No one ever told me how I should grow up and what I should say, or upon what conditions I should insist and how I should insist. But somehow they always pointed out to me with great pride how not to grow up and what I should not be and what I wasn’t allowed to say and who wasn’t worth meeting. Maybe it’s not at all possible to tell someone how to grow up. And anyway, growing up is not allowed because so much ego is concealed in the concept of growing up. Ego mainly causes wars. So if it’s possible not to, it’s better.
For what’s better? To sprout as part of nature and nourish myself? Or to imprison the nature beside me in order not to disturb the plans I formulated in my stubborn little mind? And what’s the connection between our minds and hearts; who can say? Is there a connection?
Photo By Sheva
Some History from my point of view
Since our mind, that of all of us, has come a long way in its development in the current era, it seems to me that I personally prefer to grow as part of nature and find the purpose of that life, in the moment, than to be imprisoned inside a complex explanation created for me by a person who lives according to an interpretation that he himself gave to books written by his forefathers hundreds of thousands of years ago. I can’t really know what led that same early man to think that I am only a rib from his body and simply infer from that that he can leave me at home inside, without my having freedom of choice. It could very well be that early woman preferred to stay with her baby and sent her man to make a living, and simply didn’t stop to think (which wasn’t accepted in itself) that while she raised their children, her man went out to fight for their “honor” as well as profit that would enable other people to kill their children someday.
Today, as we returned from my mother’s students’ recital, we stood still at a traffic light. When the light turned green and the car in front of us didn’t move, my mother honked into the world’s air something like seven honks in a row while putting all her strength into the hand on the horn. As if that wasn’t enough, she topped it off with a profound explanation that she had been obliged to honk so the driver would know from then on that that traffic light was very short and subsequently would think carefully and would understand that he was really blocking the cars waiting behind him in order to dash forward as soon as the light turned yellow.
Could it be that the first woman with a brain entered the world side by side with the first man with a brain and not as a result of him? It could be, but I’m not sure. Indeed, if a certain creature of knowledge passes his knowledge on to another thinking creature, and succeeds – with or without the aid of violence – in convincing him that his knowledge is the most correct of all the other’s accumulated knowledge, then it could be that woman really only began to think after man.
If in any case I use for a moment the common sense I was born with, and as I was incidentally born in a modern “democratic” country, it turns out that this man was actually created from a woman and not the other way around. However I am willing to compromise. And the compromise that I offer at this exciting moment is that the first children of the earth who used their brains as a result of evolutionary development – which will really never be explained completely, not by science or by religion – were created by an act of love between both a man and a woman. And probably without these two figures, the human race would not be so human.
When my mother says that, in response to my father’s rude behavior, to himself and to the world, she is silent, I can understand that there is some iota of acceptance and tenderness in that. Although I must confess that I have never felt that those are the qualities that my mother and her milieu were concerned with reinforcing and empowering in her character. Even more so, I think that my mother simply is not aware that when she is silent in response to inappropriate behavior, she encourages it and even worse – is infected by it without realizing it.
There is no doubt that making such a big change in our midst will require great sacrifice from all of us. Some call it mutual responsibility, some will call it by another name or will prefer to refrain from definitions and focus on doing. Likewise, there are people who will define mutual responsibility as simple give-and-take interactions and then get caught up in words like “money” and “I deserve” and “he deserves” and “tit for tat.” And some will define it as a shared dance that by its very existence influences its surroundings in a magical way that words cannot convey. Personally I have experienced both situations and I can definitely say that I prefer the definition of a shared dance.
I certainly understand now – after I understood the trap in which woman has lived from the dawn of her existence – that despite the conditions set for me by this or that person, it is my full right to set a new condition for the shared dance. And thus influence the reality around me, which will begin to look like that same good and empowering dance of which I’ve been dreaming my whole life.
The connotations of the word dance that come to me as a normal Israeli, are unfortunately inadequate and lack imagination. Maybe I am updated (the opposite of obsolete) but a dance in which everyone is jumping “together” for an hour while a large curtain separates the two sexes and in the background there is music which only men sing on one side of the hall, just makes me want to bury my head in the ground and scream. Fortunately, I discovered that there is a beautiful dance, after all, and it exists in the corner of a little building in Tel Aviv where two entities dance in the space, side by side, each respecting the other’s private space. Although there are dangers in this kind of dance, nevertheless I think that nowadays we certainly possess enough coping skills, skills in fact not found in prayers that were written hundreds of years ago.
Today when I was riding with my father in a taxi, I got annoyed at its driver, who once became religious, for asking me to make a blessing over my food, and that when I – intending to consider his needs as a taxi driver and out of respect for his property – only asked permission to eat in the back seat. As I shot my opinions in his direction, I felt a great sadness and with it wondered: how will I succeed in explaining to him that he can’t tell me that my place is inside the home, that he can’t really tell me how man was created since he wasn’t there when it happened, and that it’s also all right not to know? How can I explain to him that he should understand that his interaction with me and mine with him, at that very moment, reflects our country’s situation and our relations with the countries surrounding us? How can I show him how similar we and our brothers in Syria are to each other after all? And how the opinions we hold onto from home prevent us from bonding to our most human emotions, and that that’s the reason for all the wars in the world?
How can I explain all that without using the word no and without calling it social justice? How?
Written by Tamar Capsouto on March 12th 2012, Translation by Susan Lewis Hadash