RULES ARE MADE BY THE POWERFUL: ETHICS FOR THE MARGINALIZED AND THE REST OF US
Majorie Suchoki talks about how moral rules/systems can themselves be sinful. Like the deep south and Jim Crow–legal, but evil. She says that to be moral/good you often have to “transgress” the rules of systems and create a new vision for ethics.
I became “transgressive” in 1994. I was in a very oppressive system of belief, and I did not escape by means of system building. I did not have humanistic value matrix from which to operate. I just knew I had to break rules I thought were true in order to be who I was. I transgressed without any “evidence” but my gut instinct that I was in pain and needed change.
Eventually, I did find theological warrant for transgression.
“To call sin a rebellion against God too easily translates into a social formula for keeping marginalized and oppressed people in places of poverty and/or powerlessness, since it tends to interpret rebellion against any form of political, social, or personal power as rebellion against God.” (Suchoki, Fall to Violence)
If you keep the rules of society, the status quo, you will be complicit in systems of oppression. To quote Suchoki again, because she is awesome, “For example, to live in most portions in the world is to participate in some for of racism relative to ethnic groups on the margins of the power structure and value system of the culture. All who have attained the capacity to transcend the norms and structures of society participate in this racism, most passively, but many actively: all share in the guilt. But to change one’s attitudes and actions concerning the racism is to violate the communal norms; it is to TRANSGRESS boundaries.”
For example, in America, we have economic apartheid by zip code. Go look up zip codes on zipskinny. The average builder of homes is going to maximize home profits. No concern for the fact that we are building silos of people with identical economic profiles, which often overlap with race and definitely with education and class. Is it any surprise that the terrible schools are in the poor zip codes where people have lower education levels and less income? I am assuming many of those builders are Christians. But have any of them said: “Well, I could my 6 million if I built only really nice homes. But if I mixed in some low income housing, I will only make 4 million, but that will mean some at risk kids will be in a new good school district, and that will make for a more diverse community, and that sounds like a good thing to do”? I am not sure anyone has ever approached them with the idea. Maybe somebody should. Because shunting off the poor into poor neighborhoods is not working for us as a culture. But we know that most home buyers don’t want to be near low income housing. I recently heard some people have a fit because builders were putting in apartments near their house, even though the builder told them it was going to be “upscale.” I have heard it called NIMBY or NOT IN MY BACKYARD. Wow. What an enlightened, human affirming, peacemaking, globally aware attitude “not in my backyard” is. I am not saying it is easy. No one says the right and good thing to do is easy. I don’t want my house value to go down. But I don’t want people to goto bad schools or live in slums either. To quote Jesus, he did not say his path was roses, but narrow. The spiritual path is often the narrow path. Just think about how hard it is to daily meditate! Let alone make decisions for our culture that don’t put your own interests first.
I digress, but my point is….we MUST transgress. The companies that own the world, the status quo, etc, they have a vested interest in things remaining the way they are. Science calls it homeostasis. Systems have homeostasis. Even terribly unjust systems have homeostasis. So forgive me, if in my radical ethics that value empathy, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and fairness…I TRANSGRESS the status quo, or what people drinking tea in parlors think is appropriate. Well behaved Women rarely change the world. Transgress!