Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I didn’t major in something that ended in “Studies,” so I’m confused.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations in Paris, one cartoonist responded with a hand rising from bloody paper, middle finger raised in a universal gesture, “F— you!”

It’s a predictable response from a cartoonist. However, something about it struck me, for the first time. It’s graphical sexual violence. Isn’t it a rape metaphor?

When someone screams, “F— You,” they aren’t seeking consent. When the global climate is “F—ed up,” something’s been done to it, and we now have to live with the consequences, and they’re never good. We’re not exactly drifting off to sleep in the peace of loving intimacy.

The same is true of the F-bomb’s older, and hence less shocking, ancestors in American slang. It’s pretty screwed up, if you ask me. That sentence has become so detached from its original connotation that it doesn’t even register with most people. The same is happening with the F-bomb. It is now an F—cracker, on its way to becoming an F-sparkler.

What will take its place? R-pe You? That would be offensive. But don’t they all mean pretty much the same thing?

I’m confused.

One of my friends posted a very interesting analogy in their status on Facebook—that if the US Government were a family, it would have an income of $58,000 a year, spend $75,000 a year, and have $325,000 debt. And it just made what it thought were really painful spending cuts of $3000, to $72,000 a year.

As usual, I thought, “It’s not that simple,” and wrote this little parable.

THE FAMILY FUND

It’s not that simple.

Imagine that we’re the family, and that the government is like this family fund that we each put money into and the family spends out of, based on what gets decided at family meetings.

Some of it goes to maintain the house, but most of it goes to give poorer family members a helping hand, and the next biggest chunk goes into fighting other families in the neighborhood. Oh, and more and more of it goes to interest on loans.

Our family’s been aging, so more of us would otherwise be poor, so we’re paying more out of the family fund to help them. And we’ve really gotten into it with the neighbors, so that’s costing more too.

Our family’s been changing in other ways too. (more…)

Last week, a friend referred me to a TED talk by Kathryn Schulz, “On Being Wrong.”

The talk is only 18 minutes long and I found it worth a listen. She points out that being wrong feels just like being right until we find out that we’re wrong. Then it feels awful. So we avoid checking to see whether we’re wrong—a bad local optimization if there ever was one.

If we really are in the Time of Icarus, a lot of us have been wrong about a lot of things. I can’t find the source, but, “There is no such thing as a crisis, only the end of an illusion.” But the way we’re handling it is circling the wagons, tightening our grip on Ours, and blaming Them.

Good luck with that. (more…)

Today a person said a deeply hurtful thing to me.

I have an explanation for it. They’ve spent a lot of time in the last two weeks in large crowds, marinating in sometimes inflammatory sights and sounds, and they misunderstood a statement I made.

I also called their words inexcusable. This is not a contradiction.

An explanation builds understanding. I long for explanations of why a person believes the way they do, feels the way they do, acts the way they do, and speaks the way they do.

An excuse evades responsibility. If I’m walking in the path of love, I’ll forgive—maybe not right away—but I’ll do it. An explanation is helpful, but not necessary. As for an excuse, I’ll just add it to the offense that I intend to forgive.

When it comes to the recent heated debates about public-sector unions and budget bills raging in several of the United States of America, I find myself in a sort of no-man’s land.

I’ve been encouraging my friends on the Right to look at what’s really in these proposals and think for themselves, rather than just following their natural reaction against anything that the Left is for. From them I’ve gotten mostly silence.

I’ve been encouraging my friends on the Left to stop talking down to people on the Right, calling them idiots (or worse), and then wondering why those same people don’t come over to the Left’s positions or vote for the Left’s candidates. Today, I really got blasted for it. (more…)