In My Perfect World…

I find it easy to get upset about life sometimes. In intermittent states of martyrdom, I throw myself on the train tracks of religious ridiculousness, bigotry, abuse, ignorance, etc… But, instead of questioning, I think maybe the best way for me to express what seems clear to me is to paint the picture. This is part poetry for me, because I am talking about an imaginary existence.

In my perfect world, we all know who we are, what we are doing and why. And if we don’t know, we say, “I don’t know.” In my perfect world, life is simple. We know complications are going to arise naturally, so we make sure it doesn’t come from us. If a gay couple wants to get married under the umbrella of their spiritual beliefs and philosophies, they get married. People go to their churches, their temples, their synagogues, their mosques and listen to symbolic stories they don’t take as factual happenings but as stories for learning – stories that can be practically applied in today’s reality. And the universal message in all of these religions is “Love Each Other”. In my perfect world, when someone would try to insert messages about killing people for the afterlife reward, the majority says, “That doesn’t make sense. Today is the reward, and I don’t feel good about wanting to hurt someone else to satisfy your personal vendetta… so, no thank you.” In my perfect world, religion is a tool for reaching toward the divine, not for swimming in shame over the uncontrollable physical world.

Education is fun and necessary. The facilities for learning are happily steered by groups of adults that don’t bitterly abuse the children into learning, but patiently teach them and then stand by for questioning. Math, science, physical education (including sex education), art, music, creative writing, poetry, theatre, self-defense, language (including sign language)… all are equally important, and the artistic classes are emphasized as areas of learning that not only inspire creativity and engage the emotions, but as appreciated outlets that can keep kids from acting out violently. Children have much more flexibility in what they can learn. They aren’t tested so harshly as they are encouraged towards the areas of learning where they may be lacking and/or want to excel. Education is not a luxury of the upper classes that can afford private tutoring and private schools, it is an enjoyable requirement.

The prison systems are not unlike facilities for education. People who are hostile and who experience angst and act out against other people in violent ways are taken aside and given large doses of calm and opportunity to talk about their problems. I love The Shawshank Redemption. It has this marvelous scene where Tim Robbins’ character hijacks the speaker system and plays classical music throughout the prison. Everyone stops what they are doing to gaze up towards the sound in absolute quiet. It is as if The Great Spirit is speaking to them through the sound, and really, music is very much like that – the divine speaking through us. (Forgive me, I have to say “The Great Spirit” because my Cherokee heritage does not acknowledge a male or female image as the symbol for the divine being that connects us all. The Great Spirit is greater than gender.) In my perfect world we don’t dispose of human beings by leaving them to rot in overpopulated places with little-to-no means for rehabilitation, a situation that seems designed so that they will go back to that place no matter how many times they pay their dues and are set free.

In my perfect world we don’t go to extremes, or if we do, we learn from those extremes so that we can navigate the spaces in between, where life isn’t so black and white. Sensationalism is ridiculous and only the facts are important. We wouldn’t have to second-guess the news. And when elections happen and people speak, we are more questioning and skeptical than ready to yell hurray at broad exclamations about patriotism and pro-religious statements. We might instead be silent during statements like that or quick to ask a million questions of the people who would represent us and find that our questions inspire questions from them for what we think should be done. Questions are at least inviting. Statements and promises for what should be done leave nothing open and are hardly ever fulfilled. We would, of course, know this and settle for nothing less than what is real.

In my perfect world, eliminated is the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude towards women. Women have equal footing in their sexual roles. They aren’t strung up and blasted for sleeping with multiple partners or for being prudish, and they are raised to actually be mature by the time their bodies are mature enough for childbirth. Little girls are not complimented with only, “You’re so pretty,” and, “You’re so cute,” expressions of approval. Little boys, either. In my perfect and practical world we don’t compliment and put down a person’s looks, especially at such a young and impressionable age, but instead compliment them on other, more important attributes – how creative they are, how smart they are, how clever, etc… so that we are apt to care about what they think when they get older, even if they happen to be attractive. Little girls and boys don’t grow up so concentrated on how their physical appearance effects the world around them, but how they, as a person, effect the world around them, and a feminist is someone who is comfortable with their femininity, not offended by it and therefore offended by it in others.

In my perfect world prostitution is not only legal and regulated, it is accepted as a way to prevent people who can’t so easily have a physical relationship from going out and attacking women, children, men… We see our sex workers as sex educators, people who understand how to have a pleasurable physical relationship and can teach others how to communicate with their own and each others bodies, and they are actually mature and not just sexual predators and/or confused people who just want money, or to express themselves physically but don’t understand why they do it and find no other means and ways of communicating. In my perfect world we understand ourselves as human beings and don’t preach and discriminate, but constantly strive to understand ourselves by understanding each other.

It may be unrealistic to think this way, but it makes me feel good. In my perfect world we start to create a brilliant group of people by teaching them maturely right from the start. The truth is so much more interesting than fairy tales. Raising ignorant people and then pushing them into cramped and inescapable corners of existence does not mend any problems, but exacerbates them until they have to be faced by, if not ourselves, future generations. Why not start now? Why not redefine our world into one that feels good and makes sense? And, of course, while my perfect world may be far from “perfect”, I think we judge “perfection” unfairly. Maybe we should not be so preoccupied by what we are not, but by what we are and what we are definitely capable of…

– Julie Meadows

29690cookie-checkIn My Perfect World…

In My Perfect World…

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7 Responses

  1. maybe everything’s perfect the way it is now. even the ancient books speak of *both* heaven and hell so one can’t exist without the other. the trick for me these days is to strive for spiritual balance by acknowledging and accepting the dual existence that exists in nature. Maybe that smells like Buddhist nonsense to some people but i find this belief helps me sleep at night. lol! if it’s not perfect now then surely social and technological evolutions force us to strive for a *more* perfect world. In any case everything’s gonna be fine.

    “Some of the evidence has been under our nose all along. Conventional history has long shown that, in many ways, we have been getting kinder and gentler. Cruelty as entertainment, human sacrifice to indulge superstition, slavery as a labor-saving device, conquest as the mission statement of government, genocide as a means of acquiring real estate, torture and mutilation as routine punishment, the death penalty for misdemeanors and differences of opinion, assassination as the mechanism of political succession, rape as the spoils of war, pogroms as outlets for frustration, homicide as the major form of conflict resolution—all were unexceptionable features of life for most of human history. But, today, they are rare to nonexistent in the West, far less common elsewhere than they used to be, concealed when they do occur, and widely condemned when they are brought to light.” Steven Pinker A History of Violence

  2. Thank you, Angel.

    Good point, backspace. Maybe you’re right. I love Buddhist teachings. I love the soft way they make sense out of the nonsensical. Actually, Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite writers, as far as spiritual writing goes. I was turned onto him while working in a topless club in Dallas, Texas. A Sioux Indian on his way to India to study there spent three to four hours talking with me quietly under the blare of music, and before he left he went to his car and brought the book back for me. It’s called The Heart of Understanding It’s very good. I like what you quoted, too. I’ll have to pick up A History of Violence. Also, a friend of mine just finished A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn and had to express how grateful he feels that our world is very different from the world of only, literally, thirty years ago, let alone a hundred and more. 🙂

  3. “Defiled or immaculate. Dirty or pure. These are concepts we form in our mind… Without a rose we cannot have garbage; and without garbage, we cannot have a rose… The wealth of one society is made of the poverty of the other… We should not imprison ourselves in concepts. The truth is that everything is everything else… And we are responsible for everything that happens around us.” – Thich Nhat Hanh The Heart of Understanding

    So by that definition, I must be an idealist, because of the non-idealists, and that makes my idealism in perfect harmony with everything else. …or something like that. 😛

  4. Julie, What a wonderful post and a wonderful concept. Your views on religion mirror my thoughts exactly. Reminds me of a final paper I turned in for an elective that I titled “The Religion of our Forefathers”. I quoted some (at the time) little-known quotes from Thomas Jefferson and others. My favorite being the one where Jefferson tells his nephew (paraphrased) “Go ahead and read the Bible, if you decide you don’t believe it, at least you get some good moral lessons”. The instructor was somewhat offended, since she was actually a member of the clergy, but I still got an A 🙂

    Being raised in the bible belt, and brought up in church, I’ve seen so much hypocrocy and found so many falacies that it made me begin to question my “beliefs”. I soon found that they weren’t really MY beliefs, but what others TOLD me to believe. However (and this is a HUGE point), I’ve also seen many of the good things that “believers” have done. Besides the hypocrits, I’ve known people who stand by their beliifs regardless of the consequences. Being a man of principle, I have to respect that, no matter what the motivation. I can’t fault them for a belief that I don’t agree with, especially when it costs me nothing for them to have their faith. (again, as Jefferson said, “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”).

    By the way, I also liked the reference to “the great spirit”. Seems we share a similar heritage, just a different nation.

    Thanks for the post, Julie

  5. Thank you, Hunter! Good point about what “…good things that “believers” have done.”

    Actually, a coworker also illustrated that point today. His mother often falls victim to radical spam mail and then forwards it on to her intelligent son, thinking she, herself, is spreading something intelligent. He usually does not respond, but today he did. The e-mail’s title was “Why Jews Are Better Than Muslims”. Ew…

    He wrote back, quite nicely… “Hey, Mom, just so you know… there is a small group of Muslims with crazy ideas, and… you know, if something catastrophic happened to them, I wouldn’t shed a tear, but similarly, there are small groups in every religion that are too crazy to understand. It does not mean all Muslims are bad. Every religion has a percentage of decent people who follow it’s simpler designs…” etc… Well said, I think. And to you, too… well said. 🙂

    What Indian nation do you come from?

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