Nearly a Decade of Facebook Status Fails…

(subtitle: censorship is bad, even when you are both censor and censored)

I catch myself wanting to argue on Facebook (FB) with people that I actually care about, but whose philosophies and values don’t fit with mine. Luckily, my more rational self nearly always kicks in before I go “there” – under the troll bridge. But in case you are one of my FB peeps who thinks I don’t believe anything at all because I seldom if ever post stuff other than my cats and my house and occasionally work, let me take this opportunity to give you a long list of FB posts that never made it to FB.

I am a feminist (#Ineedfeminism because at least once a week I’m asked if I feel “complete” as a woman without children – “It’s not too late,” they say). I am a humanist, and an independent voter. I believe in social justice and states’ rights and true equality of opportunity. I don’t think a party exists that embraces these apparently contradictory ideas. I love the country I was born in and the country I live in. I think international borders are political creations to make some people feel bigger and others feel smaller because of an accident of birth. I don’t believe in the concept of God that other people do. But I do believe that energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed. Given the opportunity, I would vote for very limited gun control and for drug legalization, but against defunding Planned Parenthood (where as a young adult I received healthcare far beyond reproductive health when I couldn’t afford to pay for a “regular” doctor). I would vote to allow people to marry (have the same legal rights granted to heterosexual persons in a legally-recognized committed relationship) who wish to do so regardless of their biological genders, and to legally recognize the identities of persons whose biological gender may not match their psychological gender. I think it is heroic to find the you-know-whats to say out loud that the conflict between biological and psychological gender exists from either experience or scientific research. I think it is heroic to fight and / or die for a nationalistic ideal that may or may not be true. I would vote to educate every person with the desire to study without charge for as long as they want to study, and the right of every person to both preventative and curative health care from a personal physician. I believe that many times medicine is not the answer to what causes people dis-ease. Though I’d love to see a woman in the Oval Office, not in a million years would I vote for Ms. Clinton. Republican candidates don’t inspire my confidence, either. I will vote.

I function in what I consider to be organic and intuitive ways that I’d like to think allow people to be their own best selves regardless of their agreements or disagreements with me: in part because I know I am flawed, at best, and in part because I can nearly always understand the points of view of others, even when I disagree passionately. I will not argue politics or religion with you or anyone else, though I am happy to have an open, honest, evidentiary-based conversation about nearly anything, as long as your evidence doesn’t rely solely on the sacred texts you cling to. As literary and cultural evidence such texts are fine and good places to base oneself, but in isolation mythology isn’t valid evidence. I don’t feel the need to be right or to convert anyone to my point(s) of view. I am a person without borders, but rather with limits.  You don’t have to “like” any of that. ~LD

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Independent of the Rain

Frog park across the street from me...

As usual, I missed the total lake photo, but it’s the desert, you have to be quick on the draw, and I’ve no camera of my own…this is late in the day Friday, September 14

Well, we finally got real rain.  Something like twelve hours straight of full-on downpour.  The streets became rivers and the parks became lakes, and most of the buildings I know about became harbors for scattered indoor showers. Most schools cancelled class, but not ours. When my taxi driver called to tell me he was stranded with his car kaput, I stood out in pre-dawn trying with my cell phone to find a ride to school. I heard the toads wailing in the park across the way, under the white noise of steady rain.  I could have stood listening to them all morning. We desert rats have spent the last forty-eight hours plus in a delicious and disorienting haze of water and cloud.  The roads have been so bad, and drivers so inept on the inundated by-ways that whenever possible, the best option is to stay home.

My cats were happy I was home when the thunder rolled through again.  They crowded onto the arm of the official chair, purportedly to supervise my blog reading and writing, but all three of us knew the real reason.  As more creatures of the desert than even I am, they are scared spineless of thunder. I, on the other hand, am comfortable far away from tornado alley and enjoy the occasional bouts of heavenly racket that blanket me in inspiration.

To my surprise, words didn’t “just come” with the rain this week.  I sat here on Thursday and Friday nights and again most of the day Saturday with a blank word document waiting for the inevitable outrush, but nothing happened.  Since I don’t buy into the concept of writer’s block, I knew that wasn’t it. I considered writing a book review of a book I’d read long ago, but it was a non-starter as I didn’t have the book at hand. I tried to write a rain poem, but somehow with the rain coming down both inside and outside, the realized wish didn’t have the same effect. I tried just a letter, but no matter how exotic it may seem to my loved ones, my day-to-day life is thankfully, remarkably, dull and ordinary.

While waiting and exploring my mind, I got vaguely political about the teacher strike in Chicago and actually posted a reaction on FB to a one minute TV news report in which parents’ scrambling for childcare was mentioned three times while only one of the teachers’ actual points of contention was mentioned one time (and that was, of course, the non-starter contention of inadequate pay).  I have long since learned to have a healthy mistrust for such reports. So much is revealed in what is left unsaid. As my post was reposted — and responded to, with greater and lesser amounts of venom — on someone else’s FB wall, I was reminded of Enlightenment thinkers and writers who “posted” in 18th century pamphlets and  the nearest thing there was to newspapers, with abandon and even delight.

Swift would do well to rewrite, with minor tweaks for locations and names, his “Modest Proposal.” I was glad to remember another time when political and social discourse was heated and far too often hateful. Swift wrote,  “I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country.” How his essay drips with sarcasm and hyperbole! How admirable his ability and willingness to talk back to lesser wits who could not wrap their brains around the power with which Swift wielded the pen.

I first consciously realized the manipulative (and restorative) nature of language following my senior year in high school when I travelled to Germany and lived there for six weeks in the summer of 1986, five weeks after the Chernobyl accident in the Ukranian region of what was the USSR. (My folks were sufficiently spooked by the threat of radiation that they almost didn’t let me go.) The first “real” expression I learned in German, and have never forgotten, was “nach dem regen kommt die Sonne” [after the rain comes the sun]. That year, the Germans replaced “regen” with “Reagan” — a wholly political commentary – the first I’d ever heard (really heard and understood) against the US. I struggled to wrap my brain around the Germans’ distaste.

That summer I also witnessed my first ever, political protest in the market in Saarbrücken: a protest against nuclear armament and in part, against nuclear power.  Katja and her mom and I carried our hand baskets full of fresh vegetables and fruits (I mainly remember the strawberries) while people my age marched around the perimeter of the market with placards I could not read, but with “Reagan” appearing on most.  Katja and her mom explained the protest as best they could in the car on the way back to Riegelsberg.  I blindly struggled to “get it.” But “getting it” came to be part of who I was before I understood intellectually what I was struggling for.

***

“99 Red Balloons” was still popular in the US and in Europe that summer, perhaps in reaction to the Chernobyl disaster. The day that I bought Nena’s 45 single in a record store in downtown Saarbrücken, I saw the album art on The Scorpions’ Love at First Sting and even though it was a “bit” out of my price range, I decided I needed it too much to just walk away.  A few days later at a biergarten fest, I heard, mixed in with polkas and other local favorites, a cover of “Still loving you.” My listening repertoire never quite recovered my long-time favorites of Simon & Garfunkel, Barry Manilow and Judy Collins.

***

Articulation of who I have become since, and as a result of that trip has proven difficult to nail down, at best. But occasionally, when it rains I can come close. Borders and nations are imaginary constructs jealously guarded by those that would have us believe in them. Folk songs and music in general, cross borders without passports or identification in a way that we mere humans can only dream of. As sure as we may be of our political, religious, social beliefs, there is always, always another way to see everything and it behooves us to keep that in mind anytime we have a conversation about anything remotely emotionally charged.

I read Burdick and Lederer’s The Ugly American before I went to Germany that year.  And somehow I still managed to insist on a liter of Coca-Cola on every shopping trip, despite what I know now was an outrageous price.  There is a photo of me standing in the Wegener’s kitchen in my morning glory sweats with the liter bottles of Coke on the counter, and I can’t help but feel a little sick at my stomach.

In my 21st century kitchen, I keep a 4 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola for days when my tummy is disagreeable. And when it rains, here in the desert, I remember that after the rain, comes the sun. ~LD

there I was

The coffee was great, but I always wanted my Coca-Cola.