Wednesday, April 10, 2024

#101 / Insurrection And Ressurection


A friend from the Central Valley (she authors columns for a couple of Central Valley newspapers, which are published under the title, "Notes From Home") has drawn attention to the similarities between the word, "insurrection" and the word "ressurection." Her column on this topic, coming shortly after Easter this year, got my attention. Here's how she begins her discussion: 

Only two letters separate “resurrection” from “insurrection.” The prefixes are attached to the same Latin root, surgere, which means “to rise; see surge.” Only two letters separate the English definitions of each: resurrection means “to rise again,” while insurrection means “to rise against.” But in our guts we feel they are 180 degrees apart, one good and holy, the other bad and dangerous. Of course, the reason the Jews begged Pilate to take Jesus out of the picture was that, to them, he and his followers felt like an insurrection.

Trudy Wischemann, who writes those "Notes From Homes" columns, is very much focused on the need to make a "change in the political control over our water resources, a change which necessarily would diminish the power of the largest landowners in this end of the San Joaquin Valley." What Wischemann wants, in other words, is a "revolution," of a kind, in the management of water resources. An "insurrection" would certainly be one way to begin, and to carry forward, a fundamental change in who controls the water resources that determine who benefits, who doesn't, and how our world is structured. 

What if, Wischemann asks in her column, we started characterizing the kind of changes we need to make - which are, indeed, "revolutionary" changes - as a "resurrection," as opposed to an "insurrection." 

An "insurrection" seems to indicate that we need to take action against an existing order that, normally, can claim deference, and that we will ordinarily take for granted as a "reality," as something "normal," and that, we often assume, is entirely "just and proper." That conception of what it means to engage in an "insurrection" - some kind of affirmative attempt to overturn the existing state of affairs - is why we tend to think of an insurrection as something "bad and dangerous." Overturning the existing reality is, by definition, disruptive.

If our efforts to change the existing order were seen not as an "insurrection," but as a "resurrection," they would be characterized as a return to, and as a restoration of what is "just and proper." At least, that's Wischemann's suggestion, as I'm reading it. 

In fact, the unsatisfactory arrangements by which our world is governed, including the arrangements that are a consequence of the massive wealth inequality that has so profoundly distorted our political, social, and economic life, are all the result of past actions, and the present conditions in which we live are not something that are either "natural" or inevitable. That's true of how we manage water. And it is true of how we manage a lot of other things, too!

"Ressurection," not "insurrrection"? I think Trudy is on to something. 

Viva la Ressurection!

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