Monday, August 08, 2005

daggers point the way

We have no fear of arrows, or daggers,

Or shackles, or the blade against the neck.

Hotheaded, we drink the devil's drink.

Even less we fear what people think.

#1212: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: point, arrow

I'm seeking new directions, so the idea of pointing, of arrows, came to mind. There are plenty of sharp instruments in this verse of Rumi's. When I read his "we" I recoil for I do indeed have a fear of sharp implements and of violence and imprisonment. I am a good little girl who tries ever so hard to please and placate precisely so as to avoid brutal punishment. Fear is such a powerful emotion.

Working backwards from the last line, I'm OK on what people think. It's uncomfortable knowing - or at least sensing - that people disapprove of me. I've cultivated a persona that readily leads to that response in people. I've learned not to care. However, I am fearful of physical violence, especially because I have few defenses against it. It is so easy to die and death is so final.

Where my fear holds sway is in approaching Muslims in the real world today. I will discuss and debate with them on-line; I will denigrate the Koran and its pathetic writer, Mo; I will mock their ignorance, deflate their arrogance; I will fiercely foresee the demise of the patriarchal faiths, especially Judaism and Islam. I will do all that in the safety of internet anonymity but I will not do it in public, in real life, for I fear the fate of Salman Rushdie or Theo van Gogh. In that physical sense, I am a coward.

I also see no special point in taking such physical risks. It seems to me that every martyrdom is tragic and could have been avoided. No, I'm a coward and want to live.

And yet ... I am intrigued and tempted by this devil's drink. In Rumi's case, as the gay lobby would have it, this represents homosexual love which, in Islam, is not merely frowned upon but can lead to imprisonment or execution. Homophobia is tolerated and the Islamic community would tend to turn a blind eye to ordinary citizens taking the law into their own hands. A homosexual in Rumi's day would be in great physical danger at all times. In some parts of the world today this would still be true.

This whole issue is one that I continue to struggle with. I want to embrace Rumi and be part of his "we" but, right now and in all honesty, I cannot claim no fear at all of physical violence and imprisonment. I guess I hope it is not my fate to have to overcome such fears. I guess I hope that, to be myself, to express myself, I need not venture outside of my society's boundaries. What a fond hope! I wonder if anyone is ever completely safe from that demand of fate.

John 11:25-26 (KJV)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

To be honest: no, I don't believe this.


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