Rambles about Passover

Yes, I am full of rambles.  It has been a good day for rambling.

I’ve started thinking about Passover, and what it means for me at this point, as well as what we’re going to do with the soy sauce. There’s something distressing and alien about the whole “engaging in this rather creepy ritual sacrifice so that God will not kill your firstborn” thing.  As the story goes, the Israelites’ freedom is bought at the cost of thousands of lives, many of whom probably had no hand in oppressing anyone and were even slaves themselves.  This is sort of problematic.  And just like the lower-class Egyptians and non-Israelite slaves really didn’t have much choice in the matter (though some of them appeared to have joined in, as they left with the Israelites), none of the Israelites except possibly Moses were in any position to say “Hey, I find this deal problematic and do not want my freedom bought with other people’s blood, regardless of how evil their society is being to us.”  Opting out would have just resulted in them dying along with the Egyptians which wouldn’t really have done anyone any good.

I think there are some parallels there between some of the sustainability issues also wandering around in my head.  If the following rambles mess around with Jewish history too much, please uncouple them from Passover in your head.  Freedom and privilege often involve death, including that of people who really didn’t have much stake in either side of the conflict.  Sometimes you reach a point where you look at history and realize that your freedom has been bought with other people’s blood and you were too young or ignorant or powerless to do much of anything about it.  I’m trying to live a more sustainable and ethical life, as of the past couple of years, but for most of my life I was kind of passive and just wasn’t very politically aware.  I don’t think I did much to directly and personally oppress anyone, but I certainly did so remotely or by proxy, and I wasn’t doing anything significant to directly try to work to better other people’s lives.  And I certainly couldn’t have done anything about the fact that I was born white and in a relatively privileged socioeconomic class.  The firstborn children of India and Chile and Haiti suffered in the fields so that I could eat strawberries in January and sewed my cheap clothing and cleaned the floors of my elite liberal arts college.  The fact that I’m even in a position to be looking at my life in this theoretical of a way implies that I’m part of a society that has pretty seriously screwed over much of the rest of humanity (and the non-human bits of the world, for that matter).  I can’t do anything about my past, and there’s a limited amount I can do about the rest of my society.  But I can do what I can to make my own life more in line with my values, and I can remember what happened to put me in this position of freedom.

 

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