zanzjan: (negative)
I'm having some difficulty putting into words my feelings about the events of this weekend in Arizona, and even now I'm not sure I've reached any sort of concrete place with it. I've read some online reactions that ranged from stunned and sad to outraged, but I've seen less than I expected to, and wonder if that's not because a lot of other people are also trying to assimilate their feelings in a meaningful way.

I'm still very much in the sad phase. Sad for the Congresswoman who was doing what all politicians should -- going out in public and hearing the opinions and concerns of the people, all the people, not just the people who agree with them. Sad for the judge and the assistant and the old man shielding his wife and the other bystanders. Sad even a little for the shooter, who clearly needed help for a long time but never found any. But more than anything, I am heartbroken for that nine year old girl, born on 9/11, who did nothing wrong other than be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There's a lot of talk about the hate-filled rhetoric of the far-right, Sarah Palin's violence-centric public persona, the cross-hairs she put on Democrats on her own website as she urged people to "reload". I abhorred that language then, I abhor it now. My personal opinion of Sarah Palin is one of contempt, and my opinion of those who idolize her and keep her on the national stage varies from a bemused lack of comprehension to a matching contempt. She brings nothing positive, contributes nothing to further our culture or civilization, and seems disinterested in anything other than the cult of herself. That said, I don't know that we've seen clear evidence yet that the shooter was politically motivated in his actions, or had been directly influenced by the hate rhetoric of the right, and I don't know that we can lay blame in any simplistic way on Ms. Palin and the Tea Party. I would not, by any stretch, hold them innocent of this either.

Another of the reactions I've seen after this weekend is to blame insufficient gun control laws for what happened (we're Americans; we like to be able to point at one thing and say definitively, "that's to blame!") Now, I'll be the first to admit I don't like guns. I don't own one, and I don't have any plans to own one. It could happen someday but many circumstances would have to be very different. (On the other hand, I'd really like to learn how to fire one, just for the knowledge/experience of it. But that's neither here nor there.) Just like I don't think Sarah Palin and others of her ilk directly sent out Jared Loughner to kill a Democratic Congresswoman, I don't think we can simplistically say "guns are bad" and feel like we've hit on anything meaningful. And even if we can, in either case, we are still failing utterly to get at the deeper problem. Gun violence is a cough and Sarah Palin is phlegm in the lungs of American culture, both symptomatic of a greater ill.

The thing that links action and effect, the thing that is missing so much lately, is responsibility. We have ceased seeing responsibility as a necessary component of the things we do and the things we say -- responsibility for the consequences of our actions, responsibility for each other, responsibility to the future, responsibility to truth. Guns, and words of hate, and anger and frustration with the impediments and challenges in our own lives, expedite the path between action and effect, and without the filter of responsibility the consequences so often are acts of selfishness, cruelty, tragedy.

On September 11th, in the immediate aftermath of all that senseless bloodshed, there was a moment where all around the world people wanted to stand together, united, against that sort of heinous act. It didn't matter what color, religion, nationality we were, only that we were reasonable people and we would take a stand against unreasonable acts. It didn't last. People who saw only an opportunity for power, who took no responsibility for anything other than satisfying their own wants, turned a unifying moment into perhaps the most divisive era of the modern United States. Too easily, that hyper-nationalism of America Versus The World has shifted both in granularity of focus and intensity of perception to now subdivide us further. Why? For power. (And no, not power for you.) And to that end, if there is no care for larger responsibility, there is no such thing as going too far to get what you want. To some people, bombarded with divisive rhetoric from sources they believe to be trustworthy, the difference between the parties -- which are far slighter than most of us want to admit -- isn't about policy, it's about Good vs. Evil. Facts have become not only irrelevant to the dialogue, but unwanted and suspect; ignorance itself has become synonymous with patriotism.

All of us who have allowed ourselves to accept a dialogue of hate are responsible, and those of us who have the ears and eyes of the nation and abuse that trust to divide and self-empower, with no care for any harm done, are the worst perpetrators of the rot at the heart of our society. If there was hope born in those terrible moments of September 11th, it was that brief glimpse that something better could come out of such awful acts. Every child born on that day -- on any day -- should be a promise for the future, a living reminder of our obligations to the world at large, that we should take care in what we do and take care of one another, that we should stand together and in reason and compassion and mercy and respect work to find our common ground for the betterment of all people, everywhere. Instead we have been given a stark and sudden reminder of the low to which we have sunk, where the atmosphere of vitriolic hatred, the deliberately calculated language of incitement to violence, and a refutation of all responsibility for truth or justice or just plain reasonableness has claimed one nine-year-old promise of something better as its newest, but certainly not its last, victim.

some followup comments )
zanzjan: (Default)
I have had the great fortune to live in a time and a place where I have a good deal of freedom. It's not perfect, and it's always under some degree of threat from conservative wingnut corners of our society, but I have had the right -- and I have exercised it -- to make my own reproductive choices independent of anyone else's imposed "morality". I have a professional job in a male-dominated field. Assuming I ever meet someone I want to spend my life with, I can choose of my own free will to marry them regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of religion. I don't have to walk around with my hair covered up, or my whole body concealed under thick robes, lest someone think I'm sexy (ha!) and be led thus down a path to wicked temptation. Other than for weddings and funerals, I haven't set foot in a church of my own volition in decades. I owe nothing to any god not of my own fickle choosing (right now, I'm grateful to the god of comfy things I can put my feet up on while I'm sitting at my desk) and the state of my soul, and whether or not I even believe in such a thing, is solely my own concern.

Never have I been unaware that I have freedoms that other women don't have, or that someday could be taken away from my own children or grandchildren. I think it's been long enough since we've really had to fight for something that we've forgotten what that means, or the price that sometimes gets paid, often arbitrarily and always mercilessly, in blood.

I don't, in general, feel like my life has much in common with that of people in Iran. It's a completely different world, though the overlaps are sometimes startling. But I see the news and it breaks my heart. I know what's happening isn't just about women's rights, but they are the ones with the most to gain, and the most already lost. These women could be my own ancestors. They could be my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who may someday have to fight again for their own freedom. I don't know these women, will never meet them or even pass them on the street, but I care about them, and I fear for them. Even if this particular struggle, and these particular women's losses (and, one hopes, their victories) do not in any way belong to us as individuals, they are ours as women. They are ours as human beings.

Even if all I can do is pay attention, I pay attention. And I mourn.
zanzjan: (Default)
So, a Monday news quiz. First, look at the following photograph from
The Photo )
Now for your tricky quiz question )
zanzjan: (Default)
Coworker tells me he just read that they're making a movie of Cowboy Bebop and Keanu Reeves is getting the starring role. Brief discussion of anime ensues (because, after all, what is there left to say about Keanu Reeves?) covering the usual basics: how much Hayao Miyazaki rocks, how Princess Mononoke is one of the very few anime better dubbed, and then respective favorite anime. Gunsmith Cats is mentioned, which I've never seen.
Coworker: I believe it's supposed to be set in Chicago, but there's an international seaport there. And Chicago's not actually on an ocean.
Me: It's on a great lake. They look an awful lot like oceans up close.
Coworker: But still, ports wouldn't be international.
Me: There's Canada.
Coworker: Yes, but it's not like you can go directly from a great lake to, say, Russia.
Me: What about the Erie Canal? What does that connect to?
Coworker: [looks up Erie Canal on Wikipedia] Oh, it connects up to the Hudson river!
Me: Well, there you go. From there you can catch a plane.

Much guffawing was had, and then conversation drifted to the Falkirk Wheel, which is far more interesting.


Jan. 23rd, 2008 01:19 am
zanzjan: (bent nail)
You know, forty years from now we'll look back and think about all the handsome, talented, interesting actors and actresses who died too young, and wonder why it is that we're still stuck with Carrot Top and f!@%ing Tom Cruise.
zanzjan: (Default)
Wooooh! Way to go, Australia! Here's hoping for better times for y'all...


Aug. 31st, 2007 03:10 pm
zanzjan: (Default)
Don't get me wrong, this is FANTASTIC, but... Iowa? That I would *not* have guessed. Here's hoping this amazing step forward out of bigotry and discrimination is allowed to stand.
zanzjan: (bookshelf)
According to a CNN story, with the subheader of "Where You Fall In Poll Of US Reading Habits":
  • one in four Americans read no books at all last year.
  • the typical American read four.
  • excluding those who read none, the average was seven.

    "I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, Texas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.

    (Well, okay, I always thought waterproof books would be a great thing. Dropped a paperback in a hot tub once and it instantly puffed up to the size of my house. Somehow, though, I don't think that's quite what that guy was getting at.)

    As of the day before yesterday I finished reading my 40th book this year (Frost & Fire, a Roger Zelazny collection). I'm about a third through number 41, Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, and enjoying it immensely. I expect I'll have hit around 60 by the end of the year. I used to read a lot more, but then I became a parent and took up writing as a hobby.

    So, how many books have you read so far this year? Whatcha reading now? Who the heck did they talk to for this poll, anyway?
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