Book Review

#WhyIMarch & Book Review

This is going to be an intensely personal post. This is not just a book review.

It’s been a strange year … a big year for me. It’s been my first year writing this book review blog but it’s also brought some big changes to my personal life. This post is where the two meet.

First a little history. I am in my early 40’s and the parent of two kids, a boy 15 years old (teenager!) and an 8 year old girl.  In that last few years I’ve been coming to a realization which has struck me with horror. I was in a cult. All my life until now, I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not going to go into details about why they are a cult right now. Stay tuned because that will come in another blog post, when I review the forthcoming The Reluctant Apostate by Lloyd Evans. I will just say that it is a high control cult and I’m happy to have finally extracted myself.

anne-and-emily

(Suffragettes c. 1908)

One of the reasons I had to leave was my difference of opinion about personal responsibility. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that it’s followers should do any charitable works or participate in any form of activism. Donations to charity should only be made Jehovah’s Witness Organizations.  If you’re going to have an opinion, make it a Witness one. No political thoughts! Stay completely (in thought not just in action) neutral about all things. Absolutely, NO OPINIONS allowed about  what’s going on in the world.

What do witnesses think about people or causes? If I were to ask a witness here are the responses I would get.

  • Gandhi – misguided
  • Mother Theresa – false religious icon
  • Malala Yousafzai – nice kid but you shouldn’t think about her too much
  • Women’s rights – political … hmm you’re starting to get a bad attitude
  • Gay rights – now you’re in trouble, lets set up a meeting to get you back in line!

suffragetts

(African American chapter of Suffrage League)

This has always been hard for me to deal with. We benefit every day from the freedoms that were earned by people willing to step up when their morality required it. My black friends benefit from the work done by MLK and his associates. I can have a job, custody of my children and protect myself because of the work done by the Suffragettes  100 years ago. If I kept to the way I was taught, I should not acknowledge their sacrifices. More than that, I should never do anything to help people around me who still suffer today. Leave it to God. He will fix it when he gets around to it.

No.  Not for me. Not anymore.

The further I got away from the cult indoctrination, the more aware I became of what was going on around me. It’s a little like coming out of a fog, and let me tell you, the election last year and everything I saw and heard was like an abrupt slap in the face. Whatever your political leanings, I think we can all agree that something needs to be done. We are far from a post-racial society. Women’s rights still need to be addressed. We can’t allow people to be marginalized. We need to be expending our energy on each others behalf.

sylvia-pankhurst

(Emily Pankhurst)

I’m jumping in the deep end guys. So, this Saturday, January 21 2017 I will be with the Women’s March in Los Angeles. I’m new at this, I’m disabled, I have kids, but it’s time to reach out my hands to help someone else. Even if it’s just to stand here on this street at this time and date and swell your numbers. In order to let people in power know this is important to us. That we will be here and will make a difference. It’s important, and I won’t just take anymore. I want to give back.

Because, I made that decision I thought it would be a good time for me to read and review a book about peaceful demonstration and what that entails.

Book Title: Civil Disobedience

Author: Henry David Thoreau

Goodreads Link: Click here

civil

Star Rating: gold stargold stargold star gold starempty star – Short but important

I don’t really want to go into a huge dissertation about the book other than to say it is a book about being willing to make a difference. I will share a few quotes that I found interesting…

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

Thoreau was of the mind that if you see an unjust law you must do something about it. Is that what Rosa Parks had in mind when she refused to move to the back of the bus?

“but if [the law] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

My history in a cult makes me malleable. I’m not proud of that. It means that I am used to listening, without question. It’s how you survive. I have to break myself of that. If a law is used to hurt someone else, do I just obey without thought? Without question? The Constitution gives me the opportunity to voice my views, I have to screw my courage to the sticking place and put myself out there.

For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.”

Well that says it all doesn’t it. I’m just one person. I’m doing it anyway. It’s for me, and for my kids, and for my neightbors. It’s a good work.

susan

(Flowers placed on the grave of Susan B. Anthony on 11/9/16 #imwithher)

Song for this book: Level Up by Vienna Teng

 

 

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “#WhyIMarch & Book Review

  1. Good luck on your personal journey. I’ve been told I have family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, but obviously they don’t come to family holidays and parties where one is most likely to see extended family, so I’ve never met them. I’ve always been abstractly sad that we’ve never had the chance to meet and that apparently the religion encourages this. (Admittedly I don’t know much about the teachings.) I hope you enjoy the march and engaging with causes that matter to you.

    1. Thank you! It’s exciting. Jehovahs Witnesses are really lovely people. It is extremely unfortunate that they are involved in an organization that has such a stranglehold on its people. Maybe someday you’ll be able to connect with them. You never know.

  2. Thank you for sharing your personal journey and enlightenment. It is hard to push back against what you have been taught and how you were raised. Bravo. Good luck at the march. Women united can be so strong. Let’s pray that the message received changes behaviours for the good.

  3. You are so brave to share your personal journey with us. Thank you! It takes great strength and bravery to pull away from something you have been raised with and have been taught to accept as the truth. I hope that you find the march to be brilliant and uplifting!
    As for HDT, I love Civil Disobedience. I’m glad you brought it up here– and it is a good reminder than I should re-read it. This is just the beginning of a journey of self-discovery. Keep HDT’s words close to heart and you will quickly stop feeling malleable. I believe in you.

    1. Thank you! I don’t feel brave so much as I do determined. Both will keep me going. 🙂 It’s scary to share things like that, but I feel that by making people aware, then hopefully that can inoculate them against getting involved themselves. Maybe preventing others from having to deal with the aftermath. Other than that, it’s exciting to feel like I’m acting and not just sitting on the sidelines anymore.

      1. Determined is good- it’s a great word to apply to your feelings. Plus, it’s obvious you want to make a difference and improve the world. It feels good to take action. The hardest part is figuring out what action to take.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s