As I have experienced the world, we are bombarded with rules, written & unwritten... Codes of conduct, culture & familial embedded & reinforced in such a way that making the “right” choice to honor one set of rules directly contradicts another set of rules…
One example includes a short trip to the Federal Social Security Administration in Las Vegas NV. When one needs to replace identification...which is required to for instance... driving or getting a job, renting housing temporary or otherwise...one can not go to federal jurisdiction to get a copy of the social security card... required for getting local identification...not to mention not being able to access the funds to pay the fees to acquire said identification.
Mind you...we live in a technological age when with a few key strokes one can be quickly identified when one is caught on the “wrong” side of said rules.
Another example is discovering that the institutions of the “church” have allowed themselves to be co opted in such a way, that it is also illegal to feed the poor without proper identification & bureaucratic structure, for fear that some who are hungry might also “take advantage”...Oh God forbid in a country that wastes more food than it can consume?!?! For some the justification is “for the sake of good order.”
So I cry out… with the Laments of old & new...from the Psalms of the Hebrews such as Ps 88...the one ps with no praise... to the expressed pain of street reality which is sung through gangsta Rap...From Native prayer & drums crying out for the healing of Mother Earth...to the numerous religious & cultural expressions crying out for world peace, justice & freedom.
And so I look to see what was & what could be…It occurs to me that history cycles around to teach...if we allow her wisdom to sink in…
In Genesis chapter 38, the first text of the Pentateuch or Hebrew Torah…”In the Beginning…”, there is a story of one woman’s perspective.
Her Name Tamar...insignificant by all accounts...her name is in reference to the “palm tree.” She is acquired & given in marriage to Judah’s (one of the twelve sons of Israel) first born son Er as a wife. By rights she is now set to receive her promise...the thing that gives value & status to a woman at that time...children with birth rights. It was set to guarantee her provisions. However, Judah’s sons choose darker paths. Er dies of what appears to be Karma, or God’s punishment for his “wickedness”. Onan is next in line, but wants to preserve his inheritance & economic advantage, so “drops his seed,” in short get’s his rocks off for free, while denying Tamar her due place. Karma kicks his ass for it, but Judah blames Tamar for being a “black widow,” which results in putting Tamar in a state of Limbo...she is sent to live in her father’s house, denying her “breeding rights” which he is obligated to perform himself, while also denying her the freedom of other widows to “remarry” in such cases of childlessness.
Tamar wisely takes matters into her own hands. She set it up in such a way that Judah unwittingly & unknowingly fulfills his obligations. For all appearances, she looks to have played the slut & he is going to cover his self-righteous ass by condemning her to death...UNTIL she hands him the proof of his own guilt...his own seal & staff returned in her hands.
Confronted with the mirror of Truth, Judah repents...changes direction...he owns his part & honors her rights & justifies her actions, in so doing restores justice...and is rewarded...Karma? perhaps...with two more sons, twins. Perez heading the lineage that leads to King David, and further down the line to the one known as Jesus of Nazareth.
It occurs to me that sometimes the “rules” aren’t the problem. Perhaps the challenge is that we let the rules think for us, excuse our behavior or justify our cruelty. It occurs to me that some of the most powerful lovers in history...Jesus himself at the top of my list... Loved by re-framing the rules...and demanding & creating the possibility of merciful Justice that promotes peace, hope & freedom!