Thoughts from recent days conversations, shows, and people doing things around me…
1. I am sick of guys response to a woman doing something that makes them feel good being to explain that guys don’t find it attractive. Women’s lives and pleasures do not revolve around you, get over it.
2. There are no circumstances that a grown man forcing a child’s hand onto his penis is humorous. To reiterate an earlier post on facebook … Jokes at others expense are not funny. Jokes about others are not funny. Exploitation is not funny. Rape is not funny. Assault is not funny.
3. No it is not an acceptable defense for murder to say he startled me. Why the Fuck do I keep hearing this? What the fuck is wrong with society that people actually think that?
4. Video games and movies do not cause violence, read the actual studies and examples people. It has been shown to have no effect of increasing violent tendaxies and to provide a healthy outlet for stress, and in the case of social games provide practice.
5. I am socially awkward and bad at accepting help, praise, and gifts but I am amazed and unreasonably grateful for people that stick around and do it anyway. Not all people suck.
6. Just because you own more than someone does not mean you are better than them. Elitists piss me off.
7. Homeless people are not all drunks and druggies and treating them like shit is wrong whether they are or not. They need help not disdain Assholes. I don’t care if you found an article to support your bias it is still wrong and nit backed by science, reality, compassion, or intelligence.
8. What someone is wearing is not an invitation, not a sign of intelligence or lack thereof, not a reason to insult them, none of your business. Why are we still having this conversation. People can wear what they want and it is none of your business.
9. You don’t know what is in other people’s lives so get off your high horse.
I considered writing a piece about the appalling elitist attitudes and ingrained racism I have witnessed recently but to be honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the widespread elitism. I’m tired of being depressed and broke. In general I just needed a break from it. My birthday is this week and I still want things to change but for this week I am admitting that there isn’t much I can do. So, art is happening and thoughts for future words percolate in my brain As I play escapism games.
For me, depression is not a new thing but recognizing it is. Even more so, doing something about it is a whole new experience. I don’t mean eating well or vitamins or any natural way to pretend I am treating the issue without actually dealing with the problem. I mean actually going to someone and getting the medication to balance out my chemical state in my mind to get out of the deep hole I have been in. The idea of visiting a psychiatrist was a major taboo in the churches I grew up in and the entire field had a terrible name for doing bad things to children with medication.
Dealing with others my age (gen Z) I find many have a very bad opinion and fear of the field of psychiatry and a disdain for psychology. It has left a generation with many in need that refuse to get help. Many things have changed in the industry, including the medications and understanding of needs. Gradually I see people I know accepting the industry is changing and seeking help for various things. Sometimes it is a simple thing or a small problem that is just too frustrating. Other times it is a crippling problem like my depression has been.
What brings up this discussion now? I started my new meds this week. Although it will be weeks until I feel the full effect, I get changes and flashes already of the meds affecting me and moving toward balancing things back out. There are moments when I feel like myself again. All this time I didn’t get help and a few days and I understand how much damage those biases did in my life. How many people are hurt by those biased attitudes?
You see, these things don’t just hurt the person in need of help. They hurt families, friends, coworkers, and others. Jobs are lost and marriages broke that could have been mended. Sometimes good things happen but what could have happened and how would it have felt if they had been in a healthy state instead? My marriage is strong and survived a great deal of strain because we love each other and we have been very close friends for almost 20 years now. Our patience and understanding with each other has been strained and pushed near limits but we put in our vows the space to be us as individuals together or apart so that we could be a strong partnership and continue.
It makes me angry to think that as a child the two things that did the most lasting damage were the inability to afford correct medical and dental care and the psychological help I really needed but didn’t get. But more than that, I get angry thinking of the years I avoided any hint of treatment for major instances I needed it because it was ingrained in me to fear the help and the need. I was trained to hide the need and push through it. You know the whole “be a man” thing that is put on everyone in some way? Well it is a terrible foundation for a culture and relationship.
But I am not angry in that I feel anger because it is in the past and I can only actually change now for myself. I am angry for all the people hurt by these things every day and I am glad I moved past it and am improving myself and my life with the support of my husband and those friends I reached out to in support of my decision to get help.
Literature is on my mind this week. I have had a lot of time on my hands with little else to do but sort books on Goodreads. As I add books I have read over several decades and rate them, date them, sort them, and check for similar titles I have though of recent conversations about historical pieces of literature and entertainment such as plays. I studied a fair amount of literature and language over the years and read a lot on my own. As someone that enjoys reading of all types and the development of language I am interested in more than just the story in what I read.
A book is a product of the time leading up to it and of the cultures that impacted the author. It is also a product of the language and history of the author. I write in the English forms I learned. I learned to read in Old English with books like the King James Bible, then authors like Rudyard Kipling opened my mind to other perspectives on the cultures of the people I knew. I read everything I was allowed until I left my parents house, then I just read everything that struck my fancy. When I took literature classes we read the classics in a way that feels a little like the way churches teach scriptures.
Classic and historic literature is presented as the shining example of how to write and what literature is as opposed to modern books. But literature is writing with enduring merit not just any historic piece that survives and not automatically discarding anything new. Some pieces are worthy of study because of their historic significance. Others are prime examples of the language of the time (as far as we know.) Some showcase the culture at the time and others protest the culture at the time. The difference can grow confused the greater the distance from present.
What I see however is that classic literature does not mean better. I do not mean because the language is old and hard for many modern readers, that just takes the time and willingness to adapt. I refer to the continuous development of culture, language, writing forms, and moral understanding. In the same way that I grow and change over time, giving up attitudes and behaviors when I learn better; I expect culture to grow and art forms to grow. As artists we develop our skills on the knowledge and examples of the past. The masters of the past are our foundation. We strive not just to be different and new but to grow and develop, to reach people with a well developed understanding of our craft.
I do not accept the attitudes of the past as acceptable because they were common at the time. Some authors were opposed to them even then. Yes, reading the pieces is important. Understanding them in the context they existed is vastly more important. However, I do not want to emulate them. Language has changed. Culture has changed. I am a product of a mixed tapestry of cultures, languages, people, and teachings and am not as much a product of the mass culture around me as a touchstone of oddities from our time. My writing shows the perspective of one observing the culture and interacting with it as not quite a part of it. I see this same phenomena in some classic literature.
We can appreciate the skill of a writer that opened a genre or questioned their culture but we do not need to feel they are an example of what to be. They are a signpost of change, a piece of history to be understood, appreciated, and improved upon. Dismissing modern writing as less than because it uses modern language, modern concepts, experimental forms, new genres, or is in electronic form only does us personally and all of society a disservice it shows a blindness to the purpose of writing. Those methods, thoughts, and examples from the past developed the communication tools. Those are the tools of improving culture and writing. History and experience are the foundations of new literature to be. Shakespeare is held up as a shining example now but was written for the masses entertainment. It was the soap opera of the time not the high brow art. Sherlock Holmes stories were a newspaper serial and are a favorite sample from the time.
Literature can come from any genre or culture and in any form. Quality writing is not limited to the past or to what publishers approve of. This is a topic I love to explore and discuss and as it keeps coming up I may well return to it again soon. But for now, I leave you with the thought that we should read broadly and consider each piece in it’s context and with it’s purpose. Remember the story behind each author and think how does it touch the audience. If it does not reach a broad audience it will only survive in a limited circle. So a piece that is considered a literary achievement by the university but that people just aren’t drawn to has no place in the world of literature. It did not achieve the goal of communication and connection and cannot endure. Quality writing is in the tone and reach not in the approved words and form.
Classism and elitism bring with them a whole set of blinders that people don’t know they have or don’t care they have. Elitism comes in many forms, from intellectual, dietary, monetary, bloodline, social class, race, religion, experience, politics, location, work, title, or simple arrogance. But what they have in common is the disdain of one or more other groups or people because they are less than in some way.
The owner of a company that considers his employees less than him and nothing more than cogs serving his wallet does not see a problem in his behavior. For him, his time is worth more and his skills are better because he deserves where he is for some reason. He may think he worked hard for it or has better breeding, or better education, or better skills. Sometimes he just thinks he is better and more worthy or obviously they would be where he is.
Recently I had dinner with a vegan group on the other side of town. The food was good and the people nice but several conversations reminded me of others I have had and I was struck once again by the inherent classism in many vegan groups. Maybe it’s the type that tend to form the groups but there is a blindness to the basic need for a reasonable amount of money to afford the ingredients to support a healthy diet or alternately the storage space and transportation to make your own alternatives. The idea that a Sam’r membership was out of my reach and that I share a small apartment with 4 strangers and no ac was beyond their comprehension. The expensive meat alternatives are simply not in my budget. I use mushrooms and other things when I can afford them but when I am offered a good, healthy free meal I accept meat or no meat. The snide comment that I would grow a better backbone as I grew older does not make me want to be rude to my friends or go hungry, it just assumes I have the funds to eat how I prefer.
As a gamer I interact with a lot of random people of all types and it is interesting to me how different the response is from active game groups to some things that other groups I deal with. Maybe because we are so mixed and we have a different perspective because of it. But at work I always get shocked or degrading comments about my neighborhood and how unsafe it is. Many of them are racist in nature but most are economic because I am near the low income housing in an inexpensive area. On the other hand when the group at game heard I walked to the game because I lived nearby the general response was jealousy because they loved the area and all the stuff available there. It was a completely opposite response and one based in a different perspective.
The same variance in views occurs in various groups I visit or interact with around the world. A lot of them fall into various forms of confirmation bias and the tendency to disregard information that does not agree with you. Sometimes I get the impression is is an arrogance based in fear of failure and weakness. Sometimes they genuinely think they are better and that is why they have more. Sometimes they don’t even realize they act that way.
The past, mothers, religion, improv, and relationships are coming up a lot lately in a mesh of memories and reminders. Relationships are challenging when you have depression and social anxiety. Flashes of memories or just the feelings from the past can sweep over you when triggered and your mind is confused but your body is set in the reaction to something years long gone.
My family was very religious, restrictive, and poor. Unlike some of my siblings, I did not do home schooling at any point. I attended private religious schools. However, I was expected to follow my parents rules of dress, behavior, music, work, speech, and life and not participate in most of what my fellows at school did. Simultaneously being told I needed to be more open and friendly because I was shy and felt isolated from others I was expected not to integrate or enjoy the things they did. My clothes were a source of mockery, along with my speech impediments and that I wasn’t allowed the entertainments those around me shared.
I am a reader. I always have been a reader. But my choice of books was highly restricted. I read everything I was allowed multiple times, even the encyclopedias and dictionaries. But once my options opened when I left their home, I realized that despite the apparent attempts at a good education I was woefully lacking in knowledge, experience, and variety. I began to read a wide variety of books and materials and continue that to this day.
Each incident at school was the start of a chain of emotional events and trouble I knew to expect. In many ways, the expectation was worse than the series of punishments. The schools had orders to use swats for any offence they felt worthy, which is broad and covers most things including failing to turn in homework I completed but didn’t give them. I would ace a test and go to receive my swats for not doing the homework to prepare for the test I aced. Walking dejectedly to the office I knew it was only the first because when I got home I would would get a lecture separately from each parent and swats again from one of them.
Rarely did I do anything truly deserving of punishment because I had a very clear understanding of the consequence and reward ratio. I felt I had a hard enough time without adding extra issues for limited reward. Of course, that means when I did choose to do something the punishment was fairly pointless because I knew what it would be and chose to act anyway. I had already determined the risk to reward ratio was in my favor.
The lives around me were like another world to me that I watched from a distance without relating or fully understanding. From the girl whos parents dropped of hundreds for her to go shopping in the mall alone after school or to take her friends out to the kids sharing the newest dance moves in the halls I could not participate. I was quiet, shy, and introverted and places like a shared locker room were a terrifying thought. Numerous times I opted to accept detention for changing in the nearby restroom rather than endure mockery and embarrassment in the locker room. I also had it drilled into me not to undress in front of others so a locker room was a problem.
Conversations were hard because we shared nothing in common other than classes and those were mostly boring and too easy so I didn’t really pay attention. At some point there was always the risk conversation would veer toward my mother and her cancer, which was not something I wanted to discuss. Religious people would imply either that they were praying which was obviously not working or that if she actually had faith she would not be sick. The added issue that she was a test patient because we couldn’t afford treatment much less any extras or luxuries. I absolutely was unwilling to discuss where the food on our table came from because that was a mockery I knew I could not handle. How do you feed 7-10 people on $20 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less? The poor ladies of the church had a list of stores that discarded usable food and mom had an agreement to collect discarded vegetables for the horse. We sorted through the horses vegetables to see what could go on the tale first.
Many times I remember sitting in a parking lot while my mother composed herself or cried in the one place no one could see. After a horrifyingly degrading day trying to meet the needs of the family or accepting charity she would go home to dad’s anger and screaming rants about anything and everything. She would go home to 2 children in constant medical car and her own terrifying medical care. She would go home to the holes in the floor and walls and the car held together by duct ape and wood. She would go home to watch me cower from dad’s anger and my brothers acting out. Failing that we would go to church, where we spent more evening than not to be told how we were all sinners and needed to give more, do more, be more, bring in more people, and earn a place. We went to the church where I was yet again alone and mocked and here knew the question of my families lack of faith and why they were poor and sick would come up. I knew there would be taunts and often physical confrontation. These happened at school but more consistently at the churches.
Each service I listened then as mom taught me I went home and studied. I read their books and teachings. These always led to questions that if I asked someone other than my parents resulted in something to the effect of me being a girl child that should learn my place and be silent and do as I was told. Years of memorization and reading led me to no other conclusion than the religion was a compounded grouping of modifications stolen from older teachings and chosen by various leaders in the worst periods of history to best control, dominate, and instill fear. It is a religion based on fear and control. It is a religion that teaches the only reason to be a good person is to avoid punishment not because it is right. Each test of the history I was taught led to the inescapable conclusion they had manipulated the teaching to show a lie and manipulate the views of the children they took into their care.
What I saw from the outside was a cult that manipulated participants to view the world through a filter and with careful blinders. They were trying for the isolation of those in the retreats but in the city so they could better raw more people.
My mother was a brilliant and strong woman trapped in a world that treated women as a lower level being. She did all the work for a doctorate but was denied the degree because she was a woman at a baptist college. She was a writer and a researcher by nature, a leader and communicator but denied the right to lead, teach, research, or speak freely. The man was the head of the household and the wife was expected to follow him, obey him, accept his behavior, and not question or attempt to teach men. With permission a woman could teach other women or children but that would be shut down if they questioned her teachings or behavior outside class. Children were under her rule but punishments were the prerogative of the man, as were the rules she was to teach. Girls were expected to be obedient, submissive, silent, and learn the proper behaviors of a good wife. I refused to learn any wifely duties at every step, only many years later learning some of them were fun skills when used for your own pleasure or business rather than in service to a master.
They say nothing happens you can’t handle. Bullshit. That’s right up there with everything happens for a reason or god is testing you because he loves you. No. People can heal, they can recover but they can’t always handle what happens. a lot if what happens is because people don’t care about the other beings on the planet are are selfish and self righteous. and if you think a god is ordering your life and testing you with a bad relationship then you believe that same god is starving millions and torturing people around the world. That selfish and egocentric view is killing society.
Life is often hard. it isn’t right. It isn’t fair. But it is. we should try to make things better because it’s the right thing to do not because it helps us. When we ignore the beatings next door because it isn’t our business or ignore wrongful imprisonment because they are the other we are wrong.
There isn’t always something we can do but the choice to ignore it and accept it is the problem. The choice to agree is worse.
Politics, the great divider. It is interesting that the thing designed to run our society and equitably distribute power is seen in people’s minds as a way to control power and ensure their way which they know is the only right way is done. People argue and discuss, fight and work without hearing one another or understanding the reasons.
Compromise is not always the
answer, often you cannot compromise and move forward. When you continuously compromise with one that is extremely wrong you move gradually closer to that wrong. The person with the destructive plan may have other good concepts and desires, may care for their family and friends, may stand as a beacon in some things. None of that in any way changes a destructive or hateful trait that must not be allowed to dominate a society.
Early morning discussions of politics in the office almost always devolve into arguments and disagreements that fall back on irrelevant statements that misdirect from the discussion and inflame responses by sounding taunting and snide. That does not lead to understanding but people are not trying to understand they are trying to win. Politics is about wining and it is reaching into every area of life.
Outside the team is working too hard to have these discussions unless they do it on lunch. But in the office you hear these most days. The same men that talk about wanting to hang a basketball court to prove to the crew that they are better at physical stuff because they can play a sport and entertain themselves with sports all day bring that same mindset into a political or racial discussion. The boss that firmly believes each race can be categorized and slotted into a work and skill level will argue politics on any topic with no regard for human decency because in his mind they are the other. Throwing fallacies, irrelevancies, and false information into arguments is common in discussions and it prevents any of them from actually becoming a
Living in Texas religion and politics were intricately tied together and one rarely was discussed without the other. Here in Hawaii it is different. Not that people’s religion does not affect their political stances but discussions are different and even when directly opposed there is often a smile in the voice and an underlying knowledge this is someone I like even if we disagree. One man in my office is incredibly religious and blatant about it. His religious stance is drastically different than mine but unlike the similar stance people I was around in small town Texas, here we not only get along well and work together but we only discuss it when on non-confrontational topics. There is a customer that is of an opposing faith that brings it up on most calls and
insists there is religious discrimination happening. The interesting point is that none of us knew his religion until he started doing that and we never discuss religion in the office.
I often have lunch with the crew working the warehouse that day and discussions with them are about life, working, playing, the island, families, and what we are doing to earn money on the side. We discuss the future and our goals. We discuss how people eat and live and the cost of living. Politics is a side note that is discussed only as how it impacts people. Religion isn’t discussed often. Some of the office people understand that and discuss it with an attempt at balance and compassion but that can be a challenge.
This is the difference, politics as a discussion or power or politics as a discussion of impact.
Like many other authors, my writing is often inspired by
what I am reading or by the people around me. One of the books I am reading
right now is A Slip of the Keyboard
by Sir Terry Pratchett. Of the many tangents it inspired, one is how others see
each of us and how we build our views of others. How I see myself is its own
conundrum but reading this book and Finding
Mary Foster brought to mind the many varied ways I am viewed by others,
both those I know and those I do not.
Some people have a particular image they want to put forth
for others, like playing to an audience. Others have a mold or image they
strive to fit into. Unconscious or not most people have an idea or image of what
they should be. Inherently this implies they have an idea what others should be
What are the triggers that create and build the internal
stories you have about those around you? Clothing is a major social marker and
is the first point of information in many instances. They are an indication in people’s
minds of a person’s sense of style, their social status or standing, their
interests, personal and grooming habits, financial status, origin or home
region, connection a person may have, and sometimes their religion. These
images and indications may be completely inaccurate but they are typically
automatic and impact our interactions. Some people have an image of what other
things imply about a person and their background based on skin color, gender,
hair, eyes, voice, or mannerisms.
Depending how and where we met, you may have a very
different view of me than someone else. I am naturally quiet, introverted,
adaptable, passionate, generally untrusting but very trusting of those I am
close to, compassionate, and interested in learning and growth. I am aware of
some images of me, such as those that find me cold, distant, angry, and harsh.
On the other end you have those that find me open, caring, trustworthy,
compassionate, and quiet. On another range you have those that find me eager to
learn, intelligent, thoughtful, practical, and diligent compared to those that
find me flighty, uninformed, brash, talkative, and uncaring.
If I am viewed on such a broad scale as loquacious and brash
in one corner and silent and shy in another what purpose is served by me
worrying about my image? It is of interest though. As a gamer I am accustomed
to roles and displaying an image in short sessions. The idea of being a
different person for different needs is not hard to understand.
When someone enters a room in an expensive, tailored suit
people tend to respond differently and treat them differently than the one
entering in shorts or the one in a mini skirt. Their memory of each person
tends to be colored by the clothes as well. Consider, each of those
descriptions gave you an image of someone didn’t it? It was likely more
complete than just the clothes really give you reason to know. Play a game with
me for a minute or two.
Take each of those outfits in turn and create a brief story
showing a person of different origins, social classes, and put both more than
one gender in each role. How does your image change?
We each live many roles in life. In many ways we are a
different person for each. However, none of these roles define us or are
actually separate. What they define is the view others have of us and maybe how
we contain the needs of our lives. This could bother us or it can inform us. We
can learn to notice our own reactions and stories we build about others.
Perhaps we aspire to be the same in all our roles but perhaps we do not. That
choice is personal and is a point of growth or awareness we may not all be
striving for. But not judging others on a biased view or opinion of minor
On the other hand there will always be some words, actions,
and patterns of behavior that are incompatible with our own standards or
beliefs. That one item may be the foundation for a judgment of exclusion. We
should always strive to not base judgment on invariables such as physical
traits, medical issues, orientation, place of origin, or gender. We may be
unlikely to completely remove bias but that does not mean we accept it in
ourselves or others. I have no interest in associating with hate, control,
violence, or divisiveness. These are variable traits and chosen actions and beliefs.
Return with me to the images of the people entering a room.
Take each individual of each gender from each story and picture them
demonstrating extremes of emotion and behavior such as hat, kindness,
professionalism, laziness, fear, love, open mindedness, and closed mindedness.
Now, after all that, when I step back and say someone in a tailored suit,
someone in shorts, and someone in a skirt enter the room what is your mental
image? Has it changed? Do you get one image or a series of varied ones? Have
the colors changed?
Why do people consider suffering a competition? Why when someone says they are stressed and tired do people feel they should deride them and tell them how much worse of others are? Why when someone is tired and sick do people feel the need to tell them they don’t deserve to complain because others are worse? Why is someone is having trouble paying rent or buying food do people tell them to get over it others have less? There seems to be a delicate balance point of acceptable suffering that places people in the place to deserve help and comfort but not be looked down on as being less of a person. there is also a level of ideal suffering that makes a person better in the eyes of others and makes them good. Phrases like suffer for their faith or suffering is the price of success are common and reinforce this idea. But also ideas like god rewards the faithful and the the difference between success and failure is a lack of will indicate that people believe the better people do better and have more and that poverty and illness is a sign of weakness and god’s disfavor. The very idea is rather appalling to evaluate in depth.
In the microcosm of my acquaintances I know people on every spectrum of this thought pattern and physical circumstances. When someone in their 40s says they are not bouncing back as quickly as they once did the response is for others to tell them how much more they work and how old they are to show the person is just weak and should “man up.” When a chronically ill friend mentions how hard basic activities are someone will invariably tell them they should lose weight or eat better or exercise more and their disease would disappear. When someone is afraid of the guns showing up in their neighborhood and children’s school someone will tell them the strong own guns and protect themselves whatever the cost to others and to fear that is to be weak and want to be dominated. When someone is stressed from everything in life someone will tell them how much worse someone else’s life is and that they are just being weak. When a marriage falls apart and someone can’t handle it someone will tell them they should have done better or that they should just get over it. When someone with social anxiety has trouble with general tasks someone will tell them it is just an excuse and they need to just do it or don’t complain. When someone is broke and desperate someone will tell them they should have a degree or a better job or work harder or work more hours. When someone is discriminated against someone will tell them not to infringe other peoples rights or expect to be handed everything. When someone can’t afford the medical care they need someone will tell them why society doesn’t owe people things they can’t afford on their own. When someone needs a handicapped spot and auto cart but doesn’t look ill enough they are judged and attacked.
Accepting someone’s suffering for what it is and where it is coming from seems a rare skill. We don’t know what is in each persons whole life or mind. We don’t know their past. We don’t know their health. We don’t know their family. We don’t know if that house they live in is in foreclosure and falling apart but they hide it. We don’t know if their refrigerator is empty and their clothes are old and from a thrift store. We don’t know if that shiny phone came from Craigslist and required work to repair to workable. We don’t know if their shoes don’t fit or have holes we can’t see. We don’t know that person walking to the automatic cart has a chronic illness or back injury we cant see. We don’t know if their social anxiety makes a shopping trip an ordeal. We don’t know if they are hiding a chronic illness that makes a basic workday a huge trial every day. We don’t know if their marriage that looks so nice is falling apart or violent. We don’t know that smiling man just lost his wife to cancer. We don’t know that smiling woman just left the hospital where her husband injured and car totaled. We don’t know the woman calmly running the office is trying not to show how worried she is that she left water pouring through the house from flooding. We don’t know if that small cough is allergies, a cold, cancer, flood damage, or measles.
All over the world people are suffering. People in some countries are in large numbers sleeping on the streets and starving. But here in our own country people starving may be doing it in a house they can’t afford and they may be working every day to pay for it. People here may be unable to afford to run the heater or air conditioner or water and can’t cook because the power is out. Being in a house may be better than being on the street but here they must also keep up appearances or be shunned and shamed for being a lesser person. If they slip they could lose the job that doesn’t pay the bills, their friends, their family, their homes, their car. It only takes a little to knock a lot of people of the precarious balance that is life for many. Working 2 jobs and struggling to survive means they don’t have the energy to do more and if that balance is disturbed they could drop all the plates.
It isn’t a competition. Everyone needs help. Everyone deserves a chance and to have basic needs met. Life shouldn’t be a constant struggle for so many. Society is broken. The economy is broken. Politics is broken. This does not make those caught in the wrong side of it lesser people, it means they are caught in a web they can’t escape from. Maybe they went into debt trying to further their degree and now they can’t get out of the hole. Maybe they had an injury or illness that put them in the hole. Maybe they were hit by a natural disaster. Maybe politics killed their chances. Maybe violence and murder hit their lives. Maybe drugs hit their family. Maybe age simply caught up to them.
Wherever they are that is not to be looked down on. They can move forward and do better but not without something to tip the balance. There is a part of the equation that is money and family, part that is raw luck and timing, part that is skill and education, part that is connections and placement, part that is societal acceptance and privilege, part that is work and endurance. But all of these things are a part and lacking enough of them to tip a balance all the work in the world will not change. My friend cannot work her disease away. My coworker cannot work his wife alive. None of us can work ourselves younger. I cannot work away my debt that is more than several years pay.
People are not less for struggling, they are working and you are working. Accept that you can both be working and have different strengths to draw on. Each of us has areas we are better in and areas we are not so good in. Accept that we are all in our own place and society has not dealt the same hand to everyone. Many start with half the deck of others and some start with extra cards. Accept that many people can need help in many ways. The desperate nature of one does not remove the need from the other it just means they need different things. Sometimes a supporting word can fill small needs and other times food or a job to buy food is the desperate need. Both are still needs and both are valid. Don’t refuse the one because the other hat you won’t provide also exists, especially for a friend.
One thing after another recently raises the question of what do we support and how, along with the question of are we giving tacit consent to things we claim to disagree with. This is part of the can we separate the art from the artist question. The obvious ones are companies acting in ways we disapprove of and illegally, and artists of all types that have done things contrary to a civilized culture. But the question runs into every area of life at this point. I have read numerous articles, discussions, comment threads, and had conversations about the topic and noticed several good points and bad points.
Tacit consent is a touchy subject for many people. Are we consenting when we fail to speak up? What about when we purchase something created by someone that has done the questionable thing? What about when we make excuses? At what point do our words of dissent become lies or manipulation when we refuse to put our money and our actions behind them? At what point are we becoming hypocrites when we chose to prioritize our immediate gratification over our principles? At what point are we proving yourself untrustworthy when we manipulate our religion or political stance to support one thing at the expense of so many others. At what point do we become the monster we can’t see when we refuse to support what is right and what supports a just, equal, peaceful, and healthy society in favor of an ideal or convenience that have overridden our judgment?
Many acts have no place in a civilized society and in a developed nation. these acts have no place in any society, but we have recourse in a society based on laws and culture to stop them when we may not have previously. It is not that the acts have become wrong and were not before, it is that we as a society have grown and learned to have the conversations about consent and equality, about communication and justice. We have opened the discussion to include more peoples and groups and have been forced to face the reality of inappropriate behaviors that we allowed previously. We have expanded the space of equality enough to show the distance we need to go. Science has developed to the point to show the inaccuracy of statements and beliefs previously held as true. Technology has developed to allow greater connectivity and equality. We cannot go backward and close our minds and eyes to what we know.
Future generations will address these and other issues and they will be rooted in the disputes of today. When I learn a better way of thinking and communicating I embrace it and open my mind, I move forward in a new path and let go of the misconceptions that I had. In this same way, when I learn that a person has done things I can not condone then when I move forward I have a choice to either accept those actions as less important that the item the person creates or to forgo that entertainment or need in favor of an alternative that I am willing to support.
Yes, when we put our money toward a name, be it a person or a company, we are supporting their actions and their words. When we buy the ticket to the movies made by a pedophile or known rapist we provide our statement that we are more interested in that 2 hour entertainment than we are in justice and right behavior. When we vote for a political candidate that lies, cheats, and holds other ideals than the laws and constitution of our nation then we are stating that our moral sense is flexible and we will support what is selfish and easy above what is right.
Acceptance of wrong actions such as discrimination, sexual assault, fraud, and violence is counter to living in a society. The questions and answers may not be clear cut and simple but each time we decide we are making a statement of support or dissent. It is up to us which we chose but we must know that others will choose to hold us to that and we must accept the responsibility of our actions.
The population of the world is vast and the popular names of celebrities, artists, and politicians are limited and heavily manipulated by corporations and media so we see these few people as amazing and rare talents, forgetting that millions of others would stand in those shoes if given the chance. Others with talent are not seen or not upheld. We have limited ourselves not been limited by the available sources. Their actions or publicity neither improves nor negates their qualities and skills. However, it does negate their acceptability as a spokesperson and example for future generations.
Should the error of a man that assaults a woman erase his future as a public figure? Let’s rephrase that though. The rape of a person is grounds for baring the rapist from public positions and honor as an example to society. We must be aware that our words can also give tacit consent. When the woman in a coma was raped and gave birth, I saw many people arguing that it was wrong to call it rape because that implies we know what happened. No! If there is no ongoing and clear consent that has not been in any way coerced, then it is rape. Saying otherwise is consenting to allow it to continue.
I buy most of my video games used so the producers rarely see money from me and I rarely have a game anytime near when it is released. However, when I find a game and company I support and want to see supported, I will go out of my way to purchase it new and to support the team I want my money to give consent to. I am not going to discard my old movies and games that have people involved in that have been proven to be rapists unless I find that I can’t watch those movies and enjoy them without thinking about that. However, I will not go to a theater for those people. I will not buy new videos they are in. I will not give my money to their name in future and I will not forget.
Art is part of a person. When I paint, I paint from within me and my life. I paint a person as they are not as the photograph shows them to an extent. I drew someone the other day and they looked very angry. The view was angrier than the picture that was calm. However, the character is an angry and violent character and I subconsciously reflected that. My colors reflect me and what I am seeing in the art I am creating. When I sew a sleep mask it came from a place of need on my part and a desire to share what I saw as a need. The wood burning, I do represents the world around me and how I interact with it. All of art is part of a person. It is an expression of something within and of the artist’s view of what is around them.
Given that, we have yet another reason that our support is consent. If I am an environmentalist but continue to support destructive companies or buy many individually packaged disposable items how can I continue to say I am an environmentalist. Until our money supports the reality that is right there will not be change. Until we insist those around us behave in accordance to equality, justice, peace, environmental support, and social development we are consenting to the opposing actions and beliefs of those around us.
The recent uproar about a Gillette commercial is an excellent example of this part. They simply said to be a better man and stand for what is right, be strong and stand for justice. People that are upset with that have chosen to support a society of discrimination, assault, violence, and bullying because that is, according to their words now what makes a man a man.
The many directors and actors accused of sexual assault, rape, harassment, and manipulation are another example of what we are discussing. When people choose to go to those movies made by these people, they are choosing to put their consent on those people and to say that they do not insist on right behavior only on immediate gratification.
The companies that destroy our waters, violate the laws, abuse their workers, and waste materials are an example of another aspect. When we buy their products we support their choice to destroy the planet, cheat the economy, break the law, exploit the people.
Our money is our first form of consent in most of society today. Our spending habits is where we most directly how what we support and accept. We need to be vocal and active to support the things we believe in but we must also put our actions and money to support the same things.
Weather has halted my bug project and I hope to work on it over my days off next week. In the meantime I have continued the meditation series and I have a side piece I have written…
Forced intimacy – hugs, personal information, consent, and space
I have read several articles recently about forced intimacy from a variety of perspectives. Few of them were rape related or directly related to sexual consent although that is where most people’s minds first go. Instead the conversations were about forced physical contact, emotional contact, information sharing, and other types of intimate coercion. Several things have really struck me in this.
First is that for most of my life there has been the social expectation of many of these forced intimacy and forced consent situations on people. This is really the first time I have seen these discussions seriously entertained and continued not laughed off. While we have huge amounts of progress to be made we have at least gotten to where the discussions can start. For the first time people can say that children should not be forced to accept intimate physical contact and explain why. For the first time people can talk about the difficulties of living in the world as society has built it when they have disabilities hat require assistance or design considerations. For the first time employees like myself can discuss in serious terms with our companies how we can address the accessibility issues onsite and feel people are listening and actively considering the issue not risking our position.
Second is the impact on today’s society of the assumptions made previously. I often hear opponents of many topics say things about what their parents did as examples that it doesn’t cause damage or why it is good. But that very argument shows otherwise. they are demonstrating a lack of compassion and ability to be open to the discussion. They are demonstrating the continuation of the abuse cycle because it is just how they think it should be. They are showing they cannot conceive of a better way or a healthy society that renders these things obsolete. Damage has been done but the alternatives are still in flux and discussion so the issues are not clear to everyone and I don’t see them becoming so anytime soon.
What are people talking about when discussing forced intimacy that is not sexual or not considered sexual by observers? The first article that comes to mind is one that discuses the forcing of little girls to accept hugs and why it is not okay. Forcing them to accept hugs that make them uncomfortable teaches them they have no choice in who touches them, who is physical with them, how physical someone is, how they choose to interact on an interpersonal level. If they have compromised immune systems or are regularly in contact with someone that does then lives can be at risk. If they are highly introverted or have social anxieties then it can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable for them. If the people are subtly doing inappropriate things it is just wrong. I was a little girl and am now a woman that looks younger than I am. Men will often try to force a “friendly” hug on you. Hands stray uncomfortably close to where they have no business, they crush you in close as you cringe and pull away and they laugh.
I am open for hugs and happy to hug many people. I am an introvert but I am also a professional and know that it is an expected part of business and life in the south. But that is the point, I know it is expected that I will smile and pretend to be okay with it and not show that the not quite visibly inappropriate men make me uncomfortable. However, it has changed over the years, there is already improvement. Most guests do not reach in to hug instantly now, they may reach out to shake hands and more than a few actually wait to see what I will do first. So, we are making progress in understanding the issue. Women are more likely to lean in for a hug but are less likely to be as close and crushing about it as some years ago. I think most women expect that any woman is okay with a hug from another woman, which is likely typically true but still I would prefer to have an indication of what people want in their space prior to initiating close contact.
Another point of intimacy is personal facts, feelings, and medical information that people are asked to share. One of the articles discussed places, especially venues, that are only partial accessible and rather than posting details of what their accessibility is and how they accommodate needs, they ask people to tell them what their needs are. Some of those are probably trying to be nice and offer personalized help but that singles people out when it could just be a part of how things are done. It also asks them to share personal information when they should not need to. Beyond that, many places are not fully accessible so guests may be required to rely on other people. So let’s consider how that looks in practice.
When you see a person approaching a door that looks like they need help most people assume the polite thing to do is step up and open it. However, they are likely to prefer you ask “may I help?” first. Also, their needs may dictate how is best to open the door. I tend to open it so that I am behind the door with it between the person and I so that they have all the space and can avoid contact if they prefer. I would never reach my hand out and grab a person without permission. If they look like they need an arm I will ask if they want assistance and offer my arm waiting for them to indicate how is best for them. I learned this from my mother as she grew older and had more medical issues. She often required assistance but she was fiercely independent and had a strong sense of personal space. Recently in learning from friends and reading I have grown to understand even more and to see that even in that, there is assumptions on my part and that it is not my place to assume they need or that I know what they need. If I have the capacity I should ensure ease of access for as many as possible but I cannot assume the personal contact needs of others.
I work at a public garden still in transition, which means our accessibility is at best described as under development. Our founder lives on property, but as he grows older the garden is a challenge even for him and he designed it and built it. Being available to him as needed but not imposing has taught me a lot about how it is different when work space and home space intersect. I am often a buffer for him and help for others to understand the balance he prefers. The expectations of others is changing and they are more likely now to ask his preferences and agree we shouldn’t press him if he is uncomfortable.
I think this brings me back to my basic point. The question is one of comfort levels. If someone is uncomfortable then something is wrong and we have no right to force people into those situations. It isn’t necessary. they do’t need to hug in greeting or enter the home when there is a table and chairs on the porch. There is a growing understanding of the concept of personal choice and active consent.
What I am seeing now is a growing conversation about consent. In a culture that has normalized forced consent in so many areas this is a huge change is is both uncomfortable for many and slow to develop. Many talk about what rape culture means but often you hear a lot less about the details of that, like the casual moments of intimacy that are expected and the level of consent that people are expected to give. It is an interesting and very in depth topic that can branch in hundreds of ways.
On my mind is government, society, economy, politics, religion, and how these things intermingle and impact our lives. I read two quotes that put me on this train of thought. the first said that a conservative says if hasn’t happened to me so I don’t care and a liberal says it should never happen to anyone and that is why I care. The second is, if even a single worker for a company needs food stamps, don’t call that company “innovative” or “efficient” ever. There is nothing praiseworthy about serfdom.
This brought to mind recent posts from conservative people I know praising new laws requiring all food stamp recipients to have a job. Let’s really think about this. We have a program designed to help people in need, people that lost a job or are injured, people that had an emergency and need temporary help, people that have any major life impact that puts their ability to support their families at risk. If you look at the numbers a huge percentage of these people are on Social security or have jobs. Many others are on disability.
Think about those like my parents, retired from decades running their own business and building churches. Think about those like my husband’s uncle who was disabled on a job and rather than receive help was fired and lived unable to work until his death. Think of the cashier from Walmart that rented a trailer from us that worked full time and could barely pay rent on an old and broken down trailer and couldn’t afford food. Think of the college students like me that worked between classes and after classes then stayed up all night doing homework and couldn’t afford basic food. Think of Full time employees like me that are critical to the function of business but like me this week are over drafted trying to make basic expenses and can’t afford any vacation or insurance. Think of the people laid of when the company closed or changed procedure and now can’t find work or only find part time but still need to feed the family. Think of men like the one that applied here this week that can’t get a job because no one in the county will hire a felon. Think of all those that work part time because it is better than not working but that doesn’t pay rent much less food. Think of those that can afford basics and rent as long as nothing like car trouble or illness comes up but can never get anything but the most basic and cheep foods.
These are the people we are vilifying and hurting. these are the people we don’t want to help. Somehow the corporate subsidies are fine and the cuts to the taxes on corporations and large incomes are fine. Yet the few dollars going to people in need is evil.
How have we reached a point in society that people can spew angry and vicious taunts and attacks at the idea of feeding people in need and they are considered acceptable. They are the religious and the conservative. How is is okay to pay subsidies to a company, give them tax breaks but they pay their employees so little that the employees need to receive food stamps to eat? Why and how can you get angry at those employees. You are literally saying by this law that you want corporations to pay so little that people need food stamps because your are too callous to help those that can’t get work or that have an emergency.
I am appalled at the lack of understanding of reality and the lack of empathy for others. I am appalled that rather than read the facts and accept them people react in an emotional political way supporting the rights of corporations over people. That you feel a person on food stamps should not be allowed to buy good food is worse. That you feel a person in need and economically hurting should not have any small pleasures in life to make if somewhat bearable to go home to empty cabinets and no climate control. I have lived in high rise apartment in great areas and I have lived in a travel trailer that I could afford to put fuel for the heater and appliances in only periodically. I was working at the time so you would be okay with me getting food stamps but you would still look down on me. Think a moment and consider what is the image you see in your head when you think of someone on food stamps? Look at the real numbers and understand that your image is not related to reality and it actually doesn’t matter if it is.
Let me be clear that everyone deserves a fair chance and to be able to eat. In our country people should never go without food. To be angry at people getting food is immoral and wrong on so many levels it is disturbing and painful. We sit here today watching an openly biased candidate for the supreme court being pushed through despite perjury in order to protect people under indictment and he has stated he will openly defy the law of the land. These are the type of people that have convinced a large portion of the populous that corporate interests are their own and that the foundations of a society are evil. They are showing the disdain for women and the desire to protect the right to force their will on others. they are defining assault and abuse as acceptable parts of society to be accepted and protected. To support these things is to oppose reason, honor, respect, empathy, society, culture, most religions, and all that is right and respectable.
Each and every person supporting cuts to the weakest among us and the hurting among us in favor of benefits for the corporate leaders is attacking what is right and is attacking society. They are what is wrong with this country and they are showpieces of what not to be. To support a liar, a person willing to assault another, a heavy drinker, and an emotional fighter is to support the worst of society and to promote destruction and corruption.To support laws designed to harm the weak and serve the rich is to support the breakdown of society into a highly polarized serfdom that views humans as pawns and tools to be used and discarded.
That you step into your religious facilities and bow your heads in prayer to call for the destruction of the best and the the destruction of the development toward a better state. You are praying to stop development and return to times of death, pain, control by the rich, and disregard for life. I cannot and will not support this and I will not open my arms to those that do. This is not up for discussion or debate. I will not support the callous disregard for basic human rights and equality.
I found myself completely unable to focus yesterday. Lunch is typically my time to draw and focus to relax and be more focused in the afternoon, since morning is my best work time for office work. I am unsure why this is true, since I really am not fully awake for some time, and by then my focus is growing flighty. Today, on the other hand has been one of disjointed attention since before the alarm went off. I couldn’t even focus on sleep and was awake early, thus being soundly asleep when the alarm did go off. Driving to work this morning I changed CDs twice, and I listen to NPR most of my ride, it was just not a day for some stories. News is growing repetitive and not only do the same things keep happening; they appear several places in a row each time. Many news stories prompt me to stop and research the topic when I get to work, it is part of why I arrive early; others just make me wonder about humanity, society, and the world.
Rebellions are the name of the day right now in news, that and labor laws. Most of the rebellions in this wave are due to repression, restriction of free gathering and communication, economics, and as always a little religious and race conflict thrown in. What I find curious about this, is the US response regarding many of the situations has been to tell them the repressive rules and restrictions on groups gathering peacefully, communication, free speech, and economic policies must be changed and they must be more humanitarian. This, from a government that has made it illegal to gather in groups, and can arrest anyone, claiming suspicion of terrorism without proof and hold them indefinitely. This from the society that is so concerned with political correctness and a war on terror they attack, ban, or silence anything not in a midline, conciliatory stance, or anything that could be implied as wishing harm on anyone or thing. This from a place that dictates you must carry identification papers everywhere; have vehicular, home, and medical insurance by law; must register where you are with the government and allow them to record every phone call, internet use, or recording of you; that films you in every action down to sitting at a red light. Any act of control can be logically explained to sound necessary, vital, good, and in the name of safety or freedom; but in reality, controls for the sake of safety limit freedom by their very nature. The difference is that Americans will never have those kinds of riots and upheavals, not because they are better off, not saying they are not, just that is not a factor. Americans are a society that wants their convenience, their security, their immediate comfort; anything that disturbs the balance is obviously bad. Besides they cannot agree on anything, and do not insist the government follow their desires, most American’s do not even know most of what the government does inside the US borders or out.
We had large groups go out in protest over foreclosures, joblessness, and economic inequality; but what I heard from people was those were just lazy, dissatisfied, basically worthless people not contributing to society, they needed to be ignored or cleaned up. Because they lost their home or their job, or both they were immediately less than, they became the problem and they were not following procedure. More than that, they were making waves and bringing bad attention. I find this somewhat remarkable; this attitude slipped through in many forms but was extremely common; not always the obvious statement, but often implied or the foundation of what was said. I see and hear comments stating that unemployed are lazy, or that minimum wage workers get less because they do less, have less skills, have less education, basically they are worth less. Consider the reality that many people work where they can get a job since the longer you are out of work; the harder it becomes to get a job. One research project found companies were more than 80% more probable to discard a resume with no callback if the applicant was out of work for more than 6 months, in favor of someone less qualified for the position. More than that, when you have a family to take care of, bills piling up, and are growing increasingly desperate at the pointless education and experience (since that is what it feels like when no one will hire you), then you will take any job that will give you a paycheck. I have known people with master’s degrees that were working minimum wage, or below if they were wait staff, when I met them. Do they have less drive, intelligence, experience, or is it less connections, access, and timing? Maybe they just had a bad time and are trying to start over. Are we in a position to make these judgments on people? I don’t think we are, but I also don’t think a society with that outlook will have a real rebellion or push for change.
People accustomed to comfort and spoon fed information will accept the bones thrown at them if it is through the right channels and marketed well. We are a society addicted to marketing. Understand, my Masters is in Marketing, I studies just how this came about and have considered where it has and will lead us. It dips into everything, even how television is done. Little things like, why run full television series and movies rather than more mini-series (an odd tangent it seems – I warned you). One answer is that unless they can market them like movies or have the reach of a full series, the marketing is lost in the flood and besides, we do not have the practice at moderation. There are other aspects to this, but marketing is a major part in the development, the result, and the future. I see marketing direct everything from clothing to politics, art to sports.
Society seems to have gone backward of how it should function, when you allow marketing to control that much, you are allowing marketing to direct your thought. Politicians spend absurd amounts now in marketing themselves and their agendas, not because they want to fix anything, but because they want the benefits no one admits are there. Why would they spend millions to get something with no benefits? They are career politicians that must be reapproved every few years and never really make any drastic changes because that would rock the boat and they would lose their gig. But marketing makes it all sound good. Marketing directs what people wear, where they eat, what they eat, what they drive, where they live, how they talk, who they vote for, the things they buy, and what they watch. That’s a bit scary, look at how much of what most people do is directed by the practiced and studied art of manipulation employed by marketing people in business, government, non-profit, and media groups. Health industry markets good practices they are currently promoting. Pharm-coms promote drugs and procedures they want to sell. Insurance companies promote needs. Businesses promote products, services, needs, and more. Political entities promote agendas, people, policies, laws, and whatever else they think will help them. Legal entities promote laws, actions, safety, behavior, equipment, and dangers. Marketing teaches you that rather than following the market needs, you create the need that you have the product to fill. Business filled needs, but marketing shapes society to create the needs that make someone money or power.
Writing, art, Business, and practice, any medium is fair game.