I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 03, 2014 - 2:13 p.m.
As I started to write this I remembered the main thing I wanted to write about but forgot the introductory personal segment. As I'm writing about something serious perhaps that's a good thing but I'll come back to that as I do remember now.
I slept very late yesterday and my entire day was time shifted. One unfortunate result was that I didn't go out to do my laundry till just as the snow started. But I did get it done and not only didn't lose any socks but found two socks that I lost last time. They were stuck in the shopping cart I carry the laundry in. But it's a sad reminder that I never bought thermal socks. All of mine and my thermal boots are in storage. I'm an idiot. Of course my boots are well over 20 years old so perhaps I should get a new pair.
Part of the delay in my day was not from sleeping late but from a good thing. For the second time in three days I got a phone call just as I was about to eat. And for the second time it was from one of the people I most wanted to talk to so I did. It was LORi and we talked forever. She called around two when I was about to start not lunch but breakfast. So I didn't eat that till 3:30. I had an omelet. It was scrumptious but the conversation was even better. I have been very social lately, three parties in the last two weeks and they were great, each with a different group of people. The only overlap was Jean was at two of them. But I prefer one-on-one conversations and sadly I do not do that as often as see groups of people. The proper mix for me would be one part groups to five parts one-on-one. I feel that the ratio is reversed but that's probably not true. The best thing is Lori and I planned my coming down to visit next week. We didn't have anything specific planned but then I found something to do Thursday night. I have no idea what it is. I hope LORi remembers. I just checked, it's seeing Amanda Shires at Milkboy. You might know her as Mrs. Jason Isbell. I know him as Mr. Amanda Shires.
Somebody claim-jumped Amandashires.com and is trying to sell it for $1,095. That should be illegal.
And I am now a VIP, I got an A ticket for the Bolt Bus, I get to board first! How? I registered with them. I thought I had before but apparently that didn't go through. Having LORi on the phone with me gave me the perspicacity to go through the process. I'm going to totally lord it over all the little people that board with B or C tickets. I hope one of them doesn't try and talk to me. I don't mingle with commoners.
When I finished laundry it was late and then I started dinner. Yes I cooked again. I have to get back to that being the norm even while I'm stuck I this rooming house sharing a kitchen. I eat better, healthier, and cheaper when I make my own meals. Last night I had a half pound Kobe beef burger from Trader Joe's that I made with pepper jack cheese and served on a challah roll. I made Cajun roasted potatoes with it. What's sad is that really is healthier than most things I eat out. Those are actually pretty much my favorite potatoes and they are healthy.
And now onto something serious. Serious enough to need a section break.
I want to return to a theme I've addressed before but not for some time. If you want to make the world a better place one of the most effective things we could do is make sure that every little girl gets an education. Yes of course educating boys is important too but first that happens more often and second educating girls helps overcome more evils. Before you do anything read Nicholas Kristof's last column, A Girl's Escape. It is the story a 13-year-old Haitian girl that is a restavek, an unpaid servant, some people call it slavery. To understand the enormity don't multiply this by the 200,000 restaveks, not by a million, not by ten million, but by the more than 100 million girls in the world who live lives of unspeakable misery who will grow into women whose lives are unspeakable misery, who will have children whose lives are unspeakable misery.
Throughout the world, wherever there's extreme poverty girls are not just denied and education, they are sold off as child brides or simply slaves. They are given less food than their brothers. They are beaten, they are raped and forced to marry their rapists, they are abandoned. And the ones that are spared the worst? What happens? They have no options in their lives. If an Einstein was born a girl in too much of the world she's be married before she was 18 and spend her life having babies and caring for them and her husband. I have often mused that the smartest person in history was probably a Chinese peasant who never got to use his intelligence. It's even more likely to have been a peasant woman who would have had even less a chance to make use of her abilities. And we all suffer because of that, not just her. We are denied her talent. We are denied the talents of hundreds of millions of women and girls. And we are poorer for it.
I spoke first of education because to educate is to empower. You give a girl education and she gains options. She has less children. She takes better care of the children she has. She can earn money. You educate the girls and you can lift a nation out of the extreme poverty that drives most of the misery.
And that is why the reactionaries like the Taliban target girls and especially their education. The patriarchs prefer the patriarchy. But it's worse than that the values that denigrate women become the society's values. Often women are the driving force behind crimes like female circumcision and even honor killings. That's one of the crushing effects of oppression. The oppressed come to believe they deserve it' that it is the natural order of things. There is nothing natural about it.
That is intolerable but we tolerate it. We shouldn't. It isn't something we can solve overnight, or in a year, or in a decade. But we can make things better but it will take a huge effort. But we have to because it's tolerable. We will have to make sacrifices because it was intolerable. Imagine what we'd do it American girls were being abducted and forced to be restevaks, slaves, and child brides. What wouldn't we do? How much money wouldn't be spend? How military action wouldn't we take? The fact that they live far away doesn't make their suffering any less real.
It will be difficult. We'll make mistakes. We'll waste billions of dollars. We'll do things that sometimes do more harm than good. We can't let that stop us from doing things. We'll learn from our mistakes. We'll learn what works and what doesn't. And we'll still make mistakes. But we'll do it because we can't tolerate the alternative.
Can you tolerate it? That's the first step, accepting that the status quo is not acceptable. Most Americans don't feel that way. Look at this poll from Pew Research
Others just feel that there is nothing that can be done. But there is. But it needs far more people caring about this. I have lots of goals when I blog, it's therapy, it's artistic expression, it's connecting with a community. But one is moving the Overton Window, the range of ideas the public will accept. the range of ideas the public will accept. Yes I can move it only a few microns. but maybe I can get someone else to move it a fe microns. And she can get someone else to move it a few microns. And that's how the window moves. And you can help. I hope you agree that conditions are intolerable and you can move the conversation that way. Just mention it to other people. Link to that Kristof article. Read more articles on it. Promote them. Nothing less than getting society to make it a priority will work. This problem is too big for all the good Samaritans in the world to conquer though each helps. So maybe you aren't going to go to Afghanistan and help a village build a school Or defend the school from being destroyed. Or rebuilding it if it is. But you can let elected officials know that it's important that somebody does it. Let your friends know it. Let the newspapers know it. Let the world know it.
Back to the personal. This was my thoughts in the shower yesterday. It started as a conversation in my head with one of my dearest friends who thinks she should be doing more. I told her of the value of what she does, she's my friend so like most of them she's a musician. And maybe not a she, that's my generic pronoun for anyone I want to keep anonymous. I was thinking that she could write music to help change the world. It certainly worked for Pete Seeger. But I can't tell anyone else what kind of art to make. So I didn't tell her that. But I can tell myself what art to make And I have written on this very topic before but not recently. I haven't been writing much of anything political lately But I'm going to start again. If I did it every day nobody would read this. And I can move the Overton far further writing about music than politics. I might move things inches there and I like getting to see results. But I can throw in something like this more than I do. When I read something of note I should not just post it on Facebook but write about it. And it shouldn't be on the issues that I know My Gentle Readers feel the same way about as I do. It should be about the things I have more knowledge or more passion about. Here it's probably more about passion. So I'm using my talent. This is what I'm good at. And if it costs me some readers so be it. That's not important.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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