liveonearth: (Default)
I read this morning about a doctor who went mad and shot people in a hospital. As a doctor myself, I know that docs have terrible stresses trying to deal with a corrupt medical-industrial system that impairs our ability to help people regain their health. Then I went to look at the NY times article, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/nyregion/bronx-hospital-shooting.html. He's richly melanated, that is to say, he has lived a life of fear because of his skin color. I infer from his violence that he may have been guilty of the accusation--sexual misconduct. He was a man, and he was angry enough to shoot others and hopeless enough to set himself on fire and shoot himself. He did not see any way out. He knew he would not receive compassion.

What people forget when they demonize any group of humans is that they are human. Dark skinned people. Doctors. Men. Gun owners. Murderers. Whatever group. All humans share the same basic needs. When those needs are not met, we have the same basic emotions. Driven hard enough, any of us could become dangerous. Hitler had reasons. The Arabs that flew airplanes into buildings had reasons. No one is pure evil, we are simply human and if tortured we can lash out, or become cunning.

My hope that that everyone who reads this will take a deep breath or three and think about the kind of pain that drives a person to such horrors. My hope is that compassion will rise in spite of the poisonous atmosphere of shame and blame that dominates our political world. We all deserve an opportunity to be free from fear, long enough to find our centers and our hearts and reach out into the world from that place. It will take a lot of us finding compassion to heal these wounds.
liveonearth: (Default)
Maher crossed a line with his joke, but that's what comedians do. It's the taboos that make jokes funny, the fact that they refer to something that is painful or secret. The US history of enslaving Africans is not secret, but it is painful. The pain is felt by many of us, perhaps not the same for those with other colors of skin, but there is no doubt that it has marred many generations of our society. When/how will we ever get past it? Can the descendants of slavery ever forgive?

My great grandmother lived in the piedmont of North Carolina and owned a slave. Am I guilty? Should I be punished for that? I have been punished, and I'm sure I will be punished more. Do I deserve this punishment? I go out of my way to protect and include black people. Does my calling them black people make me a racist? How about brown people, red people, white people? Does my effort to be inclusive make me an ass? Is there any way for a white person to broach this subject without it being negatively received? I know I am priviledged but I am not immune to the attitudes of people around me of every description.

Racial relations get worse when people are unfairly punished. I was born with no ill will toward any group. Painful experiences in my life have led me to be wary of certain groups of people. Usually it is the people who have historically been abused who later become agressive or condescending. Jewish people have treated me badly, moreso than Blacks but some of them too have assumed that I am a racist and helped to make me into one. It is understandable, but it does not result in the whirled peas that we seek.

Those who say Maher should be fired for racism, seriously now? He did not call anyone else a nigger, he was referring to himself. His joke was on TV and showed that he understood the class system that was applied to black slaves in our nation. Who else but a comedian can publicly break taboos and get people talking about it? If we are to heal these wounds, we need to talk about it. Keeping it secret and taboo does nothing to reduce the pain. Time passing, generations shifting, that reduces the pain... but I wish we could do it faster.

This brings me to the question about words. The word nigger is apparently 100% taboo, at least for a white person to say on TV. It appears to me that it is just a word. It is not the word that I am worried about, it is the attitude. Certainly words and attitudes are linked, but it is not a 100% correlation between saying the word nigger and being a racist or promoting racism. I do not believe that Maher is a racist. I think he is trying to defuse the tensions around our dark history and get us all to laugh, together, and let the pain slip away.

What other words are taboo? I can't think of any that the two white men I live with react to as strongly. Honky? LOL.

I wish "bitch" were less acceptable. The word has been applied to me many times in my life, usually because I refused to do what a white man wanted me to do, or because I got angry. The word bitch has been used to suppress the will of a huge class of people, and it is still in common usage and acceptable in rap music and other places. I am allowed to get angry and to assert myself without deserving denigration. But women have been put down for a long time and a large segment of our population would like to keep us down. If Maher had said "I'm a bitch", I would not have been offended. That is not the same as him calling someone else a bitch.

I would like to hear from the descendants of slaves in the US as to whether they think Maher should be fired. I bet they will say no. He is doing his job, making us laugh out things that hurt.
liveonearth: (Default)
The uglification of which I speak didn't exactly start with Ailes (Fox), but he certainly boosted it. One of the hats that I wear is at a natural products pharmacy; we dispense herbs and supplements and a few hormonal products. I spend some time sitting behind the counter simply helping the next person who comes to the window. Most people are decent, kind, and even patient. But lately I've noticed a trend. The proportion of cranky, mean and abusive people is increasing.

Today it was a lady by the name of Hammer. What's in a name, I ask? Did your name make you into a prosecutor in the pharmacy line? How many hammering questions does one have to tolerate before you are satisfied? Is there an inkling of generosity in you? A morsel of patience? An ounce of kindness? I saw none. I experienced questions hammering in faster than they could be answered, demands stacked up while I was trying to answer the questions, topped with an insult. Ms Hammer is just the most recent experience of this sort. There was one yesterday, and the day before more than one. Too bad it's nice people who get cancer and not the bitches.

This is Oregon. People in general are nice here. But not the raving maniac that stabbed two men to death the other day trying to get to some young women who were a different color than him. This disease of condemnation and hatred is seeping deeper and deeper into our culture, and leaking out in more settings all the time. I do not know how to fix it. I don't believe in phony niceness, but I also don't believe in punishing people just because you can. I am sensitive and not cut out to tolerate verbal abuse in the course of my work. I try to contain my anguish until I am in private. Then I weep. I try to be kind to the people that I meet. And I may have to find a way to not serve the public any more.

In Japan they have a name for it. Hikikomori. It's a sociological phenomenon in which people simply stop participating in society. If society is ugly, then decent people will not show up. If decent people do not show up, society will uglify even more. If we all retreat into our tiny little bubbles even more than we already have, the fractures in our supposed union of states and free people becomes null and void. This culture is headed for the bloodbath.
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

A president intent on developing

a base of enthusiastic supporters

who believe bald-faced lies

poses a clear threat

to American democracy.

This is how tyranny begins.

--Robert Reich,

here: http://robertreich.org/post/154643782110

liveonearth: (moon)
Suicidality is directly linked to a feeling of powerlessness.  When there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it, it's easy to lose hope, get angry, place blame, become resentful or even violent.  Arson is violence, like rape.  The fires in Israel and Palestine, set by both individuals with both alliegances, reflect the same spirit seen in Brexit, and the election of Trump, and the fires that have been burning in the southeastern US.  I think there's some sour grapes in there too.  If I can't have my fair share, you can't have any either.  Arson is a quick and dirty way of gaining some power.   People of planet earth are angry and frustrated, and rattling the bars of their cages.  Unfortunately the actions taken are usually more emotional than rational, and the end result is a worsening of the situation that caused the loss of power in the first place.  Don't like being poor?  Electing a millionaire won't do you any good.  Don't like living in a depressed place?  Burning down the forests probably won't help.

But the thing is, is sure does feel good.  It is immensely satisfying to last out, to burn something, to smash something to smithereens.  When you are angry, such outbursts are therapeutic.  I personally just LOVE to take the glass recycling somewhere that I can smash it bottle by bottle.  I am praying (atheist prayers) that all the angry people of the world are ready to study and get clear about their true objectives.  I am praying that the angry people will organize and do something productive, now that catharsis has been achieved at least in some places.
liveonearth: (moon)
I think this may be part of the reason that so many people have defaulted to supporting tRump.  At a gut level he gets it, that somehow the religion of Islam is motivating some people to kill bunches of hedonistic rich oblivious Americans.  We are The Great Satan, after all.  Our women roam around half naked.  We drink alcohol and eat so much that we can't get out of our chairs.  The Muslims who hate us find plenty to hate.  And the teachings of the religion are harsh.  Unforgiving.  Granted, most religions have some myths and stories that motivate hateful actions.  Most religions have a few fundamentalists whose simplistic interpretations lead them to extreme beliefs and behaviors.  Islam has a lot of people like that.  I am certain that the followers of ISIL think that American Muslims who don't help their cause are apostates, no better than the rest of us.  So given that there are quite a few Muslims who think we all deserve to die, and several at least who've been successful at violently killing Americans, being afraid of Muslims sounds kind of reasonable.  If the Dems don't admit to this, and begin teaching Americans about how they've been attempting to quell the fears of peaceable Muslims in order to prevent religious based warfare, they are missing the boat.  Blaming the Pulse shooting solely on easy access to guns is missing the very important point that currently there are a lot of people with this religious background who are motivated to kill.  We need to study them, to understand them.  They are not necessarily insane, they simply live in a different reality dictated by a different culture.  There are also a lot of Americans who are not Muslim who share their distaste for gays, their disrespect for loose women, and their instinctive hatred of other races.  Maybe you should be afraid.
liveonearth: (moon)

I saw
the best minds
of my generation
destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked . . .

–from Howl, by Allen Ginsberg

liveonearth: (Spidey: come into my parlour)

THE MISTRUST OF SCIENCE

By Atul Gawande , JUNE 10, 2016

The following was delivered as the commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, on Friday, June 10th.

Text behind cut )

Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, became a New Yorker staff writer in 1998.

liveonearth: (old books)
It's been decades since I read Siddhartha but it had a strong effect on me.  In my youth I was a philosophy major and a seeker, trying on different religious and spiritual approaches.  Eventually I arrived at myself, at the now, at the goals of non-attachment, awareness, compassion, adaptability.  I adopted bits and pieces of many philosophies, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism, without becoming a believer in reincarnation, heaven and hell, or any of the other dogmas.  New age religion in the US is very much a groovified hand-me-down from the culture behind these religions, and reincarnation is the most common belief system I encounter among people who pretend that they are enlightened.  More appealing to me is the stark realism of the German philosophers.  "To exist is to be in the way".

In Demian Herman Hesse suggests that the truth is not any of these religious structures, the truth is something far simpler, but harder to live.  It is not easy to go through this world stripped of comforting beliefs.  Hesse says we create gods and then we fight with them.  Many of his ideas are reminiscent of Nieztsche, for whom I've always had a soft spot.  He is the German philosopher who said "God is dead" and pissed off generations of religious people.

The protagonist of Demian is a young man named Sinclair, and his story begins when he is only 10 years old.  He is early at becoming aware.  Demian is a character who helps him, initially simply to avoid a predatorial character, and later to begin to think critically and to trust in himself.  When they are schoolmates Demian suggests alternate interpretations of Bible stories, especially the one about Cain and Able, and the mark of Cain.  By the end of the book I was thinking that I too must bear that mark, because I have never been a joiner, never been willing or able to submit to authority or dogma.

This book would make excellent reading for a teen who is beginning to sort out a path through all the competing authorities.  It does not provide a blueprint, but it does say that you must find your own path, and that it won't be easy or comfortable.  When Hesse first released this small book in 1919 it was in pieces in a magazine, and anonymously.  Why didn't he want his name attached?  Why didn't someone recognize his voice and thoughts, when they are so distinctly his?  Perhaps it is because Demian is also a commentary on the sadness of war, on the fruitlessness of giving lives for some shared ideal which might be bunk.  Some of the things he writes harken to the Jungian concept of collective consciousness, for example the shared premonitions of the onset of world war one.  Do we really share a consciousness, or do we simply share some of the same inputs, and arrive at some of the same intuitive conclusions?  Jung and Hesse did.

The most fruitful thing a person can do is to become themselves, I agree with Hesse on this point.  To be with people who are also themselves, this is a very satisfying thing.
liveonearth: (moon)

NY TIMES OPINION PIECE: MOLLY WORTHEN SAYS STOP SAYING “I FEEL LIKE”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/opinion/sunday/stop-saying-i-feel-like.html

The PC-ness and softening of modern verbal communications has results in a net loss of meaning.  We can fix this, if we want.  Behind the cut is a good article arguing for awareness of this one particular phrase.  "I feel like" is often used to replace the words "I think", and it is not a feeling at all.  Feelings, that is emotions, are quite distinct from thoughts and judgements.  To be clear in our communications requires that we recognize and communicate that difference.

Read more... )

liveonearth: (fist)

If you know what's good for you, if you know that they're leftists, you won't believe anything they say any time, anywhere, about anything … So we have now the Four Corners of Deceit, and the two universes in which we live. The Universe of Lies, the Universe of Reality, and The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit.

—Rush Limbaugh when discussing climate science

liveonearth: (dont_be_heavy)

"If one allows the infidels
to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth,
their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger.
Thus, if we kill the infidels
in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities,
we have indeed done them a service.
For their eventual punishment will be less.
To allow the infidels to stay alive
means to let them do more corrupting.
[To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator."

--Ayatollah Khomeini, 1984

liveonearth: (critter 2)

Don't forget: We live during the least violent time in all of recorded human history. We have done this by abandoning tribalism and embracing the, cosmically speaking, very new ideas of compassion and empathy. What we are seeing are the death throws of an old morality, where honor and vengeance and the death you could inflict were how you judged yourself as a person.

So the proper response to a terrorist attack shouldn't be hate or bloodlust, but pity; pity for a group actively choosing to be forgotten and disregarded by the long eye of history.

--Keegan Blackler

liveonearth: (starry night)

No matter what our attempts to inform,
it is our ability to inspire
that will turn the tides."
--Jan Phillips

liveonearth: (dont_be_heavy)

  • This epidemiologic analysis revealed that mortality rates are increasing in the middle-aged white male population, largely due to preventable conditions like poisonings and overdoses.

  • Reductions in mortality were seen in other racial groups.

ARTICLE from Medpage, primary care )


SOURCE

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/GeneralPrimaryCare/54456
liveonearth: (moon)
This young man is 21 years old and just starting his last year of college, and this is his second album. Each track has a different sound, except for the strong, honest, edgy vocals from HG. In person he is a little bit shy, but get to know him and you'll find a compassionate and humorous young man. The sadness, frustration and anger that come through in his music are less evident in person, hence perhaps the title.

If you ask me he is finding his voice. When I first met him he had a head-down posture of a subordinate sulking teen. In the last two years he has begun to carry himself upright and to meet my gaze, and to have his say when he wants to. This change in posture correlates with what a yogi might call an opening of the throat chakra.

His album is a commentary on the struggle of young adulthood to find meaning, solidify an authentic identity and rise above the limitations imposed by the judgements of others.

You can download the whole album for free right now at:
https://soundcloud.com/hayden-gehr/sets/voiceless
liveonearth: (Homer Simpson "D'oh!")
This is an order of magnitude greater moral offense...because what is at stake is the fate of the planet, humanity, and the future of civilization, not to be melodramatic.

—Alyssa Bernstein, ethics expert at Ohio U, comparing Exxon's funding deniers (despite knowing about climate change since the 80's) to the tobacco industry denying the link between smoking and cancer.
liveonearth: (Gay_batman_n_robin)
I must mark this moment when my LGBT friends are truly heartened by the change in US law. It brings a tear to my eye. My half-aunt in North Carolina is going to marry her longtime partner on Halloween day. Successful gay parents are gloating. My friends from all walks are sporting rainbows. The culture shift is generational as all large shifts must be.

Yes, yes you lawyers out there will have all manner of refinements to put on my headline. I have not read studied on this change, I've absorbed its impact while ignoring the news. It's just not OK anymore for states not to recognize gay marriages. Or something like that. I've heard that a state is still not obligated to PROVIDE gay marriages, but that is another step in a very long series. I've been busy with other things.... but I am noting this vibration through the land that something really has changed... and with it brings a little bit of hope that we might manage other changes.

I'm sure the social conservative media is damning. I need an antenna in that world somehow. (Thinking cult: which cults are most anti-gay?)

That cartoon of the rebel flag setting and rainbow flag rising is everywhere. Show me some fresh art, not so trite already.
liveonearth: (moon)
CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE IS A LEGAL DUTY
http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=28

To Doctors: If you detect signs of abuse or exploitation, you as a doctor are legally bound to report it. There are more cults and troubled families out there than people realize.

In some communities or “groups”, sexual abuse especially of girls, and the use of children especially teens for hard labor is common. These children are not likely to come to you as a doctor, but you may run across them in other parts of your life. You are duty bound to protect children at every age from everyone, including potentially their family.

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