“All the Buddhas of all the ages have been telling you a very simple fact: Be – don’t try to become. Within these two words – being and becoming, your whole life is contained. Being is enlightenment, becoming is ignorance.”—Osho (via lazyyogi)
“Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.”—Rob Bell (via alovefromabove)
“People ask me, ‘Why don’t you guys get together?’ And I say, ‘Exactly how much would you expect me to cooperate with Michele Bachmann?’ And they say, ‘Are you saying they’re all Michele Bachmann?’ And my answer is, ‘No, they’re not all Michele Bachmann. Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann.”—Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Note to self: Don’t frame a series of 32x32 charcoals with glass. It’s more than a little disappointing when one panel is knocked down, taking the others with it, shattering on your back and head, and gouging the artwork. Well, at least the frames held up. Except for the corner of one.
Missing from the discussion of the shooting of Trayvon Martin is a potentially contributing factor: urban planning and its role in the polarization of American society.
There can be no doubt that our public discourse has become oppositional and vituperative. Social and mass media exacerbate the situation by blurring traditional distinctions between partisan commentary and objective reporting, and by creating informational ghettos where dissent is unwelcome.
Gated communities are the urbanistic equivalent of sites such as WorldNetDaily and Media Matters—places designed for homogeneity, where individuals can feel safe and avoid the unfamiliar. Yet the promise of security offered by gated communities is an illusion. Those walls and gates provide little more than product packaging and brand positioning for the developer.
In a 2010 blog post, Kaid Benfield, director of sustainable communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote, “Subdivisions secured by gates intended to exclude outsiders may not be safer than those that are fully public. This is because they can lack the social cohesion and interaction with the larger community that for millennia have served as deterrents to crime and other antisocial behavior.”
Aside from the equivalence given to WND and MM above (one publishes original articles designed to divide, the other fact-checks them), this column makes a very important point about how the deliberate segregation of gated communities nurtures the fears that lead them to be built, and magnify the divisions that America already has.
House Republicans haven’t been responsible for a single bill that has had a positive impact on the economy. But they want to take credit for the recovery, arguing that they stopped the Democrats from taking actions like raising taxes on the very rich. “In many ways our greatest success is the things we’ve stopped,” said David Schweikert, an Arizona freshman.
The public is unlikely to be persuaded by these absurd boasts. It’s hard to see how these lawmakers will explain to voters that they are responsible for a recovery they have worked so hard to block.
Hard to see? I don’t think so.
"Imagine what would have happened to this economy if we had let Obama and the Democrats get their way. Thanks to us this country is getting back on its feet, because we stopped their job-killing legislation." —some Republican on Fox
It doesn’t have to be true, or even make sense. It only needs to be something that their supporters can repeat, and by which they can replace an obvious fact. Conservatives want to believe them, and will; they just need to know the story that explains why.
Perhaps John Derbyshire felt left out with all the recent discussion about “the talk” that black parents need to have with their sons at a certain age. Perhaps, as a self-proclaimed racist, he wanted to share with the world that racists have unique parenting challenges as well. But what he wasn’t doing, obviously, was sharing what a smart white parent should tell their kids.
For me, this recent discussion that the death of Trayvon Williams has generated has reminded me of my own conservative parents, and what they told me at the age of 16 or 17. They are subscribers of Derbyshire’s (former) magazine, but I recall having a very different talk.
I grew up in Alabama, where one might expect discussions about race to be fairly common, and compared to most states they probably are. But I grew up in the mountainous north, in the countryside, and our area was so overwhelmingly white that we didn’t have a reason to talk about it much at all. My school had an extremely small minority of black or mixed-race children, perhaps around five percent, and aside from one in the third grade, I don’t recall any race based fights. Even then, most of the white kids sided with the black boy, simply because Connie was our friend and the other boy was a bully.
I played on sports teams with a few kids who were black, and learned a tiny amount from them about their perspectives through things like their fears of away games at all-white schools. I understood it a little, but thought they were safe with us, with our coaches, and that those other schools were full of fairly normal kids like ourselves. In general I thought their fears were slightly irrational. This was the 1980’s, the civil rights movement was before I was even born. I had no idea how young I was then.
We traveled down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast often to visit family there. Typically we stayed with an aunt or uncle, but on one trip in my 11th grade, my dad had a conference of some sort, so we stayed at a hotel facing the beach in Biloxi. This was a whole new way of visiting the area for me. My sister wasn’t with us, and my parents had a lot to do, and so they left me alone at the hotel quite a bit.
I had a great time. I hung out at the pool where I kept having to prove I was a guest, flirted shyly with the pink-haired girl in the flower shop—I think her name was Vita, and met a group of six or seven other boys my age. They were all from Mississippi, and already knew each other, but didn’t mind my tagging along with them, because we actually had a lot of things in common.
We hung out mostly in the evenings when they were back at the hotel, and would walk around parts of Biloxi, go over to the shops along the beach, and other harmless things. We joked a lot with one of the guys who was a high school senior, about his upcoming enrollment at Xavier, which at the time had a very impressive ratio of women to men.
And so it came that one day, my mom pulled me aside to talk about race. The father of one of the boys was nervous about me hanging around with the others since I was white and they were all black, and so he had brought it up to my parents. My mother described that to me and suggested that maybe it wasn’t a great idea for me to be joining them at night outside the hotel. She explained how there were a lot of people who were still very racist and that a mixed group of boys out together at night might draw their attention.
I didn’t understand at first why I needed to respect an unknown racist’s idea of who should be friends, and it made me angry. After that, I faulted the dad who cautioned my mom, who I thought was overreacting. Then I was annoyed at my mom for telling me that I couldn’t do something harmless—-they were all good kids and I was being told I couldn’t hang out with them. I even started to question whether she just didn’t trust those particular boys.
But I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t the case. And I also could see that the dad was trying to protect me just as much as the others. He didn’t have a problem with me or any other white kid, he just had concerns for safety that had never really dawned on me before. In fact I might have been a richer target for a drunk racist looking for a fight than the other boys, since I stood out.
He knew all that, and so did my mom. We talked about being careful in new places where you don’t know a lot of people, about walking in public places near major roads where someone looking for trouble might pick out our group, about a lot of things that had never occurred to me before. We had our talk, a much different version than the one that I expect so many black boys in America need to hear before they reach that age, but sadly inspired by many of the same reasons and same people.
I hung out with those guys for another day or so, and then they all abruptly left before we did. I stopped again at the flower shop to try and talk to the pink-haired girl one more time, but her shop was closed the final days of our trip. The hotel seemed empty at that point. After we left, the only thing that really stayed with me from the week was my talk with my mom.
Derbyshire’s article made me think how thankful I am that my mother and I had our talk, and that my parents never tried to sit me down with the one that he describes. Maybe I just live in a different world than he does.
My kids are small, but my son, at 8, is old enough to start asking questions about race, discrimination and segregation, and he does. It’s not time to talk to him about people that might threaten or attack him and his black friends, but it will be at some point, probably soon. When it is, I think I’m ready.
As United States lawmakers continue to consider anti-piracy legislation in Congress, they’ve found an ally in Netflix. Now the streaming content giant has created its own super PAC, whose main goal is to promote SOPA-like legislation.
Well. I guess now we know why Netflix was so keen on separating the DVDs from the instant streaming.