Monday, September 14, 2009
I wish that people would consider what's behind all the animosity that comes forward when political debates are had. Personal philosophies on things like self-determination, the roles of western civilization on the individual throughout history, and of course, the lenses through which we see our history/histories shape so much of what we value. I'm so tired of hearing people talk about health care like it's either an attempt by masked fascists to control our minds or a necessity that must be passed through without due consideration. If we took a moment to examine one another's personal philosophies (and in many cases, our own) on any hypothetical group's responsibility to take care of its own, the conversation would be over. Because I'm not sure those values can be changed much without a huge change in one's socioeconomic status.
Since this is my blog, I feel free enough to say that rich people (those who never worry about money, even though they might pretend to) have little to no need for the programs and services offered by much of what their precious "tax dollars" fund. I find it hilarious when they complain about their "tax dollars enabling and supporting" those whose lifestyles they disagree with, and in many cases, completely misunderstand (i.e. underserved migrant workers, the poor, drug addicts, et cetera). It's funny because the United States generates so little revenue in its tax dollars outside of defense spending (don't even get me started) compared with other developed countries in the world.
I'm saying this because I've recently affirmed my personal philosophy on society's responsibility to take care of its poorest, sickest, and least able-bodied. Working in the public interest for only a year and in such a narrow demographic has opened my eyes to how distorted the wealthy's perception of the poor is, and it's likely because those in the middle and upper-middle classes have virtually no real exposure to the working poor. It's easy for them to assume that the poor are just lazy, unwilling to pay their own bills, and eager to go through the incredible hassle of a work-to-welfare program.
Poverty is a regular vacation in the eyes of those who can afford to take one.
I'd also like to ask those so adamantly opposed to healthcare reform why they don't seem to give a shit about how much money their government is wasting on military spending.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Love is an active thing that requires persistence, dedication, and integrity. It's not to be confused with immaturity, sexual deviance, or purses & cosmopolitans.
I don't want to lump every community in the acronym together because that would be as narrow-minded as presuming that gay men shouldn't be boy scout leaders. But what we find consistently among these groups in social politics, above anything, is the need to prove one's capacity to love. Before marriage ever came into discussion, skepticism about the legitimacy of love among LGBTQ folks was rampant. Love of what? Oneself, one's partner(s), one's mother, one's father.
And, of course, in some parts of the country, there is still pressure on us to prove loving someone of the same sex does not equal romantic love for one's sister, one's cub scout, or one's neighbor's pet goat. (For whatever reason, sexuality and gender identity issues are often mistaken for sexual disorders and taboos like incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.)
In any case, it is saddening and disappointing that, at this stage in progressing the rights of members of LGBTQ communities, there is still a debate about whether one's capacity to love is equal to that of the heterosexual individual. Many anti-gay-marriage proponents argue that it is a matter of the laws, and that the cultural definition of commitment (which they say is unquantifiable) plays no role in defining marriage.
It is obvious, though, that the cultural perception of love and the human ability to demonstrate great affection and care for individuals across gender lines is skewed. Where people differ on the issue of something like "gay marriage" has nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with what I believe is a misinformed philosophy on the teleological purpose of human beings and the ideal form of human identity.
Ironically, I believe those who oppose marriage are themselves symbols for how easy it is to slip onto a path of euphemistic hatred and degradation-- the two devastating forces that they actually claim will destroy American family values once LGBTQ folks are granted all the rights we/they deserve. By contrast, those who fight for the right to marry are symbols of persistence in love and devotion.
If I could, I'd call on all of those in love with someone who is NOT a heterosexual male or female to come forward and demonstrate that love can be legitimate no matter how different the couple (or triple?) seems. Age, color, gender identity, orientation, music taste, and even political philosophy cease to matter when other people are bringing out the best in us. And that is what love does, isn't it?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I should have clarified earlier that weekends, days on which I receive unemployment from the Massachusetts Division of Workforce and Labor Development, and holidays don't count as blogging days.
Most of what I want to talk about pertains to food, as promised. I read an interesting editorial today that again sparked my recent fascination with the link between avoiding processed foods and living better. Articulating that makes it sound so stupid. DUH. Of course "junk" food is bad for you! But that's not what I mean.
Many people don't acknowledge that "whole grain" foods are "processed." General Mills might seem like health food to some in the same way that Quaker granola snacks don't seem like candy bars (they are). We don't just have "junk food" anymore. We have a LOT of food-like substances that we buy and eat because they kind of taste like food and are cheap. Then we take dietary supplements to "fill the gaps."
I actually saw this very dietary philosophy advertised in a PediaSure commercial recently. In it, a mom stands in her kitchen playfully rolling her eyes and shrugging to her audience about how her "picky eater" of a kid had to start drinking PediaSure "after her diet began to affect her growth and development." Really? Want to know how to make sure your kid eats right? MAKE THEM. Don't give them animal crackers if they won't eat carrots. Let her go hungry until she eats the carrots. I was a nanny for 7 years. I've fed angels, demons, and the spawn of Satan himself. Eventually, the kid takes the carrot. Human beings are built to eat when they are hungry. If your kid is willing to eat animal crackers but not dinner, she's never experienced hunger. And now you're going to give her all kinds of behavioral disorders because your failing to show her boundaries (which is really what she wants) and she'll trudge through life listless, untrusting, and likely a binge-eating kelptomaniac. But I digress.
I'm trying to explain this to myself as well as this trusty blog because I've undergone what I believe is a personal revolution with food recently. It extends through every part of how I live... not only in how I eat, but how I see food's distribution throughout the country and its social, economic, and political consequences. It's amazing what people accomplish without having enough food, and equally astounding what people who have too much of the wrong "food" can't accomplish. Like harness energy, live actively, be happy, or avoid diabetes.
I can't tell whether I'm stating the obvious or am just plain late in saying that I believe that the American food industry has conspired to keep the poor poor, the rich rich (again, DUH), and of course, the fat fat. I know that on a surface level, all of this seems obvious. We are a "fast food nation." Okay, fine. But is it just "fast food" as we perceive it that's hurting us?
For instance, I didn't know until recently that 90% of the corn harvested in this country is inedible to humans. Almost all of it becomes grain feed for cattle or is processed into food (most likely soft drinks) for us. Oh, or it becomes ethanol for fueling our our precious motor vehicles! What that means is that the corporate vendors who feed us and the government who "regulates" them find our dietary needs on par with those of tortured animals (ironically also future food?) and machines that feed but don't feel. Great.
Learning more about this, feeling afraid of my future self, and being downright curious about the alternatives (it sounds funny to call eating like a human being "eating an alternative diet").
In order to even approach food differently, I had to temporarily remove myself from the entire system. Books helped to detach my sugar-addicted perspective, of course, but treating a temporary "survival" diet as an experiment or game helped too. [Thank you, Les Stroud, for going days without eating and cherishing water in ways I never could.] Using this time, wherein I ate only "survival foods" (tea, plants, fresh and pastured meat, seeds, and some fresh unprocessed whole grains) allowed me to also experiment with scratch foods. Pasta, breads, animals, soups, and personal dietary staples like pico made me realize how valuable it is to understand that what we do to food determines what food does to us.
After a few weeks of feeling great, I decided to extend my "survival" diet with a few exceptions. I can have the occasional diet coke, coffee is okay a few times per week (but with no sweeteners), and special occasions don't mean I can't have a cupcake (<3).>
This started more as a political action: boycott the institutions that keep us down and their products because Americans deserve to eat better. But I realized after feeling better, thinking more clearly, and weighing a little less that this isn't just political. It's a medical, social, economic, humanitarian AND political issue. It's a "catch all" issue because eating (one of the four teleological purposes we have in life, I think) impacts everything we do and how well we do it. Which might explain not only why Americans have higher rates of specific chronic diseases than most other developed nations in the world, but why we have such high instances of behavioral problems (which, I realize, are also a by-product of reality television and the internets), depression, anxiety, and HUNGER. And bottle rot.
Why are we not only willing, but eager to accept the offer of processed meals for cheap? Why can't real food now be cheap? There are so many answers, but I think acting now will get us closer to a desirable outcome for all eaters.
I always thought that mobilizing herds of vigilantes or picketing for change or voting served as symbols of protest and social unrest. But I truly believe that refusing to participate in the establishments that are poisoning us and destroying us at our foundation is the strongest move we can make. And when I say we, I mean everyone who eats from the center aisles in the grocery store.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
God, I can't wait to be back in school.
I decided recently to not be afraid anymore. It didn't ever occur to me that to be afraid is a state of mind, and ultimately, it's one you choose. Or I chose. Either way, I'm not going to do it anymore. I realized how much of my decision making was out of fear and insecurity, and while I acknowledge now that I need some level of security in my financial life, I let a lot of my fears about the future trickle into every aspect of now.
For example, law school. My fantasy of going to law school began during a work slump and in the dead of winter. I was looking for something challenging, a terminal degree, and something I could attain and feel "secure" within public interest. I wanted to be an attorney for all the wrong reasons. I looked at it as if it was the sum of all of these parts I needed in order to look 10 years down the road and feel "secure." Thank god I couldn't afford it.
I'm also done being afraid of my personal future life. I don't know where this level of insecurity began, but I could really laugh realizing how long it's lasted. I'm so fortunate in so many ways, and I have to stop comparing myself people who "know" what they want (they don't), and others with whom I'll just never connect. For example, I remember going out on days and nights when I was exhausted or literally had no interest, but my reasons for not going took a backseat to my eagerness to be with people. I would unconsciously infuse myself into any social opportunity because I was afraid to be alone. What does it say about you when you're alone and no one else is? Turns out, nothing.
Most people are with people just because THEY don't want to be alone. I observed that on a recent outing, where I realized that I had no actual interest in being there. Then I looked around to see why ANYONE would want to be there. Actually, they're all just afraid of being alone, too. Maybe not for the night, but ultimately. That's what socializing is for-- avoiding isolation (with the exception of, when you get lucky, having an engaging conversation, which I find rare). I have to stop giving myself so much credit; I frequently and unknowingly separate myself from situations and let myself believe that my circumstances are unique. Insecurity is universal and utterly human.
So I'm going to let myself be insecure and stop forcing things and trying to "make" things happen. I'll go against my proactive instincts when it comes to things like career, social life, and to some degree, my education, and I'll see what reappears in my head once the dust has settled. I'm done scrambling around trying to make answers for myself when I haven't even relaxed enough to be honest about what I really want. And as a result, I have no idea what I really want. I really need to start being more honest with myself.
Maybe I should save up some cash for my loans loans and try out subsistent living for a year.
Pretty sure the idea of individual destiny is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. But I guess it's useful in capitalism. It's important to remember that no one ever really "accomplishes" anything. Does that make me a Nihilist? I'm pretty sure the only thing to be accomplished these days is to collectively reduce the amount of pain in the world and make beautiful, amusing, and entertaining things. Does anything else matter?
Everything else in life should be filled with food that tastes good, people who feel good, music that sounds good, movement that makes us good, heat because I like it, and books that make us grow. I'm pretty sure that literally everything else is utterly pointless. Which makes me question why I'm so eager to spend my life in academia.
This turned out way heavier than I intended. Sorry; I haven't had my coffee yet.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The soul harms itself, first and foremost, when it becomes (as far as it can) a separate growth, a sort of tumor on the universe: because to resent anything that happens is to separate oneself in revolt from Nature, which holds in collective embrace the particular natures of all other things.
In (wo)man's life, time is a mere instant, existence a flux, perception fogged, with whole bodily composition rotting, one's mind a whirlgig, fortune unpredictable, fame unclear. To put it shortly: all things of the body stream away like a river; all things of the mind are dreams and delusion; life is warfare, a visit in a strange land; the only lasting fame is oblivion.
What then can escort us on our way? One thing, and one thing only: Philosophy.