re-printing this from late 2004 - it seems especially relevant today:
So many times in my life, I have been confronted with radicals. Is everyone?
When I came out as lesbian in Germany, a woman in our support group (and I use that term loosely) was so Separatist that when she had a male child, she wouldn't allow a penis in her home and put him up for adoption. Having two male children myself, I was horrified. And totally baffled.
When I was a Fat Activist in the 80's, it was amazing the words that came out of my mouth about people that tried to lose weight, who had surgery to lose weight, who died because of trying to lose weight. Words like "self-hating," "mutilating," "societal-caused," and more dripped from my mouth like so much venom and hate. And then I got sick and was near death and my perception changed. I became what I had hated so much and I began eating those vile and evil words I had spewed for a decade. They tasted like hell.
Political activists, homosexual activists, Greenpeace, racists, bigots, vegans, animal rights groups, religious zealouts, boycotts, bombings, killings... all have their fringe members who happen to speak loudly and are, usually, quite charasmatic.
Fundamentalists, Radicals, Separatists, Ultra-Conservatives... all labels that speak of minds that are fiercely sealed shut... sometimes for life, but usually ones that are pried open with the very realities they fought so hard to deny.
I find that those that speak the loudest tend to have a serious vested interest in being Right. All the time. If they weren't Right, then they would have to look inside themselves and acknowledge conflict, which most of us in this world, understand as a fact of life.
One of the best realizations I ever had in my life happened in a therapist's office. I heard, for the first time, that emotions do not always come one by one, but that sometimes, they are layered... superimposed one on top of the other... and can be felt all at the same time.
Hate and Love
Fear and Strength
Sadness and Joy
Responsibility and the Desire to Run Away
Suicidal Thoughts and the Urge to Live
Pleasure and Pain
My head spun from the realization of the possibilities.
Not only emotions, I found, but thoughts, ideas, dreams, and desires can all operate inside our amazing minds in a jumble of conflict and confusion... and, as sentient beings, we filter it until answers come to us.
For some, however, the very idea of conflicting thoughts is overload and they block out the possibility. I have seen this over and over in my life and those lives around me.
If someone's only Truth is that Unassisted Birth (UC, Unassisted Birth: birth without an attendant, assistant, midwife, nurse, OB, or MD) is the Only True Birth, it sure doesn't leave much room for variations on the norm, or, especially, variations of the ab-normal.
I know (because I know) that someone who espouses that UC is the ONLY way to birth hasn't seen imperfection in life, or more accurately, hasn't acknowledged the imperfection in life.
Perhaps... just perhaps... if we lived off the land, had clean food and pure water... if we migrated as these bodies were meant to, didn't sit at keyboards for hours at a time, didn't drive SUVs... if we saw birth from the beginning of our own lives, saw the realities that existed (including death), didn't watch Birth Story or read magazines or books or listen to horror stories at Baby Showers... perhaps then someone could kind of convince me that women do better without assistance. Even so, midwives were summoned to save women's lives as they cut dead babies out of the mother because she labored with a face or arm presentation or an umbilical cord prolapse and any further waiting would have also killed the mother.
Women in this culture eat like crap. They are fat. They don't drink good water. They drink kool-aid and Diet Coke. They don't walk. They don't even walk to the store a mile away. They live in climate controlled quarters all year long and whine when sweat drops develop on their upper lips. Women in this culture don't know work. They don't know the pain of hard work, falling down a cavern, slicing a finger off, having an ovarian cyst burst repeatedly because of weird hormones. Women in this culture believe birth is a horror to be endured. Worse than The Curse of menstruation, Birth is a far-off, scream-filled, un-reality that requires classes, breathing exercises, prenatal genital manipulations, hypnosis, medication, anesthesia and knives to get through it.
The discussion of God and our Perfect Bodies is an interesting discussion to me. If one believes in God, wouldn't we believe God gave us a brain to think? to learn? to choose? to find the proper teacher/surgeon for the lesson/surgery?
Why do we take swimming classes when so many people instinctively know how to swim? Is it survival of the fittest? The swim fittest? Why learn how to spin wool? Dial a telephone? Work on a computer? Why would anyone ask anything of anyone who has a skill, a gift, that they don't have if we "should" just know how to do it instinctively?
Is anything instinctive?! Or does watching from the dirt as a toddler count towards education, too?
I tap into others' gifts on a daily basis. We all tap into others' gifts and skills. We have people build our homes, make our clothes, kill the cow, adjust our backs, make our cars and computers... why not tap into someone's gift of birth knowledge? What makes that exact need/desire/wish so, so wrong to some people? How come they can't see the discrepencies in their own lives when we see them glaring out at us?
Because they have to be Right. Have to. Or they lose face. (I believe they GAIN face when they gain humility, but it is a LONG road from what they perceive and what others perceive.)
God forbid the staunch UCer be confronted with reality. If the reality of a brain-damaged child, a baby's death, a transport to save a mother or baby, a cesarean, or a witness who the "Leader" believes shouldn't be at the birth... if those realities are discussed at all, the woman is blamed for not being evolved enough, not being truly ready, not believing in herself, not something... and the cou de gras answer to something not being the way it "should" be: Karma.
Karma is responsible for any imaginable ill in the world these days and it is annoying. While I am one that believes in retribution and karma, I also know that, sometimes, shit happens. It happens in hospitals, in birth centers, in homebirths, and yes, even in UCs. The "Leader" never takes responsibility, never would take responsibility in her "leading" the person astray.
And, the person does, in fact, bear equal responsibility in following without all receptors working. Is it being a lemming... a "sheeple"... a cow to slaughter... to listen and make choices that work for you and your family? Apparently, to the "Leader," if your ideas and choices aren't her ideas and choices, you are. Any deviation from her teachings/preachings means you are less than and are subjected to name-calling and derision.
Even when a baby dies.
Sometimes it takes an earth shattering experience to awaken a woman from her mesmerized reverie of the "Leader's" teachings/preachings. Sometimes, women begin questioning the discrepencies with the words and actions. Sometimes, women find their own minds and use them. They are not sheeple as the "Leader" would like someone to believe, but have become truly Empowered... finding their own way, their own solutions, their own paths. One person's path in life is NEVER the same as another, no matter how much someone tugs and drugs another down her path. The people at Jonestown that died... every one of them had their own paths, their own ripples of How Did This Happen echoing in the lives of the survivors. Who wants to be another Jonestown victim, especially after seeing how useless their dying was; to protect a crazy man.
The true crime in all of this is when one doesn't learn from the mistakes/accidents that happen and do something different the next time. The truly un-evolved don't stray from their course and are doomed to making the same mistake over and over. It might not happen right away, but, ultimately, the pain is slapped onto the offender until the lesson is learned.
Be careful what you judge, for those very judgements shall be foisted upon you.
Oh, how I know.
I was holier-than-thou when I had my UC at home. I didn't need any medical person. I could DO it! I was high with information. I talked to Marilyn Moran over and over as she pumped me up with the belief that if I just had a homebirth alone with my husband, my life would become miraculously perfect. And I believed her. When she was born with a shoulder dystocia and I almost lost her, Marilyn's response was that it was because I had friends there "contaminating" the experience. Go have another one and THIS TIME, totally alone except for my man. I snapped out of my reverie and began to see Marilyn Moran as a kook.
"Leaders" need to be seen. They need to be heard. They need to be seen nearly as God herself. No matter that that God vision is really mostly acknowledged by the "Leader" herself, it really doesn't matter at all as long as she believes her own truth.
What happened to acceptance and compassion and room for differences and choices? I find that until we have opened our hearts enough to allow room for other views, we remain stuck... even deeply rooted... in our delusions of our own grandiosity, which, of course, is not everyone else's vision... or even ANYone else's... vision or reality.
What happened to Free Will? (Again, I know these realities first hand.)
I find that those who are most out of control in their own lives, in their own minds, with their own emotions, try the hardest to control others. (Been there, done that.) When one has their own houses in order, the compulsion to fix other people vanishes. There is always room in a healed and whole heart for differences. I pray for whole and healed hearts every day.
The Internet has created an entire slew of "Leaders" that would otherwise perish in the wild. Because they have a computer, are somewhat literate, and are intense in their sharing, they seem to have The Answers. I promise, anyone who promises to have THE Answer is full of shit. Discussions with these people is futile. They are so married to their beliefs and so sure that they have The Answer, that any dissention is mocked and the questioner humiliated publicly.
Some lists thrive on this bizarre energy. Off-list discussions about a person's oddities, his or her stupidity in the face of reality, and even cultish followings are common occurences. Most people awaken eventually to the sad state of this professed expert and either tolerate him or her, or they leave the space. Trying to counter the person... or even speak to those that are questioning is forbidden... and the ones who speak out are moderated or outright banned. Control. Always control.
If I can't control what you say, I will fucking control where you say, damn it! I will erase you and your words. You won't exist anymore and neither will your thoughts or questions.
And I will be right. Always.
So, the question arises: What can we do about this?
My answer: Speak Our Truth.
Be The Example You Want Others to Follow
Don't get caught up in another's fervor, whatever it is... keep your mind, use your mind, LOVE your mind.
Always question, never stop.
Never believe it when someone you don't even know says things about you that you know are wrong.
Do what YOU want to do, NEED to do... live your life as YOU want to.
You might only get to do it once. Make it count.