My last blog post was a tad self-serving and whiny.
"C'mon guys, it's just SO TOUGH to learn these new languages and to be on the outside of, like, y'know, evvverrryyyythinnnnnggggg!"
And yeah. It is. And yeah. Sometimes I suck at it. And yeah. I still don't have a clue what I'm talking about.
Maybe I should be waiting to blog until I am on more certain ground, until many of the questions I have run their course and until I have a clearer picture of what life will look like going forward. But to be honest, I think that the value (if there is any) in what I write is public self-examination, public transformation, public change. I don't want to make mistakes, or to get on my soapbox only to have it collapse under the weight of my ego.
So I'm going to just leave that post up and start talking about the important component that I ignored before.
(Ya'll, this was inspired by a beautiful woman, whom I love very much.)
Feminism and inclusive language of all kinds are not my first language. I also had been taught a very specific way to misinterpret the words that I heard. When a feminist says "patriarchy" they mean "men are all evil and suck!" When a feminist says "down with the patriarchy!" they mean they want a matriarchy. When feminists say "women need men like fish need a bicycle!" they really mean we should ditch heterosexuality and all 'become' lesbians!
I was taught a specific way to interpret language about race ("they are just whining about old wounds!") and poverty ("they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps!") and other denominations ("catholics worship mary! heathens!") and religions ("all Muslims are militant!") and just about any other group that was not a part of my family or social circle - or even those who were.
A few years ago when I was finally open to learning from others, that learning took the form of listening. Not listening with the goal of debunking their opinions. Not listening while inside forming my rebuttal. Not listening just so I could say that I had. Listening while trusting their opinions had merit. Listening and believing them when they said "I don't hate men" and "I can't pull myself out of this." Listening to the words they were using and asking them what those words meant, instead of deciding for myself that I had the right alternate interpretation.
I was not speaking my original language. I was learning not only new concepts but new ways of speaking about those concepts.
In my last post I forgot one very important thing. I don't speak their language because I am not done listening and learning. In all honesty I hope (and know) I will never be done learning and listening. It's not the fault of anyone but myself that I have taken so long to realize that I even NEED to learn other languages, that there even are other valid languages. And it will also be my fault if I ever think I can be done listening.
Part of the thing I miss about my uber-christian life is how I could speak with authority. I knew my subject, I knew my language, I knew my audience, I knew how to tailor my words and actions to be acceptable and laudable. I could bring others around to my point of view and just be seen as "godly."
The humility of needing to listen - of learning how little I truly know, how few languages I can truly speak - is a very good thing. I may feel slightly cut off from community right now, but part of that is because of my tendency to be the one speaking with authority. The one with answers. The one who has ingested all the researched and pooped out a perfectly formed truth. That kind of certainty accomplishes alienation, no matter what community you're in.
That's not me. Not anymore. Inside, anyway. Old habits, though, die hard.
I just hope I can continue to listen, continue to learn and continue asking the questions.
And I hope those in all communities and who are fluent in other languages will forgive me as I stumble along.