Friday, April 19, 2019

Cross-post: Somewhere between freedom & enslavement

(A post from my Music blog: Notes From The Road)
Hours before our outta-town family arrive for Pesach, I am finishing up the last of the cleaning and compiling additions for our haggadah, the book that provides the order for our seder (which is redundant, since seder means "order.")

At the same time, friends and family are sharing their preparations for the holiday via social media. And as I view these, I cannot help but ponder our individual and collective choices in our observance of this -- and every -- Jewish holiday.

It has become impossible for me to walk into a store and see fresh produce without considering all the steps required to get that produce from the farm in California, or Mexico, or wherever, to my dinner table. I can't help but consider the energy, in human and environmental terms, required for me to wear clothes that fit well, to eat good food and to travel to the places I go for work and for play.

This recent post on social media (below) stopped me cold.
Someone who traveled from one coast to the other on a sightseeing trip with their family, posting about how easy and cheap it is to obtain everything one needs for Passover in New York City. Of course, not everything in the photo was made in New York City, or even in the United States.
There are so many different choices reflected in this photo, so many cubic inches of particulate in the air, so many thousands of gallons of fossil fuels pumped out of the ground and converted into jet and auto fuel.
And for reasons I cannot begin to describe in detail, this disturbs me almost as much as the sight of veal disturbs my vegetarian friends. Because I cannot see this image without also thinking of all the resources used up to make it, and the travel and consumerism it reflects, so readily possible.

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my discomfort.

I don't know if this is turning me into one of the most strident and boring people ever (like Thoreau, one of my childhood heroes), or if it's just another layer of personal awakening.
And I won't yet take a guess. Not here, not today.
Because I have cleaning and cooking to help with, and family to welcome with a warm embrace. And at least some kind of freedom to celebrate.

But as we celebrate our freedom story, I think we must also remember that the price we pay for that freedom takes many forms, including the potential for other kinds of enslavement. And I think that Pesach may be a perfect time to ponder the relationship between our various enslavements and freedoms, to sit with the tension found there, and to think about how and why we might want to reconfigure ourselves and our understandings. How we might want to reconfigure our lives, even a little, after we safely reach the other side of whatever chasm we're trying to cross.

Chag Pesach Sameach!
A zisn Pesach to all who celebrate.

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