Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jumpin' Jehosophat!

A long time ago a Paulist priest told me an allegorical story about and an elephant and six blind men.  Yesterday I discovered that the legend originated in India among the Jainists. Funny how universal truth is not limited by creed.
Here's the story:
Six blind men stumble through the jungle and run smack dab into an elephant.
(Okay, may as well fess up right now.  This tale is going to be told in redneck-ese because, well, because I'm a redneck and I'm the one doing the telling this time around)
So.  Back to the hot, sweaty jungle and the six lost blind men.  Earl reaches up and runs his hands over the elephant's ear.
     "Jumpin' Jehosephat," Earl declares.  "This creature is like a leathery fan."
     "Not a chance," says Bubba from the back of the elephant.  "This animal is like a snake with a tuft of coarse hairs where its head should oughta be."
    "What's the matter with you two?" asks Billy Bob from his position at one of the elephant's back legs.  "This here critter is like nothing so much as a pillar."
      Beau, the oldest of the group, strokes the elephant's trunk and declares with authority, "This animal is sinewy and strong and it's movement is like that of a python."
      From the side of the pachyderm, Jimmy John exclaims, "When I lay my head against it's surface I hear the rumbling of a far away train."
      With his hands wrapped firmly around a tusk, Tiny, the largest of the group, insists, "The animal is like a sword.  Hard with a strong point at the tip."
      The six blind men begin squabbling among themselves, each insisting that the other's have missed the very essence of the animal and only they understand the true nature of the creature.  Before long, the elephant, bored with the process and one suspects a little sad too, wanders off.  When none of the men can convince even one other to see the animal in the 'correct' way, they resort to fists and teeth.  The six men roll on the jungle floor, do their best to show the others the true vision of the newly discovered creature.
      Finally a local priest or monk or, in this story, bartender comes along and finds the bloodied and broken men. 
      "Hey y'all!  Whatya fighting 'bout?"  he inquires curiously.
      The six blind men dust themselves off, wipe away the blood and explain to the newcomer about the animal they've only just discovered. The bar keep shakes his head and tell them, "That was an elephant.  And just 'cause you just stumbled on one that don't mean their kind ain't been around for the ages."
       When the blind men discover the bartender knows about this animal, they insist he enlighten them.
     "Settle our agrument," they beg.  "Which of us is correct in his knowledge of this animal?"
     "You are all correct," the sighted man tells them.  "And none of you is correct."
      At that the blind men fall upon the sighted man and beat him to death.
     Okay.  I just made up that last line, but given the current political environment in this country, that did seem the logical conclusion to the story.
    Here's my point.  We are too often the blind men.  What if Fox and CNN actually listened to each other?  Would our knowledge of the truth be expanded?  What if Christians and Muslims agreed that each of their religions had a small piece of the knowledge of God and that, if they listened to each other, they might all know a little more.  What if men stopped insisting on the strengh of the trunk and women quite criticizing the little tail and instead they came together to learn more about the relationship.
 Ah well.  I can dream can't I?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Censorship and Common Sense

    A romance writer friend of mine is now writing erotica.
    Ah huh.  I see you there wrinkling your nose, giving the little southern sniff of disapproval.  Any minute now you're going to be saying, 'Well, bless her heart." 
    Here's the site  Dollars to doughnuts you're logged in within the next half hour.  And, once you've seen the site, you're going to be a secret follower.  Because we both know you're too worried about what your friends will think to be an open follower and because this is not your daddy's old playboy.  Lunazega is a cyberworld that celebrates female sensuality. 
     So, take a minute, click on the link and go to the site.  But come on back here because what I really want to talk about today is censorship and common sense.
     See, the friend who created this erotica webpage tried to take advantage of a small, free advertising space on facebook with a discrete and tasteful promotion of her new website.  As a result of this attempt, she was banned from that social networking giant.  Not told that, so sorry, but the advertisment is unacceptable. She can never again show her cyberface on facebook under the exact name she origianally used.  Gee.  I wonder how she'll ever get around that taboo? 
      So, in a world where a Disney movie is interrupte by erectile dysfunction remedies and the sleazy beer guy offers his stones to scantily clad young women, a website demonstrating that women are sensual, bless their hearts, even sexual being, that's not allowed on facebook.
     The thing is, censorship is a slippery slope.  We need to use a little common sense here.  Do I want my seven year old nephew purusing lunazega?  Well, no. Though I'd rather he spend his time looking at boudour photos than blasting zombies and ripping out the hearts of god-knows-who on some video game. But then, unlike the makers of violent video games, my friend doesn't market her site to children. 
    Another example of censorship jumped out at me this week.  The writer's critique group to which I belong meets in a church.  We writers bring food for their food bank, we get a place to meet.  Win/win.  Except that some of us in the writer's group do, occasionally use profanity in our work and we've been reminded to not read those offensive words out loud as this, if overheard, might create a problem.  Now writers, as a general rule, hate to be censored.
    However, this strikes me as less about censorship and more about common courtesty.  Do I think it's silly that we can read in a booming voice about a child molestor or a rapist or Bigfoot and that's all just hunky dory, but that some folks find it offensive to hear certain perfectly fine anglo-saxon words.  Well, of course I do.  And it doesn't matter.  Our group is a guest in this church and just as none of us, well most of us, wouldn't go to dinner at our grandmother's home and say, "Pass the fucking potatoes."  Just so, as guests in this particular house of worship, we're respectful. 
     So, is there a point to this tirade?  I think so, yeah.  If we could all just be a teensy bit more tolerant and understanding of each other, maybe the world would be a little better place.  If we could do our best to be a little more loving of ourselves and thus a little less quick to project our faults and repressed urges out there onto others, maybe God, in whatever name we call him or her by, would have a tiny bit bigger opening to pour her love into us.
     And to answer your question.  Yes.  I am fully aware that I started a blog about an erotica site and ended with God.  This ought to tell you something about me.