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: (moon)
What Clinton's remark broadcasted is how little she thinks of conservatives in general. Her tone was so dismissive ("you name it") as to suggest that every xenophobe on the planet was unworthy of having skin. What she obviously doesn't understand is that we are all conservative at our roots, until these basic feelings are educated out of us, or overridden by culture.  Xenophobes are people too.

It has a lot to do with who we grow up with.  If we grow up in an educated multi-ethnic culture, then ethnicity no longer has such a charge.  But if we are acculturated in a homogenous group, we will feel more comfortable with people of our same kind.  This is the instinctive basis of xenophobia. It is reasonable to be cautious around people whose values are unknown to you, and whose behavior is not predictable.

Xenophobia can be trained in at any stage of life.  I have suffered the hate of the Navajo and Apache when living and traveling in Arizona.  I understand why they hate the white eyes, because I do too, but I personally do not deserve their bad treatment.  Still, I got the bad treatment, and now when I see a tribal member I am on guard.  The same thing has happened to me here in Portland.  I had always liked and respected every Jew I ever met. Then I was mistreated by an attending Jewish doctor who took offense at me saying the words "a Jew" because in her mind she inserted the word "dirty". That word was not in my mind until she explained to me how offensive it was for me to say "a Jew", and then threatened to flunk me, sanctioned me through the college and required that I take cultural competency training. Other Jews near to me have hurt my feelings since then, and I have developed a reaction to Jews that I did not have before, when I lived in Denver next door to the Ashkenazis and thought they were really decent folk.

In spite of all my education and knowing things, I have feelings that are influenced by what happens to me in my life. Does this make me deplorable?

Oh, and all you decent men out there who think that you are not sexist. If you were born and raised in the U.S. you are sexist. Ask any European, male or female. I am a woman. I have never made anywhere near as much money as my partner, in my opinion because he has a penis. Yesterday I drove a vehicle up to a boat inspection station on the highway and the man with the clipboard came up and started asking questions of a man who got out of the passenger door. At the gas station the attendant speaks to the men first. Men here invariably address men first when approaching a couple. This seems like a tiny offense, but compounded into the reality of daily life, a woman knows that this is still a man's world. Clinton knows it all too well. American men, including educated ones, are unconscious of this kind of sexism "lite".  There's no stoning here, but men are not aware of the degree to which they are programmed to be sexist, and should spend more time in introspection around this. I think part of the problem conservatives have with lesbians is the men have no one they can talk to.

I realize I'm making a bunch of generalizations, just like Clinton did. My point is that these base impulses are present in the vast majority of all humanity, and Americans are clearly not above it. Our culture seems to be regressing. In my lifetime I have watched our society and politics become obnoxious. Substantive debate is rare, name calling commonplace. If there is to be a conversation between opposing sides, there must first be respect. Respect is a Universal human need. People denied respect are hostile and possibly subversive.

Liberals in general need to stop denigrating conservatives and dig deep enough into themselves to understand the conservative position. Conservatives need to educate themselves to articulate their concerns and rationales clearly to others. Everyone needs to start with the assumption that the other guys are decent humans just trying to do the right thing, the best way they know how. Then the conversation can begin.
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: (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: (moon)
Just finished this novel last night.  I don't read a lot of novels, but I have a few on my shelf which have always come to me strongly recommended by someone I trust.  I don't remember who gave me this one.  It might have been B.  She is very much into all things native.

The book is excellent.  It also was a 1984 bestseller and got a book critics circle award for fiction.  It was Erdrich's first novel, and I am sure that many of the subplots in it are bits and pieces from her upbringing as a half-Chippewa in North Dakota.

What strikes me about it, first, is the variety of perspectives the author is able to take.  She writes from first and third person perspectives of male and female characters, young and old.  She takes a hard look at alcoholism, and PTSD, at our legal system, at the rivalries and drama of siblings and marriages and humanity.  In the end I was lifted by her compassion, by knowing that there is a person out there who sees the love inside of troubled people and can write about it.

The book tells tales on Lulu Lamartine throughout the book, but you don't get to hear about the world from her point of view until the very end.  I liked Lulu, and many of the other characters.  Lulu took pleasure in life, in men, in her many sons.  She saw the beauty in things.  She forgave.  She kept her secrets.  There are those who would judge her for her sexuality, but there were many in the tribe that didn't, because they participated in it.

Another striking thing about this book is the way the stories unfold over time as each chapter tells another point of view.  The stories gradually work from long past to present, but sometimes in the present the truth is buried, instead of revealed.  Other stories come to light and make a difference for someone.  One of the most basic stories is that of a person's origins.  Who are your parents?  Where did you come from?  Do you know?  In a world full of illegitimate children, it's not a given.

I have a copy here to give away.  I recommend it.  
liveonearth: (blue skinned alien)

Hating people
because of their color
is wrong

and it doesn't matter

what color

does the hating.

It's just plain wrong.

-Muhammad Ali

liveonearth: (Donkey)
What do you think? Have you ever fallen into that pit where you had no "real" life and your entire life existed through a keyboard and screen? Have you found your way back into the land of living and breathing? Have you discovered your body? Are you OK being alone with yourself??

Got me started thinking about this (again):
http://vimeo.com/70534716

I had a housemate once who would become completely obsessed with a new video game and play it continuously until he had completed all the levels. It took a couple months for him to master Grand Theft Auto. He took me for a ride in it. Our virtual reality was shared in living and breathing space, and he was not a lost cause. I don't think. I hope not.

I have a friend who lives a good fraction of her life in second life. She is married in this life and has a significant other in second life. Her 2nd life SO is known to her and her husband. He has a wife and kids. They visit together, eat icecream, break ankles, breathe the same air. Second life has merged with first life.

I have a sister whose occupation is building things for the second world. That is, she obtains or develops images and sounds that she can sell for virtual money. Her reality is beyond my comprehension, except that when she is there beside me she is just as solidly herself as she has ever been, with a sharpened wit.

I have a boyfriend who barely exists on the internet. I told him how many fb friends I have now and he laughed at me. I think he is afraid that I will go where my sister went, or my friend. He likes to exercise and play his guitar and garden and read. Doing all those other things sounds far better than this. I'm outta here.
liveonearth: (Witch_reads_by_fire)
I hold the most archaic values on earth; the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth; the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.
--Gary Snyder
liveonearth: (moon)
Just yesterday I finally stopped ignoring the Middle East and looked up a few things. Like who is Shia and who is Sunni. And who has nukes and where. And what exactly an Islamist is. It was....a useful exercise. Anyone else out there taking an interest in this juncture of history? I'm ready to be educated.

It just seems to me, after one *ok a fraction of one* day of looking into it, that the majority Sunnis in most of the Middle East have been supremely frustrated trying to deal with their less conservative, more secular Shia neighbors. And it seems clear to me that America has at least attempted to enact a separation of church and state, even though those words do not appear in the constitution. It was in the First Amendment to the US Constitution that Congress was to "make no law respecting respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". As wikipedia points out, lots of nations have this idea in their code, and there is a great range of shades of gray in its execution. Here in America we do fairly well, but nowhere near a perfect score. For one thing, the constitution has no control over the states and what local laws might be passed. Which may be how we have gigantic crosses along Interstate 5 in Washington State. Not so different from other places, where religion is supposed to guide personal and political life. Here we seem only able to elect Christian presidents. We like to think that we are above it, but we are surely not.

So I know I am rambling and I will call it quits. If you have an opinion about what is the crux of what is going on--in Syria, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia or any other involved party, feel free to comment and tell me! I'm building a mind map.

**Created Syria tag.
liveonearth: (skull candle book)
"The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol. In a community lacking pure-water supplies, the closest thing to "pure" fluid was alcohol. Whatever health risks were posed by beer (and later wine) in the early days of agrarian settlements were more than offset by alcohol's antibacterial properties. Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties. Many genetically minded historians believe that the confluence of urban living and the discovery of alcohol created a massive selection pressure on the genes of all humans who abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Alcohol, after all, is a deadly poison and notoriously addictive. To digest large quantities of it, you need to be able to boost production of enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases, a trait regulated by a set of genes on chromosome four in human DNA. Many early agrarians lacked that trait, and thus were genetically incapable of "holding their liquor." Consequently, many of them died childless at an early age, either from alcohol abuse or from waterborne diseases. Over generations, the gene pool of the first farmers became increasingly dominated by individuals who could drink beer on a regular basis. Most of the world population today is made up of descendants of those early beer drinkers, and we have largely inherited their genetic tolerance for alcohol. (The same is true of lactose tolerance, which went from a rare genetic trait to the mainstream among descendants of the herders, thanks to domestication of livestock.) The descendants of hunter gatherers--like many Native Americans or Australian Aborigines--were never forced through this genetic bottleneck, and so today they show disproportionate rates of alcoholism. The chronic drinking problem in Native American populations has been blamed on everything from the weak "Indian constitution" to the humiliating abuses of the U.S. reservation system. But their alcohol intolerance most likely has another explanation: their ancestors didn't live in towns."
--Steven Johnson, in The Ghost Map, pages 103-4.
liveonearth: (moon)
Went to see this group dance last night in Portland. Impressive, for sure. The dancers are ethnically exotic to me---Maori and Samoan people, dark skinned and beautiful. The dances were athletic in the extreme, parts of it reminding me of a crossfit workout, on steroids. One of the dance moves they did was to fall to the ground, and then bound back up to standing, nay leaping up into the air, and back to the ground and back up again, so fast that one could scarcely comprehend that once person could do that. The leaps and lifts were smooth and controlled. There was play around failing, around falling, but no one was ever at risk. In fact I think the play around falling and failing was part of what made them so good---because they had no fear of falling, they had practiced it so many times. Anyway, last night was their debut in Portland but they will be back. The choreographer is Neil Ieremia, and I believe he is also one of the indigenous people of New Zealand. The themes of the dances were modern--child abuse and such---and there was a fair bit of social commentary. Basically Neil is trying to induce us to communicate in an honest and respectful way across racial and national boundaries, by way of his dancers. I appreciated his message. When you fall down, get right back up again.

There were four women in the mostly male troupe. They were likewise swift and strong.
liveonearth: (chickadee in snow)
In Beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With Beauty may I walk.
With Beauty before me, may I walk.
With Beauty behind me, may I walk.
With Beauty above me, may I walk.
With Beauty below me, may I walk.
With Beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of Beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of Beauty,
living again, may I walk.
It is finished in Beauty.
It is finished in Beauty.


(From the Blessing Way Ceremony of the Navajo)
liveonearth: (praying girl)
We evolved to be tribal, and politics is a competition among coalitions of tribes. When people feel that a group they value--be it racial, religious, regional, or ideological--is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book, or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. People who worship the same idol can trust one another, work as a team, and prevail over less cohesive groups. So if you want to understand politics, and especially our divisive culture wars, you must follow the sacredness.
--Psychologist Jonathan Haidt in NYT
(quoted here from The Week)
liveonearth: (Default)
I read this that is the fastest spreading viral video of all time. Of course there is controversy around it. As far as I know Joseph Kony really does kidnap kids and make them into murderers and sex slaves. So why not make sure he goes down this year? I like it. World community comes to bear on bad apple because of youtube. What next?

However hardly anybody is giving money to the cause. We all feel rich enough to share the link, but we, myself included, don't feel rich or involved enough to give money to a far-away cause. How can we induce world-tribe behavior? Can it be done? Or is it antithetical to true human nature? We are tribal, but it appears to me that our tribe is not extended by way of computer or television screens. I think that we need to touch and smell each other to feel that the other is part of our tribe.

I can't help but to wonder what happened to this man to make him so vicious. He is human too. How did his compassion get stripped away?
liveonearth: (blue mountain painting)
Kindness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
liveonearth: (Default)
January 24, 2012
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Includes Naturopathic Doctors
in Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
HHS Recognizes Licensed Naturopathic Doctors as Eligible Providers

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a federal register notice on January 23, 2012, defining eligibility for participation in the Indian Health Service (IHS) loan repayment program. HHS has the authority to determine the specific health professions for which loan repayment contracts will be awarded, based on the expressed needs of the IHS, American Indians and Alaskan Natives. For the first time, HHS has included licensed naturopathic doctors on the list of "priority health professions." Graduates of accredited naturopathic medical schools may now pursue this opportunity to provide services to meet the needs of this at-risk population.

"After more than nine years, hundreds of Congressional visits, thousands of letters to Congress and the Agency as well as personal meetings with Agency officials, it's finally happened," said Karen Howard, former American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Executive Director. "This paves the way for inclusion in all federal loan repayment programs and is a significant step towards equity in education for naturopathic students. I can't tell you how overjoyed I am."

AANP President Dr. Michael J. Cronin praised the hard work of the naturopathic community in achieving this goal. "Congratulations to all the NDs and naturopathic students who worked long and hard by participating in the DC Federal Legislative Initiative (DC FLI), sending letters to and visiting their Congress members and for supporting the AANP."

The the full announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services, entitled "Loan Repayment Program for Repayment of Health Professions' Educational Loans," is available through the Government Printing Office online here.

Naturopathic Medicine, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor is to "diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies." Naturopathic doctors train at four-year, post-graduate naturopathic medical schools that are accredited by an agency of the United States Department of Education. Sixteen states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands regulate naturopathic medicine. Learn more at naturopathic.org.
liveonearth: (Default)
http://www.buddhanet.net/winton_s.htm
A worthwhile read. Draws a distinction between ethnic religions and universal ones. Ethnic ones are value systems based on maintaining a tribe. Universal ones transcend tribal identity. Non-procreative sex, ie homosexuality, is banned by ethic mores but in universal terms is seen more openly.
liveonearth: (Default)

this painting by Shonto Begay....
also for you this amazing musical performance
that I found tonight because of a new Navajo friend:
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=P4Xd435coD4&vq=medium
(Note to God by Diane Warren
sung by the Philipina: Charice, on Oprah)

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