuaded to adopt this “Jesus” thing as a killer of individual “spirits.”

We both believe the other side to be committing crimes against morality or ethics that are almost unforgivable.

Certainly I can’t forgive the religious for their crimes, first and foremost amongst them the crimes of conversion—of actively getting others to abandon their identities, their cultures, their histories, their own belief systems and buy into western domination.