I was recently interviewed by Lynn Melnick's daughter (pasted below) about VIDA, that plus a recent conversation with Metta Sáma got me thinking about religion, or rather, my lack of any formal adherence to one. I guess if I had to choose, I'd say my spiritual ethos is most closely aligned to KARMA. I grew up on the Bible Belt and my experiences instilled in me a strong rejection of most formalized groups, esp in the form that purports to declare your future existence postmortem.
But I have come to realize a number of things that sit with me: we're all born into a variety of circumstances beyond our choosing (at least, that I know of). We're given what we're given and we hopefully make the most / best of it. Some of us have better or optimal resources, support, safety, awarenesses, etc. Some of us have more hardships, obstacles, lack of support, threats, etc. Many of us have a balance of both, or an imbalance of both.
Now to me, "karma" is akin to the Golden Rule or the notion that "God's watching" or "What wld Jesus do?" It's being accountable to your own consciousness / conscience and doing something with those resources that pushes the line from self preservation to self serving: which are you? It means hearing calls for help and answering or recognizing need and stepping up. Karma suggests that you'll be rewarded or are paying off some bad debts - whatever the case, you know how it feels to help others beyond yourself, and if you don't, then I guess you are an impoverished person in spiritual ways. I hope that's not too judgey. I guess that's how far I go with spiritual condemntation. Or as I tell my students after going over the rules of the classroom: But you know when you're doing wrong. You don't need to be told you're about to do something that will harm others in whatever measure; you feel it.
I guess that's the end of my pontificating. I'm writing this today because I'm feeling blessed. I complain, but I've got a lot going for me, including so much support and love beyond any measure my younger self could have imagined or envisioned. I'm one of the lucky ones. And if Karma, the tenets of it, are true: I feel like I've been rewarded for something in a past life that I have no clue about, but damn: thank the goddess I did it! And thanks to all of you, virtual and IRL, who have shown me love and helped me feel that human support! I hope I have done some of the same for you. And I will keep trying to!
THE ADA INTERVIEW:
1. Why do you like VIDA? I like that VIDA is made up of people who want to get a lot of different voices heard. Everyone is a volunteer at VIDA, which means they're actually invested in the work, not for self-focused reasons like making money or careers. VIDA is also tapping into a desire among a lot of people in the world who would like to see fairer publishing practices.
2. What does VIDA mean to you? VIDA gives me a chance to do activism in the literary world. There are a lot of different kinds of activism like defending clinics, helping people who need safe places or food, demanding civil rights for everyone, etc. VIDA's focus on getting everyone's voices helps indirectly do many of those things: the more voices that can be heard, the more people learn about others whose experiences aren't their own. That way, we can empathize with others and learn to care about them and want to help. And also, hearing others stories and voices helps to demystify people we might only view through the lens of stereotypes.
3. How did you find VIDA? VIDA found me! I was posting about Publisher Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2009 on my blog and complaining about how so many of the books were by white men. Cate Marvin was just starting up VIDA, and she emailed me and asked me if I wanted to help out!
4. Other thoughts? Everyone changes the world in at least some small way - the big question is: Will the change you make be good or bad?