Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Underground: Becoming radicalized

That title may seem a little scary. It is not completely intentional, but it seems like the best title. Maybe that will make sense by the end.

I've written about fear and choice, but not all choices are made by fear.

In "Minty" Harriet Tubman talks about her escape, and coming back to get her husband, who did not want to go. Other people did. She had been thinking about her family, but that was a limited vision, and she realized that and began to free many.

When Noah and Rosalee make it to John and Elizabeth's, family information comes out that was not expected. John learns that Rosalee is his niece. Rosalee learns that her brother Sam is dead.

Maybe it's important that Sam is her half-brother. Maybe her father would not have hung his own son to gain political points at a rally and show that he was sufficiently tough on slavery. As it was, it was one of the most horrifying images of the series, and it was irrevocable.

As Noah and Rosalee lay together, processing her grief for Sam, but no doubt also thinking of all those lost along the way, she says that none of us are free until all of us are free.

Noah being captured not long after may reinforce that, as well as finding out that she is pregnant. Her determination to free her remaining family and her fear of not being able to leads to some questionable decisions, but she's right. If the people you love are in captivity, your caring for them becomes another bond.

Regardless of what wrong decisions she makes, her decision to train with Harriet is an admirable one. Even if she does it because of her family, it does not change that the help she gives to others extends beyond them.

Noah is angry at her concealing the pregnancy, and he has a point, but he also cannot resist the call. He cannot deny Harriet's words when she appeals to him, and he cannot deny the need of another man to be reunited with his family.

Maybe it's not just our own family that matters, or maybe at one point you realize we are all family.

It is possible to deny caring for others. You can kill your soul to the point that you will rush through a viciously misanthropic tax bill and lie about it being a gift. You can narrow your focus to where you believe that everyone else is lazy and worthless but you (maybe including you, on some level), and you will keep accepting pain as long as it gets spread around to those bad ones.

You can do that, but it's evil, and it kills joy, and it scorches land that should be beautiful and live-giving. And it kills joy.

There is a lot of pain in caring about everyone, but there is joy in it too, and comfort, and moments of triumph.

It is technically radical, because it means you want to take the oppressive structures and tear them up by the roots. Doing that requires being radically honest, including with and about yourself, so you will notice if your plans end up leading to more destruction. Therefore it also requires being radically caring and radically kind.

The details may vary in how we get there, but there shouldn't be any doubt as to destination.

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