Saturday, September 29, 2007

More questions....

I thought I'd give a crack at the remainder of the questions sent to me by Slouching Mom. I'll try to keep my answers short enough to complete them all today.

2. You've made no secret of your feelings about the systemic inequalities and injustices you see taking place in the United States. Was there ever a time when you felt that the US was on the right track? If so, when was it?

This one is a bit difficult to answer because it depends on some historical knowledge that I may not have at my fingertips. I'd like to be able to quote chapter and verse but won't be able to do that. Additionally, theory and practice are not always the same thing.

So, while the theory of representative government, free speech and many other Constitutional rights are very good on the surface, the practice has not turned out to be what those who designed it may have intended.

It's also important to keep in mind that the representative government was intended originally for propertied men. Some human beings were not considered to be wholly human (African-Americans, as an example) and some human beings were not considered worthy of a vote. Women would be an example of that.

It's easy to present lofty ideas ~ but when they are not put into practice, it leaves a lot of room for hypocrisy and exploitation.

I have some fundamental issues with the idea of free commerce which I believe leads to
economic exploitation. Those who have will always have power over those who have not. It leads to deception as well with truth being secondary to profit. It develops into a classist, hierarchal social structure.

I believe competition in any venue leads to problems unless it's friendly competition such as sports. It doesn't belong in everyday life.

So.. to answer your question, I would have to say that had those lofty ideals been tempered with a deep morality, things may have turned out differently than they have.

As an aside, I should probably also note that there are no perfect governments in the world. I'm afraid that perfection will have to wait for the afterlife, if there is one.

3. You strike me as someone who feels nothing but contentment in being alone. So many people are overwhelmingly sad and uncomfortable when alone. Suppose that you have a close friend whose chief complaint is that she or he is lonely. What words might you offer that friend?

For the most part, yes, I am quite content being alone, at least in terms of romantic partnerships. I don't think I'd be entirely happy if I was without friends. At the same time, I tend to make friends who are very flexible. We're all loner types who don't necessarily assign any negative subtext to any of us disappearing for a period of time while we are off exploring something new or just plain hiding.

I'm not sure I would be a good resource for advice to someone who is lonely. I would definitely try to guide that person toward a discovery of his or her own values and standards. Once we know those things, likeminded others tend to appear. Trying to "fit in", just for the sake of "fitting in" is usually a more empty feeling than loneliness could ever be.

4. How did (or didn't) growing up in the sixties inform the person you are now?

It was a mixed bag really. I don't think I would have the liberal or progressive views I do now without having been exposed to that time period. Growing up where I did was a rarified atmosphere where diversity of thought or racial diversity was all but non-existent.

On the other hand, it was a bit too free-wheeling and individualistic for someone who basically likes a degree of social structure. (Explains partially my attraction to Thai culture which has a high degree of social structure.) I like rules and I like knowing what is expected of me. A lot of the things I believed intrinsically were torn apart during the sixties and that has been devastating to the culture as a whole and lasts to this day.

Example: I think the "sexual revolution" of that time has proven to be absolutely devastating for women. It gave permission for men to use women freely with no sense of commitment.

It was an interesting historical time because there was so much that was positive but the dark underside is still moldering under the surface.

5. What role does music play in your life? I have a Buddhist friend who does not listen to music unless he can be really intentional about it (e.g., he will not do work while listening to music, because he feels multitasking in that way denigrates both the activity of work and of listening to music). Do you agree with his philosophy?

I would say music does not play a major role in my life. While I like it, some of it, I don't consider myself to be a fan. There are a few musical artists I like but am not driven by it at all.

Even as a kid, I used to listen to talk radio. I liked the variety of ideas people would present during a discussion. I still listen to talk radio far more often than I listen to music.

As for the intentionality, yes, I do prefer to be very present with whatever I am doing. If I am posting here, that is what I am doing. If I am reading, I am reading. Completely present. If I am in the garden, I am one with the plants and flowers I am nurturing. When I am walking, I do occasionally listen to Joseph Campbell tapes, a book on tape or music ~ but I still like to be wholly present. I do not "multi-task" and do not particularly deal well with too many distractions.


Hope these answers have been interesting. I am not going to offer to interview others right now because I still owe some people questions.. and I'm going through a particularly fallow period right now. If you would like me to send you questions and don't mind a long delay then, please, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll come up with them. I just can't promise that I will get to it quickly. :)



slouching mom said...

Thoughtful answers, Chani.

I'm particularly intrigued by the sixties being too free-wheeling for you, not politically, I suspect, but socially. I think I might have felt the same way as you had I been an adolescent then.

And you are right, of course, that no government is, or can be, perfect, perhaps because inherent in the definition is an inequality, no matter how we try to mask it. There are those who govern, and those who are governed.

flutter said...

You know, I am always fascinated by your perspective and I respect the thought that you have put into feeling the way you do about any number of topics. This was very thoughtful, Chani

heartinsanfrancisco said...

There was a lot of hypocrisy even among the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson, who was undoubtedly a highly intelligent and articulate man, kept slaves. I have never been able to understand how he reconciled the lofty ideals he espoused with what he practiced at home.

But then, I cannot fathom how anyone could ever have thought that owning another human being was acceptable.

The 60's brought many issues out into the open that had not been acknowledged before. As with anything in which people get involved, there were abuses and misuses as well as misinterpretations of principles that started out with good intentions.

People who came together to further the causes of peace and love began to compete as to who was the most peaceful and loving. There was nothing wrong with these ideals, but given half a chance, people usually mess things up.

I would also add that being alone is preferable by far to being trapped in a relationship with the wrong person, and if society didn't stigmatize aloneness, I think more people would opt for it.

Molly said...

I found myself nodding in agreement a lot as I read this. I too like to be focused on one thing at a time. It makes me crazy when people have the tv on just for background noise. Either you're watching it or you're not. If not , turn it off! And I see the girls my son runs into. It's almost impossible to find the kind of girl he would like to, having been brought up by me. They are all so jaded, and cynical and un-innocent that it becomes depressing. I think you are right. It's fallout from the women's lib movement......Lofty ideals and actual practice---would that the twain could meet.

Open Grove Claudia said...

What a delight to get to know you a little better! Thanks for sharing! :)

Snoskred said...

I think questions are always a good way to get to know more about others. :) Emily sent me some, and I hope to answer them tomorrow on my blog.


painted maypole said...

loved your thoughtful answers to these great questions. I'm so glad you got this interview meme going again, it's been fun!

MsLittlePea said...

Great interview questions and answers. I'm always interested in your thoughts about the 60s because it's a decade that always intrigued me. Plus the music is pretty good. You're the only one I've ever known who has brought up some of the negative things that the 60s gave us. Everyone I've ever asked always talks like it was this wonderful, beautiful time.

I totally agree with you about 'fitting in.' Lots of people lose a big part of themselves when they aspire to fit in just for the 'sake of fitting in' as you say.