Both ends of the US side of the North Shore are enchantingly linked by an unlikely bond, the YMCA. I wonder how many Reader readers knew the Duluth Y gave birth to the most heavily used per capita and successful Y in the entire nation a few hours up the shore in Grand Marais. Did you know? Have you felt the pulse raising thump of patriotic Duluthian pride at this laudable achievement? The Duluth YMCA did not buy the land, build the facility, and attach it to the ISD 166 public school. The Duluth Y is sort of a foster parent who was adopted a facility/child and attached its stature and name to a public project. I confess initial skepticism and resistance to the union of religious affiliation with public education and taxpayer funding, but I was clearly wrong on that count because the total membership for the local Y is nearly 2,000.

Given the population of County Cook spread over a hundred miles of shore with a few “trail” legs going north this is an amazing level of success. From one perspective it looks as if near every soul in Grand Marais has harbor under the roof of the GM Y. This is no small feat. Imagine of everyone in Duluth was a member of the Duluth Y. The opportunity is there, but obviously the will to surpass the success of tiny Grand Marais is lacking on a larger scale, and more the pity there. At a recent meeting tears were shed at the benefits to children able to use the Y. It’s a bit of a walk for some, so maybe we see the future need for outpost Ys at Schroeder, Gunflint Lake, and Hovland to bring more benefits to more people with the eventual goal of 100% membership. Achievement of a worthy objective has no price. At the end of the meeting there was a new maintenance agreement for the County to handle and some funds for repairs were agreed on with unanimous consent and good will all around; well almost all around.  

Another serious matter the past week was having two separate occasions when individuals reminded me of the patriarchal bias as blight on our society and a threat to progress. I’ve rarely had the patriarch thing tossed my way at all let alone twice in short succession. I think it says something and frankly I blame Trump for looking with flaming locks like an Old Testament figure. I don’t recall Obama being especially feminine, but for whatever reasons he didn’t rouse up patriarchal antipathy the way the current Pres does. But it is interesting that up the shore in a place where I’m generally able to avoid political yammering the patriarch angle argument has come to life. It’s made me think. Should I have been or wanted to be some other gender? Is a matriarchy superior? If we disapprove of Christopher Columbus does this spill over to his mother or do we leave her out? If we cast down patriarchal Columbus what’s the gain if we get a dose of Indigenous Chiefs instead of Princesses? It’s tough to figure these things out. Should I be mad at Henry Ford, Edison, and Westinghouse for being successful males because they could only have succeeded by authoritarian trampling of others? Is that the correct patriarchal dialog to heed? It’s hard to know if gender made Tesla or Obama turn out one way and Rockefeller or Trump turn another. The problem starts young doesn’t it? You’re not even conscious before some damn patriarchal Doctor hands you over to a patriarchal nurse to put a pink or blue cap on you while he enters something in the sex column. Seems way patriarchal, doesn’t it? Maybe parents should be told the sex of a child won’t be known until they turn 18 and will tell you what they think based on the experience of their years. That’s a thought. I heard used-to-be Bruce now Kaitlin Jenner speak on the gender topic, but I didn’t find him much help. He kept reminding me of a former Attorney General. It was distracting.  

I doubt it’s possible to avoid consequences of any position. There are as many traps in trying to be bias free as there are in working from a known bias of which being bias free would be one. Say we had three human traditions. One on discovery-of-self featuring reincarnation based on what the individual discovered. Two featured sin, forgiveness, and renewal to gain a place in a future afterlife. Three required strict obedience to a set code of behavior and belief in order to gain a place in the afterlife. A relativist or follower of moral equivalencies would want to think these three were all fundamentally the same. That would be the same as saying discovery of self and obedience to external control were essentially identical. Are they? Well maybe if you’re mentally inebriated enough or are stuck in option Three were there are no options you’d agree, but if you fit into either tradition One or Two that’s not the case. The consequences of following a path of discovery or enlightenment are not going to be personally the same as the result from adhering to a requirement for obedience to dogma for all aspects of life.  

Any scheme we follow has consequences. A difference, as I see it, between the three traditions I just talked of is that of individual autonomy or freedom. I’d say One and Two are about process or development where each individual finds her or his way forward in that tradition. Both One and Two seem to include deviation in the form either of straying from one’s best path or through a concept of transgression aka sin. The value of the person whether on-the-path or strayed is present. In tradition Three the individual serves the system or in other words there is more group identity than individual. I think it unwise to confuse these three. It might be worth considering the near impossibility of personal freedom in a system that considers individuality an active ill. Tradition One and Two have flaws that can trap and victimize individuals whereas option Three exists by oppressing the individual. Authoritarianism devours gender as fuel.