labels…

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”… Aldous Huxley

IGNORANT…

There’s a loaded word. I do not mind being called out on something stupid I say, because we have all experienced our mouths running away with us. But to be ignorant of something, really without a clue is super uncomfortable to me. I mean, no one likes to be thought of as the idiot in the room, so when it comes to politics, health care, spirituality, reproductive rights and other hot-topic issues, I do try to keep up with the Jones’. I do not feel the need to formulate an opinion on everything I read and see, but to be slightly informed is a way of being part of the collective voice of our society. My opinions do not often align with the majority, but I am intelligent enough to see the productive outcomes of a program I do not agree with as being a positive step in the right direction. I suppose that as I get older and focus my attention on what I can do to make the world a better place, I have less time to argue and instead try to create a reality what I can be proud of. =) Yes, I am a flaming idealist, wrapped in a chipped, jaded package. Contradiction in terms, folks. But I own it, and with pride. =)

When I was a late teen, newly ensconced in a life in Northern Ca, I realized that while I was highly gifted, I kew nothing. Zero, zilch, nada… about the world, politics, hunger, life in general. Kelly and I used to walk around Golden Gate Park at night, passing out dollar bills and hot coffee to the impossibly weary-looking homeless. He gave me an “allowance” every payday and would only let me spend that, because the first month I was there, I actually handed away our rent money with tears in my eyes. How could so many people be without a place to sleep, be hungry and in need of such basic necessities ?! It was a real shock to my sheltered system, that I can tell you. The first party we went to was a giant dance hall with a mosh pit in one corner and more colors of people than I knew existed. The alcohol and drugs flowed freely and when his friend Asuka approached us hours later, I exclaimed that I had never met someone from Asia, and her skin really did look like pearls. Yes, ignorant, drunk and high as a kite. Thank gods she took it as a complement and we became friends despite my ridiculously white-bread upbringing.  For years I worked to wipe the ignorance from my eyes, and slowly recognized the world for what it actually is, one crazy, beautiful, hot mess. At first I was the girl that could always be counted on for a laugh, for her sweet and child-like view of the world. But thru time and great effort, I became a formidable debater, full of ideals and causes that I could eloquently get most anyone to support, if given the opportunity. This began by interest in Poly Sci, and my education was furthered by a chance meeting and later friendship with a local female circuit Judge who introduced me to yet another facet of politics, social reform and fundraising. How did I get from there, on fire and fighting to here… ?!

 

I felt like a complete child this past week, not having any clue and wondering once again how that is possible. I was with friends, but that gritty feeling in my mouth was bitter, all the same. We were having coffee with someone’s new friend, who is a displaced refugee from Somalia. He has been here since 1992 and is now a student at UMass and studying engineering, in the hopes of one day returning to his home and to help rebuild their nation. We were all deeply interested in his story and he was very matter-of-fact in his recounting the horrors of his daily life before being granted asylum here. It struck me, about an hour into the conversation, that the US and UN involvement in their government restructuring has not lead to the widespread peace we had hoped. In Mogadishu alone, there are still over 368,000 IDP’s. Because stability is growing, and property values are rising, many IDP camps are being cleared, forcing the refugees to find shelter in new areas. Mind you, these are forced evictions, protecting the interests of wealthy land owners as well as corporate structures. There are currently no protocols in place to protect the IDP’s, although the UN is working with Refugees International and Kenya and Somalia and in 2013 established a framework for voluntary returns to Somalia, and to provide protection and support to those both who return and stay in other areas. The outcome has thus far been precious little, and there appears to be no end in sight for the plight of this and other refugee populations. I was of COURSE aware of the widespread dissent and displacement that their civil war created. I had many friends who served in Somalia in the Army and Navy from 1992-1994, some of whom did not make it back. It was a heart-wrenching time, and whenever I received another satellite phone call, I did not know if the voice on the other end would tell me of a death of a friend, or would simply be the voice of my lover, exhausted and wanting to make sure I would be here when and if he got home. I had the perspective of the US citizen, outraged at the terrorist cells and their ability to continue to infiltrate the common population. I thought that turning in a neighbor sounded simple enough, but did not realize that retaliation would be swift and brutal, usually involving the rape and dismemberment of the offender’s family. Hearing about it, from his point of view, as a young man watching the slaughter and persecution of those he loved… it all just reiterates my idea that war is never the answer. That death only begets death and with our collective resources and intelligence coupled with new technology, loss of life must be stopped.

PEACEMAKER…

I was never any good at keeping the peace in my younger years, preferring instead to stir the pot and stand back to see what would cook up. I do not claim to have been a complete bitch, as I was certainly a nice person, but pulling people together and soothing their bruised egos was never something I cared to do. In the last few years, I have been called a peacemaker more times than any other adjective. Hmm… when did I become the smoothing-it-all-over type of gal instead my true self, the friendly and kind yet sticking-up-for-herself  and not caring what others thought woman? I moved away from honesty with tact and a bit of snarkiness when called for, to shushing people, patting them and making them feel like they were right all along… GROSS ! This smacks of the lessons in obedience and deference that religion pounded into my head for the early years of our marriage, much to my horror. While I do want to be liked, I would prefer to be respected and let things run their course. I have learned that no matter how much you give, how much ass you kiss in an attempt to make empty humans feel filled, you can’t win. People are going to take offense if that is what they want to do, and no amount of finagling on my part is going to change that. There will always be the type who, upon winning a billion dollar lottery, will scowl and bitch that it wasn’t a billion and a half.  I gracefully and without remorse remove myself from the game. =)

IDEALIST…

This one I like a little more, but wish it wasn’t uttered with such amusement, as if one cannot be an adult and still think that we can change the world. I definitely believe in the good trying to break out of us all, and won’t hide that fact. Does not mean I am stupid, or always believe the best, rather… that we, humans, can find a way to impact the way we collectively live thru the choices we make. Stressing about it will not help anyone, so simply, I think that many of us do what we can. Is it enough ? Perhaps not, but knowing there is always room for improvement is a good thing, and gives us something to strive for. As I explore my spirituality and belief system, the foundation I want to build for my own life to perch on, I am overwhelmed by the choices I can make daily that can have such profound consequences. I got a pm last week from a reader who said I inspired him to do some volunteer work, and he is going to Nicaragua this summer on a medical service trip ! =) Maybe I cannot do that myself just now, financially impossible, but good things are happening, and I had a tiny part to play in the show. Possibility, that is what I believe in… that butterfly effect of chaos theory.

Perhaps there is a reason that labels persist. First of all, our words are so imperfect, and we cannot hope to capture the range of emotions we feel in our simple English language. Secondly, labels came about as a means of classification, which is a helpful way of organizing the world around us. But perhaps, another reason is that they are there so we, as sentient beings, can see how we are perceived by others, and change ourselves if we do not like what we are presented with. Kind of like a constant report card… a lens thru which we can glimpse how we are seen. If our reality is relative, and represented by a house of paper dolls, then we can crumple the dolls at will and carefully draw new ones, this time doing a better, more precise job. And we don’t even have to color inside the lines. =)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. NotAPunkRocker
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 14:06:54

    I love you for this post.

    That is all. Carry on! ❤

    Reply

  2. tishmoon
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 14:16:25

    Aww… =) Thanks so much, Punky ! =)

    Reply

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