“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also”—
This specifically refers to a hand striking the side of a person’s face, tells quite a different story when placed in it’s proper historical context. In Jesus’s time, striking someone of a lower class ( a servant) with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. Another alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect putting an end to the behavior or if the slapping continued the person would lawfully be deemed equal and have to be released as a servant/slave.
I can attest to the original poster’s comments. A few years back I took an intensive seminar on faith-based progressive activism, and we spent an entire unit discussing how many of Jesus’ instructions and stories were performative protests designed to shed light on and ridicule the oppressions of that time period as a way to emphasize the absurdity of the social hierarchy and give people the will and motivation to make changes for a more free and equal society.
For example, the next verse (Matthew 5:40) states “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” In that time period, men traditionally wore a shirt and a coat-like garment as their daily wear. To sue someone for their shirt was to put them in their place - suing was generally only performed to take care of outstanding debts, and to be sued for one’s shirt meant that the person was so destitute the only valuable thing they could repay with was their own clothing. However, many cultures at that time (including Hebrew peoples) had prohibitions bordering on taboo against public nudity, so for a sued man to surrender both his shirt and his coat was to turn the system on its head and symbolically state, in a very public forum, that “I have no money with which to repay this person, but they are so insistent on taking advantage of my poverty that I am leaving this hearing buck-ass naked. His greed is the cause of a shameful public spectacle.”
All of a sudden an action of power (suing someone for their shirt) becomes a powerful symbol of subversion and mockery, as the suing patron either accepts the coat (and therefore full responsibility as the cause of the other man’s shameful display) or desperately chases the protester around trying to return his clothes to him, making a fool of himself in front of his peers and the entire gathered community.
Additionally, the next verse (Matthew 5:41; “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”) was a big middle finger to the Romans who had taken over Judea and were not seen as legitimate authority by the majority of the population there. Roman law stated that a centurion on the march could require a Jew (and possibly other civilians as well, although I don’t remember explicitly) to carry his pack at any time and for any reason for one mile along the road (and because of the importance of the Roman highway system in maintaining rule over the expansive empire, the roads tended to be very well ordered and marked), however hecould not require any service beyond the next mile marker. For a Jewish civilian to carry a centurion’s pack for an entire second mile was a way to subvert the authority of the occupying forces. If the civilian wouldn’t give the pack back at the end of the first mile, the centurion would either have to forcibly take it back or report the civilian to his commanding officer (both of which would result in discipline being taken against the soldier for breaking Roman law) or wait until the civilian volunteered to return the pack, giving the Judean native implicit power over the occupying Roman and completely subverting the power structure of the Empire. Can you imagine how demoralizing that must have been for the highly ordered Roman armies that patrolled the region?
Jesus was a pacifist, but his teachings were in no way passive. There’s a reason he was practically considered a terrorist by the reigning powers, and it wasn’t because he healed the sick and fed the hungry.
What is the best way to come to the attention of an organization like NPR that isn't an unpaid, student internship? Foot-in-the-door steps seem impossible post college.
We pay all of our student interns, for one thing. I would say the following applies to any job:
1. Do your research. When you apply for any job, have a website (it can be a tumblr) with your clips on it. Write a clear, well-researched cover letter. Explain what it is you want to do. Don’t say “your organization” — say “NPR.” Let us know you’re familiar with us.
2. Network. This doesn’t require much. Follow people from the organization you would like to work on Twitter and Tumblr, so you will find out about jobs (we post all of ours with the hashtag #pubjobs) and can talk about specifics in the interivew.
3. Write. You are a person of the Internet. By this, I mean you have Tumblr and Twitter and all sorts of ways to get your writing and audio out there. Put your audio up on prx. Write stuff and submit it to NPR. (Here’s Code Switch’s tips on doing that.) There’s no reason not to start now.
What are some tips on how to get established in public media in an age where the internet allows everyone to use social networks as their form of public media. It's easy to get drowned out.
Post your stuff on @prx. Follow public radio folks on Transom. Join AIR (the Association for Independents in Radio.) Go to Third Coast. (Scholarship info here.) Pitch some stuff to Code Switch or another NPR blog. Interview people. Go to an event at your local member station and ask the folks who work there.
We were grabbing a bite of lunch at a small cafe, in a mall, right across from a booth that sold jewelry and where ears could be pierced for a fee. A mother approaches with a little girl of six or seven years old. The little girl is clearly stating that she doesn’t want her ears pierced, that’s she’s afraid of how much it will hurt, that she doesn’t like earrings much in the first place. Her protests, her clear ‘no’ is simply not heard. The mother and two other women, who work the booth, begin chatting and trying to engage the little girl in picking out a pair of earrings. She has to wear a particular kind when the piercing is first done but she could pick out a fun pair for later.
"I don’t want my ears pierced."
"I don’t want any earrings."
The three adults glance at each other conspiratorially and now the pressure really begins. She will look so nice, all the other girls she knows wear earrings, the pain isn’t bad.
She, the child, sees what’s coming and starts crying. As the adults up the volume so does she, she’s crying and emitting a low wail at the same time. “I DON’T WANT MY EARS PIERCED.”
Her mother leans down and speaks to her, quietly but strongly, the only words we could hear were ‘… embarrassing me.’
We heard, then, two small screams, when the ears were pierced.
Little children learn early and often that ‘no doesn’t mean no.’
Little children learn early that no one will stand with them, even the two old men looking horrified at the events from the cafeteria.
Little girls learn early and often that their will is not their own.
No means no, yeah, right.
Most often, for kids and others without power, ”no means force.”
Does NPR ever offer positions to highschool students?
No. Here’s my advice for you, if you’re in high school: Don’t worry about your job or career at this point. Try as many things as possible. If you want to make radio, make radio. If you want to join a band, join a band. Be curious, be open, don’t be locked in. Take a job to make some money but don’t worry about what it is. I worked in a swim club and read books for a summer. It was fun.
There’s enough time to think about this stuff later. Life is not a resume; a resume is not a life.
This? Is why I think it’s vital that we fight for diverse literature in schools. When the book-banning folks come out, it’s so often to shut down a person belonging to a minority group speaking about experiences that make people uncomfortable. Of course we are uncomfortable. We are complicit. It takes discomfort to impel change.
Not all kids will get a real picture of the world at home; I certainly didn’t. Those kids may go on to be the next generation of oppressors, having been taught lies that cause them to see minorities as subhuman, unless they have outside influences to show them otherwise. It matters that they read books by African-Americans, by women, by LGBT authors. It matters that they gain empathy and experience others’ lives.
It matters that they become uncomfortable enough to change.
"I’m not buying. Past experience leaves the taste that a few people — never ourselves — will make out the first day, but that it’s not likely to appreciate a lot in the near future or maybe even the long…