We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sorry, I seem to have misplaced my sackcloth...

Earlier this week I misread one of the references for Daily Reading. The reading was for the end of Esther 4, I think, when E. and her women fast before she approaches the king. I read the beginning of the chapter instead, which reveals Mordeccai’s response at first hearing the edict for the execution of all Jews.

“Mordeccai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king’s gate in sackcloth” (4:1b-2).

M. unapologetically entered the most public place in the city to express his grief and proclaim the injustice that had befallen him and his people. It occurred to me as I entered this scene that this is what many peace-activists are doing via protest and demonstration. They are finding a way to mourn and to draw attention to issues and events that are a source of grief to them as individuals and as a people. The Jewish culture of Mordeccai and Esther’s time created a space for this type of demonstrative mourning, of accepting or allocating responsibility, of giving voice to a sadness that was present and alive. Now, we attribute such action to the insane or the exhibitionist. Sensible society has reached a level of sophistication and civility that leaves no room for such irrational methods. This leads to the question, if our culture—no, I will take more ownership than that—if I have become too polite for the abrasive and absurd means of public protest and symbolic action, in what alternative way do I create a space for feelings and troubles and injustice to be expressed and addressed? Or, do I just look away?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I think I overestimate the amount of civility I must maintain in protest in order to "reach" passersby. Other times I think I underestimate it, that I should dress better, be more respectable, more relatable. But then, who cannot relate to the need to mourn human suffering? Why do I assume that that is not relatable, why do I socially package my anger and sorrow? Amy, you addressed many thoughts I struggle with, thank you.