Last week, a friend invited me out to dinner. Also present was one of her friends, who happened to be hearing-impaired. Throughout the whole of the evening, I found it very interesting to observe two forms of communication going on simultaneously—one that I heard and another that I saw visually by way of American Sign Language. As is true with spoken language, there are instances in sign languages when illustrating a particular idea proves difficult or beyond the speaker’s level of expertise. It is at this point that a creative communicator will often formulate his or her own signs to be understood.
Jan 09 2011
Mar 24 2010
The stress of the past few weeks has reminded me of both the benefits and the drawbacks of being an adult. Perhaps you yourself can relate. Throughout the course of my daily existence, I expend a huge amount of energy attempting to navigate the world of interpersonal communication. Often I have to take account for the frailties, neuroses, personality defects, and defense mechanisms of those with whom I regularly encounter. It can at times be overwhelming and frustrating trying to not step on toes or to minimize conflict by means of damage control mode when I inadvertently do so. And as cobble together an apology and take stock of the situation, I find myself resenting the cruelty and sadism of humanity, which gives many people ample reason to build walls around themselves by means of protection. These attitudes only complicate crucial communication and trust and keep us separate from each other.
The anger of the Tea Party devotees upsets me, but what upsets me more is the degree of hostility and bitterness that has come to typify this entire process. I recognize that expecting otherwise is probably foolish, but I mourn when our nation’s fabric is rent asunder for any reason. Though this sentiment has long sense passed into platitude, we are all Americans, and moreover we are all human beings who share the same land. I do not enjoy, nor particularly thrive in an atmosphere where a ceaseless war of words rages. To be sure, I do not shirk away from these situations when they arise, but after a time the constant back and forth proves to be toxic and noxious, not just to me, but to everyone.
I didn’t have an especially happy childhood. Even when I was a child, I wished to be an adult. Adulthood to me represented a time where I would be taken seriously and where everyone else around me would be more or less on the same page. Now I find that this is true only up to a point. Among some I am taken seriously and among other I never will be. And as for my being on the same page with all, well, that’s a matter for debate. What I have discovered that with age often comes a rapidly growing history of psychological damage, increasingly guarded personal conduct, and all of these manifestations a form of the many lingering effects of internalized pain. Anger is really only a form of hurt, after all.
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I understand why many people enjoy working with children. They are unguarded, honest, vulnerable, and often endearingly sweet. Their basic nature stands in great contrast to the games we play as adults. When I still lived in Birmingham I would periodically take my turn to watch the children while the adults worshiped. When I did, I often found solace in the company of little ones who were largely nonjudgmental and lived only in the present moment. This isn’t to say that children can’t be just as cruel and vicious to each other as adults can, but that in conversing with them, one has less minefields to gingerly walk through and less need to plan for exit strategies.
Forgive me this question, but, friends, why must it be this complicated? What if we didn’t have to read the latest New York Times bestseller just to understand how to properly interact with each other? What if it didn’t take hours of therapy and thousands of dollars just to be able to be honest with our own pain and ourselves, to say nothing of the pain of others? What if we could bear to leave the armor down long enough to separate friend from foe? While some find it fascinating to observe and note the ways in which we are twisted and wizened, noting the unique nature of our scars, I find the combined impact deeply unfortunate and tragic. People to me are not a scientific experiment gone awry, they are individuals seeking love. And by love I don’t necessarily mean romantic love, but agape—charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional love for ourselves and for others. If we are ever going to begin the slow, but necessary process of healing, we must commit ourselves to it, all the time recognizing that the best offense isn’t necessarily a good defense.
Let us resolve to be honest with that which is broken in all of us. Throw open the doors wide. Don’t automatically reach for cynicism and skepticism in all situations, nor expect the worst for fear of not attaining the best. Don’t recoil and draw back at someone else’s immaturity or hurt directed in inappropriate ways towards inappropriate targets. Consider being like little children in all the best ways. Perhaps peace of mind isn’t so elusive after all. What do we have to lose?
Jun 29 2009
Simulposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/…
Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.
Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?
Yes, it is – and that’s why it’s unforgivable.
Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole – but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.
May 24 2009
Are we free to hate? If so, why? We have freedom of speech, but hate speech is a crime.
Hate is acceptable except for under the most extreme circumstances… Why do we do it? Because we can. Because we can’t help it. Because we like to. We’re human beings with human emotions and one of those emotions is hate. The problem is that hate is normal. We all do it. We really don’t think about it. We always worry about the hate of others. That is… unless their hates match our own. We all feel justified in our hate. It fills us with a sense of superiority and control. What useful or positive purpose does hate serve under any circumstances? It just seems a bit hypocritical of us to condemn only certain kinds of hate. Can’t we just somehow decide as a species that hate is not a behaviorally correct attitude?
We can never bring an end to war or bigotry without ending the hatred first. As long as we continue to allow ourselves this acidic emotion we are no better than those haters we criticize. We can’t end hate with hate. We can’t end war with war. We can’t end torture with torture. We can’t end terrorism with terrorism. We can’t end bigotry with bigotry. Sometimes you fight fire with fire… most times you use a hose.
You can’t end hate with hate.
Oct 25 2008
I’ve been feeling mournful of late. Can’t say why. Well I could but you don’t have all day. Let’s just say things are catching up with me: torture, war, theft, lies, fraud, corruption, joblessness, homelessness and doing nothing in the face of ecological disaster.
What a shame that we remain at war without reason. Shame on us.
And what a shame that we continue to blunder down the path to biospheric disaster defying all logic and denying all science.
What is wrong with us?
There are at least two wars ongoing that our government could stop, and would, if they had an ounce of moral fiber…or a lick of sense.
Oct 18 2008
Perhaps as penance for something I did in a past life, I am prone to perusing the back pages of Daily Kos. Like Diogenes looking for a human being among his fellow Greeks, I search for those who might learn that hatred starts small and begins with the words we use.
I seek to teach. Mostly I discover people who are unwilling to learn. I find people who are so invested in their juvenile attempt at humor that they can’t stop to learn why it is juvenile, why it is demeaning, not to its supposed targets, but to those whom it actually hits, and as the conversation progresses (I refuse to give up the hope that everyone can learn not to hate), I get to learn how deep and varied their hatred actually is.
I find pseudo-intellectual analysis of why only the so-called normal people deserve equality in this society. Upon challenging their reasoning, I often find the same people have a very low opinion of education. I ask questions that don’t get answered. Apparently, those questions do have an effect, however. You’d be amazed at the number of times people assume that the questions I ask must be asked in anger and respond in kind…and never answer the question.
And I find hatred, both the small and the large of it.
Mar 14 2008
They Didn’t Hate Us Before!
Just One Of Tens of Thousands, NOW!!
Um Saad, a middle-aged woman living in the Sunni district of Khadra in west Baghdad, blames the Americans for the death of her husband and two of her sons and threatens revenge.
Nov 24 2007
I gave myself an assignment on Tuesday. I decided I needed to write about one of those topics I have the hardest time with. I assigned myself the the topic of Hate. I’ve also had difficulty writing about Love.
Once upon a time I appeared in an anti-hate commercial, part of the the Hate Free Zones campaign sponsored by the Arkansas Progressive Network back in the late 90s.
My partner (at the time) and were seen walking along the riverfront in Little Rock, an interracial lesbian couple, one of us transsexual and the other bisexual. The commercial displayed all sorts of human targets of hate, set to the music of INXS’ Mediate. The final video scenes showed the burned out station wagon at the scene of slaying of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.