Edward, Malala and Rabbit: Loyalty

Interesting week. Malala Yousafzai was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala, you may know, is a young Pakistani girl who, at age 13, challenged the Taliban’s rule denying education for girls. For her efforts she was shot in the head by Taliban thugs as she rode a bus to school. She survived and, for the last 3 years, has been a tireless advocate for human rights, especially for young girls. Of course, because of death threats from those who feel she is disloyal to her country and her Muslim faith, she has to advocate from the safety of England.

Edward Snowden hides in Russia, similarly. It seems he upset the powers that be in the US Intelligence community when he publicly revealed massive amounts of evidence that the NSA was over reaching its legal boundaries surveilling American citizens. He graced the cover of WIRED magazine in October 2014, telling more of this still unfolding story.

I was listening to Marc Maron interviewing “Ms. Pat,” a black comedian who is about to hit it big because of the heartfelt humor and authentic storytelling she applies to stories about her horrendous early life. By age 18 she had two children, was on welfare and selling crack to support her children, had been shot twice and was looking for a way out of the cycle of violence, molestation and ghetto outcomes that she was born into. Her street name was Rabbit.

She made it. And now she faces recrimination from her “hood” for being disloyal. But, in her view, returning to that community and the cycle found there would be to simply give back what she has achieved by getting away from it.

All of these stories strike a chord with me, as a formerly devout Catholic who has left the church for its misogyny, institutional coverup of priestly pedophilia and Irish slave labor nunneries (see “The Magdalene Sisters.”)  I’m “disloyal” to what I was born into, but why should the thing any of us is born into have lifelong claim on us?   The consistent pattern of those in power… even if only on the local or familial level in a ghetto… is that they insist you not point out the flaws of the organization, or attempt to change their status quo.

Who am I to insist the status quo needs changing? Who are you to insist it should remain unchanged? I see no difference in the positions, but the challenger is labeled “disloyal.”

Loyalty? That word is extortion, when it means shutting up, ignoring abuse or protecting evil or in Ms. Pat’s somehow capitulating to the demands of your peers that you not “act better than them.”

Disloyalty is an excuse the powerful use in any situation or organization to justify whatever punishment they then mete out on those who challenge them.