Not to need illusion -
to dare to see and say how things really are -
is the emancipation I would like to attain.
May Swenson, poet; she was born on this date,
at Logan, Utah, in 1913
May Swenson, the first of ten children, rejected the Mormonism of her immigrant Swedish family and escaped from Utah in her early twenties. She knew, probably, that otherwise she would never be able to live her life as a lesbian. She wrote the above quote to her great friend and possibly lover the poet Elizabeth Bishop.
I am under no illusion that war and militarism are a fact in human life. However, I think and feel deep within me that it is an illusion - and a profound spiritual malaise - to think or believe that war and militarism or violence either “make us free” or safe, or will ever bring about peace with justice - something I think that, deep within, the vast number of human beings “would like to attain”. Small numbers of politicians promote war … and most of the rest of us are caught up in the slaughter and the hell and the horror and the blood and the death. Those with the most power may attain some temporary freedom from dominance, but the vicious cycle will continue and their time will come, as it always has.
I find it a deep affront to pray for peace at religious services, as we did yesterday in our Episcopal Church, complete with flags, while at the same time giving liturgical affirmation to those who promote or participate in war.
If we are going to call Jesus the Prince of Peace, or the Buddha the Lord of Compassion … then I think we should shed all the illusions and radically refuse to support or to participate in any way in violence. Or at least try our very best.
Freedom, ultimately, comes only from exorcising hate, power, and violence from our hearts – personally, nationally, and as the Human Race.