This year – as I struggle to heal from a particularly brutal winter, I am perhaps temporarily blessed with some choices. I spent a couple of days attending the ICAS conference – struggling in the back of my mind with an equivalent ethical question: is it ok to celebrate a vegan thanksgiving? That is, does the event itself acknowledge a kind of violence that one does not wish to associate with celebration? The question, translates, pretty easily for me into the question of Passover and Easter.
Passover is the story of the liberation of a people from oppression. This liberation of a people unified by the common story of Abraham, Isaac, and the ram, reenacted this same story as it was accomplished. This time, though, Isaac was a people, and the ram was more than one lamb whose blood spared the firstborn. Recognizing that, historically, a desert people who wanted to eat and migrate, did not have a choice but to carry their food with them in a form that could walk, and therefore that the animal slaughter may not have been a choice then for survival, I yet move past the question of slaughter, dismissing it as perhaps historically, but not currently, necessary. In need of a new justification in order to continue. What else can Passover mean?
It can be family, and cultural preservation. Looking beyond immediate context, though, in transcendental terms, Passover, can be seen as a “liberation” event.
I decide to remember the hardship of liberation with the denial of leavened bread. Although not removing it completely from my living space, I move all remnants of flour and yeast to a freezer, and tape it shut – to be opened in 8 days. And I remember the tradition of the liberation of the prisoner for the holiday that so miserably failed Jesus, and hope that we have moved passed this as a culture.
I choose to remember those who are in prison today (men and women of conscience who have sacrificed), and ask for their release, reminding both sides that it does not have to be a war. There can be a dialog, and a space without bars.
One deplores the taking of life, and yet recognizes that an individual is more than any given specific action that they, perhaps enticed, perhaps young, perform, or in some cases, consider performing. In today’s world, it seems more possible to protect society without prison walls.
Some people who have used tactics that I don’t agree with, to disseminate a message that otherwise lacks a voice in our contemporary culture. I think that they could probably be safely released today.