Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Underground: Choice

I'm going back to the "Minty" episode.

Tubman's presentation was absolutely enthralling, which only increased the sense of discomfort that I am about to get into.

In earlier episodes there was beginning to be some conflict between the members of the Sewing Circle - a group of women who openly support abolition and with somewhat more secrecy shelter runaway slaves - and some visitors affiliated with John Brown. The disagree on the justification for and necessity of violence.

With everything that she has been through (probably including some PTSD), Elizabeth finds herself becoming more drawn to the violence, especially when she sees the face of her attacker. This is where she commits arson, though after she has seen the man leave his home. She then sees a young boy calling for his mother and entering the flames.

We later see the boy heavily bandaged in a hospital. It does not appear that his mother was in the house, or that anyone else was hurt, but Elizabeth is now responsible for injury, not just property damage. It's a reminder that if trying to be careful does not guarantee results.

In "Minty" we aren't there yet, but she does begin to talk in terms of war. Her communication is so direct with the audience that it is a question for the watcher; will you fight for this?

I came to a place of empathy with John Brown a few years ago after watching The Abolitionists on The American Experience. I can understand why it seemed like there was no other way, and I already believed in the importance of his cause. I still don't know that I could initiate an attack. Defend myself? Yes. Defend others? Yes. But if there's not an actual attack going on, just a horribly wrong and unjust structure, can I start violence against that? I don't know that I can.

So the thing I appreciate so much about where they went is that it gave a choice without removing responsibility. I wish I could give the words, but probably really people should just watch it. Still, here is what it meant to me: You better listen.

Harriet Tubman believed that she was led, guided by visions in her case. I have often felt myself led too. You better listen to find out what you can do, and what you should do, and what it is your role to do.

There is so much that I don't know right now about this time and how to get through, but I do believe in my ability to listen. I believe in the ability to get answers.

And I believe that I can do what I need to do.

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