This is our truth, tell us yours
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial taxb to Caesar or not? 15Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.” Mark 12
It’s a pretty famous passage from the New Testament, and often quoted by those on the Religious Right who use it to claim Christianity must not be political, that there is a division between the sphere of faith and the rest of the world. You will not be surprised to discover I see this as a massive misinterpretation. The context here is of non tax payment as a form of political protest against the Roman occupation. This was a very hot issue. non-payment of tax could be a capital offence. The Pharisees hoped that this popular trouble maker could be trapped into making inflammatory statements which would lead to his arrest. They believed he was caught between offending his followers (by saying they should pay tax) and risking arrest. This working class carpenter with little education was theirs, or so they believed.
Jesus neatly sidestepped the whole argument by his reply. This is not my fight he is saying, I see what you are trying to do and remove myself from it. A pretty amazing answer for the bloke who they thought they had cornered. Jesus had come to fight for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised but not int the way previous leaders of resistance to Roman rule had.
Knowing what is, and isn’t our fight is something we still have to be so careful of today. Recently there has been much anger on a part of my twitter, it started off between women of colour and trans women, and is still continuing to a degree. Very early on I realised the last thing either side needed was my opinion. As a white cis abled women the oppressions I face are minuscule compared to other groups. Sadly white cis women seem to believe they must have an opinion on anything and everything, and that other groups will be eager to hear their views. There needs to be less of this, less trying to impose our voices in every debate and more times when we say this is not my fight, and I will not make it about me.
A hilarious example of this was tweeted out today, a trot group splitting into yet more factions over the subject of race play. At first glance it may seem that its nothing more than the trots being trots, and has caused me to muse what is the SWP position on other forms of BDSM. Is it Ok if the Dominant belongs to the working class and the sub is middle class for example? Would that simply be replicating the revolution in the bedroom? These issues need an answer! Well, no, they don’t. They most certainly don’t need a bunch of white people to decide whether race play is problematic or not.
So often we form and give our opinions on issues that we are mere observers of. Perhaps a new rule of social justice could be that if there are people more affected by something than you, then seek them out and listen to what they are saying before weighing in with your ideas. Everything, from men defining feminism to civilians with feelz about sex work would be improved if this became a first rule of interaction.