Give It Up

By Garen Yegparian

It’s Lent. No doubt you’ve already gone vegan–per the strictures of the Armenian Apostolic Church–given the good Christian that you are. I’m assuming–of course–that you are Armenian–and since being Armenian means being Christian–and a member of the national church–that you are abiding by all the rules!

I know some people give up things other than food–smoking–alcohol–George Bush? oops–where’s that come from? Wishful thinking I suppose. Wouldn’t it be great if for just these forty-two days we could be rid of that smirking–mass-murdering–world-destabilizing (think Iraq AND Afghanistan AND environs)–budget-busting–lying cretin and his surly–shotgun-misdirecting–Machiavellian machinator of a second–Dick Cheney? Just a trial period–then they can come back. What a nice respite. Ah well–daydream over.

It’s just too easy to digress into picking on the White House-occupying regime. Think about it. Lies to start a pointless war–at the cost of disregarding another war effort that had some arguable merit–and letting the purported enemy regroup and start inflicting damage again. Stolen elections are just old hat now–think Florida 2000–and possibly even Ohio 2004. Knowingly letting people die when Katrina hit–consider the recently revealed video of Shrub and cronies being apprised of the potential hazards. Dubai running US ports? Talk about blow-back! This regime has fear-mongered so long–that people actually believe their BS and are evaluating the proposed purchase in that context. What should really be feared is the growing corporate ownership of everything on this planet–including life itself. No doubt you’ve heard of bio-piracy. Corporations send scouts across the world to "discover" medicinal and other uses of biota–then patent it–and turn around and sell it back to the people who originally taught them about it!

And if all this wasn’t enough–enter RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). This is technology that implants tiny chips in anything–animate or inanimate–to track it. While this may be a good way of doing things in a warehouse–problems arise when it’s used beyond that context. So now if you buy a can of soda–it can be tracked to your home–then refrigerator–then when and by whom it was drunk–and if it got recycled. So if the can goes in trash–I suppose you could one day be fined for it! A recent experiment in Britain with razors containing RFID chips featured cameras pointed at anyone who took some of the product. Then–cameras at the checkout lines recorded anyone paying for the razors–remember the RFID chip is there to trigger these activities. Now–compare the two films–anyone on the first but not on the second is obviously a thief–right? WRONG! What about the guy who changed his mind and dropped the razor in the potato chip aisle? What about someone else paying for the product? This–courtesy of your "friendly neighborhood" mega-corporation (Walmart–anyone?).

All of the above is good stuff to give up–permanently–but back to the specifically Lenten context. How about an ironic request? Why don’t we give up the religious impulse for this period. I emphasize–the RELIGIOUS impulse as opposed to spiritual or belief-based inclinations. By this I mean:

The impulse to react negatively to this very proposal.

The impulse to be offended because someone who doesn’t share your set of beliefs draws a cartoon representing your prophet.

The impulse to call for the closure of a museum because it dares exhibit a statue of the mother of your savior within elephant dung on it (I hope I got the details of this one right–it was in NY–a few years ago).

The impulse to dehumanize members of a different nation who have lived beside you since time immemorial–even after you were driven out by invading–imperial forces.

The impulse to create rigid caste systems as part of your religion–keeping millions of fellow human beings in trans-generational misery–ad infinitum.

The impulse to implement ridiculous dietary rules–regardless of their origins–reasons and current relevancy. It’s one thing to say I won’t eat flesh for ethical reasons. It’s entirely different to refuse–TODAY–to eat pork or beef because sometime–centuries ago–[someone?] ordained that you shouldn’t. Those long years ago–it probably made sense not to eat those critters for health reasons. No more.

And the same with Lent. It can be a fun challenge. But keep it context. Don’t impugn grand meanings to it. Remember–it served as a means to prevent slaughter of livestock before Spring’s bounty arrived. Why? Back in the day–if you killed your animals prematurely–even for food–you’d be in serious trouble with no–or insufficient–sources of eggs–butter–wool–and? more animals.

My plea is for some semblance of reason and goodwill to prevail over the religious passions being inflamed worldwide (Quick: What’s the difference between an Al-Qaeda operative and an abortion clinic bomber?).

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