Both money and health are criteria on which so much hinges. I’m not sure that either is a “privilege” unless you think of privileges as being distributed by God or nature or something like that. I tend to think of privileges as being distributed by people who have control of the excess. Health, like Life and Liberty, are rights, but are not distributed evenly. Wealth is a construct of society, so I see it as a privilege, and that when one group hoards it, they are doing wrong. I don’t think anyone can give health to anyone else, although policies can keep people from health. (I’m thinking Flint, climate change and other forms of pollution stemming from counting profit as more important than hurting the health of the people in the community.) Regan deregulated a lot while insisting on only eating organic grass fed beef. That’s freaking abuse of privilege! OK, I guess I’ve talked myself into accepting that to a certain extent health can be “granted” or “with-held”, but again, like life and liberty, I think it’s a right, not a privilege. It’s just criminal to take it away from people. I’m going to need to keep thinking about this one and see where it goes.
I don’t watch TV, and generally only listen to the radio in the car, so I only get news from the occasional post on facebook. Today I saw that Bill Cosby is going to jail for molesting women. I had heard, but not paid attention; I don’t pay attention to celebrity focused news. I read it anyway.
I did watch the Cosby show, at least the first few seasons, and way back when, I watched I Spy. But what Cosby was to me was the comedian. I think we had all his albums, Why is there Air? Is a very Funny Fellow, Right!, To Russell My Brother, whom I slept With.
Cosby was the guy who taught white America that we are all pretty much the same. We all get toothaches and somehow miss that Midol will relieve pain whether we’re male or female, we all lie to our wives about whether the water is too cold, our kids confuse us, thinking about Biblical stories as if the people were real makes them much more interesting… People are people, and I think that it’s a pity, but coming from an era of segregation, we didn’t know that.
Now he’s teaching us once again that color doesn’t matter. What matters is privilege. Not white privilege, obviously. But male privilege and especially privilege of money. He has money, and had a reputation as a “nice guy”. But apparently this nice guy didn’t seem to think that drugging women so he could use them sexually was wrong, and it angers him that many other people do.
My friends don’t expect him to go to jail. They figure he’s got the money to keep on with appeals until he dies. Or maybe he’ll go to one of those rich offenders “prisons” like Martha Stewart where he has restricted options, but certainly not the conditions of a kid put away for holding pot and “resisting arrest”. Money. Right. His lawyer claimed the women were making up the charges to get the attention. Other women are left traumatized- probably for the rest of their lives because PTSD is like that. I didn’t realize there was a statute of limitations on sexual assault.
But clearly when you are rich and famous you figure it’s OK to “grab ’em by the pussy”. I can think of someone else who’s going to be very offended when he comes to trial for his offenses. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong- and yet they know they are. They wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t. At the same time this is happening the Incel movement is making women aware that men feel violence is justified if they aren’t getting sex. We have horribly let our children down if they can grow up feeling that this sort of attitude is in any way normal or acceptable. We may be breaking down the male female barriers. But the privilege of money is going to be a LOT harder.
For many of us it is clear that reality consists of more than the physical world. In the 18th century “The Enlightenment” happened, and people decided that Science was what could be measured, and anything else was delusion or hoax. We make fun of those who turn their back on evidence because it doesn’t fit into their world view. They argue that if the evidence indicates [something magickal] is real, then the evidence must be flawed, because it can’t be real. In Monsters, John Michael Greer points out that scientist who believe in ESP do so because of the evidence, but those who don’t, believe despite the evidence because they don’t accept the reality. Science should argue that where the evidence points, is reality. If we don’t have the tools to measure it, perhaps we need to develop the right tools. I myself have been right there mocking those who deny the reality experienced by many people, “just because” it doesn’t fit in their world view. I feel we need to be comfortable with recognizing that we have holes in our awareness.
At the same time, it occurs to me that the 18th century was following on the heels of the 17th- the time of the great Witchcraft Hysteria. It probably clung to dependence on physical facts because of the clearly demonstrated risks of accepting “spectral evidence”. It may be that the current upswing in the freedom to publicly profess religiously based hatred has made that idea seem more clearly dangerous to me. Just because someone fervently believes something does not mean that their belief should dictate law, or even support it when it goes against basic human rights of those who believe differently. Whether the Evangelical Religious Right or the Taliban (or the Puritans setting up their isolationist community in the New World), people’s rights to believe in the spirits with whom they commune should only be tolerated as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. This is how we decide whether someone is a Son of Sam or Elwood P Dowd (in Harvey). Are the things they see and we don’t telling them to hurt themselves or others? (I could compare the dottie aunts in Harvey to those in Arsenic and Old Lace.)
The thing is that if we let the people who are very sincere in their beliefs of the damage done by witches or Democratic Socialists, use those fears to harm people who are posing no real risk outside their own minds, our culture is in trouble. As Harold Hill said in the Music Man, there needs to be something dangerous for him to save the town from. People in fear will follow those who claim to be able to save them whether from Immigrants, Jews, the Illuminati, or Vampires. I’m suddenly better able to sympathize with those who had seen a century or more of violence: Protestant against Catholic, Christian against Jew,… it became easy to blame it all on religion as a whole.
While in a small village it’s easy to accept that what everyone believes whether they can see it or not is simply real, when you get into larger groups and people believe in an assortment of things not everyone else experiences, it becomes easier to just dismiss everything everyone can’t see. Sadly, I think we can all think of things that we have evidence for that others can’t see. But what is perceiving a spirit who’s there, and what’s an auditory hallucination? Again, I’m going to come back to- is what you see or hear helping you? Is it motivating you to hurt anyone else or yourself? I think it would be impossible to think that the philosophers of the 18th century were not reacting to the religiously based violence of the “early modern” era. Go ahead, believe whatever you want. But your belief doesn’t give you the right to make policy or attack your neighbors because “Jesus told you” to do so.
I think I’ll cut them some slack in the future (but I still believe in ghosts).
I’ve been watching people make suggestions for gender neutral pronouns, so that people won’t get upset if you use the wrong pronoun and they are defining themselves as some form of GBLT, or to be more inclusive when speaking of a mixed gender group.
I have had it explained to me that using male pronouns as a default for all humans is part of the way males see women as not quite human. OK, I can get that some men feel that way about women, and some women are damned sick of being made to feel that way, but I tend to think it has a lot more to do with the way people treat men and treat women than the pronouns. We should work on treating men and women as equal although different. Yes it’s hard, but I think we need to do it.
But pronounds? I feel it’s like putting a band aid on a bruise to acknowledge the kid has a boo-boo, even though it’s not going to do any good for the bruise. If you can afford it, and it makes the kid feel better, why not. But it’s still hard not to know that it’s a waste of a band aid and that clearly the kid doesn’t know what a band aid is for.
I’ve been binge watching “courtroom dramas” recently and just finished A Cry in the Dark. It’s the one about the real trial of Lindy Chamberlain who was accused of murdering her baby, when it had been carried off by a dingo (wild dog). I can’t help but be reminded of the “right to life-ers” who want to charge women who’ve had miscarriages with murder. Way to make a traumatic event worse! This was a case of “trial by media”, and I avoided paying any attention to the trial and the movie until now. As presented in the movie, there was a lot of forensic evidence that just went over the heads of the jury, so they decided she was guilty based on her unemotional behavior.
I also remember my friend Paul’s trial, where he was sent to prison because he’d accompanied a friend (some friend!) to an apartment where the man had beat his wife in one room, so badly that she later died, while Paul changed and fed the baby in another room. Later, the man turned states witness, but the furor was so great (not only did the mother die, but so did the baby because no one came back to help either of them), that the prosecution said “somebody must pay!”. Since they couldn’t try the murderer, or the police, who’d apparently been watching the apartment but left it alone hoping the father would come back to help the baby, all the weight of the law- and public opinion- fell on Paul. I’ll give you (and so did he) that condoning that a man could be allowed to beat a woman that badly because he thought she was unfaithful is not acceptable. But I find it worse that the public has such a taste for vengeance.
In so many of these trials I’ve watched, jurors, the public, and others who have nothing to do with the case, jump in and demand that “payment” must be made for the victims. What payment could give a victim back his or her life? How will making someone else suffer do anything to improve the situation? Yet so many people seem to feel that punishment is a good thing. No one has ever been able to explain this to me adequately. It has been proven that the severity of punishment doesn’t reduce acts (although the certainty of it does). No, it seems to be nothing more than feeding the appetite of the public for revenge.
There seems to be a feeling that if someone suffers, someone else should be made to suffer, and that this somehow makes things better. How? I’m good with consequences- if you do this, then you must try to make the situation better, even if this is a hardship for you. But just passing out punishment? No. I can understand someone who’s hurt wanting the person who’s done it to understand how much it hurts- perhaps if they realize the extent of the pain they’ve caused, they’d avoid doing it again. But this “punishment” goes beyond that. I don’t understand why they want it, I see no benefit to anyone. I understand that some victims see punishment as recognition of the suffering they’ve endured, and think that this is giving them “justice”.
I see this as wounding our society, and worse, unnecessarily. We are taking on the role of the party intentionally hurting individuals, and that cannot be a good thing for our group soul. The self righteousness of the “court system” may bother me because that is often one of my failings. I’m all for using the system to find out who is going to have to offer recompense, because often it is a burden to someone who didn’t intend, but did cause harm- for example a drunk driver does not INTEND to kill or maim others on the road. Still, in as much as possible, he must take responsibility for the results of his choices. In the Chamberlain case, many people didn’t want dingos as a group to suffer for the (alleged) action of one, much as we shouldn’t judge all people in leather jackets or hoodies by the behavior of one jerk who happens to have been wearing that style when he did something awful. Can we not come to a place where we don’t judge a whole group by one of the members, and where we don’t see hurting others as a way of helping a victim?
One of the unspoken “side-effects” of illness, whether physical or mental, is the added stress of worrying whether one is causing problems for friends and family.
I think the short answer is “yes”, and the more accurate answer is “yes, but we think it’s worth it.” We all have perfectly healthy friends who need help occasionally, who need us to forgive when mutual plans are messed up because of something they overlooked or didn’t anticipate. In theory the sick person could always anticipate something going wrong, in which case we’d probably be annoyed with them for depriving us unnecessarily of their company, and knowing that their behavior is making their own lives harder in order to reduce inconveniencing us.
On the one hand, while we admire people trying to take care of their own problems, it can get frustrating to try to have to deal with a problem that has gotten worse when help could have kept it a minor inconvenience. At the same time, it’s too easy to criticize those who ask for help frequently. It seems a no-win situation. But as parents know that while it’s easier to do almost anything for a child, that only by letting them do it themselves (even though it takes longer, and possibly more effort for the parents), this is the way kids learn and get better, and feel good about themselves. We have to let our friends choose their own comfort levels about when to ask for help. But we also need to reassure them that needing help isn’t going to drive us away, that in balance, the extra effort having them in our lives is worth it for us.
Since they have to spend so much time and effort focusing on dealing with their problems, those problems may be the only aspect of the relationship they notice. We need to help them see past that filter, and not feel that we are keeping them around out of sympathy.
This may be why many of us are happy to push for awareness and general societal supports, from ramps to interpreters for the deaf. If we recognize the rights of all to participate in society in a useful, meaningful, and satisfying way, our whole society is better off. We benefit from the things that they can do. On a personal level, friends each have some special something that enhances our lives that makes it worth while for us to make sure that the restaurants we go to have a reasonable selection of gluten-free or vegan offerings, or even that activities are enjoyable for everyone participating. This is normal social interaction for everyone (I’m not counting the occasional narcissist who assumes that just because sports is the center of his life that everyone must enjoy it). Yes, sometimes we may want to eat Mexican, even though our best friend thinks cilantro tastes like soap, or wish we could go see fireworks, although our friend has PTSD that is triggered by loud noises. It’s a matter of scale.
There are some people who seem to think that their special circumstances entitle them to have the world, including you, rearrange itself for them. Hey, a jerk is a jerk whether they have a handicap or not, I’m not talking about that. There are mothers who still do their adult son’s laundry, but most of us achieve a better balance. I haven’t yet found a perfect answer to how to decide when to ask for or to offer help when it might make a task go faster, but make the person feel more helpless, and I think it probably each situation needs to be looked at individually.
I am getting older, and this means I sometimes have to have jars opened for me, and get help carrying heavy loads. I don’t drive after dark anymore. I don’t hear as well, nor is my memory as annoyingly good (there may be an advantage to that). All of us, unless we die young, are going to need help. And, let’s face it, not only is an old person not as cute as a baby, we’re a lot heavier, so it’s not as easy to pick up an elder as it is to change a baby’s diaper. We’d better make ourselves pleasant enough to make it worth it to those we need help from.
There’s no answer to this one, we can only think about it, and try to be kinder to each other.
A weed is generally hated, considered superfluous, if not harmful. The harm, of course, comes from the assumption that the herb is taking from the plants one wants there simply by existing, that it is valueless or even troublesome, if only because getting rid of them makes work and is not consistent with our imagined garden or lawn. In fact, many herbs improve conditions for other plants around them. We just don’t check.
Emerson said: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”
Clearly there is nothing different about a weed except our perception of the plants. The problem is not in the weeds, but our minds. Perhaps if we call it wort or weod as in the Old English source of the word, we wouldn’t think of them so harshly.
When I began studying and learning to identify medicinal and edible wild plants, fields and forests and roadsides became a vast resource to me. It’s our minds that need changing, not our the content of our yards. (unless you have eliminated the clover and dandelions and burdock and thistles and nettles from your yard- in that case, your yard should probably change.) While not what we were planning or hoping to grow, weeds are often hardier and more useful than what we try to grow.
Herbalists say that if a new plant appears in your yard, it’s because you need it, and I’ve found this to be true. I don’t recognize a new plant, I look it up, and usually discover it helps a problem that someone in the house has. Even “normal” people talk to plants, because they grow better when we do. Herbalists thank our herbs when we harvest them. Animists, like me, will ask a plant if it wants to help the patient, and sometimes one plant does and another plant doesn’t, even if they are the same species, and growing next to each other. Plants have consciousness and want to help us. I sometimes worry that they are like the Shmoos in Li’l Abner, too good to be true. We just need to know them better.
Eyeore said: “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”
We need to learn more! Although they often do seem to want to help us, I also wonder if perhaps even herbalists and botanists may still be ignorant about plants place in the world. (Just look at all the amazing things we are discovering about mushrooms/mycelium!) There may be so much more than we know about them which explains why they are willing to sacrifice their bodies for our benefit. They may be more evolved than us, who knows? When we talk about “Saving the world” we really mean “saving humans”. Perhaps when mushrooms save the world, it won’t include us anymore. If we can’t understand that we are not the world, not even the most important thing in the world, we may have failed as a species.
An analogy from weeds:
At this point in political history, I can’t help thinking about how so many people seem to see other people as weeds. They want to get rid of them because they don’t recognize their value; they are simply unaware of anything except that those other people are not what they planned and expected to see in their world, so they want to “weed them out”. Kill them, or at least remove them from where they live. They don’t realize that if they did this, it would destroy the complex system that makes everything work. They seem to think that if they get rid of or hide things that bother them, they will feel better. They don’t see how impossible it is that if they get rid of the “weed-people”, all the thing those people they despise do will be done automatically, (if we get rid of our “untouchable” caste, and suddenly we won’t need to defecate any more). It’s far too easy to simply decide to eradicate something that you don’t like, and assume that your life will be better, rather than trying to figure out why it’s there, and what it is that bothers you about it. The glyphosate crisis has illustrated the foolishness of that theory pretty well.
Plants have always been allies of humans, and it’s only when we decide that we prefer one plant over another, defining them as weeds, that we create an unbalanced ecosystem that will not support us. Go out to your doorstep and see what weeds you have there- bring them in and do an internet search and find out what the world is telling you that you need. You may be surprised to discover that weeds love you, and are trying to help.
Paul Harvey said “When there’s too much of it a flower becomes a weed.”
I was thinking about how people make “big” money these days. They make products- by finding places so economically strapped that they can pay slave wages. They find places where they can get resources for free, or nearly so, generally by taking them away from the people who live on the land with the permission of the government.They dump waste products without taking responsibility for cleaning up what hurts others, simply so they don’t have to pay for it.
Is there a way for people to make money on a large scale without exploiting people? Without making their profit by making sure that other people are working for almost no return under horrible conditions, by raping the land and fouling it?
If it is not the role of world governments to prevent these abuses, by making and enforcing laws stopping the people who are creating this (not just the ones who are caught up in the process), then what is a government for?
This morning I lost a contact. This was exacerbated by my having lost a contact a month ago, so I have been dealing with seeing clearly from only one eye while waiting for an appointment with the ophthalmologist (coming up only in another few weeks- he’s apparently a popular guy). Even then he has to send the order off to some lab, so it will be another week or ten days until I can see with both eyes again.
This brought into focus (as it were) many realizations about how dependent upon my contacts I am. Without them I cannot drive. I cannot work the computer (because while I can make some images bigger, and touch type a bit, I cannot see as far as my hands to find the right keys on the keyboard. No computer means no email, no facebook messages, no working on my website or the CTCW website, no painting, except for miniatures (with those and fine illumination I take out my contacts and have my nose almost on the surface as I work), no watching movies, or, in fact, seeing anything across the room, or anything anyone pointed out to me. I couldn’t tell if someone was pointing at something, or get hints about how they felt from facial expression. I wouldn’t see it.
I felt rather helpless. I called in Willow, whose talents luckily include finding and she did, in fact, find it, which is the only reason I’m able to write this. But the two hours it took her (I had dropped it in my bedroom where the path between bed and dresser is narrow, further blocked by stacks of books and probably related to that, not vacuumed in longer than I like to think, I was able to ruminate on how my poor eyesight would effect the whole family. I’d been getting dressed to go to the dump. Until then, Willow would have to do dump runs. She’d have to do all errands, drive me and Kat to any appointments. I wouldn’t be able to go to the library or shopping. I would probably be able to continue cooking, washing dishes and do other domestic chores, but I was going to have to get help to contact the people who’s paintings I was working on to let them know about the issue.
I started thinking about people in history before there were glasses. (Sadly, my prescription is such that if I wear on the nose type glasses I get dizzy and walk into things, so I don’t bother with a back-up pair.) Grandma could still sew if one of the kids was available to thread her needle. Old people ask those with good eyes to tell them what’s going on. Some jobs were not possible. Helpers help, but it comes down to what you can do and what you can’t. Which takes us to the Captain Jack Sparrow’s quote I used as a title: “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man, or you can’t. … And me, for example, I can let you drown. But I can’t bring this ship into Tortuga all by me oneses, savy?”
He compared two problems, what Will chose to believe, and what he physically could do. It’s easier to look at our physical limitations, although those still are a problem. I think most of my old friends share my occasional confusion when we try something we’ve “done all our lives” and it doesn’t work any more. This may or may not be because we define what we can do by our personal best, as though that should always be possible (and improvable). Intellectually we may accept that our reflexes are a bit slower, we tire more quickly, we forget things we “should” remember, and it hurts when we try to lift something we think is not that heavy. We can blame it on others, “my doctor doesn’t want me to…” “I haven’t recovered since the last time I was sick…” but it’s easier to accept our gains than our losses. So we become experts at working around our disabilities. Carry smaller but more loads, think around the need for strength or speed, medicate the pain or work through it (and maybe be cranky), and as a last resort ask for help.
Thank goodness we have modern technologies to help us! No one thinks twice about glasses and hearing aides these days. We are getting more accepting of prosthetic devices and wheelchairs, but we still have problems when someone trying to do something for themselves requires us to be inconvenienced. We recognize that a wheelchair doesn’t help with stairs, but don’t want to pay to have buildings retrofitted with ramps. People with prosthesis remind us of our own fears of dealing with serious injuries. We appear not to be able to deal with “otherness”, and would rather the people who are trying so hard to just have a life just stayed out of sight so we didn’t have to think about it. Many of us even get cross when we have a hard time understanding the accent of someone who speaks English as well as their own, and possibly several other languages. Why should their “disability” slow our lives down? We need to learn to accept disabilities in ourselves and in others as a part of life.
We have to accept what we can do and what we can’t do. When we figure out what we can do, we can often find work-arounds to do more, to get what we need and what we want done. If we accept that some of us need glasses, and when we wear them, we are good drivers, how far can that be from some of us need medications to keep our blood sugar or moods regulated, and can still do what those around us do. We shouldn’t have to pretend that we don’t need the help we need to be accepted.
Learning to believe something that changes your world view- that may be harder, and if I come up with a good answer for that, I’ll share it. After all, Will did eventually believe that his father was both a pirate and a good man. Some day perhaps we will learn to accept that this is true of people with other beliefs.
I have had the Downeaster Alexa going through my head this past week, and it rarely fails to make me cry. I can’t help sympathizing with a man who only wants to support his family, even if it is very hard work. Fishermen, Miners, and others, it’s not that they are asking for a free ride, they simply want to be able to keep doing what has worked in the past for their fathers.
The problem is that they are forgetting that things have changed. They are forgetting that although once vast, the resources they are using are not infinite. The shoals and banks have been fished out, the coal and oil is used up, the water from underground aquafers is nearly gone, and that it cannot be replenished in an foreseeable future. This throws farmers who have planted crops in places where the rain will not support them in the same group. Likewise people who have built shining cities on fault lines and floodplains will lose them- or rather the people who live in them when the water rises and the land shakes will suffer. Those who started it are mostly safely in their graves. Perhaps their spirits will grieve for their descendants who they thought they had left a lasting legacy. Their fault was accepting a false, if comforting, lie, and that is shared with those who have to deal with the results.
Like abused women who stay with their abusers who promise to never hurt them again, our miners and fishermen believe the lie because they cannot see any another way to survive. The answer is not to tell them to fix it themselves, but to help them find another way. It is highly unlikely that we can get those who profited from the original decision to take on the cost of cleaning up after it, but that doesn’t change the problem that it still needs to be fixed. People need to be moved away from at-risk areas, and people whose jobs are dependent on depleted resources need to be given other options to support themselves. To not do so is to perpetuate the lie, and that will only make things worse. We also should protect the last of the resources so that, even if they can not recover enough or soon enough for us to start exploiting them again, that they have a chance to recover.
We need to scale back. Use less, find a sustainable level of living on this planet. I read a story about people from the First Nations who traded furs for guns and ammunition. They were able to harvest many more pelts more easily, although their old people warned them not to desert the old ways where they recognized the balance that needed to be preserved, but the addition of firearms and metal cooking pots and cloth and all the other things they could get by trading made it seem foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity. A few generations later the fur trade collapsed, and they no longer knew how to live the old ways. We can learn how to live with less than instant gratification. Remember, children are not hurt by having limits imposed, they feel better when they know what is reasonable. It’s time for us to grow up, and stop acting like spoiled children.
I will not deny that the accumulation of great wealth allows those who have it to patronize artists, and Tiffany and Faberge would not have been able to make the beautiful things they made without patrons paying for them spending years on a project. But beauty can be created without using slave labor to dig diamonds up to create something to sparkle. Pyzanki eggs are as delicate and colorful, if not as valuable and sparkly. These days many women donate their wedding gowns so that others can afford to have one day dressing like a princess. Centuries ago some towns kept a wedding crown to loan to brides, thus sharing the cost, and those who couldn’t borrow those made exquisite straw crowns, now preserved in museums for their beauty. The craft “quilling” was was created by nuns to get the effect of gold filigree with paper strips. Art will happen even without patrons. The aristocratic cultures that exploited the people and resources to create a beautiful life for themselves are like soap bubbles- beautiful, delicate, and colorful, but they cannot last. Sadly, neither can any system built on using resources in a non-sustainable way. To accept the lie is to support and participate in it. I only hope that we can turn to sustainability before we push more resources past the point where they can recover.