The God Talk: Butler’s Earthseed Tenet

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

Is Change.

This Earthseed tenet from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower remains relevant and rings true today. I interpreted this tenet as follows:

If and because we change everything that we touch and are ourselves changed, I believe we must touch with intent. We must touch gently, with the hopes of doing good, and enacting change that is positive. We must make sure our hands are clean, and we must appreciate the change. This tenet requires the reader to be diligent, and thoughtful and to move through everyday life with a certain level of consciousness.

We are only left with the impact of our actions. We don’t all see the “touch,” but we do see the change that results from that. The only thing that will ever remain true and indisputable is that the impact of our actions will be what is visible–those impacts will continue to change and evolve as the people who are responsible for their catalyst do.

If God is change, he is then the only lasting truth. He is what’s left when everything else has come and gone. But what about change that is bad? Does this cancel out because bad is only relative and what I consider bad, someone else considers good? Or does the opportunity for God to be “bad” give him or her human qualities that we often times don’t have access to or see in traditional proselytizing religions? If God is change and we are change, does this give us the opportunity to be God?

I ask these questions because I truly do not have the answers. What does Butler want us to take away from this tenet and particularly the idea that God is change? If we are our own Gods, does this allow and lead to chaos and dysfunction?

Let me know what you think.



Reason Doesn’t Live Here: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling

So much of our world and society is divided into systems and categories. Beneficial? Sure, sometimes, but more often than not, these categories are used to divide us and highlight our differences. Today, it’s easy to think about how many categories we have, and surrounding my immediate world and existence there are a myriad of them; within the natural hair world, there is hair-typing, colleges have ranks and divisions, and within communities of color, there is often tension between those who are lighter and those who are darker. With so many systems and people so quick to categorize, I try to keep myself out of anyone’s box. Hair type? Mine. College? Expensive. Light or dark? Neither. The same applies in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. Shori is a fifty-three-year-old vampire who appears to be eleven or twelve to humans. She is different, because she is the product of an experiment that made her darker than the traditional pale-skinned vampires through the use of melanin. Because of this melanin, she is able to go out into the sun, whereas those without melanin are restricted to going out only at night and sleeping during the day. Although this genetic change enhances Shori’s quality of life and can do the same for other vampires, other Ina have begun to attack her community and her family because of her dark(er) skin. Butler, through Shori and her symbionts and enemies, tells a story that we all know too well. This isn’t the first narrative of someone being attacked for the color of his/her skin. During the Civil Rights Era, the Ku Klux Klan were prominent in their attacks on African-Americans. Segregation was found in schools all over the country until the Brown v. Board of Education deemed that separate but equal was inherently unequal–and even then, not all schools were integrated. What Butler best highlights in Fledgling is that bigotry is not rooted in reason. The logical step for the Silks (lighter Inas) who cannot go into the sun would be to undergo the same treatment that Shori did; instead, they act maliciously. The Silks efforts backfire, as they have now lost all of their sons, meaning their family name will die. Their is no reward in categorization and bigotry. Though the punishment may not be immediate, it is imminent.

Present Parents For Children and Young Adults

Last week during our Butler’s Daughter’s class,  the discussion had touched on how many science fiction novels, especially young adult genre, has had an absent of parents or the parents were present but did not have an active role or any clue to what their children were doing.  Although Professor Tananarive Due’s novel My Soul to Take and the whole series before this last fourth novel, incorporate the parents of Fana, Dr. Stanley pointed out  how in culture popular science fiction novels, such as the Twilight, does not include active parents in the protagonist’s life if it is a coming of age story for a young teen/adult.  I thought this would be a great topic to blog about after hearing a discussion on the radio about single parents, particularly single mothers raising young males, who do not know how to motivate their children.  One mother discussed how her son, a high-schooler, told her that he did not like school and wish he did not have to.  Many parents send their children to school and expect the school system to teach them and motivate them but doesn’t these values need to be instilled in the home first?

In regards to Due’s novels, Fana’s parents are present in her life and also try to steer her to make the right decisions and keep her out of harm’s way however they do not control her life and let her makes her own decisions.  I am very family oriented myself and when I left my home in New Jersey to come to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Spelman College, I slightly felt like I was being dropped off in an unknown world but I had to remember  that I made this decision and that my parents will be there for me even if they are miles away.  My mother’s words of encouragement kept me strong first semester although I cried when she left for the airport after New Students’ Orientation.  It was her endless support, words of encouragement, and constant reminder of how proud she was of me that motivated me to keep striving to do my best.

Now as a graduating senior, I appreciate that Due composed a storyline of a young female protagonist who was trying to find herself and live her life but still had her parents through it all.  Fana says, “A CHILD’S HAPPINESS SPREADS TO THE PARENTS” (242) and with this quote, I believe that if parents took the time to find out what their children wanted out of life or they showed them what they can get out of life if they work hard and continue to dream and believe in themselves then they would be able to find a way to motivate them down that path without forcing them into something they do not want to do.