I’ve always believed in prayer even when I wasn’t religious. It’s one of the reasons why I was always scared to pray: genuinely afraid of it. Prayer has led me to great, expensive, painful failures. It’s led me to overwhelming, all-consuming joy. I’ve fallen in and out of faith, and in and out of prayer, but I have always believed in it. All ways.
I woke up this morning with an image of a young Syrian father stuck in my mind. He was holding a set of twins in each hand, one on the left and one on the right. They were covered delicately with sheets, but their resting faces were visible—angelic, as most sleeping babies are. The anguish on his face was profound and overwhelming. I looked more intently at the picture, read more closely. I discovered, although a part of me had already known, that his babies were dead. They lie in his arms, dead.
Lord, have mercy.
Please allow me to rage.
If You Give a Moose a Muffin is insufficient. It’s unacceptable. It’s xenophobic; it’s nationalistic; it’s wrong.
As an anti-social programs and anti-welfare narrative, it exposes the heart of the issue, the heart of the error. People who benefit from social programs aren’t animals. Children with special needs aren’t moose. Women aren’t moose. Black people, Muslims, and undocumented immigrants aren’t moose. Syrians aren’t moose.
And if all we can provide are muffins, if all we can provide for people who’ve undergone significant hardship, crises, and trauma are fucking muffins, why are we so entitled to withhold them?
How are our lives changed because of our access to muffins? What do we accomplish with it? What can a moose?
Can he get sufficient access to healthcare? Can he reanimate his dead children and dead wife? Can he earn a living wage; can he alleviate barriers to employment?
Can he provide for his family with, wait for it, … a muffin?
I understand racism, prejudice, and bias. I understand them structurally, personally, and intimately. Time is finite and so are resources. We work hard and we have very little time for ourselves. We work hard, and sometimes what we earn is not enough for our families. We make sacrifices, we go without. Strangers encroach on our lives; they have different values. They challenge us. Sometimes it seems like their expression and their culture will rub off onto our children. We don’t know what that will lead to. We don’t know what that will cause.
We want to keep them safe. We want them to always remain innocent. We have to preserve what we can hold onto. It isn’t about power, it’s about self-preservation. It isn’t about race (we think), it is an issue of survival.
More than that, our struggle is nuanced, ongoing, and real. We don’t believe there is a hierarchy on suffering. Black lives can’t matter; I’m unemployed. Muslims are dangerous, right? I mean, I may not know any personally, but they have to be. Their names are long and unfamiliar and strange. Their women are oppressed. Their religion is perverse, right?
(I mean, there’s nothing statistically significant that supports this rationale, and European and white Americans have committed more acts of terror that have impacted families for generations, but the point is that THESE PEOPLE are MOOSE and they are here to TAKE OUR MUFFINS!)
Right? Right? Who’s with me?
We can’t let that happen. We NEED our muffins! We’ve earned our muffins! They are OURS.
I don’t have the answers.
Prayer doesn’t always work the way we think it should. Many of us don’t actually even believe in it. Those of us who do don’t actually always pray.
I believe in activism, but I don’t know how to end or how to prevent war.
I can barely stop ornery teachers I supervise from treating me like a child.
I can barely maintain diplomacy when my ego is threatened, when my time is wasted, or when someone misinterprets or misunderstands something I have crafted and constructed with great detail and with great care. I’m not better than better this.
Lord, have mercy.
At the heart of it, the problem isn’t that we don’t want to sacrifice our muffins.
The real truth is that we think of those who want them, we think of those who need them, as MOOSE. And if you are of this opinion, it is truly preposterous to offer your hard-earned, hard-fought spoils (and everything else that comes with it) to a moose.
Allow me to rage. Reform will not come in the morning.