Friday, May 27
"..,Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It should force us to ask not just "Why is there war?" but also "Why is there peace?" Not just "What are we doing wrong?" but also "What have we been doing right?" Because we have been doing something right, and it sure would be good to find out what it is." - Steven Pinker - The Myth of Violence
As discouraged as we get in tough times, a generous dose of historical perspective shows us that human beings crave peace, recognize love, and struggle to make the world a better place.
Most civilized people will agree that war is insane. It is the last resort and a sad spiral into chaos. It is the break down of civility and reason. War is hell, and when we accept this notion, we must also accept that human beings have made progress from dumb acceptance of fists first to fists last. More freedom, fewer class distinctions, and less racial discrimination result in people looking for similarities more often than differences. Freedom from tyranny and brutal oppression result in less fear and more love. Despite the current collective unconsciousness telling us to think poverty, think lack, think conflict; the prevailing collective consciousness persists on thinking of ways to move forward peacefully, sharing, and caring for the planet and for each other.
It's good to know that over the past two thousand years or more, people have changed. We have evolved to accommodate a larger population. We recognize the value of cooperating and innovating to make better use of limited resources. We can and will do better.
Wednesday, May 18
Tuesday, May 10
Yesterday evening, my friend and I began our "Pottery for Beginners" classes. I remember that in my twenties, I made fun of middle aged women who crafted, quilted, potted, found satisfaction in homely, hand made things. For a time, my Mom tried decoupage and water color painting, both of which she enjoyed and was good at. Even after her inspiring example, I still couldn't "find the time" to create something from scratch, to get my hands dirty, to learn a new skill.
Well, instead of making fun of someone, I'm now simply making fun. For those twenty-somethings, busy with work, romance, etc., I hope you will bypass the scoffing and find the fun and satisfaction of creating something from a blob of clay or paint, or fabric, or all of the above. Several women in the class not only work with clay, potting or sculpting, but also make jewelery, textiles, paintings, and other beautiful things. It seems that once a person catches the "get your hands dirty" bug, the sky is the limit.
My first few attempts at making a clay cylinder, simple as it sounds, were intense and rewarding. Our instructors, Dennis and Julie, made my stiff and pokey fingers work magic through patient explanation, example and encouragement. Maybe the real reward for making things is the addition of a whole new set of friends sharing similar interests and experiences.
Now, on to the glazing and firing!
Friday, May 6
- Youssou N'Dour Feat. Neneh Cherry—"7 Seconds"
I dreamt about Osama bin Laden last night. I can't recall the details of the dream, but I do remember the terror and sadness that pervaded the dream. When I started to wake up, in a twilight half-sleep, I heard a crash and the breaking of glass. The terror had followed me from my dream to my half reality.
My husband and I held each other, waiting for more noise and more information and I realized what happened. I had placed one of my fractal collage pictures on a shelf in the bathroom yesterday. It was a beautiful blue spiral fractal superimposed on a palm tree photo taken by my son and I loved it. I had leaned it against the wall and even then, I wondered if it might fall. Once I figured out what had happened, I calmed my husband and went to see the damage. The picture had fallen on the floor and in the fall, it broke a beautiful "sleeping cherub" snow globe that I cherished. Nothing else was harmed. The picture's glass was fine, but the fragile glass of the globe was shattered. Glittery water sparkled amongst the glass shards and wrecked porcelain. I cleaned it all up as quietly as I could while my husband and the rest of the family slept in peace. Things could go back to normal. The terror that my mind had manufactured and amplified receded like a dark tide. It was there, but not here.
What was that all about, I wondered. I seldom have vivid dreams and rarely do I remember nightmares. Then I remembered that I had read two things about Osama bin Laden last night before I went to bed.
One was the "clarification" of the Dali Lama's comments yesterday when he was asked about the killing of bin Laden and replied that, "Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. ... If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."
The second commentary I read is by Chris Hedges, the author of one of my favorite books, "Losing Moses on the Freeway." His commentary is the most disturbing, because he cuts through the nationalistic fist pumping of the media and gives some perspective and scale to this killing. He articulates the relief I feel that this terrorist is gone, and also articulates the ambivalence I feel about the way he was destroyed.
These thoughts were percolating in my brain last night and I am still trying to sort out my feelings. I know that because of bin Laden, terrorism is now ingrained in American life. I know that America can and does do terrible things to good people because of this terrorism. I see tiny fissures in America's facade exposing powerful fault lines, ready to pull apart and separate us from each other with each terror quake. I know it is inevitable that a jolt of hate either from within the country or without it will cause shifts, changes, crashes, damage, the loss of something cherished in my lifetime. The glittering lifeblood of our democratic ideals is already leaking out of these fissures because terror is at our heart now, not courage. I am sad that we must grow up and live among people that do not value what we cherish. How do we do this?
Are we humble enough, clear headed enough, compassionate enough to see through burkas, head dresses, tank tops, gang signs, all of the different trappings of survival on this planet, to the people we must live with. Maybe, as we grow tired of the rhetoric of terror, we will clean up the damage and really look at what we have and realize we, the people, are responsible for the nature that nurtures. If we persist in demonizing and hating and separating ourselves we will perish. People are beautiful. We are connected and must find philosophies, ideologies, governments that support these connections. Dreams are strange and disturbing things.
May all beings know love and peace.
Thursday, May 5
"But, just as I told you before, the fool sees his neighbor's peccadillo and fails to see his own enormous crime." - Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies
"Which would you rather be, a boy or a girl?" I asked my older brother.
"A boy, of course," he said.
"Girls bleed, they have babies which is really painful, and they're stupid and weak," he explained, exposing his twelve-year-old, second-hand-experiences, and hearsay wisdom
I was puzzled. What about the Virgin Mary? What about all of the women saints? What about our mother? What about the nuns and teachers at school? What about Mrs. Lawler, the cafeteria lady? I saw the faces of so many women who contributed good things to my world that my brother's comments seemed wrong and false. In his mind men were superior
As I grew older, I realized this male superiority complex is prevalent and my brother's complex was pretty tame compared to the right wing conservative men in today's U.S. House of Representatives. Men and women voters elected these men to represent, protect and serve their needs, not feed their egos, grandstand, and create needless drama.
What purpose does H.R. 3 and H. Res 237 serve but to broadcast to women that their role in life is to bleed, have babies, be stupid and weak. These men must protect the unborn from the culture of death inhabited by demented women, even and especially those women who will deceive the government by crying "rape." These men advocate a small, less intrusive government which allows gun owners, weapons manufacturers, job creators (aka corporations), bankers...you get the picture...less oversight and more privacy. But, women!!! Society must be protected from women who choose legal abortions. Why? (See brother's answer above.)
Women are made to bleed so they may reproduce. Women are made to suffer excruciating pain so they may keep the human race going. Before birth control, women were weakened and died from too many pregnancies. Before abortion was legalized, desperate women sought back alley abortions and often died from them to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Today, a woman's life is not all about preparing to be pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth, and preparing to be pregnant again. Today, women do not have to bleed, nor do they have to deliver babies. Thanks to Margaret Sanger and other feminist pioneers who were not only concerned with women's equality in the workplace, but more concerned with a women's right to be healthy.
Women have a right to be healthy. Giving birth is a personal health issue not a political football. My life is more important than that of a fetus. If my mental, physical or emotional health is endangered due to a pregnancy, I may choose to end the pregnancy. The reverse is also true. A woman may choose to go ahead with a pregnancy even if it kills her.
H.R. 3 intrudes into this difficult decision making process. It dismisses the health risks associated with pregnancy. It denigrates women who do not want to take the health risk because they are too young, victims of incest, poor, or incapable of caring for an infant. It is a steaming pile of legislative crap created by hysterical chest beaters who have no business representing serious men and women faced with feeding, clothing, housing, educating, and parenting children today.
I keep trying to think of a scenario similar to women's reproductive rights. Something that these chest beaters might grasp. All I can come up with is a man's choice to enlist and fight a war, or not enlist. Like child birth, there are good reasons to enlist. Like childbirth, there are serious health concerns, but the statistics are in favor of surviving the ordeal. Now, what if a group of women legislators, penalized men for not enlisting. What if this difficult decision making process was proscribed by law - IRS audits, no federal health care funding, private insurance company oversight, parental consent....yadda, yadda - how would men feel?
Then again, these people are pretty heartless. Look how they take care of the children already born in this country. The republican voting record when it comes to children's issues is terrible. Finding a beating heart among the drama kings is hard, but finding any productive reasoning, is almost impossible.
May all women know love and peace.