Qu’est ce que c’est?

September 13, 2007

People rarely comment on any of the entries to my web log.  Too good for you?  Too bad, dumb, stupid?  What?  Am I uneasy to understand?  Are the entries too long?  Do I lose your interest?

 Shit.

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The Kind Face of Prejudice (What if your parents are racists?)

September 13, 2007

Imagine one of your parents sends you an email, a ‘joke’ email regarding the nomenclature of hurricanes not being representative of all US cultures (a legitimate point which was brought before the US Congress in 2003).  The tone of the ‘joke’ is derogatory & racist.  Your parent didn’t write it.  They just forwarded it from some other email or website (I don’t know).  ‘Joke’ or no ‘joke’, the content of the email is endorsed by the sender when sent.

 

If you found the ‘joke’ funny, then you don’t really have a problem with your parents but with racial sensitivity & should probably stop reading here.

 

If you were upset about the email, then you probably found yourself with a little bit of a quandary.  What do you do?  (If you hope I have advice, you better stop reading here!)

 

I believe people demean themselves while degrading others.  I don’t think ignorance can make anyone look anything other than stupid.  Do you talk to them about your feelings?  Talking to people about racism is similar to discussing their driving, insofar as no one believes they are a bad driver.  They would almost certainly be upset that you could think such a thing about them.  Do you ignore it and keep the peace?  What kind of peace would you be keeping?  Probably not your own.

In my mind, any kind of discord is total discord.  There’s no such thing as a small problem.  Everything is a seed waiting to bloom and prosper.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “You can’t reason irrational ideas out of people.”  So, is all of this an exercise in futility?  Is there a solution to racism other than fighting the problem within yourself?

I have my share of socialized preconceptions about various races.  I’ve learned most of it through family, some through friends.  I’ve spent the last thirteen years working on deprogramming myself.  It’s not easy when you’re pretty much alone in the effort.  I try to believe in the inherent goodness of people.  I try to imagine myself as a solitary foreigner in distant parts of the world – downtown Calcutta, or driving alone in Hong Kong.  Nothing would make sense to me.  I can’t think of many situations in which I would feel lonelier.  I don’t think many others would feel any different, but I can only speak for myself.

I love culture.  I love different perspectives, ideas and realities.  I can learn a lot about myself as I learn about you.  And like the song says, ‘We are the world.’  For every person we don’t understand, there’s another who doesn’t understand us.  There’s a lot to learn about.  Yeah, there’s crap in the world – it’s a biological function, a byproduct of the body at large, but the body itself can still be beautiful.

I don’t think I should one’s race at fault for a flaw in their character.  Simple fact – there are idiots everywhere.  If we were all held accountable for the actions of all our idiotic predecessors, then we would live in a world very similar to the one we do!!

But this is the paradox – if you should treat everyone with kindness and respect, then you should address issues of disrespect or lack of kindness with an intent to reach a resolution.  You need to upset the peace in order to acheive peace.  You have to do so in such a way as to not be disrespectful yourself, as much as you might disrespect racism (or some other insensitivity).  The idea is to get other people thinking.  Awareness is half the battle.

I went to the dentist yesterday.  He asked if I get a lot of headaches.  I do.  He told me I grind my teeth and it’s probably causing some of these headaches.  I did not know I was grinding.  I did not know it would contribute to my headaches.  Now, I am aware.  I am watching for it.  I want to stop it.  Most importantly, the dentist gave me evidence of my actions – the tops of my teeth are flattening.

Flip this example into our current dilemma.  Take the racist email, deconstruct it and show how it is offensive.  Ask your parent what they found amusing about it.  It is possible a new consciousness will arise within them.

Words can heal or destroy the world.  Kindness can save everyone from themselves.


Wasted (daze)

September 13, 2007

Don’t want to waste away, just want to waste today.  I stood up and faced so many yesterdays, wish I could’ve replaced my foolish ways.  All work and all play confuses the hell out of anyone who comes and plays.  So what do you say?  Let’s waste our daze.


New For Me (phobia)

September 12, 2007

I discovered a new irrational fear today – the dental hygenist.  Sorry, not the dental hygenist, but the equipment they use.  I can actually be pretty specific.  It’s the water pick!  It has a high pitched squeal and shoots a wire of water!  If the hygenist hits a sensitive spot…look out!  I was afraid I was going to hit her as a result of a knee-jerk reaction from pain.

I was friggin’ terrified.  There I was, 30 some odd years old, sitting in the chair, white knuckled from gripping the arm rests too tight, my legs completely taut.  I was like a little boy.  I can still hear that high-pitched sound echoing in my ears.  I had a headache.  My back muscles started to spasm.  I was sweating, but freezing cold.  I wanted to cry!

The whole time, the hygenist was saying things like, “This wouldn’t hurt so much if you flossed every day.”  Or, “If you don’t floss, you’ll have bone loss.  If that happens, your teeth will fall out.”  She said other things, but I was concentrating so hard on not freaking out that I wasn’t really listening.

She is a very nice lady, is very gentle and professional, but she scares the shit out of me!

Thank goodness the fear of having no teeth at all is stronger!


Kill, Beat & Steal.

September 10, 2007

It occurred to me last night that any philosophy based on speculation is, at it’s most basic foundation,  a religion, insofar as it requires faith from the subscriber.

How is Kierkegaard’s existentialism different from Buddha’s Four Noble Truths?  Or Nietzsche’s Superman from Jesus Christ, Mohammed, or David?  All of these are ideas, the product of a general need to make sense of things.

Our realities are primarily based on speculation and faith.  We don’t know very much and it frightens us or we’re blissfully ignorant.  I don’t which is worse.  I’m often of the frame of mind where I seek & destroy my ignorance.  But this is the funny thing about ignorance – you don’t know what you don’t know.  You don’t know if what you know is right.  You can’t believe anyone.  Everything is subjective and most people live by ‘survival of the fittest’, so you had better look out for yourself.

Neo-conservatism, liberalism, fascism, communism – there’s a long list of political philosophies, all of them are based on social control (or lack thereof, laisse-faire!).  There are so many ideas to believe in.  Yet, experience has shown that none of them actually work.  Why?  We are inherently uncontrollable.  Fear is the only thing that can pacify us.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Kennedy knew what he was talking about.  It was a direct reference to government use of fear (psychological operations) to exert control over populations.  Manufactured fear.  Fear is the one and only social control which ever really had any historic success, but it doesn’t usually last long and the end is violent for the scare mongerers.  When people are frightened for long periods of time, they have a tendency to stockpile anger and there comes a point when a critical mass of people boil over.

So fear doesn’t really work either, but it’s the best of a motley lot!

There are certain things we all agree upon, regardless of where we’re from.  It is unpleasant when someone in your family is killed.  It is unpleasant when you or someone in your family is maltreated.  It is unpleasant when you or someone in your family are robbed.  Everything else is open to regional (individual) interpretation.

How do you correct the historical injustices which resulted from killing, beating and stealing?  I don’t know.

But there’s another thing to consider.  The nucleus does not survive without the sound functioning of the cell.  The cell does not survive without the sound functioning of the host organism.  The host organism does not survive without the sound functioning of it’s environment.

There is a balance in the Universe.  We have to find it and maintain it.


UN Security Council

September 7, 2007

The United Nations was established after the second world war as an organization of nations acting in unity to prevent future world wars and to attempt to establish a system of international law.  That’s not really a formal definition, but it sums it up all right!  The United Nations does not have any power other than that lent by it’s member nations.  The United Nations has no binding authority, it can only make suggestions to it’s member nations. 

However, the UN Security Council is a different story altogether.  Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the authority to pass resolutions which member nations are obligated to obey.  The consequences of non-compliance to UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions vary from economic sanctions to military intervention (invasion!).

There are fifteen seats on the UNSC – five permanent (China, Russia, France, UK & USA) & ten temporary seats (two year cycle).  It’s pretty simple to understand the logic of how the five permanent seats were assigned.  It was a cold war power play between the US and the Soviets.

The UN was established at the very onset of the Cold War.  The US, UK & France did not trust the Soviets.  The Soviets reciprocated with an equal dose of distrust.  China was in the midst of a civil war between the Nationalist Party (Chiang Kai-Shek) and the Communists (Mao Tse-Tung).  The Communists won the civil war in 1949, a few years after the Republic of China had been chosen as a permanent member of the UNSC, and so the seat was part of the booty.  I am sure Stalin was more than elated!

The point is – the five permanent seats were assigned in 1945/1946 based on conventional politics, which were flawed to begin with.  First of all, Britain and France were both bankrupt at the conclusion of the Second World War and should not be considered ‘International Powers’ in anything other than prestige.  Almost all of mainland Europe was in ruins.  There were millions of displaced peoples.  Two countries emerged as supreme military powers, each with their preferred system of economics and government.

I don’t think the UNSC with the power of the permanent five is truly representative of current international political conditions.  I don’t think there should be ANY permanent seats on the UNSC.  There should be 6 year terms for each seat, with 5 seats cycling every 3 years.


Visionless Sight

September 7, 2007

‘Think outside of the box’.  I friggin’ hate that phrase, it’s very much ‘inside the box’.  In this age of technology, the individual has to be well-rounded, so why aren’t we thinking outside the ‘sphere’?  The ‘box’ is so unimaginative in terms of words, even the ‘cube’ is better.

Someone who can’t think outside the ‘sphere’ demanded that someone else think outside the ‘box’.  It’s a simple case of the ‘pot calling the bong sticky’.

Vision is a mental condition where sight is one of the five senses.  The blind CAN lead the blind.  Those who can see don’t always know where they are.