Samson

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December 27, 2018, Prescott-

The evening dinner and discourse, at a good friend’s house, went very well, actually- as I am just not attached to those aspects of my personality that someone finds disconcerting.  The run-up to, and expectations of, a conversation about what people expect from one another, can be uncomfortable and filled with trepidation.  Thankfully, I felt no such angst, once I recited a strong prayer, this afternoon.  My friend was not sure how I would react to her comments, but you know, what she asked is so totally reasonable and fair, that my answer was “Absolutely!” That is how I was raised- with Mom telling us not to hold back with our upsets and distresses, so long as they were stated with dignity and a bit of forbearance.  So, the evening went, a nice meal, a respectful concord and the viewing of the film, “Samson”.

Therein, the story of the Hebrew leader and freedom fighter is depicted, with an earnest but troubled Samson, opposed by both some of his more militant Danite villagers and by the Phillistines, ruled by Balek and his ambitious, conniving son, Rallah, and daughter-in-law, Delilah.  It is Delilah who tricks Samson, three times, into giving the royals the information and strength they need to oppress the Danites and Nazarites.  Rallah, though, is portrayed as a sociopath, killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, two turncoat Hebrews and Samson’s father, before killing his own father, so as to take the crown.  The tale ends, much as it does in the Old Testament.

Samson’s main point is about integrity and humility, with the superhuman giving all credit for his strength to God, not disputing with his Hebrew opponents, and facing the Phillistine’s challenges without batting an eye.  He experiences angst about not following the letter of the law, whilst removing tunics from dead soldiers, thereby breaking a vow to never touch the dead.  The angst follows Samson, for other actions, throughout the story.

I am likewise committed to integrity and self-purification.  Not being a superhuman, or a member of an oppressed community, my own actions have to be about maintaining both my own dignity and worth, and honouring those of my friends.  It’ll never be a matter of “self-defense”, when questioned or corrected, especially by those who have consistently had my best interests in mind.

Guarding the Precious

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December 23, 2018, Phoenix-

The second day of the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference continued the examination of issues around wealth and building a sustainable new society.  There was, however, a necessary sidebar:  The curbing of violence against women.

Ms. Layli Miller Muro is Director of Tahirih Justice Center, a nationwide network of programs designed to safeguard women facing all manner of attacks on their person, especially with respect to arranged marriages, particularly of underage girls.  Her two presentations today placed a searing light on the many aspects of this issue.

I have long been concerned with the maltreatment of women and children, especially of girls.  In my initial work, there was a tendency towards paternalism-though just shy of infantilizing my charges.  I have made it a lifelong goal to foster strength and independence- the lioness being more of a model than the fluffy rabbit.  What that entails, in real terms, has been a learning process, for yours truly, despite having been raised by an indomitable woman and growing up surrounded by powerful females.

Nonetheless, my learning has continued apace, and the shedding of counterproductive, if well-intentioned, attitudes and thoughts is ongoing.

Mrs. Muro’s major points, in her first presentation, bear intense consideration:

  • “Unity is not possible, without justice.
  • The beginnings of justice are messy.  Purification requires blistering heat.
  • Justice is the foundation of a spiritually-based global civilization.
  • As an individual, it is better to be killed, than to kill.
  • As a society, we must ALL serve as advocates.
  • As an individual, immediate forgiveness is essential.
  • As a society, swift and complete justice is equally essential.
  • It is NOT the victim’s job to arrange justice.
  • In the next life ( a spiritual life), justice is even harsher.  It’s therefore better for a perpetrator to face justice in this world.”

In the afternoon presentation, Mrs. Muro noted that social action is a tool for achieving justice.  We, even as individuals, may not be able to control pain and suffering, but we can control its duration and limit its severity.  She noted that justice which does not end in unity is not true justice.

Furthermore, she noted that, if those who face incarceration realize the severity of justice in the spiritual world, they would certainly seek out appropriate punishment in this life.

These thoughts and statements, to me, are worthy of deep thought on the part of the hearer or reader.  With me hardly being a paragon of virtue, historically speaking, I am taking Mrs. Muro’s points very seriously and will be devoted all the more to both self-purification and to aiding women and girls in both their self-protection and in advocating for those with a history of victimhood.