Monday, July 27, 2015
When all the companies who make money selling things [this is a tangent - selling things that most people don't need, probably can't afford and may not even want - because things you need, want and can afford generally don't need advertising at all], what will happen? When prices have remained the same, but marketing costs have gone down and all of the marketing dollars are spent not on the message, but on the audience selection process, what then? When the marketing costs are low and yet the prices remain the same and the benefits of becoming part of the world of big data [profits] go into the hands of the very, very few, what then?
Is there a fear that we will be so cocooned, that we will only see things from people who think like we do, or who already know what we think?
And what about the "news", well, its not really news anymore, is it? It's news feeds, where you can choose what you want to know about. But the problem with choosing what you want to know about is that you don't know what you don't know, so you don't know what you're missing, even though I do know that the Ottawa Senators scored with 17 seconds to go in overtime last night.
Will I eventually stop paying for things on my charge card even though carrying around cash is such a risk and a bother, just to confuse the big data people into showing me new things? Maybe I'll buy some tampons or some afro-syle cream just to get coupons from CVS for something I don't even know is there.
Thanks to my voluntary compliance with the laws of big data, the whole selling-things universe knows I'm this age, that my kids are this age, where I shop, what I buy, the websites I look at, the friends I have and their ages and their kids ages and where they shop and the websites they look at.
Maybe then, after everyone I know is buying the same everything I buy, maybe then, someone will send me something about something new, just on a whim, or maybe because they misread the big data, and maybe then, my eyes will open from my commercialized slumber to a world of someone else's commercialized slumber.
Oh what prized the future holds.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Its South Carolina - and not the ocean part - so its not super-unusual for it to be so hot. But this time, I noticed something that makes a lot of sense to me.
I've always hated air conditioning. I call it "indoor refrigeration" because that's what it is. Calling it "air conditioning" makes it sound like something necessary to correct an inherent imperfection in the air. Anyway, I hate the way it teaches your own body's cooling systems to get lazy and shrinks the range of climate variables in which we feel comfortable. I worry that it has unknown health implications.
As someone with a lifelong cringing feeling about excessive indoor refrigeration, the fact that this little epiphany came as I am nearing 50 is a tiny bit startling. The shift that ended in my little epiphany started on our trip to the Florida Keys this May (Santa was kind). In the Keys, the distinction between indoors and outdoors is much less clearly defined. Shade is a wonderful refrigerant. Shade and a breeze and your own human cooling systems can take care of just about everything. My wife had previously not seen this, holding fast to the assertion that a) I was nuts, and b) without air conditioning, life would not be bearable.
The shift continued when we got home. We step out of a place with indoor refrigeration into the outside air and she will say "oh, thank God, it was so cold in there". She'll say, "I didn't even realize how cold it was in there." We have always kept our indoor refrigeration at our home at 79 (too much colder than that and I would be constantly uncomfortable). As we step into the house from walking the doggies, she used to rejoice getting out of the heat, but she's started to say "Holy crap, its cold in here". After a mere 27 years of marriage, she's coming around to my way of looking at the world. Its not too hot outside, its too cold inside.
I've always known this, but now that I can articulate it, it has me wondering what other things I have backwards.
Monday, July 13, 2015
If our leaders saw us as valuable, they would want us to succeed and they would create these easy/right-hard/wrong systems. Instead, we get "you need to pay more attention or we'll find someone who will" - the 21st century equivalent of whipping the mule. Just like the mule, the people playing these roles are more and more powerless to say back to these leaders "well, maybe if you made it so that I didn't have to be functioning at a super-high level every moment, we'd all be better off".
This is one of the complaints against the unionization movement here in America. It curtailed the mule-whipping, but failed to produce enough of the easy/right-hard/wrong feedback. So, we've chosen to go back to whipping that mule.
The funny thing is, someone thinks they won a battle.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
"I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded...I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed...I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war."
Monday, June 29, 2015
"Are you so [explicative] stupid that you don't know I'm not a [explicative] deer, and that there are no trees in this [explicative] building we're all in? That means I can see you. You know that, don't you? [explicative]"
"What, exactly are you trying to hide from?"
"So, you're the hunter, and I'm the pray. Ok. I get it. Stay away from Mr. Toughguy. Message received. [explicative, explicative]"
"Do you not have anyone in your life who loves you enough to tell you that you're not ten, and you're not hunting, this isn't [explicative] Halloween and we're not at war (at least here) and therefore, you look like a [explicative] idiot wearing army/hunter dress up clothes?"
Monday, June 22, 2015
I was at a small meeting to discuss a particular religious text just a short time ago. There was a small panel of experts who had studied the text from a variety of viewpoints.
A smaller group of attendees, maybe around 20 or so, were very troubled that the angle from which the text had been interpreted in their corner of the religion was not being considered by the panel. Honestly, to get to see the text from their angle, you really had to bend it quite a bit. You had to insert some things that were absent and ignore some things that were present. Most of their contribution to the discussion was centered around these insertions and deletions.
They wanted the scripture to paint a picture of their God the way they wanted their God to appear. The possibility that God kinda didn't appear that way in this text seemed to cause them them some great strain.
I felt for them. I know I do that to myself. I am thinking a thought and then - wham - any bit of confirming evidence sends me into a confirmation bias overdrive. I find myself doing it in interpersonal relationships. I find myself doing it in interpreting business communications or financial reports.
It really leaves me in a state of either aloneness if I consider my opinion to be unpopular, or aloneness in the sense that everyone around me feels/thinks the same thing.
Being vulnerable to consider shortfalls in my own interpretation is hard work. It's a sin, nowadays - wishy-washy, flip-flop. Critical reflection is seen as weakness. No wonder we don't teach it anymore.
The fear that drove these 20 folks to attend this meeting must have been enormous. Maybe even so large that they couldn't see it anymore. It could have been like air. It left me considering where my air is.
Monday, June 15, 2015
I felt bad for her. How can someone be so disconnected from their task at the moment? Was she living the past somehow, stewing on something that happened on the way to work, or maybe after she got here?
Was she living in the future somehow, concerned about paying the rent [a real possibility based on her displayed hospitality skills], or what someone else would say or maybe even do to her tonight or tomorrow?
Either way, I recognized that we are connected. In some way, I benefit from the system that sets a server's wage at $2.17 [in South Carolina]. The rest of a server's income is based in part on things that are under their control [being hospitable, welcoming, attentive, detail-oriented] and in part on things that are clearly not under their control [the condition of the food and surroundings, limitations on the menu].
I remember once when we were out in a small group. One person's appetizer showed up at the table after her meal. This person complained profusely. Everything else was fine with the meal - with all our meals, for that matter. This person even went so far as to eat some, but not all of the tardy appetizer. This member of my group refused to leave a tip because of the "bad service", even though they acknowledged that the server didn't cook the appetizer and the cook didn't live off tips. [Maybe the tardy-appetizer was just an excuse to save a little cash, who knows.]
I left a tip for my unpleasant, disinterested server today. I also left a tip that day in the group for member of our group who refused based on the tardy-appetizer. I am at least partly to blame for and I receive some benefit from a system that puts the income of service folks at the whim of patrons. I cannot succeed if they don't.
Monday, June 8, 2015
The value my team and I provide to society is real, but it is risky work. We are so specialized, that disruptions in law, policy or markets could really have a strongly negative impact on our value to society. I imagine being the world's preeminent expert on rotary-dial telephone design, if what we do isn't valued anymore, we're not valued anymore. With the pace of change it is probable that at one point, we may be simultaneously near the top our game and reaching the end of our value to society.
Our society has changed. I joke that "My garden is at Earthfare (a local grocery store)." But if my income were to vanish, a garden would be helpful.
We each have gone from fitting into society as a whole, individual unit to being a mere cog in a wheel. In one way, our society is better off for it - society benefits from the contributions of me and my team. In other way though, we are all more fragile and fear is so pervasive, that we hardly know our own fragility is there anymore.
Friday, June 5, 2015
It is fairly well known amongst my inner circles (such as they are) that I exist nearly entirely in a current-event and pop-culture black hole. If it doesn't come up in conversation amongst friends, or its not something I'm otherwise interested in, I probably have no idea what the hell is going on.
Monday, June 1, 2015
In the story, the shorter one resists for long time. At one point when the shorter one refuses yet again, the taller one says "You know, you have always been such a disspointment to me".
I sat there watching the scene and I realized just how fully these two characters loved one and other, despite their separation. What feelings of both pain and joy it must have been to be told that you were "such a dissapointment".
To have someone care about me and hold me in such high regard while simultaneously painfully aware of my limitations must be a gift like none other. To care so deeply as to be able to tell me point blank, without emotion or coercion like the taller character did, that I was a dissapointment.
I hope one day, someone I love will tell me that I have been such a disappointment. At that moment, I will receive the gifts of a glimpse of the power of love an a good look into my own real power.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Every culture has its own ways of looking at god. Some cultures tend to think that god appears in just one form, or no form at all. Other cultures such as the ancient Egyptians tended to think that God is kinda everywhere and that seeing god or knowing god is more in the eye of the beholder. I would put the modern-day Christians in the latter group, with its saints, angels, rainbows and the occaisional Virgin Mary appearance in a blueberry muffin.
It's sometimes hard to keep things in perspective, when we're part of the things, but the pre-Roman, pre-Christian Egyptian culture lasted about 3,000, or about 1/3 again as long as Christianity has existed so far. Just like in Christianity, Ra's nature changed for the Egyptians as their understanding of the world evolved. Ra was for the most part, the God of the Sun, and as such, he was a nourisher god, like Vishnu and Krishna. He was also the creator God at various points of the way the ancients understood him. He went from being a minor to god to being the primary god at various points along his 3,000 years of fame.
Happily, our evidence seems to indicate that at no point in Ra being an important God did the worship of God involve any sacrifice of anything or anyone.
So, I am going to celebrate Ra today. I may even write myself a little song I can sing.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Aside from those fifteen days, what is the connection between the two? The connection is war.
Mother's day was originally established in 1872 as "Mother's Day of Peace". It was a day of peace for those mothers who had lost sons to war or were concerned that they would one day lose sons to war. In the early part of the last century, the peace/war aspects of the holiday were replaced with greeting cards.
The traditions of decorating graves to memorialize those lost in the Civil War started while the war was still ongoing. The holiday was formalized in Charleston, SC when a mass grave of union soldiers was cleaned up and "decorated" by (mostly black) locals. Like Mother's day, it has either evolved or devolved, depending on how you look at it. It's mostly now just a day off, although it's really not a big greeting card day.
Fifteen days separate the hope that one day we can stop war, from the remembrance of those who died in either forming (or ostensibly forming) or defending (or ostensibly defending) our American Empire.
Monday, May 18, 2015
I'd like to suggest a new personality type assigned specifically to work-product - what you produce as a result of what you do.
I'm normally one to shun categorization, but lately, I've begun to apply these personality types toward work-product.
Type 1 attitude is when you just want to get by, or pretend to get by, or be able to claim to have gotten by - or at a minimum to avoid blame for not having gotten by. I see this attitude in myself when doing things I dislike, like yard work. The upside to this attitude is minimizing the time spent doing unpleasant things. The downside is shoddy work-product and a lot of stress around fear of judgement or adverse repercussions.
Type 2 attitude is when you want what you do to be perfect and devote tremendous effort to getting it done absolutely flawlessly. I see this attitude in myself when I do things I love that have a highly public nature about them, like preparing to give public talks, or writing things that will be permanently recorded or have future repurcussions. The upside to this attitude is excellent work product and self-fulfillment through the work product. The downside is something we all know well: perfectionism - wasting lots of time on minutely incremental improvements.
Type 3 is a blending of the two.
I don't know about you, but lately, I've been noticing more and more Type 1's. I know everyone needs a job, but I wish the jobs were more interesting and would allow these poor, trodding souls to gallivant through their day from time to time and visit Type 2 every now and then.
I know radical Type 2's can be as damaging as Type 1's, but normally they're enthusiastic, if somewhat time-insensitive.
Monday, May 11, 2015
I dunno about "Cheap Brakes". There are a couple things in life where quality trumps price and, at least to me, brakes are one of those things.
Discount surgical sutures?
Save Big on Babysitting here!
I am very grateful that I have the resources to prioritze quality over price when I feel I need to. I wish we didn't need "Brakes for Less" and could all choose "Safety Brakes".
Monday, May 4, 2015
[NB: Not big on Paul at all and John is far too much of an icon to be considered for favorite Beatle status. Debate amongst yourselves.]
Anywhoo, Ringo has this goofy little song call the No-No Song. In it, he one-by-one explains why he can't really drink, smoke pot or snort cocaine anymore. He was 35 in 1974 when he recorded it. He's 74 today and still sings it.
I'm 48, but I've been rounding up to 50 for some time. I laugh at the song because if I were writing my own no-no song today, the main culprits would be gluten, dairy and meat.
My, my, my how the times have changed.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
It pissed me off. It pissed me off even more because it came from my mother, who I KNOW doesn't believe that shit. So, into the abyss of where ever it came, I wrote the following:
That same group of people are also the ones who have waged nearly perpetual war for most of their and our lives. They fought the first war, and bits of the next two, but after that, they sent the black folks and the poor folks and the immigrant folks to fight the rest of them. They also benefitted from those wars, creating the most wealth of any prior generation ever in the history of the universe - and then rigged the rules to be sure only a very select few benefited from it.
That same group cheapened our food the point of making us all sick and then turned access to healthcare into a privilege reserved just some. They unleashed a drug-dependency culture that changed the face of families and they built neighborhoods with big garage doors to make a buck even though nobody in those neighborhoods would ever know their neighbors because of those garage doors.
They cut funding to aid the mentally ill to keep taxes low and replaced care with custody by demonizing mental illness, casting it to the ever-growing leper pile and then waiting for the mentally ill or drug-dependent to finally break the law so they could be thrown in jail.
They created and benefited from a financial system that prays on the weak, rewards the lucky and protect the wealthy, and then they set it up so that they benefited from it whether it helped or hurt society.
So, forgive me if I don't put a lot of stock in the parenting and life tips of these people. These people who now look back over their time here on earth and all they can see is greatness and personal victory because they've trained themselves to believe that Jesus loves them and that someone's success or failure has nothing to do with the circumstances into which they were born - an event over which they themselves had zero influence. How is someone supposed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if the factory long ago stopped making boots?
Maybe if they had been born a couple decades later, their self-aggrandizing parenting and life-tips might be different.
So, yea, I wish had the luxury of raising my kids under the same circumstances you had, Mr. Pedantic E-Mail Writer. But I don't.
So, when I get parenting and life tips from this group that basically call me stupid, weak or self-centered, I smile, even though what I really want to do is invite them to give it a try in this post-them world. But, I don't because I know it would be pointless. And I am too tired to bother.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
For those of you unaware, the Conch Republic was formed on April 23, 1982 as a response to the US Border Patrol's roadblock of US 1 in their "War on Drugs" . Every vehicle going through the roadblock was searched for drugs, making the trip to the Keys unpleasant.
The "War on Drugs" roadblock effectively cut off the Keys from the rest of the United States and strangled the its primary source of income - tourism. The Key West City council complained to the Federal Government, but got nowhere.
As a result, a band of Conch rebels assembled. They elected a Prime Minister, seceded from the United States and Declared War. After one entire minute, the Prime Minister apologized for declaring war, surrendered and applied for $1B in foreign aid from the US State Department. That application is apparently still pending, although most people seem to have forgotten it, at this point.
The Motto of the Conch Republic, depending on who you talk to is "We Seceded Where Others Failed" or "The Mitigation of World Tension through the Exercises of Humor". The most popular bumper sticker on Key West is: "One Human Family". Our church on Key West is called "One Island Family".
If I ever disappear without a trace, I would suggest that you start the search parties in the Conch Republic. Start at the Green Parrot, right at mile marker 0, around happy hour and work your way over Mallory Square around sunset.
Monday, April 20, 2015
One of the more well-known neat, tidy little lists is the seven deadly sins. They pop up articulated for the first time as a nice neat list in the Hebrew Scriptures, in which, none other than the wise King Solomon gets them down on paper (or papyrus) in the Proverbs. The Christian church administrator Paul later expands and adds some color to the list in his letter to the Galatians.
The Roman Catholic church puts them in a nice, neat little package, ready for daily application as: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, envy, lust and gluttony. Pretty hard to argue with, none of those are very good ideas. [Although on a side note, greed, pride, envy and gluttony seem to have been chosen as the basis for our current economic system.]
They are specifically not good ideas because they prioritize the self over a participation in a community. The Judeo-Christians are talking about a community which includes God, which is important, even in God-optional communities, they're not very good ideas.
Whichever community the tidy little list is fostering, I think its missing a few items. When I'm king I would like to add righteousness, tediousness, boringness, complacency and arrogance.
While we're editing...envy, lust and greed all seem to be branches from the same trunk, so I think we can roll them all into a single - let's call it a meta-sin: greed. You know, for simplicity's sake. So, the new list would be as follows:
1. Wrath: Thou shalt chill out. Anger beith self-indulgent.
2. Greed: This is a two-parter. First, thou shalt not taketh stuff that ain't either already yours or offered freely. Second, thou shalt not taketh extra stuff until everyone else haveth what they need. Of course after everyone haveth what they need, there would be no point in taking extra, but that beith another blog post. [Regardless of what the economy wants you to believeth.]
3. Sloth: Thou shalt get off thy ass and participate in thy own life and the lives of others in thine community.
4. Pride: Thy poop, actually does stinketh, just like everyone else's. Also, so does thy breath.
5. Gluttony: Thou shalt not believeth that more of a good thing is a better thing. [Regardless of what the economy wants you to believe.]
6. Righteousness: Thou shalt never, uttereth the words: "I toldeth you so." or anything intended to say "I toldeth you so.".
7. Tediousness: Thou shalt understand that there is a difference between sloth and taking a break every now and then.
8. Boringness: Thou shalt be aware when thou hast sucked the life out of a conversation. [Also, thou shalt not suck the life out of a conversation for thy own benefit.]
9. Complacency: Thou shalt not "beith ok with it" when "it" doth not pertain to you.
10. Arrogance: Nobody believeth thy display of hyperbolic pride. Thou shalt not use your influence to dominate another just because it maketh you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Friedrich Nietzsche is dead.
He was also wrong. Yes, yes, about the mustache styling but that's not all.
He at one point said. "Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker", which were it in English rather than German would be: "What does not kill me, makes me stronger". He was taking about bad or negative experiences. Good experiences rarely cause risk of death. [Mostly].
I have found this to be not as universally true as Nietzsche would have liked it to be. Something that comes that close to killing me will not necessarily make me stronger. Sometimes, it may make me weaker by incenting me to avoid that activity in the future, which universally conflates avoidance with strength, causing me to ignore facts and circumstances.
My near-escape from harrowing experience can also make OTHER PEOPLE stronger. This is true because other people will watch what I do and learn from my misfortune. I may even help them by writing a book. They will grow both through observing my experience and because they don't have the fear of re-experiencing my pain.
So, he would have been more correct [but still had too bushy a mustache] had he pluralized it and said: "What does not kill US, makes US stronger". Sorry, make that "Was uns nicht umbringt, macht uns stärker". He also could have put a lot of nay-sayers to rest had he just also followed that statement up with "its not the only thing that makes us stronger, but it helps."
[PS: He was right about a lot of things. God is probably dead, or better, he was murdered by the Greeks, and there are are no facts, only interpretations. But this isn't about what he was right about, its about what he was wrong about - and that mustache. Was that ever in style?]
Monday, April 6, 2015
I'm a little older now and more stuff has happened to me. Sorry if that older post was a little dualistic, and in retrospect, boring because of it.
In short, what I was getting at with the post was that doing for/to others what you would want done for/to you (gold), is good, but gold is not quite as good as doing for/to others what they would want done to themselves. In a sense, transferring agency from the doer, where it lies in the golden rule, to the recipient, where it lies in the platinum rule.
In retrospect, this puts a lot of pressure on people to know what they want. Self-agency can be daunting, especially in times of stress. The more I gallivant through life, the more and more aware I become of times when people just can't seem to bear self-agency and as a result, can end up actively working against their own best interest. There is even a psychological syndrome (sorry, name escapes me) that will cause us to prefer to win an argument even though we'd actually be better off losing.
So, I guess we need to keep our self and interpersonal awareness keen to know when to gold 'em and know when to platinum 'em. (Gosh, I wish that rhymed better!)
PS: Regarding the use of the word "gallivant" to describe life's journey. Sometimes, its a gallivant, but sometimes is a plod, while other times its a frolic and occasionally its a slumber. Right at this particular moment, for example its a bit of a chore (not writing this, but in writing this, not doing what I should be doing, which is where the chore part comes in). I really just chose "gallivant" because its a word my father used to use when he meant that we were going to go about and do some arrangement of fun things.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Yup. And I didn't even make that up. Look here.
So, you may ask: What exactly is wrong with appreciating doctors? Do I have something against Doctors? Am I some sort of twisted doctor-hater?
Of course not. Who doesn't love their doctor? I love mine. Had him for ten years. And I loved the one before that, my first one. I have doctor friends, and doctor acquaintances and I have doctor clients.
What comes off as inauthentic about Doctor Appreciation Day is the same thing that comes of as inauthentic, or maybe just unaware when people change "Black Lives Matter" to "All Lives Matter".
Doctor Appreciation day for me is every day my doctor does something for me. Even some days when I'm just happy my doctor did something for me, or for my wife or for my daughters. Doctor Appreciation Day is EVERY DAY.
If you think "Black Lives Matter" misses that non-black lives also matter, you're missing that point too. The point is EVERY DAY is "White People Matter Day". I'm white and I can tell you that l don't always feel like the universe thinks my life matters. The scary truth is, however bad my day is, at the end of the day, I'm still not black.
The old saying still has some truth in this very not post-racial America, and the truth is this: No matter how uneducated a non-black person might be, no matter how unhealthy, no matter how unemployable...a non-black person can always still say: "At least I'm not black." And there would be some truth to that.
So, I'm just hoping that "Doctor Appreciation Day" was created by the greeting card industry, because if it wasn't, it misses the point just like "All Lives Matter" does. Every day is Doctor Appreciation Day.
I am grateful, but I will skip celebrating "Doctor Appreciation Day". I will, if I can get away today and take myself out for lunch, buy my waitress lunch and tell her its "Service Industry Appreciation Day", even if I'm the only one celebrating it and there are no greeting cards.
Monday, March 23, 2015
- If at first you don't succeed, avoid skydiving.
- Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.
- I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute.
- Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
- Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.
- Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
- Why is "abbreviation" such a long word?
- I started out in this world with nothing, and I still have most of it.
- The severity of the itch is inversely correlated to your ability to scratch it.
- You can't have everything. Where would you put it?
- I just let my mind wander and it's yet to come back.
- I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
- It's bad luck to be superstitious.
- What would happen if you were to get scared half to death twice?
- Everywhere is walking distance if you have enough time.
Monday, March 16, 2015
My granola finished, I went back to my day. I was apparently not done thinking about that gibberish. What did it mean? Someone spent a lot of time - a lot of intention - making that gibberish say exactly what they needed it to say and then getting it passed. Why? What was their intention? Were they looking out, either directly or more probably indirectly for themselves? Was it their intention to act exclusively in the best interest of the people affected by the gibberish?
I have to hold in my thoughts that even though legislation and policy has created such wide-spread have-and-have-not access to resources, the only path that leads to a conclusion in which they shouldn't all be thrown in jail is the path that starts with them having the best interest of the governed in mind.
If I can't hold that - and I fear I may not be able to hold that much longer - the backup thought is that the institutionalized inequity was premeditated. That convincing people all across America to abandon critical thought and to vote, believe and even act contrary to their own best interest was not some unintended side effect. It wasn't some bonus. It was intentional. Now, thirty years later, those very Americans who long ago set aside their critical thinking skills have come to occupy the very seats in the very halls which were supposed to be occupied those who had created this whole ruse. Talk about an unintended consequence. That would mean that the joke is so big, and so present, that nobody knows its a joke anymore.
So, you see, I have to have hope that our government is one, gigantic unintended consequence. Otherwise, it is theft by lawmaking and I'm just not ready to hold that.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
So, what is the underlying assumption in this absence policy? Simply, your child is universally better off if s/he attends class. Really? Reflect on your time in school and tell me that you are better off for having sat in every single one of your classes or activities,
What if that class or activity is lead by an unprepared, uncommitted teacher/coach/minister? What then? Yes, your child will still fail for choosing to do something more productive - even if it is to sit in the car and smoke a joint. The benefit of doubt is universally awarded - earned or unearned - to the adult. The presumption is so engrained, we even have words for it - words like "elder" and "respect" - both of which have one-way definitions.
What if your child was out in the real world doing something of far greater value than watching the Disney animated version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" IN ENGLISH as a French culture lesson - every day for a week? And then in the following week, repeat the same activity with a different movie, this time Ratatouille, again in English - even though a French dubbed version is available.
Let's be honest. There are two real reasons we have all these discipline issues - which create discipline rules, which create more issues, which create more rules - and neither of them have much to do with our kids.
The first is that we simply don't trust our children because we are afraid that what they do will make us look bad. We expect them to magically grope for boundaries, find themselves, "grow up" and discover their world under our care without ever doing something stupid or regrettable. We react to the potential for being embarrassed fearfully, so we set unreasonable restrictions to which no un-coerced adult-to-be in their right minds would ever willingly agree. Then, when they "act out" we turn teachable moments into criminal offenses. We reinforce the message that they need to learn how to grope for their boundaries in way that allows us to be shielded by ignorance or at a minimum, be able to claim ignorance.
The second reason adults create this one-way power dynamic is that these "we-decide-what-is-important-rules" is our own need for self-validation. If you can learn what you need to learn without actually being in school/church/home then school/church/home is pretty irrelevant, isn't it?
Some adults, including teachers, coaches and ministers understand this and work to create growth environments for children. Some of us eventually see the error of our ways but don't have a clue about how to fix it. Some live a whole lifetime without ever understanding this - or refusing to admit that they see it.
There really isn't an effective way of communicating "You know that culture of fear I brought you up in, I was wrong. Please forget what you know." So, we either mindlessly or hopelessly press on undaunted in our race to the bottom, busily creating the next hopeless and fearful generation. All but a few of us base our actions in our fear and assume that any variation from the very lives we wish we could change for ourselves constitutes nothing more than an act of disobedient anarchy that needs to be legislated and litigated in a court in which we are the sole judge and jury.
We treat our children like criminals and then we're completely surprised when they learn to behave like criminals.
We are stupid.