Category Archives: Philosophy

Present or Absent?

Life has been so hellishly busy I’ve barely had time to do more than watch a bit of TV before I fall asleep for an hour or two and then tend to my one year old who seems to require comfort and/or nursing every two to three hours still.  Sleep is at a premium and certainly not something I get enough of, nor do I get time off, and the worst part of it all isn’t even that I haven’t gotten to much writing but rather how very alone it’s felt at times.  Everywhere I look people are chattering away on facebook with some kind of ease between them.  An ease that I rarely if ever feel and often feel excluded from despite these things involving people I know in real life.  Truth be told I hadn’t even acknowledged to myself what space I was inhabiting when a hurt that made no rational sense to me would come up.

And then I received an email from a friend of my husband’s, now a friend of mine, discussing what it was like to be a small business owner (this friend is one) and, in my case, being the wife of one.  The hours are excruciating, the pay sucks (the ultimate in ‘pay it forward’), the stress of making it work, and the recognition is varied.  Except for me.  The wife.  It’s such a unique experience in the world of public sector or corporate employees that very few seem to understand the totality of the sacrifices involved.  This very lonely and relatively unacknowledged place is where I reside and until the words “How are you holding up?” were uttered I had no idea how bereft I had been of true understanding and compassion.

It’s a simple question to be sure and for once I felt like someone gave a shit about the answer.  I almost cried over my keyboard when I read it and actually did shed tears when I responded with the awareness I had previously been missing.  So many conversations are had wherein a question is asked and the subsequent silence given while waiting for the expected answer seems to be only a pause in between times for the other person to talk.  I think it’s fair to assert that many of us have been guilty of it, but that doesn’t negate how this short changes all of us.  That genuine connection, that acknowledgment and understanding, is missing when we seek to rush through anything.  And even if time is given it simply isn’t enough.  Being present, being THERE, wanting to be there – to listen, is what matters.

And it’s so damn hard.

The world is riddled with distractions, more so now than ever, and that keeps energy and intent scattered about, flitting from one topic to another.  Space, it seems, is a vortex teeming with many thoughts and no real capability of inhabiting an emotion or thought for any substantive length of time.  It’s hard to sit and observe this and ponder if perhaps this is merely a result of my pretentiousness – that the ostracism I feel is merely a backlash for what I don’t put out, my Cassandra like presence when it comes to talking politics, or just that I fail in typical social norms of behavior.  It would be dishonest of me to play a complete victim when there are certain factors I might contribute to my own loneliness and disenfranchisement.

What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt, however, is that there are three people in the last few weeks who asked me simply and genuinely how I’m holding up with the current stresses and energy draws of a growing business (and a rather reluctantly absent husband) with another in the works while I manage the homestead with limited energy that must be pushed to limitless and finances that are excruciatingly tight in an economy that is forever making things more expensive.  And a world that seems to think the job of a stay at home mom should be reward in it of its self.  That time away from kids and house should be unnecessary if you’re doing it right.

What this really is a failure to acknowledge the true difficulties of the situation that may be present for these individuals.  No specifics should be necessary for compassion and empathy to be summoned.  Being present doesn’t require money, it doesn’t require a genius level IQ.  It requires heart.  It requires effort.  It requires the very priceless things we have to give.  This, not love, is, in my opinion, what there’s just too little of in this world.

To those who embody this, those who ask with present and loving sincerity how someone is – I thank you, for all you are and all you do.

I guess it’s time to read “Miracle of Mindfulness”


Politics Suck – Embrace Humanity

Here in the US many folks are embroiled in one of two things: football – and the atrocious calls the replacement refs are making – and political theater.  For once I’m not offended or too annoyed with the football discussions.  This is, perhaps, one of the first times in my adult life where I can honestly say the political conversation is so absurd folks might as well be talking about something as ineffectual and non life altering as a sport they don’t play.  The conversations are rarely about anything substantive with chants of “MY guy/team is better than YOUR guy/team” blaring all over cyber space en masse.

While today I’m slightly more angry and frustrated than I am sad, my words in a recent interview are what stand clearly in my awareness:

The question of “who does this law/regulation hurt” is ignored in favor of the unacknowledged favoritism of a certain group or individual over another. Penalizing law abiding citizens is rather like playing favorites with your children. It hurts an innocent for no good reason other than the self-imposed, self-permitted prejudice.  This is so very sad to me.

This can be said the world over – no matter your politics, nationality, or religion – politics has done what, in my opinion, it was always meant to do: Separate people.  Not from each other necessarily (although between religion and politics this happens a great deal), but each individual from their own humanity.  The conversation during elections isn’t about how one can help another person, about how a politician or party’s actions is bent toward penalizing some individuals simply because of income, sexual orientation, race, gender or, worse in the case of US, geographic locale that permits bombing and drone attacks.  They’re all about the champions each of us has selected and how they’re better or worse than someone else’s.  And as so many of us do this we believe we’re supporting who/what we need to because of humanity while in actuality we eschew it in favor of rhetoric and the misplaced hope that a lesser evil is some sort of good.  The argument is about how to decorate the 90th floor of a skyscraper without ever having looked to see the steel encasing it was brittle.

The hard questions, those we need to ask ourselves, go unanswered.  Questions like – Why do I believe someone who makes more money than me/my family should pay a higher percentage of their income (when the same percentage of their income paid in taxes is more than what I pay)?  What is “fair”?  Why do I think going to war is a good idea?  Why do I want to send others to do it when I’m not willing to sign up?  If I sign up why should I make others pay my salary and weapons when they’re so against anyone, me or my enemies, killing/dying?  Why do I not want “these” people to die?  Why do I want “those” people to die?

In each and every question lies a piece of our own humanity.  With each answer we reclaim more of it.

The rhetoric surrounding the pundit of choice can and will only ever reflect that which the majority of most individuals are willing to confront.  It’s time each person takes a step back, looks into themselves, and asks the hard questions.  Until then each election will bring out more of the same: reflections of the bigotry, resentment, and fear each voter is afraid to confront within themselves.  Without these things a de facto aristocracy could not be tolerated.  Without them the dialogue changes.  Lesser of evils will be viewed as evil and not permissable.  Solutions will come from people, not systems.  Our fellow human beings will exist in our minds and hearts without or apart from the previously prescribed labels.  We will trust our own judgments based upon the ethics each of us have thought of and fought ourselves to have and in so doing will be able to evaluate candidates based upon records, facts.  Change the dialogue and forget politics.  Remember your humanity and, by extension, that of others – even if you disagree with them.


Cross post – Book Review: Beyond the Sling

A cross post review from my other blog:  In this day and age of detachment parenting Mayim Bialik, or Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler for you Big Bang Theory fans, attempts to address the myths, the trials and tribulations, and the benefits of attachment parenting.   As an advocate for birth empowerment as well as a prosthelitizing believer in natural childbirth the words of a woman with a PhD in neuroscience held allure.  To me it was about finding someone who had done a home birth, breastfed (even did extended breastfeeding), and unschooled her children who was so credentialed the world was sure to stand up and see the validity in what so many of us non doctorate holding moms already know: learning is innate, our bodies are designed to propagate our species as well as take care of our young, and submitting to your babe’s needs does not mean you are permissive.

 

Unfortunately, when I caught a few clips of her on television while promoting this book it seems as though the world does not want/need credentials to view these things with validity, and instead seems to hold fastidiously to the notion that kids should be separate and independent of the parent almost from birth – the sex life of the parents holding higher import than bonding of each parent with their children.

This book takes on the issue of a sex life and the family bed with anecdotes and personal examples, but the most important aspects -the biology, anthropology, and psychology of infants-  are dealt with in both a blend of science and personal outtakes from her life.   Take, for example, this bit from her chapter about gentle discipline and particularly about the notion of telling a child to stop crying/discouraging them from crying:

Tears have been found to contain small amounts of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.  Crying may serve to release tension and stress from tiny bodies, and it is normal and healthy.  Seeing crying as a natural and reasonable form of communication removes the stigma our culture associates with it.  It may not be the most effective communication tool, but it is sometimes the only one small children have in their limited arsenal.

As was typical of her work this was followed up with a bit of psychology as well as an example from her own family:

Some family and friends found it funny (or perhaps uncomfortable or unsettling?) and mocked our boys’ crying, albeit playfully.  This is, frankly, not at all helpful, and it perpetuates the idea that children shouldn’t cry when we think they shouldn’t.

This next bit I’m sharing simply because I found it beautifully stated – from the same section, but in a subsection called “Violence”:

The distinction between hitting in anger (as in “the heat of the moment”) as opposed to hitting as part of a purportedly “calm,” regimented spanking is an academic one but not a practical one; both methods involve hitting a child, thereby causing a tiny brain to release neurotransmitters and hormones to cope with pain and fear while suppressing fight/flight pathways.  The simplest reason we don’t hit is this: hitting is hitting.  It’s not love.  It’s not teaching.  It’s hitting.  You can say you are hitting with love, or that you are using hitting to teach something, but it’s still hitting.

Her sections on breastfeeding and natural childbirth are equally important, although for more information on the benefits of these practices I can not recommend Pushedor Born in the USA (I will review Dr. Marsden Wagner’s book at a later date) enough.  It is my sincerest wish that more people would read this book with an open mind.  Kids have nothing to lose by a parent reading this and taking much of its wisdom to heart and everything to gain.

Have you read it?  Have a favorite or not so favorite section?


Security: Sounds Like… Not So Much

Drones.  Many folks know about them.  Certainly if you pay attention to the news you probably hear or see bits about the US’s drones being used in attacks in Pakistan, possibly in Yemen, Somalia and Iran – although these last three to a lesser extent.  Perhaps it might even seem reasonable that we attack using technology that negates immediate loss of life to Americans especially in a country (or four) that seem to house “terrorists”.  There are some folks out there who even know about the US Congress passing a bill that orders the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) to open up airspace for drones by 2015.  I’m sure there are many who don’t even know why this should be considered frightening.

The dramatic pieces of this, in my opinion, comes in the form of an attack in Yemen.  One that assassinated an American citizen who was part of al Qaeda – Anwar  al-Awlaki – without due process and without formal and public investigation.  The truth is the lack of due process means we have just the US government’s word to take that he was a danger although it is my stance that him being a “threat” doesn’t matter.  Not one bit.  There was no war in Yemen the US was fighting, not a single whisper of Yemen’s danger to the US has been made mention of in our propaganda friendly media, and yet there we sent military drones to kill a man guilty of crimes against the US (note I did not say IN) without ever having met the burden of proof in a courtroom.     The little discussed tidbit that seems to always be missing in the news is just how far that little “t” word goes to justify killing others.

An assassination committed by a government that occurs in DIRECT SUBVERSION of the laws that govern it should always warrant attention.  Certainly more than the after the fact justification that was offered instead of the outrage at the lack of evidenciary support being given to any supposed charges before ordering a hit on an American citizen.  Even if one wishes to think that this could not happen here, that this only happens to folks the government says is bad (heck, it’s not like “they’ve” ever lied to “us” before, right?) and aren’t on US soil, then I would have to kindly, gently ask them this:  How do we know these people are a danger to anyone?  What proof do we have?

Some might stipulate that these drones only attack terrorists – the bad guys who wrecked so much damage on 9/11 – that these are specific targets and the drones allow for less errors.  No innocents, as defined (or not) by the US government will be killed.  This has to be better than the open war of Iraq, Afghanistan, or the non-hostile bombings of Libya.   Doesn’t it?  Those drone attacks in Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, or even the mere accidental crash of one in Iran could all be summed up by talk of enemies of The State (to say nothing of the accidental crash into a SWAT vehicle).

This begs the question:  Who are the enemies?  Is it in every person who does something we don’t understand as the “if you see something, say something” campaign would have us believe?  Behind every friendly face is there a bomb plot hatching?  An inborn hatred of all that each of us represents?  Is it so dangerous that the US government, whose powers are as far reaching as authorizing drones to kill those selected, can not possibly bring these individuals into court?  To prove the irrefutable guilt of those sentenced to die NOT by a jury of their peers, but by bureaucrats?

The answer came in a recent decision by the Pentagon that says:

The Obama administration’s top Pentagon lawyer on Wednesday said that American citizens who join Al Qaeda can be targeted for killing and that courts should have no role in reviewing executive branch decisions about whether someone has met such criteria.

Let me repeat that last part: “courts should have NO role in reviewing executive branch decisions whether someone has met such criteria”.

Who do Americans then look to for protection from a government that is intent upon its own enemies?  How does an entity that is FOR the people even have enemies?  Surely, it can’t make a mistake like this again when utilizing “new” powers it has granted its self?

 Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.

And after all is said and done the only question that remains is this: If the government can target citizens for killing, can use drones for domestic and foreign expeditions, when it holds its self to no burden of proof before putting citizens on secret lists with no chance for them to defend themselves – do we feel safer?

 


The more I think I know….

On a recent rainy day I took the kids to a local children’s museum as my oldest needed to run.  And run he did.  There were all sorts of animals he could see – several varieties of snakes – as well as a big area designed to look like a small/old town complete with two stories on which to play.  He was in his glory.   To say he was excited when an employee announced a live animal demonstration with two of their snakes would be an understatement.  All I had to do was point him in the direction of the classroom and off we went; the only question he asked was where to sit.  [The google image searches on my computer have blessedly changed from ticks to snakes as a result.]

A couple of older boys, about five or six, sat next to him.  At which point that very outgoing child of mine proceeded to talk to them.  Looks were exchanged between those two boys followed by that shrug we’ve all received or made to indicate how that other person was “weird” and not someone to talk to or include.  The light and excitement dimmed on my son’s face; his exuberance muted and cut out as he got very still and quiet.  I saw it happen and then proceeded to discard it as important until it came to haunt me at about midnight – just after watching some of Downton Abbey.

Then it struck me.  He was being schooled on how society does not accept people for who they are, but rather in their ability to conform to social rules that are never said honestly and upfront.  As much as I find these “rules” to be odious and annoying they’re ones I subconsciously conform to.  And upon closer reflection I realized that lately I have been trying to get them (okay, him – ten month old is a wee young for me to even remotely project this nonsense on to) to conform to them, too.  Exuberance became embarrassing ; vocalized joy was discomfitting; funny words, phrases, anatomical statements made into jokes – horrifying.

I don’t know when it was I decided he should stop acting like a kid; when it became an embarrassment instead of something I was both proud of and exalted in.  It just sort of happened.  My criticisms started getting more frequent; just nitpicky little shit that had me whining and being a bitch all day long.  The Big Rule I had set out for myself as a parent had been forgotten amid the self justifying bad attitude of a rigid control freak: Rules must be founded upon a logical premise.  When I saw those two little you-know-whats make my kid feel like he was two inches shorter than normal the reality really hit.  I was doing nothing less to my child than those boys.

Perhaps that is slightly unfair to me, if only in the context that I’ve taught that rules have reasons for existing part pretty well up until recently and so many decrees have been greeted with a “so you think I’m going to stop running around like a crazy person when I get excited and humming really loud soundtracks for the drawings I’m making just because you said so – bwahahahahaha!”  Still, the lesson couldn’t have been clearer to me.  My son, both my children really, will go through a tough learning curve when adapting to “society”.  That these interactions and “how to be” around other people we just meet are done with cloak and dagger precision until all ritual formalities are met.  Sometimes even after then.  Our soft underbellies of personality, and with it heart, logic, opinions, are shrouded and guarded.  The vulnerability is hidden under taught shame and sometimes forceful exclusion.

How can one exist healthfully when such notions are unspoken rules?  How does one feel SAFE as they traverse through a life of landmines?

It became apparent to me, painfully so, that the best thing I could do as a parent was to go back to my original notions and thoughts.  To instill in my children that if nothing else – home is where they can safely be who they are.  The rules are spelled out and based upon logic and respect.  Behavioral requirements rest solely upon those two subsets.  And if you want to talk ad nauseum about your sea turtle shirt, or the imaginary kitties crossing in front of you in the kitchen, or sing songs with silly made up words – go right ahead.  This Attachment Parent will do her best to get past her inner curmudgeon and let the little ones be simply who they are.


Facebook = Soma

It is remarkable the clutter one’s mind can hold; how quickly it can fall upon you, invade, stretch its legs out, and then make its self so comfortable it’s as though you never existed without it. The experience of separating myself from THE social network has been an amazing journey I’m not quite done with yet. Within a few days of not posting I felt… liberated. The compulsion to comment and respond, the drive to participate in debates, to clarify my position, to rail against the logic fails I would take as a personal affront wasn’t present. My smart phone was left in my back pack in the trunk during outings. A quest for approval I had inadvertently embarked upon when signing up for facebook seemed to run out of steam.

Every night I was besieged by the news on my feed; article after article presented to me and threads to which I felt compelled to respond. And with all this time during which the kids slept I never felt rested, replenished, or even relaxed or productive. It was frustration and hostility – feeding mostly the negative things that reside within.  The absolute, in the doldrums, intensely negative self outlook.  There was always someone who was accomplishing more than me, certainly more of the things viewed by society as valuable and as actual achievements, and this sent me on a bit of a downward spiral.   I even mis-attributed some of that to being burnt out; that being the primary care giver of my two children, one teething and crawling while the other has extraordinary dietary restrictions, time while my husband worked his ass off in getting a new business launched while furthering the success of the existing one. A few days of no posting, a few painful days of cringing every time I had the thought “this is what I should post as my status”, was all I needed to realize how easy it was to let the single most precious thing in life slip through my fingers. Time.

Facebook, or so it seems to me, is the new soma. It lures you in with the promising glitter of “keeping in touch”, then of being “better than” those people from high school/co-workers/family members, and then it suddenly switches this thing that simply keeps you busy. That whiling away hours upon it “keeping up” with people or “sharing ideas” life was simply disappearing like water down a clean as a whistle drain even as the sensation of beautiful and precious moments became the noise and interruptions of my cyber drug. My anesthetization to them had been complete. But reversible.

The communications I had on facebook were, upon occasion, very meaningful to me. Some even made me feel powerful. But by and large the vicarious nature of the network its self left me with less power, less words, through the perpetuation of a myth of productivity. My writing, even my desire to do it, left me for a time. It was EASIER to fill my head and expend my energy on the false premise my arguing with someone would change their belief when I knew damn well that certainly wasn’t going to be the case in the reverse. There’s always that hope of those with strong beliefs, myself certainly not an exception to this, that a person might become converted to my way of thinking, of seeing things. It is not acceptance. It is not peace. It is not playing with my children. It is not a hug. It is not even tending to a relationship of value. I would contend that if people assert this to be the case (again – myself as recent as a month ago is counted in this) then what is worth valuing has been missed.

A hand written letter is what I crave doing most for my friends these days. A phone conversation or text. Even an email. Something that is quieter and allows for the more tender and subtle emotions to be spoken without the violent screams of so many others to clutter up the works. And so I write again. Articles, essays, and a break through on a manuscript I still hold so very dear in addition to the letters and emails to those I’m grateful to call friends.

The blog… I think I’m coming back to it as well.


Philosophy: Not so useless after all.

Growing up notions of philosophy were anathema to me. I don’t recall hearing the word brought up in conversation at home, in school, or even in my friends’ homes. A premise of thought was not truly introduced to me until I was 29 and beginning my venture of stay at home mommydom; ethical and moral notions were introduced a mere couple years before during my undergraduate work. For all intents and purposes, my upbringing was built upon the simple notion that you do what you’re told. In hindsight the tasks required of me as a child sometimes made sense, but seldom were reasons beyond “you have to” and “because that’s the way it is/what I said” given. The nature of these tasks was not up for discussion or rationale.

Being in the school system bred little more thought; a series of tasks laid out before me (despite being in “gifted” programs). It seems to me now, in reflection, that critical thought has almost always been abhorrent. Thank goodness for Socrates, but his genius method had nothing to do with my experience of pre-collegiate formal education. My mind, beyond the spinning and whirring that occurred in the process of memorizing copious bits of information, lay asleep. The only exception being the hormone excess where drama was the name of the inescapable game from middle school on.

Abstract notions, the ability to comprehend, explain, and discuss them: These were taught in the nature of giving a busy mind something to do. But to question? To ascertain the premise of a thought? Heck, even discuss what a premise was? These things were sadly not featured in my life until I took an Intro to Philosophy class about six years ago. It seems odd to come to something that intuitively should be so part of life and learning at such a late date. And I have no explanation for it beyond this steadfast belief by those around me that this simply is the way it’s supposed to be.

It was only natural then that I became religious about politics and believed in democracy, that the choices of most people in a vocal society were inevitably right and good while the minority was sadly never even thought of. This is not to say that I felt whoever comprised the minority of voters deserved to be ruled by decisions of the majority, but truly that it was not encouraged to even think of them. That population simply did not exist for me. Education had many failings, but this one, I think, is perhaps the most damaging. It made an entire group of individuals disappear from thought.

Philosophy, the quest for it or even the practice of it, is what leads to questions about the ramifications of empowering one group of individuals who happen to agree, simply because its bigger, over a smaller group. That this echoes of the days of Jim Crow and pre-sufferage should not be discarded automatically due to superficial differences, but explored because of the almost identical underlying premise: A group matters because we, the majority, say it does and another doesn’t matter because we say it doesn’t.

While the issue of racism and prejudice are not viewed in the same light as democracy the philosophical point remains. Jim Crow laws stood in effect because of popularity; same goes with denying women the right to vote. Conversely, each of these legally institutionalized bits of prejudice were overturned due to the outrage of the populace. The categories into which people were handily sorted and marginalized matters not at all. In the examples I gave it was because of the color of one’s skin or gender, presently it’s about income, and tomorrow could be hair color or what hand you use to write with. The REASON for second hand status of rights is always the same: a powerful group of individuals said so. Color, religion, gender, sexual orientation – is any one of these things more important than another? More horrifying to categorize and cast people aside over? No. Why would it? All involve pre-judgment and none required due process of law to usurp or deny rights. It required a majority and, in some cases, merely a very vocal and politically connected minority.

The conclusion I came to as a result of applying philosophy was that a majority should never hold sway over a minority. That democracy was flawed at its premise. Being even a small part of 51% of any given population does not make “right”, merely “might”. Despite these lessons in history the notion of democracy can still hold a certain appeal so long as the underlying premise, the majority is right/gets what it wants, is overlooked. As is so often the case, the philosophical journey is no more complex than asking what something is, how it works, and that ever perplexing why. Without philosophy and the questions it espouses it is easy to go along with simple statements of presumed fact: That democracy allows people to have a voice. With it there is ease in understanding that democracy allows only some people a voice. One doesn’t even need to understand philosophy in all her pretentious glory to shed a bit of light on any given subject – just skepticism.

Looking back it is easy to see that a system of education such as the one I experienced was not about skepticism or philosophy, but about espousing a certain belief set: democracy – good, people who get hurt by democratic decision – non-existent. I do not think for one instant that these beliefs were the end goal of a quite overburdened system. Belief, however, was. There are times, places, and even people wherein faith is a good exercise. However, if anyone demands it, whether this be a system or person, and denies you the answers to the questions or even the right to ask them, they more than likely do not warrant faith. Just a touch more skepticism and its unceasing mistress philosophy.


Plodding Along

As the year comes to a close, thankfully, I begin my year end “oh, crap I need to make progress on that wip!” sprint.  Admittedly, the rough draft won’t even be done by then, but that matters little to me at this point.  There has been almost no motion in my writing over the last several months, excepting some half-hearted attempts at editing, and it’s time for that stagnation to stop.  It’s quite literally as though a fog has lifted.  Finally.  Between the hormones, trauma, and loss over the last few months my mind now feels clear and capable.  Getting back together with the ladies in my very informal writing group has also helped immeasurably.

To this end I am also looking forward to getting back to reading while juggling my Christmas baking AND crafting.  [Nothing lends its self to crafty inspiration quite like an almost four year old always being around and the one car leaving every day with your spouse.]  This all seems like rather uninteresting blather, even to me – but here are the pieces of goodness that have come about as a result of all these things:

1.  My friend passing has recalled to mind how valuable life is.  While it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the day to day drama and bullshit there is still life.  Nothing else matters.  Not really.  That’s what my wip was always meant to demonstrate – my thoughts/feelings on the value of a life and how its safe keeping can never be handed over to an unknown person.  Trust is personal.  And there is nothing more personal to me than the lives I value.

2.  Electricity is a requirement for living in this world.  It shouldn’t be.  My mind became calmer, I spoke more to my son (who definitely did NOT get more quiet), and the necessities became obvious when there was no electricity.  Warmth, food, water – these are necessary for life.  And here’s where I get political:  So why on EARTH do we wind up subservient to town ordinances while we pay taxes on our property that make it a pain in the ass to have a fireplace?  This kind of goes back to number one – why trust people you don’t know with something as valuable as your life – or things that drastically impact your ability to maintain your life?  [For those who don’t know and just want to focus on the Big Bad Utility Company angle of the media – it took CT’s governor FIVE DAYS to call out the National Guard to start cleaning up the Nor’easter mess.  Utilities would have been easier to restore if the freaking trees were dealt with from the get go and with the aid of the guys who had the equipment all us taxpayers have already bought.]  Believe you, me – all that is relevant to the wip.  I also really like pen and paper.  A lot.  My next house will have a gas stove and a fireplace.

3.  Sometimes survival depends upon a community.  Form one.  Be a positive part of it.  Life can be difficult and lonely, sometimes impossible, if not for the aid of those around us.  It’s not about reaching out and taking, but about reaching out and giving.  Sometimes having a little less because you shared means you wind up with more.

4.  Time is precious and totally worth being spent on good food, good friends, good books, and the quiet moments it takes to figure out exactly what qualifies as “good”.

Have you ever been unwillingly without power for a substantial amount of time?  How’s your writing going?  Heck, what kind of books are you reading?

It’s been so long and I really want to get reacquainted with all of you.  Please share.


To enculturate or not, that is the question…

Two parents in Toronto have decided to not inform society at large the gender of their third child.  For some reason this has “society” in a tither.  Before I launch into what will surely wind up sounding like a rant it is absolutely vital to discuss the terms involved.

A person’s gender role is merely something attributed to someone socially, a set of “norms” as to how people of a certain gender act, etc.  [This is paraphrased from Wikipedia.]  A person’s gender identity is something that is internalized and considered separate from sexual orientation.  Depending upon where you’re looking you might see that this is considered separate from the biological assignment of gender, but of course all this rests upon societal definitions of gender and how we perceive healthy individuals submit to typical categorizations of the same.  That kind of throws a bit of a wrench into this one with what boils down to something that appears to be circular logic.

Now, let’s get to the story, shall we?    The parents are raising their kid in an environment where gender is not pandered to.  That’s it.  There is no mention about how the parents won’t have the anatomy conversation with their child (who happens to have two older brothers).  None.  I looked.  And, let’s face it, any parent knows about the inevitable conversations that goes something like this (at eleven seconds in or so):

Some people may think gender roles are no big deal.  There was a time in society where they were everything.  Ask the suffragettes about gender.  Or perhaps those involved in getting women more accepted and to get equal pay for equal work.  It mattered.  Why?  It was a category that had been established as inferior.  This notion, this social norm was fought tooth and nail and now many people are righteously stating how this kid being raised in a manner that encourages wholesome ego development over enculturation is wrong, ignorant, screwed up.  [Enculturation is a means of assimilating, of taking on traditional values and practices of a culture.]

While I have concerns for any individual who is abundantly different in a society which only accepts certain differences the reasons those concerns exist is NOT because of the outlier, the exceptional childThe concern exists because of the intolerance of the different that is socially acceptable.  If each of us wants to encourage acceptance, TRUE acceptance, then categories can not be the rule nor can we be looking to force our notions of “right” upon others.