February 2024

Floating In the Wind


Arthur Danin Adler

There was a time when my life and most lives world-round were much simpler. I grew up in upstate New York on the edge of Lake Ontario breathing in the winds from Canada. I relished the distinct four seasons: the bright Spring, awakening during the cold, windy kite-flying month of March; the hot Summer, firing one minute after school let out at the end of May; Autumn, sad Autumn, like clockwork, blowing a cold breeze across August on the first day of September and ending six months of play-happy time; Winter, bringing blizzards of fresh snow and fresh cold and often a white Thanksgiving.

That was a time when everyone in my family had supper together every day... but only when Papa sat down. It was always a time of conversation, discussion, debate and he, Papa, arbitrated. There was no television, no cellphone, no computer, no internet. There was only radio, only reading, and talk, sometimes painful listening. "He" had the the final word. It was this way in almost all societies of the world. It still is.

It's called: Patriarchy. It's not genetic in the human species, it's cultivated, nurtured. The male dominates, the female submits.

The emergence of feminism, equal rights, and now the bright light on sexual harassment is a welcome, healthy, hopeful mutation in human evolution.

Yet (pardon the over-generalization), there isn't a male on this planet who hasn't stood beneath the banner of Patriarchy, who hasn't harassed or bullied or oppressed a female casually or intentionally. Call them out, call them all out. What do we have to lose? A change of the order of things, of the ambiguous, false comfort... the way it is, the way we were... order of things? Change is hope... even if it is too little, too late. Even if it is a visage of the forest for the trees. Because... until the stake of Patriarchy is removed from the heart of the human species, change will come and go like my Canadian winds.

Frankly... honestly... I don't care. I don't think this is the core of the scourge called Patriarchy. The core is "original sin". Not the mind-numbing advent of things-that-go-bump-in-the-night religious superstition, not the nibbling of the apple. The original sin was murder... not just the murder of one human by another. The first humans committed murder to survive. They murdered animals. And when they learned to gather and cultivate plants for food, they continued to murder. They didn't have to. They chose to.

The human being is an omnivore capable of surviving healthfully and proficiently without the flesh of other species. Other animals in the food chain kill to survive. Humans murder for pleasure, for sport, for psychotic enhancement of patriarchal dominance. They murder and eat mammals, fish, crustaceans, birds, insects, nearly everything that lives. To my utter amazement (and I don't utter-"amaze" very much anymore) I recently came across vendors in Thailand who were selling rows of upright, spiced Sea Horses... for snacks!

Humans have murdered other species into extinction, interloped on their evolution, poisoned land masses and oceans, driven the planet to the point of collapse and reset. The driving force has been and is... profit: capitalistic profit, self-aggrandizing emotional profit, self-defeating profit.

Dear Reader, this isn't a manifesto for vegetarianism.
This is a portrait of self-destruction.

Dear Reader, bravo and brava for your courage in unmasking sexual harassment. It's righteous and redeeming and immensely important. And of course it has created an ugly downside, a rain of paranoia called "cancelling." But frankly, honestly, I don't care. It's only some of the trees in the forest. And how do you replant a forest in the wind-rush of time that is facing this planet? Until you pull the stake, until you stop the murder, until you revere life, all life, you're just floating in the wind.

Now that my sophistic simmering sermon is over, I leave you with the ever-lingering coverall words of Lord Lenny the Bruce... "And that's that!"


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Arthur Danin Adler is a playwright, writer and the founding Editor of Scene4. For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.


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