Some Big Questions

November 20, 2008

Greetings blog readers. I have blog posts floating around in my head, but neither the time nor energy to articulate them. Blogging for me seems to have ups and downs. Such is life.

Plus, I get the distinct feeling that I write about the same themes and questions over and over again. Like they say, preachers all have one or two great sermons and they just give them in a bunch of different ways. Such is the case with many of my blog posts. I guess this post is no exception…

Courtney over at posted this today:

1. What is the accurate, once-and-for-all differences between men’s and women’s brains?
2. How can a woman who’s super invested in mothering also protect her own creative/intellectual/professional life?
3. What truly works when it comes to rape and violence prevention?
4. When do I focus on being right and when do I focus on being effective?
5. When do I address sexism directly and when it is best to handle it indirectly?
6. How can society still be so invested in the categories hetero, homo, and bi when sexuality so obviously exists on a spectrum?
7. Why do so many feminists resist being critical about the institution of marriage?
8. How can we have no holds bar honest conversations about race and class disparities within feminist circles?
9. How important is it that women embrace the feminist label?
10. How ethical is it that feminist writers like Judith Butler and even bell hooks are hard for my women’s studies 101 students to understand?

I thought it was good. I feel like I have some similar questions that I come back to over and over.

1. How do I balance between living an enjoyable life that involves some unnecessary but enjoyable comforts (vacation, new clothes, eating cheese) with living a simple, ethical life that I often feel called to that better takes into account sustainability, justice, equality, and fairness?

2. I like Courtney’s question about, “When do I focus on being right and when do I focus on being effective?” When do I temper my rhetoric/position in order to work toward incremental change, and when do I speak completely honestly, speaking what I believe to be right, even if it is so radical that people will dismiss me? This also plays into her question about handling sexism (or other injustice) directly or indirectly. I guess it often comes down to discerning a strategy to move toward what we want to see in the world. What are the most effective strategies for change? I know this obviously varies.

3. Is it wrong to look at celebrity gossip websites that I find in many ways deplorable, but also intriguing and interesting? I don’t click on the ads, but I know my browsing of the site must impact the overall click count which makes the site be able to charge more for advertising….

4. How nice and kind should I be to people? When am I just enabling weird, needy people?

5. Why can I never water an aloe plant the right amount? They either drown or thirst to death.

6. How do I balance between success and hard work, and just enjoying life even if it slows down my professional progress? How can I tell I am being successful toward some end and when I am just achieving things because I want to be special/approved/unique?

7. How does one communicate the direness of a situation without making people feel hopeless?

8. How do we balance between being hopeful and positive and being realistic and practical? Or rather, when does hopefulness become naive and just to make us feel better, not anything actually helpful?

I have more, but those are some. I don’t expect you to actually answer these. These are life-long struggles for me. I found it hilarious that some people took Courtney’s questions and then went through them one by one and answered in the comments like “There you go.” As if they could be answered easily and clearly.

What are your enduring questions?

Glad about the president-elect. But let’s get something straight…

November 6, 2008

Or really two things.

First, racism is not dead. Or over. We are not living in a post-race America, for God’s sake. If I hear one more person saying we are now a united country, or that racism is over, or that Americans are no longer racist, I am going to puke. I thought it especially interesting that the Boston Globe said,

As they woke yesterday morning, settling into the news that voters had elected an African-American to be the next president, schoolchildren and professors, chief executives and bus drivers, black people, white people, and others were asking themselves a simple question. Is racism in America dead?

Really? Black people are asking that? Do they live in the U.S.? And, like, ever watch T.V. or leave the house? What about all these other people (including the media who seem to be asking this the most, may God have mercy on their souls)? Did they not not follow any of the election coverage? Like where the guys said that Obama was going to pull up the rose garden and plant a watermelon patch? Did they not receive the emails about him being a Arab Muslim terrorist or the other very racist emails that parts of my very extended family felt inspired to share with me? Did they not hear people say it isn’t that they don’t like Michelle Obama, it is just that she seems angry? Have they not read the incarceration statistics for the United States?

It is progress people, but it ain’t over.

Second, Barak Obama is not Jesus. Or the Buddha. Or a magic worker. He is a politician. And last time I checked, you don’t get to be the president of the United States without being far from perfect. Without having to answer to corporate interests. Without exaggerating, stretching the truth, and balancing a lot of competing interests. I think he is a decent guy, but I’m afraid people are going to be in for a shock if they think that THIS IS IT. I loved it how he said that this isn’t the change we seek – this is the opportunity for change. And how he asked for sacrifice. And hard work and service. Let’s see how that flies. I hope it does because we need it. I hope he can do something different. But I think we should keep our expectations reasonable and not project this savior thing on him. He is cleaning up a huge mess. It will be hard. And I don’t think even the greatest politician ever could do it in one term. I hope America will be patient. And that Obama will be able to live up to, at least to some extent, what I do believe he wants. It is just that if uniting and bipartisian work were very easy, my guess is that someone would have done it by now.

We shall see.