Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Reflections on Passover

Festivals are awesome.  There is nothing anyone likes more than festivities.  That’s their very point – they are festive.  And its fun that there are common times to have festivals – usually when you are celebrating something, like a birthday, a new year, a historical event, sunshine, snowfall, or just Pure Golden Love.  Today, April 20th, was a celebration of something I like to think is awfully close to Pure Golden Love.  I’m bound to touch on the topic of the Green and Delicious Mother Goddess, Cannabis, at some point, perhaps also under religion, but here we are concerned with Passover.  What exactly is passover celebrating?

That’s obvious: Exodus.  We celebrate the anniversary of the simultaneous release and birth of a nation from the pangs of slavery in Egypt.  Oh my how beautiful and wondrous is Egypt.  Such spectacular tradition!  And the magic that floated about in that country, a hub between the entirety of Africa and the Eastern world.  Talk about charged places.  But what were the Israelites doing there?
The bible’s got a great story of the epic.  And it really is an epic, so I’m not about to recount it here.  Take a look at that story again some time, without your childish rebellious values.  It has all the features of a marvelous story – a tragic hero, magic, chaos, mass suffering, freedom, and existential loneliness.  And it’s surely a hell of a thing to consider that elements of it may have actually been true.  The Exodus Decoded, a documentary that investigates the very history of the exodus, does a superb job at explaining how the ten plagues might have happened, given how they appear to happen, in modern times, in similar sequence, in the aftermath of certain volcanic eruptions.  A wonderful watch.  But why do we care?

Lets make a couple basic assumptions here, some propositions we can work with in building up a plausible basis for appreciating passover.  Let us assume that there was an Egypt, and there were slaves in Egypt, and a subset of those slaves probably had some kind of familial relationship with one another, through some common heritage that may (or may not) have originated in Mesopotamia and travelled through Canaan.  And let us further suppose (just for fun), that there was a massive volcanic eruption during the period of this slavery, sometime towards the end of the seccond mellenium B.C (in fact, there is a vast amount of  evidence in the geological records and in the literature that supports the occurence of such an event, and the massive wave of migrations that it triggered – sometimes called the invasion of the Sea People), and the aftermath of this eruption caused enough havoc to free a number of these slaves from bondage.

These are moderately reasonable assumptions.  Details are unimportant – everyone mythologizes.  Think Chuck Norris.  But the next assumption is crucial, and it goes something like this: Let us suppose that this group, who has by whatever means exiled themselves from slavery in what was considered a foreign country, now band together under a new ideology, one vastly different from that of their previous masters, but perhaps still borrowing elements from it.  They take this ideology, and they champion it.  They render it the fruit of all their hard work.  Their real salvation.  Perhaps one man played a primary role in the generation of the ideology and its distribution.  Perhaps not.

Regardless of the details, we look at these people and this is what we should see: the birth of a new child – the most wonderful event that occurs on the planet – the birth of a unit, an identifiable, conscious (eventually, we hope), cohesive body of intelligence, passion, and being.  A Nation.  And what a beautiful thing for that to happen, that they should emerge from the perils of slavery into the brightness of a new time with a new, powerful, present God, who offers them peace and security if only they will subscribe to him, and praise him, and allow him to really protect them, and care for them.  Now that is fucking beautiful.

And how different is it from what we are doing now?  Are we not in the throes of a transition out of the tyranny of broken capitalism and industrial mechanics into a new world of global electricity?  Are we not trying to free ourselves from the slavery of our consumption and ecological ignorance into a new era of care, compassion, empathy and for lack of an English phrase, namaste?  We are slaves, still.  There is no doubting that.  We are slaves to the media, slaves to our wallets, slaves to our stomachs, slaves to our drugs and to social judgements.  Slaves to the great pyramidal power of the Big Corporation and the slow click of the Political clock.  But we need not be slaves forever.  The Israelites were freed from their oppressors, freed to spawn their own kingdom, under the eyes of their own God, with their own temple, practicing their own true love.  And that potential rests within us, too.

But I don’t think it would be wise to depend on a Volcano for salvation.  The volcanoes are already erupting and they’re only complicating matters.  We need to be the ones to harness the power of the new religion, the second passover.  Because this time, we cannot be sure that the Angel of Death will pass over the doorways marked with lamb’s blood, or hash oil.  We must be God’s outstretched arm.  We must make the change, and free ourselves, by our own free actions, from the tyranny of today’s institutions.  We must ensure our own survival, for our own sake, for our children’s sake, and for the sake of this magnificent and caring planet.


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