Friday, July 3, 2009

And now for something completely different: A profile of a Gen A whip-cracker

There are legitimate reasons for using your whip. Most often, rational human beings reserve their whipping for very important situations, such as when an errand boy sells the family goose’s eggs at low price, or when an impudent slave has dared look upon us. In these cases, instinct – by way of the whip – takes over. We whip because we have no other choice.

There are other moments when the whip is used without a clear punitive purpose. Say, for instance, someone hasn't realized that the person crossing the road is merely a prostitute. This is a whiplash of awareness with ensured understanding on both sides; the whipper is communicating to the whippee that he would do well to crush her ‘neath the wheels of his chariot. Another good reason for a light whip-crack is to say a friendly "goodday" to a group of people in your same caste system. That was a list of two appropriate whipping situations, but there may be others. In fact, it seems rather simple to delineate between well-intentioned, helpful flicks of the whip and useless, mean-spirited ones. Or so it would seem.

I only realized recently that a close friend of mine (a bright friend) struggles with this dichotomy. He whips nearly everyone, regardless of whether they have committed any sort of misconduct or social impropriety. His reason is simple: education through shame.

Those unfortunate enough to be near enough to him to feel the sting of his whip may be merely dull-witted due to the efforts of demons and witches, and therefore thick of tongue and unable to communicate as quickly as my well-born friend! Or they may have been rendered lame, and now walk slower than my friend deems appropriate. They may be too dark or too light of complexion. They may be the old, the sick or the young. He does not discriminate nor contemplate the effectiveness of even a short, quick lashing. Instead, he "really cracks that whip – that's what it's made for". When asked about his long term objective, he responds that "maybe in the next life, gods willing, they won't blight my vision with their ugly visage, nor offend my fine nose with their stench."

So I've labeled him a whipping vigilante, a man on a mission to right the wrongs of the village with no regard for his own appearance. Like any Greek demi-god, he isn't overly concerned with the rabble’s dull opinions, nor the conventional wisdom that whipping probably doesn't teach those from the lower classes anything. His vision is a world where even the lowest peon, drudge or galley slave may continually improve – through tragedy and suffering – until they eventually become a little better than the sub-human beasts they are now.

I think I might start whipping more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Gen A-er argues AGAINST change

As a whole, older generations know Generation-A as the "Younger" generation. In the eyes of many Millennials, if something isn't suitable for us, we curse God repeatedly with lamentations and cries. Millennials have been raised this way. Our parents told us, "Do whatever makes me happy," or, "You can do anything you want. I don't care; I'm dying of the bloody flux." These are both stellar ideals, even in a less than ideal world.

There are things some people can't do. This is just a natural fact. I can't menstruate, and women can't become Coptic priests.

I, like probably most young, comparatively liberal Copts, am asked by my non-Copt and Copt friends alike for my opinion on the last scenario. Why shouldn't there be women priests? I don't know the entire theological argument for this point, but I am a firm believer in the Church's position: I don't ever want to see female priests.

Society has changed for the better in the past forty years. Women are a major part of the workforce. Men are increasingly staying at home. But even with these changes in society, men and women remain different. Like I said: I don't menstruate, and you don't get to own cattle. Case closed.

See, I would like to stay at home, but I'm fifteen, and in my prime earning/wife-acquiring years. My wife is nine years old. She'd like to be a priest, but she'd also like it if the flies stopped landing on her eyeballs while she's lying there giving birth, you know? There's only so much we can do with ourselves both as a people and as a generation.

Women received an incredible gift in the beginning with the ability to carry children in the womb. It takes incredible mental and physical strength to see a pregnancy to completion. Though it may seem sexist, I think women are stronger than men and better suited for childbirth. I know I couldn't handle the pain inherent in childbirth, and like to give the gift of this strength-making pain to my wife as often as possible. I know- I know - it's a little too selfless of me, but I just love the natural order of things that much!

I believe that pregnancy is a gift because of a difficult personal loss my wife and I experienced two years ago. We lost our son, stillborn at full term. Then we lost the next one. Aaand the next one. Then we successfully gave birth, just in time for the big famine of '09. That was a bad one. Another one- sepsis. And so on, but you see what I'm saying, I think.

I envy the woman's role in pregnancy because my wife spent forty quality weeks with (Haile, I guess), nurturing his growth inside her. She carried and protected him until the last week. Other than feeling him kick occasionally, my only contact with Haile was after he passed. I cradled his lifeless body in my arms. I ran my fingers through his non-existent hair. I swabbed blood from his lips because his skin started to decompose in the womb. I sat in the front pew for his funeral Mass trying unsuccessfully to be a rock for my family. I knelt at his casket creekside and said good bye. Then I set him on fire.

I often wish that I had that nine months with Haile, but I'm happy that my wife did instead. She deserved that personal experience, for she is, as they all are, Evil. As Far Eastern traditions teach us, life is about balance; Yin and Yang, and the need to kill your relatives when they are aligned with the wrong side in a conflict. It is your Duty. As Catholicism teaches us, women can choose to sacrifice their bodies for the life of a child, while men can sacrifice having children for the privilege of becoming a Catholic priest. And Catholics see to it that everybody is sacrificed for the greater glory of God by killing as many people as possible. Balance.

Coptic society has existed in roughly its current form for two decades or so, emerging from the contemporaries of the Lion of Judah. Gen-A is an incredible group of people. But, who are we to think that we should be able to change apostolic tradition just because we don't agree with it? When did our opinions become more important than those of...Others? Let's leave well enough alone.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The journey to hope: a completely different kind of story

I apologize to my many readers for not writing again sooner about the issues of the millennial generation. First, my sheep were in labor during this busy season, and then of course our village had to fight against the marauding Parisis. Don’t worry, though—we have finally beaten them back, and they shan't intrude again!

I don’t mind telling you, dear readers, that there was a time when I looked around at my generation and felt nothing but contempt for their frivolous ways. It’s ironic that on this, a blog that’s supposed to be about my generation, I find myself writing about how much I used to hate my generation! But no, seriously, I spent my early teens birthing children—many of whom died directly upon leaving my womb, if not while still floating within the briny sea of my insides—and nursing my neighbor-women through their labors. Of course, I was married when I was 9, and went to live with my husband—who had been a prosperous merchant at the time of our engagement, when I was two, but by the time of our marriage had had his fleet either stolen outright or sunk by pirates and thieves, leaving him shekelless—in my twelfth year, after my menarche. When I wasn’t hiding from my husband, being raped, or begging for scraps of food in the street, I saw villagers, neighbors, relatives, dying in the street. Some from hunger, others from plague, childbirth, decapitation, chariot accidents, and whatnot. I had to learn to deal with death before I even knew what life really was!

During this time, I fell away from my family and childhood friends. I was more than a two days’ walk from my old village. And when I did get occasional word from my childhood friend, it was always something about how, as her husband’s third wife, she had gotten beaten by one senior wife or the other. I’m like, Oh, wow, Mehetabel, that must suck so much to have slaves and food and a husband who can afford three wives. If only a tiny little beating by a weak woman were my biggest worry! I never got to live for myself, and for some reason I despised my generation for that.

For my whole adult life, and most of my childhood as well, I worked in service to others. Finally, one of my children survived past infancy. My ninth, Hepzibah. And life started to get more normal. The plague moved to another village. The sheep-plague took its place. My husband died. I wore the robes of a priestess of Eris. I began to accept life as it was. Whether you believe in Eris or not, I believe that every person is put on this earth to serve others.

I have incredible hope for our generation. We stand for hope. We stand for change. We stand for something bigger than ourselves. I don’t know how I’ve gotten to this belief, actually, but here I am. And here you are. And together, somehow, we will save the world.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Welcome all!

I think we can all agree that millennials are as unalike as we've ever been, or perhaps even ever will be! According to the National Journal of Implied Statistics, millennials are the most diverse group of people ever. And lest we forget, implied statistics is one of the most highly respected implied sciences in the world. So that's really something we can all be proud of!

As an Iron Age woman, millennial, and successful writer, I wanted to create a space for all my diverse millennial pals to weigh in on the topics that mean the most to all of us. Because, as such a diverse group of people, we sure all think alike on a lot of issues! Like, I think we all feel pretty strongly about keeping the socio-religious traditions that our mothers and fathers may not have cherished, after dying from malnutrition at an early age, or being kidnapped and sold into slavery by their Roman conquerors. I think we also feel pretty proud of ourselves for letting the Canaanites, Gauls, and Tuluvas enter free trade in our markets. And I know probably people in my parents' generation would be shocked to know that I have befriended a "dirty" Akkadian, but to me, she's just another flaxweaver.

I also know that some people (Mom!) look down on us and call us the "ME" Generation. They think that we're spoiled, lazy, and all we care about is partying and drinking unfiltered mash or date wine. Nothing could be further from the truth! We also care about other people, and feel a duty to our society and our caste.

So, please, millennials, do not worry about correct grammar or a cogent argument. If you have a thought in your head, please send it to me and together we will speak out about Our World.

Thank you, and enjoy.