The thirty-six righteous ones

When I say that I’m learning from living with my roommates, there’s often a weary sigh implied in the background. Not today. I’m learning from living with them because, while they are much more conservative than me, so are most people in the world. Thus, when I learn how to talk with them in a way where I can genuinely hear what they’re saying and they genuinely desire to hear me out, I’m getting practice in the art of meaningful discourse. For example, the environment. I vividly remember, soon after I moved in, one of them commenting that “we’re not going to get into heaven by earning good karma for saving the planet” when I tried to save some bottles from the trash for recycling. Indeed, there’s a strange assumption within many conservative circles that acting in ways that respect one’s impact on the physical world is one of those crazy hippy liberal notions. (Strange, because – while that view is certainly in line with the cynical pro-big-business tactics of much of the Right’s leadership – it has little to do with the family-values reasons that many people consider themselves conservative.)

So what I’ve had to learn is that I have to do two things: lead by example, and connect the dots of my motivations. The former boils down to the fact that a lot of lifestyle changes are far easier to contemplate once you’ve seen them in practice, from eating vegan meals to traversing a city by bike. The latter lesson, though, is the hard one that I’ve been learning. When I connect the dots – “factory farmed meat is bad because it involves this practice, which has this effect, which results in this negative outcome” – then perhaps they can still challenge my data or logic, but at least we’re talking on the same level. At least we’re agreed on the idea that, say, antibiotic-resistant E.coli in our food is a bad thing, and even if we disagree on what the government should do about it, we can talk about the ways our own actions and choices have an effect. It’s a long, long journey, but it’s an exciting one.

At some point, by the way, I do want to continue my gender and sexuality post. I think I’m coming down with a cold, though, so right now it’s time for sleep. I will say, however, that Tom Kha is about the best soup invented by humanity, and this recipe (with a few modifications, e.g. tofu instead of chicken) resulted in a wonderful version thereof, making me a very happy panda. Listen to Barbara when she says that galangal is the heart of the soup, and that it’s not worth making if you don’t have it fresh or frozen. I first discovered the divine fragrance that is galangal in Tzadikim Nistarim, still one of my favorite BPAL perfume oils, and the rhizome has a heady, unique scent that I wish was more utilized in the West.


2 comments on “The thirty-six righteous ones

  1. Beth says:

    If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check out the Bill Moyer’s report on the shift in some conservative Christian thinking recently, re Environmentalism. I thought the program was very interesting…and your roomies might too.

  2. Seej says:

    I have often wondered something about the thirty-six righteous ones. Do they all have to be righteous in the same ways and equally so? One might imagine that at different times and in different walks of life they are called on to be differently righteous. Perhaps only some of them have to recycle? Maybe one of them works for Exxon, and it’s particularly important in her righteousness not to pollute.

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