Friday, January 25, 2008

Submission or Solidarity

A friend wrote to me, both in response to something I said about having tried to find my way among the Seventh-day Adventists and a news item about Muslim women choosing to wear the head covering: "I totally don't understand making a choice to fit into a community that limits one's ability to grow, make choices, enforces submission for some over others. Does submission become a comfortable habit? Or is there a sense of safety and freedom in not having to make choices/take responsibility?"

The thing that I see emphasized in what I have been reading is that submission is a deliberate choice, made each and every day (and several times a day, some days--being neither a comfortable habit nor freedom from responsibility). Many religious writings, Quaker included, talk about submission to God being a conscious giving of oneself to God and giving up of one's ego-driven will--a deliberate and constant seeking for the inward "still small voice"--tempered by the community also seeking the will of God. So how we define "submission" varies! Some religious groups believe that women must submit to their husband's decisions. Yet liberal Quakers do not (nor do Adventists seem to). Wearing the head covering in conservative Christian and Jewish groups, along with wearing plain clothing, is seen as part of both following God's law and maintaining the sense of community. Maybe this is true also for Muslim women? And as with families--when one member is attacked by an outsider, isn't it usual for the others to show solidarity and a united front? Wouldn't re-claiming a visible identity be part of that?

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