Quixote at Shakesville makes an excellent point that I hadn’t thought of before — really it should be the candidate who isn’t black addressing racism, and the candidate who isn’t a woman addressing sexism. That would be much more effective than the other way around. At least they should both do both.
But I’m going to pick on his/her opening anecdote:
Barbara Kingsolver in Pigs in Heaven tells a Mayan story about hell and heaven that summarizes what bothers me about the talk of racism and sexism running through this political season.
A group of people sits around a large bowl of soup, but they can’t eat it. The only spoons they can use are magical ones with immensely long handles that can’t be touched anywhere except at the very end. The people try every possible contortion to empty the soup into their mouths, but the handles are just too long. All they accomplish is to spill soup everywhere and slowly starve to death, tantalized by the aroma.
There is also another group of people with the same bowl and the same spoons. But these people are well fed and happy. They’re not even trying to feed themselves. They use the long-handled spoons to feed each other.
OK, I like Kingsolver, but no way is this a Mayan story. Everyone and their uncle uses it. (Here’s one for a rabbi, one from an ancient Zen scroll, one from a mosque though they don’t claim it as of Islamic origin, one involving a “holy man” and ending with Jesus, the exact same story without the concluding line about Jesus, and lots of Christian ones.)
I always thought this was from C. S. Lewis. (More specifically, one of my friends in high school told me the story and said it was from C. S. Lewis, as I remember.) But a bit of googling for “C S Lewis” + spoons yields nothing. It does seem pretty Christian or possibly Muslim to me, though, what with the emphasis on heaven and hell; on the other hand, the essential message seems pretty modern so maybe it came from some other tradition.
Anyway: Where does this story come from?