MY SISTER KATE BELIEVED IN THE TRUTH. She thought she recognized it, practiced it, and that it would always prevail.
But I’m not sure truth ever was or can be. Nor am I certain of its prevalence in society today since all alleged truth stems from whatever was written beforeus, as if verified as absolute fact.
And given that even the most inspired of wordsmiths are writers-at-soul, we each must choose from multiple abstracts of speech, edicts, merged thoughts, external influence, doubt in some entities, unbalanced confidence in others, and a necessity for meticulous punctuation in order to advance beliefs — all while knowing the end result will be subjected to individual interpretation using multiple mediums regardless of the author’s intent.
Enter the innate willingness for many to automatically believe whatever is being told them and — worse yet — parroting those narratives as if each utterance was an original thought from which errors can be justified by citing a misdi- rected faith in the charisma of charlatans dressed in fleece.
Please don’t get me wrong by taking me out of context.
I harbor no objection to faith. It’s an effective, convenient, efficient, popular, time-honored tradition that’s both easier to embrace than most of us are willing to admit and necessary for the survival of both the fittest and unfit.
What I question is an inclination to believe the worst in others, as if in doing so we’ll esteem ourselves to those whose alliance we crave.
What I find dubious is our rallying to deny rights to those unwilling to join school cliques, group cliques, office cliques, organization cliques, political cliques, and awards cliques.
What I cannot fathom is the instant exclusion of those we’ve never met nor ever spoken to based solely on what’s been heard from a friend, relative, or associate about a stranger.
Think of how many times you’ve united against bullying in our schools over the past decade, assailing the abusiveness of name-callers as detriments to society.
And yet, sixty million Americans voted for a name-caller to lead this nation and participated in the notion of locking up a person who has never been indicted, arrested, booked, tried, or convicted of any crime in her lifetime while another hundred million Americans capable of taking action chose to do nothing at all.
In a patriarchal society (which ours is) I can understand how misogyny can flourish among males. But the implausibility of misogyny is such that I cannot understand how it thrives among females!
Except… I do?
Perhaps it’s because every news anchor, commentator, journalist, politician, and figurehead over the years fail to question the ecclesiastical elephant in the room.
I first recognized the enormity of its presence forty-two years ago when I refused to attend my brother Michael’s wedding.
At the time, I’d been in love with my Elizabeth for seven years, a woman who’d not only been crucial to saving my life after a catastrophic car crash, but had eagerly, earnestly, and single-handedly tended to my long-term recovery for five of those seven years. Nevertheless, the invitation to my brother’s nuptials didn’t list Elizabeth’s name, nor did it include her as a plus-one option.
As a result, I declined the invitation.
Now before you feel any indignation on my behalf, please, don’t. Remember, it was 1977. Homosexuality had only recently been declassified as a mental disease, while me and mine remained labeled by law as felons at risk of being sentenced as such. We were outlaws, social misfits, deviants, and — worse yet — a cause for embarrassment.
Even now, there are communities in America where being homosexual is portrayed as justification to detain, although not prosecutable; municipalities where dissident gender profiling can divert police from responding to assaults, or delay ambulances from arriving in a timely manner; where medical treatment is subpar and getting away with causing a death as a result could go unnoticed or be ignored altogether. (It’s at this you should take umbrage.)
My brother’s wedding was viewed as a big deal because, of six children (all of us then in our 30s), only two were married. It was likely his union would mark the last chance for my mom to be a mother-of-the-intended ever again. So, even though it was discreetly discussed and agreed that my Elizabeth should have been invited, I was nonetheless demonized for my decision not to go — right up until the portion of the actual ceremony where the bride agreed to obeyher husband. It caused my sisters and mother to storm through our front door several hours later echoing each other.
“Thank God you weren’t at the wedding, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, oh my God, thank you for not coming! You would have caused an uproar. Even we nearly did!”
It’s true. They knew me well. I’ve never taken kindly to being submissive to, or even particularly respectful of, male authority. At very least, any sacred pledge to obey would have made me gasp conspicuously, if not trigger an audible spontaneous, “No-o-o!”
Which returns us to those questions unwritten by journalists, unspoken by news anchors and commentators, unsought by pollsters, unaccounted for in election booths, unstatesman-like in Congress, unaddressed by constituencies, unadulterated, unanticipated, unalterable, unapologetic, unassuaged, unappeasable, unsettlingly, unstudied, and (perhaps) unassailable, untouchable, untenable, and even unrighteous in the final analysis.
But not unaskable.
Does a woman’s pledge to obey her husband require being dutiful to his choice of candidates when she is casting her ballot? And if so, does that mean America has become a Silent Theocracy?
This is an excerpt from
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine ©2019
First published as an essay © 2016 @margueritequantaine.com
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and novelist who values your opinion and appreciates you for sharing this with others.
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