Letters from Fleurette: Mary’s Mosaic

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[ CAF Note: I have asked Fleurette to allow me to publish her letters to me for subscribers.Fleurette is a dear friend, subscribe and force of nature from Vancouver, British Columbia.]

Dear Catherine,

As you can see I am still processing Mary’s Mosaic! This reflection is half to you and half to myself, but please, ……

if I am bothering you by sending off these unsolicited missives, do not hesitate to ask me to stop. I will not for one minute take offense. It’s just that I have become so deeply immersed in following you along the Solari path and there is no one around with whom to share the meanderings of my thoughts!

As I said on the phone I have read few books if any, that thrust me onto such an emotional roller coaster as Mary’s Mosaic has, but during this past week since closing the cover and reading once again the story of your mother, I realize how deep my processing of it has become and how startling the conclusions and implications that have revealed themselves to me as a result.

Mary’s Mosaic is an amazingly well researched and documented piece of writing. In a nutshell Janney lays the Kennedy assassination and its cover-up directly on the doorstep of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and the Washington police. This however, is not what came through to me as the biggest revelation from reading this book. Rather what was highlighted for me was the stark realization of how all pervasive and systemically embedded patriarchy is in all aspects of our lives. As a corollary to this, I came to understand how being embedded in its structure blinds us and prevents us from seeing what is really going on—much as we are not able to ‘see’ the air we breathe. It isn’t that patriarchy annihilates our free will rather it is more a matter of how greatly it curtails our ability to use the extraordinary gift of our free will, ‘freely’. Patriarchy prevents us from being able to make decisions that truly arise from our biological nature as members of the fundamentally loving mammalian species to which we belong. No matter where I look, I see how patriarchy penetrates every system in our culture: family, religion, education, the economy, theology, the law, government etc.etc. It is an all pervasive ‘given’ in the daily structuring of our lives no matter where we look. Further, although we lament the plight of women and I have been very vocal in this regard, I have come to see that the greater victims of patriarchy are our men—stunted by the expectations it imposes on them from child to elderhood.

As a Sister of Charity, committed “…to bring about structural change in the unjust systems that cause poverty in all its forms…” and to “embrace the personal and corporate transformation to which this calls us…” I realize that historically (and personally) for us sisters our total involvement in fulfilling this commitment to respond to the needs of the poor has actually distracted us from ‘stepping back’ and taking the ‘second look’ necessary to see what is really going on. By being totally absorbed in alleviating the immediate needs of the poor, our focus has been principally on only one-half of the cause/effect equation set up by the patriarchal system. It is true that women and children are victims of the sex trade, but the perpetrators are also victims—suffering the loss of their true humanity through perpetrating such behavior. It is true that the destitute poor throughout the world are victims of starvation and squalor because of globalization, but those who decide to implement economic and government systems built on exploiting others and pillaging Earth to create artificial wealth, those (mostly men) are victims in a far more penetrating way. It is just that their awareness of the loss of their humanity is delayed. Often that awareness comes to them only through the ultimate human process of dying. In all of these examples the perpetrators are men for the most part, but if women are found among them, they emulate the behavior expected of men in order to ‘make it’ within the patriarchal structure.

No matter which thought path I follow, nor at what stage along that path I pause to consider, I have come to a heightened awareness of the all pervasive impact on men and what is expected of them in our culture, religions, families. We expect them to behave, value, and aspire to a role that is antithetical to our very nature as members of a mammalian species that is loving at its fundamental biological roots. Insofar as men are captured by the noose of patriarchy, they are victims of it.

We have even put that same noose around our image of God especially those of us who adhere to a monotheistic religion. God is male, ‘out there’ looking down and overseeing everything, keeping track, judging, rewarding and punishing. Jesus tried to show us how to see God differently— from ‘the bottom up’ so to speak, but look at what happened to him! And look at what happened to his followers! What was once known merely as ‘the Way’ of those who followed Jesus, recognized by the way they loved and cared for one another, that ‘Way’ was totally transformed into a patriarchy once it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Add to this the 2000 or more years of theologizing, interpreting and encasing it in dogmas and explanations that justify what it had become—and all ‘in the name of a male God’. Save in the oral tradition passed on in the ‘lived’ faith of loving Christians, the ‘Jesus story’ is hardly recognizable.

In Mary’s Mosaic, Janney describes how after the Bay of Pigs fiasco Kennedy underwent a conversion, not necessarily a religious conversion but one in which he made an about face—from making war to building a structure for world peace. He embarked privately on a path of rapprochement with Russia and Cuba to end the Cold War and nuclear proliferation. He had determined to pull the US forces out of Vietnam. All of these private initiatives were entirely in breach of the plans of the ’powers that be’ in Washington.
According to Janney it was because of these independent decisions that Kennedy was making that he ‘had’ to be assassinated. President Lyndon Johnson lost no time reversing Kennedy’s initiatives. The day after Kennedy’s funeral he signed a National Security Action Memorandum through which he initiated the escalation of America’s involvement in Vietnam.
There was one scene described in the book that totally undid me emotionally:

    “…after a few years of being hammered by journalists—“Why were we in Vietnam?”—finally President Lyndon Johnson gave them the answer. At a private meeting with reporters, according to presidential historian Robert Dallek, President Lyndon Johnson offered his rejoinder: He casually ‘unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ and declared, ‘This is why!’

Janney continues, “…It must have been so deeply reassuring for all those who at some point meet their death in Vietnam, as well as for the ones who had already made ‘the ultimate sacrifice,’ to finally comprehend the glorious, principled cause for which they were fighting and dying.” (p. 311)

My first reaction when reading this was one of disgust and horror. But then the words of Jesus as he hung on the cross came to my mind, “…Forgive them for they know not what they do…” and I was flooded with compassion for President Lyndon Johnson. There he stood—exposed, arrogant yet enslaved, strangled by the noose of power, totally drained of any semblance of his true nature as a loving human being—the ultimate victim of patriarchy.

As you can see Catherine, my processing continues! When you recommended that we read this book the embers of reflection were certainly stirred up within me!

Many thanks and much love,

Fleurette Sweeney

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