The dazzling colours of the cloth
Today’s post includes an excerpt of something I am writing. It is relevant to recent posts and yesterday’s excerpt on patriarchy. It slightly touches upon agency and circumstances, the underlying religious or political ideologies, and the socio-economic systems these support or reflect. Patriarchy is a structure that was never meant to support connectedness, egalitarian relationships or equal opportunities. It permeates many religious, political, health, educational, employment, relational and familial contexts.
(Excerpt from a longer thread)
‘…….. People are made redundant because of the way economies are set up and they receive poor health care because of the nature of the existing care system policies. Women are paid less or fired first because of inequity at the work place. Since, it is not possible to live in a vacuum, the laws of nature and societal realities impact all aspects of our life to a varying degree. Thus, the agency we exert is dependent on external and internal factors……. Exteriority and interiority are always locked in a dance…….. In my early twenties I worked at the conveyor belt of a pharmaceutical factory putting pills in containers. After a while I was asked to move to a different department, which was separated from the big ground floor area by glass because it was toxic. A group of women worked around a long table, some of them wearing medical masks. When I initially got hired I had been asked if I wanted to work in that department because the pay was higher. I had turned down the offer bearing in mind my early asthma history. One Friday afternoon before leaving I was summoned by the supervisor, who told me I would be working in the glassed section starting on Monday. Seeing my disappointment he gave me a pat on the shoulder and said I should be glad I would be earning more money. I looked at the women through the glass panels. They seemed to be doing fine. On my first day I observed that despite the focus that counting pills into containers required, working around a table supported a constant flow of story telling…. Working at a conveyor belt was different. One was immersed in fast counting and packing. Hand movements became automated, but the counting didn’t leave room for reverie and mind wandering. There wasn’t much interaction with others. I had thought it might be okay after all. But it did not take long for breathing and allergy type symptoms to appear. I found that my scope of agency within that context was limited to two choices. I could quit or keep working and get sick.……..
This last dozen of years I have constantly faced the dilemma of questioning and breaking the silence or remaining silent. In her book, Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams writes: ‘I must question everything, even if it means losing my faith, even if it means becoming a member of a border tribe among my own people. Tolerating blind obedience in the name of patriotism or religion ultimately takes our lives.’ For me breaking the silence has brought on a lot of additional suffering, but also, the knowing that silence doesn’t always protect. Neither does it change beliefs or stop dynamics at play. One way to deepen the understanding and accelerate the waking up to the working of things is to pick up the thread of each event, injustice, loss or decision, and follow it all the way back to its origins. One is bound to observe repetition of patterns and underlying dynamics below the surface of the frozen lake. Each new realisation increases our capacity for presence. As we discern more of the threads we catch a glimpse of the breadth and the dazzling colours of the cloth.’