I was listening to the news a few days ago and a short blurb came on, something about Arnold Schwartzenegger wanting to eliminate the word "marriage" from California's constitution.
There's a part of me that believes this would be the right move in many regards.
Of course, these are just my opinions and not a reflection of Thai culture or any other culture. They're just thoughts that have been floating in the recesses of my mind for a few years now.
Personally, I don't see marriage as a socially superior status. There is nothing wrong with people choosing to live together or choosing to remain single.
In social terms, it is completely irrelevant. It indicates nothing about individual or social character.
And it is no justification for tax breaks.
Relational status should have no bearing on the availability of social resources or benefits.
I've always leaned toward a flat tax system in all countries that tax. Why should someone who is married with children (a social choice) have more tax benefits than a single person with children? (Ed for clarification: I am not suggesting that those who have children should not have any tax breaks. Naturally, I would rather see social services available that would make them unnecessary. However, I am suggesting that those who choose to have children outside of the traditional relationship configuration should have equal rights and that includes gay people. Hope that's a bit more clear. - cs :)
I believe that eliminating "marriage" from the constitution and replacing it with "civil union" would be effective and would ultimately have a positive effect. However one chooses to honor the union spiritually would be an individual matter. Civil unions would be a way to include gays, lesbians, straights or asexuals, anyone who wants to pair up with someone else for inheritance purposes, medical power of attorney or any purpose those people consider valid.
Well, just a few thoughts. What are yours? Just to add a bit more spice to the mix, do you believe any kind of mating is acceptable, as long as it is not exploitative? That would include, say, polygamy? How about a large intentional community where everyone is responsible for seeing to the children?
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I've been spending some time reading blogs again this morning and there seems to be a common thread running through many of them. It's all about goal-setting and accomplishment. This is so foreign to my way of thinking now that I felt a bit gobsmacked by it.
Then I got to thinking....
Our individual approach to living an authentic or satisfying life seems to depend a lot on our stages of life.
In my own case, I deal with a physical and emotional framework that is much older than my chronological years. This, combined with such a tiny income drastically limits the scope of what is possible to accomplish, of all the things one might wish to do or goals one might want to pursue.
For a long time, I ranted and railed about the unfairness of my differences. Why couldn't I be like others? Why couldn't I value what it seemed everyone else values so intently? Why couldn't I care about the hunt and gather World Series that so many devote their lives to? Why couldn't I care more about "stuff", owning it and acquiring it? (That's when I wasn't busy dogpaddling around in a pool of self pity!)
There comes a time when certain realities set in, no matter how hard we try, how many lists we write, or how hard we work to set and meet goals meant to help us "accomplish stuff."
Like aging. Disabilities. Chronic illnesses. Losses or financial insecurity that simply cannot be reversed, only absorbed and incorporated into the reality of our lives.
What has been useful to me in letting go is a very simple philosophy that was (somehow?) whispered into my ear when I realized my ability to sustain a "normal" pace was coming to an end. I had no means of support and I truly feared that if I stopped, I would either die or end up on the street. I was sitting under an oak tree at the time, when the words came to me...
"You already have all you need. Use what you have."
This made no sense at the time, yet has proven to be a truth so huge I can't even begin to describe it.
I'll settle for saying this: it was the beginning of a journey that instead of being focused outward, towards what I could/must/should still do or have in the external material world to a long journey inward that I had never taken before.
Once my familiar immersion in the external, material world was taken away and there was nothing left to do but journey inward, it would prove to be one hell of a ride!
Remember scavenger hunts or treasure hunts that children play? It was like that ~ in a way. Following hints and clues and random thoughts down one inner path after another, I discovered treasure after treasure I had totally missed during the years I spent struggling against an invisible monolith.
Most all of them were tiny, shiny bits of my original self that life had chipped off or that I had deliberately amputated and discarded as unacceptable to those in this world whose acceptance I thought I had to have.
I'd examine these shiny bits, collect them up, dust them off, to find where they fit into that authentic self I'd so long ago abandoned.
As this process continued, I discovered my very own truths and beliefs, as opposed to those that were so skillfully imposed upon me. They'd never felt much like my own but I also didn't see a real alternative.
Slowly I came to see I really needed none of what I'd lost materially or function-wise (or that which I thought had been taken from me by the fickle fingers of unfair fate!)
I still have "goals" but much differently defined than ever before. None of them reach beyond this one single moment in which I am breathing. And none of them have one bit to do with doing anything, only with being.
Because those whispered words are totally true for me.
I already have all I need. And I know how to use it.
So there's really nothing to "strive toward" anymore because it's already here.
This has been a long and difficult treasure hunt and it is far from over. One I would never have had, if I hadn't accepted the limitations of my own being, to realize that there are always choices and alternatives, that authenticity has its own value and that I no longer had to try to cram my being into boxes that no longer fit.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I still remember the reporter on the asphalt of the empty freeway:
"Why isn't someone helping these people?"
I still remember seeing the people on top of their houses, some with "Help! Diabetic" painted on the roofs.
I still remember the devastation of the Ninth Ward.
I still remember the football stadium where "refugees" were crammed together like vienna sausages in a can. (This was the early coverage, before "they" decided that using the term refugees was un-PC because, after all, they were Americans, too.)
It was like watching a war zone. There were trucks without tires, only rims, packed with people trying to escape. There were pregnant women with children walking aimlessly on the freeway overpasses. There were dead bodies abandoned along the side of the road.
I still remember that the Blackwater Security Service was dispatched, hired by the wealthy, to protect their property. It didn't take long for them to arrive. In fact, they got there before FEMA.
One wealthy New Orleans businessman personally hired the Israeli firm Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) to protect the elite gated community of Audubon Place.
... because the wealthy and their property are always more important than the poor.
The National Guard and other services patrolled the streets day and night with a shoot-to-kill mentality because some of the poor had to loot for food. One doctor was arrested for looting a pharmacy to get needed medication to start a clinic.
The wealthy were protected and the poor were left to die. It was genocide based on socioeconomics. At the time, so many were talking about race, as though race was the issue.
Poverty was the issue.
And it was then that I truly got it that it could happen here.
That it had already happened here.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I'm not sure how well I will express this but Michael Vick's press conference yesterday morning was disturbing.
I'm not a fan of public apologies where one mimics the socially expected speech about taking responsibility for one's actions and feeling ashamed. That content doesn't feel authentic because it is a canned recitation of the current cultural emphasis on accountability. His referring to himself as "immature" didn't come anywhere close to the more appropriate "cruel". His actions were indicative of a person who is so hollow inside, so mindless, that killing innocent beings doesn't even register on his ethical radar screen.
The reconciliation of his feelings though is a private matter, not for public display.
The "I found Jesus" card at the end of his confession was almost comical in its predictability! How often have we heard that one lately? Does anyone find that believable anymore? It seems like a conversion of that nature would a) take some time to assimilate and b) would not be something to boast about publicly. Again, it's a private matter.
The only thing important to me is that Vick begins to understand the implications of his actions, the fact that he harmed living beings and that he now has karmic responsibility to reconcile that. That will take quite a while. People don't change overnight.
Some people have been saying that he should suffer the same fate as his dogs. I don't believe in revenge. (An eye for an eye only leaves everyone blind, so it's been said.) That is perpetuating the very type of thought that creates a Michael Vick, someone who can see other living beings as objects to be dispensed with when they become inconvenient because something stops working.
Maybe a good spiritual adviser would be an option for him. He needs someone he can respect to help him guide his thinking in another direction.
The changes within him must be internal.. and if he becomes a better person, a person who lives more mindfully, that is all I hope for.
Monday, August 27, 2007
(Note: Please feel free to laugh or make funny remarks. If I didn't see the humor in it, I wouldn't have posted about it. :)
Thanks for all the good wishes yesterday. :)
All is well now but I can honestly say this past weekend was one of the most miserable I've spent in a long, long time!
Worse than a toothache.
Worse than a twisted ankle.
Worse than any injury I've ever had!
I didn't want to go into much detail about the location of the boils so I will just say that girls and boys are different ~ and let you figure it out from there.
It definitely affected my mobility.
I couldn't sit down.. and if I tried, it hurt like bloody Jesus to get back up! I had to put my entire weight on my arms and lift my lower body until I could manage a standing-up position.
Then I couldn't walk!
Well, unless I walked like I'd been on a horse for the past two weeks!
I tried everything! Short of calling the Village Shaman, there's not a stone unturned in my various trials to get the darned things to go away!
Finally, I used hot compresses and I'm sure if you visualize, you can imagine what that was like! Twice a day for fifteen minutes! I'd have to manage to get the pack into the microwave, stand for four minutes while it heated up, carry it back to the bedroom where I shut the door for privacy and apply it.
As it would happen, this was a weekend with a full house, including my housemate's girlfriend. (She is the only one with whom I shared the precise details and she fell against the wall laughing. Who can blame her?)
She would forget and want me to come talk to her.
Couldn't do it!
Saturday night, I got not one wink of sleep. If I turned over, shooting pain went through my body, up through the top of my head. I finally bolstered my back with a couple of pillows and spread-eagled across the bed and read a book.
What else could I do?
So.. that was my lovely weekend at Chez Chani.
If any of you wanted to make a wild guess, how many lifetimes of karma do you think I might have worked off?
Sunday, August 26, 2007
...boils, those nasty little gifts from Satan himself! (Yeah, I know. That's not part of my religious persuasion but at this point, any port in a storm!)
Anyway, I have a boil the size of a small planet in an unfortunate location. Let's just say that I can't sit down comfortably. I'm in pain. It hurts. I'm tired. Actually, I have some comedic comments to make about the whole thing but can't muster up the energy to type them. I will though. The only saving grace in all of this is that I keep laughing about it.
I won't be posting for a few days until this blasted thing goes away!
Please! Send the rivers of blood somewhere else!
Getting old ain't for sissies!
Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
Friday, August 24, 2007
I am still feeling battered and bruised this morning. It's amazing the effect sensory overload can have on us.
Last night, memories flooded my mind while I drifted off to sleep in the silence. Geckos croaking in the night. The smell of heavy air in the morning. The light is pale like the color of warmed honey. Sitting on the balcony at S's house, cup of tea in hand, feeling like all was right in the world.
And it was slow motion. The quiet. A woman walks slowly down the street, headed most likely to the market. I smile and she smiles back. No words. None are necessary.
I fit so comfortably and know I could do this for the rest of my life. I'm learning how to weave here, falling easily into the slow, steady hand movements. The beautiful threads. The clicking of the loom as I move the handle back and forth. The bosom of this place is where I find my nourishment.
I was not born here and that surprises no one but me. The prevailing belief is that we reap the consequences of former lives, that we suffer for the sins of our past in a variety of ways.
Maybe even by being misplaced, born in the wrong skin at the wrong time.
My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a train in the distance. Probably filled with sacks of rice. Probably going to Bangkok. The season has just ended and people work feverishly to get it all processed, get it all bagged so that tired looking men can hook the bags, one by one, and throw them on the train.
It passes and I return to my strange thoughts, including a dismissal of the whole idea of karma. While I envy the coherence of the idea, it's too hard to imagine that acts from hundreds of years ago can come up and influence us now.
We have floods and snakes and malaria and mudslides here. That is enough of a threat. The idea of divine justice just pulls me down. To distract myself I go for a walk. People are beginning to rise, beginning to start their days and the talk filters out, into my hearing range. I understand very little of it, mostly the common phrases of people communicating in shorthand. "I'm going to the market." "Feed the chickens." "It's hot today."
I tune it out, thinking only that what Westerners call simplicity, I recognize as wisdom.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Anyone who can figure out the musical reference in the title is too old to be up this late. :)
Since I am a bad, bad girl and didn't hear the FedEx delivery person when he or she came knockin', I had to drive (yes... me... drive!) all the way to Rancho Cordova to pick up the package.
I do not like driving. There are a few different reasons for this:
The first one is a health condition which makes it very, very hard for me to perceive things correctly, particularly when there are too many things ~ and they are all moving too fast.
This particular trip (in D's car, I might add) was 14 miles each way on freeways.
Well, you can imagine...
The second reason I don't like to drive is that my depth perception is worthless. I can end up tailgating without realizing I am doing it.
As you can imagine, 28 miles round trip was a bit taxing.
When I got to the FedEx pickup place, it was crowded and I had to stand in a line for too long. When I stand too long, I begin to get dizzy. Next step: disoriented.
This IS supposed to be funny. I'm not whining, although it probably appears that way.
Finally, I got home with my FedEx package in hand, feeling like I'd been out in a war zone. In the package is a new credit card. The credit card is not for random purchases. It is for one thing only... travel money to get to Thailand. It is now hidden in my safe where it will remain until it comes time to purchase a plane ticket.
Just the same, being "out in the world" that long is too much for me. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do is curl up in a ball on the couch and block everything out.
I will answer comments tomorrow morning. I'm sorry to say that I am truly spent, beyond anything most would understand.
But I have one question before I stop typing: I agree with Cecileaux who wisely said in yesterday's comments, "Turn off the TV." That will likely be the route I take.
I've always liked radio, particularly talk radio. I'm thinking about subscribing to satellite radio. Does anyone have it? What do you think of it?
Be back tomorrow.. hopefully a bit more serene.
Posted by thailandchani at 5:54 PM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Last night I sat here in my den, reading a book, minding my own business.
In the background, the TV was on. I glanced up at the screen and put my book down to look at the screen. It was Nancy Grace, a media figure who ordinarily annoys me but the story caught my attention.
The story involved two minimum wage employees who were caught on surveillance tape in a nursing home, beating helpless residents. In one case, a 50-year-old autistic woman was being beaten with a shoe. In yet another, the screen showed tape of a bedridden man being repeatedly hit and punched as he lay helpless.
That was appalling in and of itself.. but it would also be another topic.
Where I am going with this is that the show continually looped a video of these two events, on a 15-second basis. It repeated at the minimum twenty times. Again and again, my television screen was filled with these two images.
Perhaps it would appear on the surface that the purpose was to make people angry, to cause outrage.
It actually has the potential of the opposite effect: desensitization.
This is a method used in training sessions for people who are first responders, people who must see these kinds of horrible things in order to do their jobs. It's done in the military. It's done when treating people for PTSD.
It's based on the premise that the more we see something, the less we will react to it.
Now that thought scared the heck out of me since I've noticed most of the news channels do this very same thing. They will loop a video endlessly for the entire duration of the coverage. Usually a ten-second clip of video will be repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated.
Conspiracy theory? Maybe. I must admit I thought rather seriously about it during the day though.
Julie can always be counted on to come up with a good topic for examination. Each week, she presents a topic for everyone to collectively examine and dumps it all on the table, each contribution, and it provides a good focal point for seeing what others have to say, their perspectives and experiences.
I like it. If you haven't already been drawn into participation, give it a look and see what you think.
Being a good neighbor is one of those concepts that can be taken in many directions, although I see it is a bit linear.
The way we treat our house mates is likely how we will treat the folks next door. How we treat the folks next door is probably how we treat our immediate community. How we treat our immediate community is likely how we treat our city. How we treat our city... and so on.
Ultimately, it is a reflection of how we treat the world. It is a reflection of our place in it and how we choose to present ourselves.
Many of the problems on a macro level are evident in the micro.
If we carelessly make noise, yell, bring negativity and abuse our immediate environment, we are probably equally inconsiderate of how we behave in the world at large.
In general, I find most people just want to live peacefully.
But there are those....
Using my neighbors as an example, their attitudes border on complete and utter selfishness, caring only about themselves and what they want.
They think nothing of blasting their music at ear-splitting levels, playing music that is both offensive in content and in sound. In order to be heard, they yell above it. They allow their children to screech and scream without regard for the sensibilities of those who must surround them.
If I could become invisible and follow them around, my guess is that they are also the ones who pull up to red lights, car shivering with pounding bass and filthy language streaming out the windows like a fetid smell.
This summer alone, I have had to call the police several times.
It fails to register with me how anyone can honestly believe that everyone within a quarter-mile radius wants to share in their reverie, why we want to share in their particular choice of electronic entertainment.
These are the same people who think nothing of coming over here and picking my roses.
It's not that I care so much about someone picking a rose. If they'd ask, I'd probably give them five.
Still, it is a self-centeredness, a lack of consideration for others an an assumption of entitlement to behave however they choose and the rest of us have to just live with it.
This is often an example I present to those who argue for anarchy. We unfortunately need laws to regulate behavior. Where simple consideration fails, we have to have a system in place to control the bad behavior of those who do not choose to live in a community.
Finally, I believe the only way to create more "good neighbors" is to start in childhood, with parents teaching the benefits and obligations that are a part of living in community. It needs to be reinforced in the schools, churches and other media involved in social engineering and cultural development. Social harmony is necessary for us to avoid annihilating each other.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sometimes when it seems I least deserve it, someone comes along and gives me one of these acknowledgments.
It reminds me to go back to my roots, in a manner of speaking. It reminds me to stick with what I know is right. I do know what is right. Sometimes I just allow myself to behave as though I don't.
Painted Maypole acknowledged me on her blog. Coming from her, it really meant something, particularly given that she is someone whom I can't even recall using a swear word, let alone express mean thoughts. She is always pleasant, even when she addresses a difficult topic. She expresses those things without climbing into the mud pile. Thank you, Maypole. This was a good reminder for me, the timing was excellent and you set a good example. :)
Looking at the issue of niceness with the wide angle lens:
There's being nice. And there's being nice.
For women, this is a gnarly issue because the social expectations placed on us have included a requirement that we always be "nice". We should never shout. We should never speak up. We should always smile. We should always be warm and loving. The misuse of the term was used as a battering ram to keep us in place, to keep us compliant.
Maybe it's time to reclaim the word and broaden it in a way that fits for us now.
Being nice should mean that we speak our truth with regard for the feelings of others but not at the expense of authenticity. It means we take a breath before we decide that being "authentic" includes the possibility of offending or hurting each other.
Being nice means that we always try to use words that do not wound, that bring no harm to other people, animals or the environment. This includes listening to ourselves for expressions and slang that diminish or put down any of those things.
Being nice means not wishing ill will on another, even when our humanness leads us down that path. It means avoiding thoughts of revenge.
As someone put it many years ago, I now disremember who, "Say what you mean, mean what you say but don't say it mean."
Nice is the wrapping paper around kindness.
That is the operational definition I used as I thought of how to pass this along.
As always, there are too many people who deserve this acknowledgment, for so many reasons. I am very fortunate that the majority of people who surround me, both in the blogging community and in my personal life, are nice people. They keep me on the straight and narrow. They keep me mindful. And I am grateful for the times they've gathered around me, even when I've stumbled and fallen rather ungraciously.
Thank you for accepting me ~ even in my glaring imperfection.
I've chosen not to tag for this one because there are simply too many and it began to hurt a bit, trying to narrow it down to only seven... so this time I am going to pass on the passing on in that fashion.
I would encourage everyone who reads this to claim it, in all its implications ~ and maybe write about it one day? What niceness means to you? Maybe we can spread it around that way.
(palms together) Thank you, everyone.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"Patriotism... is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs [us] of our self-respect and dignity, and increases arrogance and conceit." - Emma Goldman
Someone's comment during the weekend got me thinking about this.
She said: "I can't even count on both hands how many times my patriotism was questioned because I didn't happen to agree with everything that's going on." (MsPea)
And I can't even count how many others I've heard say the exact same thing!
Patriotism has always been a bizarre concept to me, largely because I think of national boundaries as being rather strange. While I understand the need from a geopolitical perspective, it makes no sense to me on a "gut" level. There is no feeling attached to it. I don't know what patriotism feels like and I can't imagine it.
I tried to grasp it. Since I've certainly been rather open here about the fact that I will be spending the rest of my life in Thailand, I wanted to get a sense ~ internally ~ of how that feels. Did I feel as though that means Thailand is the best place in the world?
No. It's just right for me.
Does that mean that I must support everything Thailand does in the world?
No. Not at all. Some of the actions of that government are just as useless and stupid as the actions of government everywhere else.
Does that mean I am required to support its national boundaries?
No. I have to obey the laws of the region. I can't go into Laos without a passport but that's legal stuff. I'm talking about internal senses of identity.
Hearing the name "Thailand" is useful for one thing.
It defines location.
Most people, upon hearing it, will know that it is located in southeastern Asia, that it borders the Andaman sea and the Gulf of Thailand. It's south of Myanmar and north of Malaysia. For those who are geographically inclined, it will give information about the weather. Perhaps it will give some information about the kind of land it is and the agriculture it supports.
That's really about as useful as it can be.
Beyond that, it is an arbitrary name, assigned by one government or another in the 1930s. It doesn't tell me anything more than that.
And is frankly meaningless beyond that.
I am drawn to the way of life there ~ but the way of life doesn't end at an arbitrary border. Having made more than one visa run in that region, I feel fairly safe in saying there is no sign at the border that states, "the culture ends here".
But pride in a location?
I don't get it.
What about you? What does patriotism mean to you?
Friday, August 17, 2007
"I have come to believe, over and over again, that what is important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood."
Another Audre Lorde quote.
I've been thinking about silence lately. How we use silence to protect ourselves. How we use silence to maintain the status quo. How we use silence to express indifference. How we use silence because it's easier than taking a risk. How silence becomes just another expression of laziness.
I have always interpreted silence as indifference or disdain. It is the fastest, surest way to get me to retreat. In my family of origin, silence was punishment. Being ostracized from the group is how we were forced back into line.
It stops everything cold. It chills the soul. It destroys relationships. It serves no purpose. It allows things to go on that should never go on.
Last night I watched a TV show, an investigative journalism thing, where a couple of people got away with murder because no one was willing to speak up. They were afraid. And their fear and their silence made it possible for the violence to continue.
In a more benign sense, silence is what destroys relationships. Things unsaid. And as we use silence in our private interactions, it extrapolates out to the larger world and becomes a way of life.
Not speaking. Not asking. Passivity that comes not from peace but from simple indifference and laziness.
I don't get involved in American politics. Period. But I have definitely seen how silence contributes to the continuation of the path that country is on, and how, just as was predicted by those much wiser than me, it allows the oligarchy (yes, I'll use that word) to gain more and more control over the private lives of citizens. At what point do I use the "f-word" (fascism) which requires a silenced population? I feel safe and accurate to use it now.
Am I the only one who sees it?
So that is an example of silence born of laziness that has now become silence based on fear.
There is a positive silence, the kind of silence that is based on trust. Certain things that don't need to be said because it's all been said before and is an internalized part of the relationship. But that takes time and it takes a level of comfort.
I believe it's true on both a social and personal level.
I am trying to be better about this. I'm trying to be better about how I use my silence as well as using my voice to express the things I believe and feel while being as kind and considerate as possible. There's no doubt that I have much to learn and my words still stumble and fall around like a drunk ~ and my silence still oppresses ~ but I'm trying.
What do you think about these things? How do you use silence?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I've come to some rather startling conclusions over the past few days... not just about this site.. but about some things in general.
It's always interesting to me how life gives us lessons in the most peculiar ways. If we stand at the ready, open to receiving, we get it... and it's liberating.
I've made a few commitments here that I can not keep.
The tagging: I explained that the other day... that I've chosen to not remain so dogmatic about it, instead choosing a middle road that will allow me to tag if I feel like it.. and not tag if I don't.
That's certainly easy enough. We all change.. and the reason I changed on that is because I recognized that it was limiting me. It was limiting me from doing something that occasionally feels appropriate. It's also easy to rationalize these things.. when perhaps we are taking a stand more out of self-protection than legitimate logic.
I also promised that I would never change my blogroll, that I would steadfastly hold on to anyone added.
For the most part, that is true.. but I've also come to realize something in that, too.
One of the things I used to dislike so much when I was far more social than I am now is the feeling that I was the one who would faithfully stand by, when others had long since moved on. I made a commitment back then that I want equal relationships in my life, unless it was otherwise agreed upon. You know, there are times when people come along and we want to support them as best as we can ~ and we want to "be there" (I hate that phrase) for them in an exclusive way, not expecting any reciprocity. I've done it in terms of personal energy, money or other things when that seemed like the right thing to do.
My blogroll was a reflection of those old habits, that somehow I didn't have the right to ask for reciprocity ~ or for an equal relationship. I was content to take the leftovers, content to be the last one remembered, content to be always on the fringes. It got to a point where other people's leftovers even started to taste good.
Maybe I've grown up too much to find that appealing anymore.
So my blogroll will change.. as people come and go. Unless I have an equal relationship with people (where it has not been agreed upon otherwise), I'm not going to hang on.. just so that I can feel ever-so-faithful.
I'm not angry.. or upset with anyone. I simply want to be perfectly honest about who I am, even if it is a part of me that some won't like.
I'm not a saint. I'm not some disembodied figure sitting under the Bodhi tree, trying to dispense wisdom. I am an all-too very human woman with the same desires as everyone else. To be a "part of", not "apart from".
I don't think I was willing to accept the fact that in some cases, people simply don't have anything in common. I held firm to the belief that we can always find something, if we try hard enough.
And that is partially true. But not entirely. Everyone has to want the same thing.
The fact can not be altered that I am older. I am eccentric. I do not live a mainstream life. I do not have children. I'm a dreamer with my head in the clouds most of the time. I love books and ideas, thoughts and concepts. I'm an abstract thinker. My attachment to the physical world is really rather minimal. The things that drive most people mean very little to me.
I say all of this because some people are off the blog roll now. It comes from no ill will. It simply comes from the fact that we apparently do not have enough in common to sustain a blogging relationship or it became too lopsided.
I wish the best for those people, although I doubt they'll see this.
Beyond a commitment to remain honest, to have integrity and honor in the things I write here and a legitimate caring and good will toward those I interact with, who can know what might happen in the future?
But I suspect it will be good.
Posted by thailandchani at 1:36 PM
I just watched an interesting segment on "Hannity and Colmes" which I'm almost embarrassed to admit gets any attention in my house!
Anyway, one of the last stories of the evening was that of Bob Larson, a fundamentalist preacher who performs exorcisms.
I remember the movie from the early 70s and won't deny that it scared the living dickens out of me. It was the graphic stuff. When I read the book prior to seeing it, I yawned through it. I was not religious in that way and it didn't seem real enough to qualify as a horror story. A horror story is something that can really happen.
Most religions have some element of this belief, east and west, that demons can possess the bodies of humans. While I find it questionable, my mind is open to the possibility. I can't swear it doesn't happen and I can't swear it does! I know I don't mess around in the spirit world unless I'm reasonably certain what I'm doing. You'll never find a ouija board in my house.
This is how I see it though. In terms of spirits, certainly there is a spirit of depression or a spirit of intoxication or the spirit of anger. These are things we experience and the seriousness of them seems to depend on the cultural context.
In Thai culture, monks often perform a ritual which is intended to remove evil spirits from individuals who are suffering. Most of the time, I suspect it is a placebo, making the person feel better because something was done and their suffering was validated.
Thais love their ghosts though. That is why there are spirit houses everywhere and the spirits of ancestors are appeased and honored. Still, I'd say a ghost is different than a demon! I have a spirit house, too, but I use it as a mindfulness tool. It reminds me to respect those who came before me.
I suspect a demon is something that has a hold on us and we can't let it go on our own. I do believe there are ghosts and spirits ~ but I have a serious problem with the idea of demons, beyond using the concept as a symbol.
How about you?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Just recently I was watching a newscast, a general no-no in this house, and heard a story about some kids in Huntingdon, PA who have begun a new game.
This game is called "Fire in the Hole". The kids drive through a fast food place, order food and then throw it at the server. The objective in this game is to videotape it and put it on YouTube.
Now I'll grant you that we were rather mischievous as kids, too. But our idea of mischief was to toilet-paper a house or egg someone's windows. With the security patrol in the neighborhood, we wouldn't have gotten too far doing either on a regular basis ~ but we occasionally managed to unload some TP or a carton of eggs somewhere. The most that happened if we were caught was that we'd have to clean it up.
I got in trouble personally for writing on the bathroom walls in high school. Several of us wrote pretentious paragraphs that started with things like "In these hallowed halls of academia..." nWe were suspended for a few days and made to wash the walls on the weekend.
We really thought we were so clever.
We certainly didn't put anyone in danger.
Imagine if they begin to throw hot coffee on a server instead of cold soda.
Someone mentioned that their ultimate objective was to throw fire crackers in the windows. Another person took it a step further and speculated that it would be fun and interesting to shoot one of them between the eyes with a 9MM handgun.
Meanwhile, these videos are being played on YouTube, to the apparent amusement of other teenagers.
Where and when did kids become so hateful? And why?
I can speculate on how I think it came to be. In my culture, we have a thing called "face" and disrespecting someone, especially in public, is simply unacceptable.
And I can't help but wonder why it is not emphasized here.
The people working at those fast food places may be often young, or poor, maybe both ~ but they are working people and deserve the same respect as any working person.
Something tells me these kids would not target a lawyer ~ or a cop. They wouldn't dare!
Somehow these workers are considered to be acceptable targets.
I'd like to know if you heard this story... and, if so, what are your thoughts? What do you think has brought this kind of "amusement" about?
Personally, I find it repulsive.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I want to thank everyone for their suggestions, reinforcement and even some criticisms.
What I got from this mainly, in terms of the things I want to change, is that much of it is visual and some of it has been the way I have been managing this site.
1) Difficult to read because of the color combination (Changed it)
2) Messy sidebar causing a slow page load (I cleaned it up last night)
3) Posting too much (I'll watch that...)
4) The fact that I have fallen short on times on responding to my comments. As one person said, "That's what you're good at." I agree with that observation. I have been slacking off. I do like the interaction and I haven't been doing my part.
5) One person mentioned that I could be supporting new bloggers, too, and that is a suggestion I liked a lot. It "fits" for the person I am. Not for political reasons but because it "feels" right. I remember what it was like to just start out... to wonder if anyone was even "out there".
Those were just a few of the suggestions and I also have more I will be doing. The standard is 1) only if it fits in with my particular ethical standards and 2) only if it is consistent with the way I choose to exist in this world.
Just to be very clear, I am not trying to build an empire. Yes, I would like to build the site up. No, it is not because I am unhappy with my core readership. I love my core readership! I don't think that means that wanting new readers, too, is a bad thing.
There are certain things I commit to:
1) I will always be honest. I will never post, just to get comments or notice.
2) I will never ask for money on this blog and I will never allow ads on this blog. (For those who have the ads, I make no judgments. It's just not for me.. or for this site.)
3) I will never do anything that violates my own ethical or moral system. I live by the five precepts. That will not change. If you ever see products promoted here or somesuch, this site has been hijacked. It's not me!
4) There are certain things I evaluate and reassess periodically. Like the tagging. I am able, through discussion with others, to see that it can be occasionally useful. This site will never tag, just for the sake of tagging, and I will not tag for political reasons. I will only tag because I need to say something. They are "thankyous". Period. And I will still be doing "Steal This Meme".
Like a lot of things in life itself, sometimes it's necessary to reevaluate how we are doing things, listen to others and come to a middle ground. We have to decide what can or can not fit into our own systems of ethics. We have to realize when we've been just a bit too dogmatic about something and move on from it.
With tagging, the commitment I make is that I will never use it in an exclusionary or political manner. Ever. And I am very, very sensitive to those issues.
And that's the best I can do. I am a growing, changing and evolving human being. Holding me to something or not allowing me to change my mind is destructive for all of us.
What is the point of discussion, if not for growth and change? My fundamental message and fundamental focus will not change.
Enough for now. I am still taking into account everything that has been said. More on this, maybe, later in the week.
Thanks again for so many helpful solutions.. and, again, I have to reiterate this: My wanting to grow this site some is absolutely NO indication that I don't value the folks who have faithfully stayed with me all this time.
Really. I hope you will believe that. I asked for help here because I have nowhere else to discuss it.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Note: I am playing with the site a lot as people are offering me suggestions offlist. Colors, backgrounds and suchlike. I am not a visual person so if any of these changes are difficult or do not show up on your screen well, please let me know. I'm grateful for the help.. and will not be offended if someone tells me one of these changes completely suck! :)
And one more thing.. to my regular readers: I Value You! Please don't ever think otherwise. I believe that any person wants to grow their site and it doesn't diminish anyone at all.
So. Please. Hear! Me!
I Value All Of You...
...probably more than you can know or I can explain.
I'm just trying to improve the site. Really. That's all!
Okay. I can see this site is going down the tubes fast.
The truth is that my knowledge about this kind of thing is simply not present. I don't know what to do to generate more interest. I don't know what to write that will make people want to interact with me.
And I don't know if I have the energy to attempt to rebuild it without help. Well, I know I don't.
When I noticed the decline, I wrote to a guy who often posts about this kind of thing on his blog and he gave me "I'll get back to you" but didn't.
So I'm putting this out to anyone who reads here.
What is it you want from me? What would it take for this site to become lively again, for people to find interest in it?
Or... is it simply not possible?
Up until two weeks ago, my traffic wasn't bad (around 100 visits a day) and comments were over 20 a day.
Now it is down to 65 visits a day.. and 6 comments.
Maybe I don't have what it takes to do this anymore... but I sure do need some help and some input from others! Maybe there was some discussion about this at BlogHer? How are others doing it? I don't see anyone else experiencing this, not among the blogs I visit anyway.
It's not that I don't value those who come here. I DO! Truly! But I also value active input. There is no insult intended when I address this issue. I just know there must be someone out there who can educate me.
So.. if you are out there.. please? Help?
If you would feel more comfortable talking to me privately, please feel free to do that. Any way... I just need the input. Seriously.
Okay. It's time to get back to normal around here and get back to our roundtables.
During the weekend, I had quite a discussion with someone, trying to get a point across that she was not willing to hear.
We have to go to people where they are, not where we want them to be.
Use of language is a critical issue. The purpose of talking is not to say something. It is to be understood.
The person involved in the discussion was from a Yahoo group we participate on. The focus of the group is Buddhism.
You'd think there would be some compassion floating around there, right?
Well, there is ~ typically.
But since it would seem Mercury has been retrograde or there is some other weird configuration of the planets over the past two weeks or so, the group erupted into flames.
And it was unfortunately caused by another Thaiphile. (I am reluctant to include myself in that category. I am culturally Thai. Period.. but for these purposes, I'll run with it.)
She began a full-frontal attack on western culture, including rather silly misspellings of American terms to appear disdainful. Kulture. Amerikkka. You know.
The drill. Some people never grew out of the 60s.
Finally, late night on Saturday, I asked her to stop. I said, "You are not serving Thai culture, which you claim to value, well and you are not serving yourself. You are alienating people. Do you want to be heard or not?"
She wrote back, telling me that she had a right to say whatever she pleased and that if that's how she feels, it's good enough. (This in and of itself shows her limited understanding of Thai culture in which one is not permitted to say whatever she chooses, simply because she feels it.)
My response was that she may be right in some of the issues she raised but probably won't be heard. Even I felt assaulted by her wording. And, yes, she has the right to say anything she chooses. She also has an obligation to accept the consequences with grace and dignity. That is what Thai culture demands. My opinion is that if you claim it, live it.
The consequences in this case are that she was put on moderation by the group owner.
And truthfully, even I was put off and hurt by her use of language, her demeanor and her presentation ~ and I'm more tolerant than the average person. I can usually see beyond use of language to the pain or anger someone is expressing and address it from that level. But hers was vitriolic and left me feeling like I had ugly, icky green-pea slime all over me. I wanted to take a shower!
By Sunday night, every member of the group had a backchannel message from her, stating her case again, complaining about her moderated status and appealing for alliances.
None of us bought into it.
This is an extreme example. It's obvious this woman has more problems than not liking western culture.
Most people are willing to hear our thoughts and ideas, as long as it is presented in respectful terms. Naturally, there are some ideas that are so abhorrent than no one wants to hear them, no matter how beautifully they are presented. In this case, her ideas were not abhorrent.
Granted, we all fail to be mindful of our speech sometimes. Tempers flare. Things get said. I am the biggest sinner I know in that area. Prior to my conversion, I always had a sharp tongue and I've had to make a conscious effort to overcome and control it. But I didn't see any justification for this weekend's discussion to be sharp or contentious at all.
I know it may seem like stating the obvious here. We all know that mean or mindless speech is destructive. (I can hear the whispers... "yeah.. so shyaddup, Chana!')
What I wonder is this though: What ways do you have to let someone know their speech is simply assaultive and hurtful? How do you go to them where they are so that they'll learn, internalize and, as a result, have a better discussion? Or is it even my responsibility to try?
I didn't succeed with my correspondent this weekend. She's sticking to her position.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I am going to do one more post of links. Then. I will stop. I promise. :)
This award was passed along to me by Flutter. Of course I was flattered. Who wouldn't be?
It also made me think. It made me think about the responsibility I have here to be a woman of grace, a woman who offers something positive to the blog world in which I find myself. Given my recent decline into pettiness, that's a good thing. I know I have a responsibility to stay in Right Speech and I commit myself to that in the future.
When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I thought it would become little more than an extension of the posts I put out on a Yahoogroup on a weekly basis, reflections on my journey to sobriety, the time I spent trying to grow spiritually and ultimately my realization that my life would be spent in Thailand. My posts to that list now are more reflective of my path, my spirituality and personal journey. They are not as personal in the everyday sense.
This blog has become like a series of letters and shared thoughts to and with other wise women who share their thoughts here in comments and on their own blogs. My own imperfections have been splayed on this template, in glaring obviousness, for all to see. What I hope people reading here understand is that I am a very real, regular, growing human being with some all too human flaws. Spiritual evolution is an ongoing process. I'm hoping my openness will be an encouragement to others. You know, if I can do it, anyone can.
The Blogging Reflection Award is an opportunity to take a look at the women and men who inspire us, the women and men who inspire, challenge and feed me spiritually. Here's the description:
This award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.
Well, I'm not sure about "pride". As a five-precept woman, I don't necessarily think pride is a positive thing. My goal is to get beyond that kind of attachment to ego. But "joy". Oh yeah. Joy isn't giddy happiness. Joy is growth. Joy is reconciliation of the spiritual and the physical. There are several women who encourage me for a variety of reasons. I will go so far as to say I am "blessed" by them. They lift me up. All the time.
Jen at One Plus Two: Of course. She is a woman who has managed something that very few of us ever accomplish. She has seemingly evolved beyond ego. She has committed her life to making the world better, not to simply feathering her own nest in the typical western hunt-and-gather, produce-and-consume whirlwind. She takes a stand on issues most people would prefer to sweep under the rug and ignore. In that regard, she inspires me daily and reminds me to step outside the everyday effluvia and remember why we are really here. For someone who doesn't proclaim any particular faith, she's one of the best Buddhists I know. In Thailand, I would call her Ajahn.
Julie at The Ravin' Picture Maven: Julie and I have very different cultural perspectives. She is also far brighter than me. Just the same, I am inspired by her absolute fearlessness when it comes to staring straight into the eyes of some of scariest ethical demons. She walks through the labyrinth and comes out the other side, with the results of her examination in her palms, offering it to the rest of us. She uses her superior intelligence for the betterment of us all, not just herself or her own personal aggrandizement. She recognizes it as a gift to be shared, not a battering ram to exert power-over others. She is never condescending. She always makes me think. And she forces me to keep my mind open.
Catherine at Everyday Life As Lyric Poetry: Catherine is a spiritual seeker. She has a unique perspective on issues of that nature. Her spirituality is reflected in her writing and her reading. She is also not afraid to ask difficult questions ~ and she is openly respectful of all faiths.
Hel at Truth Cycles: For those who read there, there is no explanation needed. For those who don't know her, please read her. She is someone who is willing to dig inside her own soul, pull out all the "stuff" and examine it for us. She is lyrical and visual ~ at times visionary ~ and is also always completely honest about herself.
Laurie at Flying Monkeys: Laurie teaches by example. She doesn't pontificate. She doesn't gaze her navel in public (like I do). She is a very spiritual person who lives it every day. By reading about her life, the principles that guide her and her beautiful family come through clearly. She takes the theoretical and applies it to the practical. I learn from her. A lot. Even though she'd probably tell you she didn't know that.. or doesn't understand why. She's humble that way.
The issue was raised to me about this linking.. and why I have been linking for the past two days after having been the one with the strongest stand against it. I will be posting about that during the week. My linking is not hypocrisy, although it may appear that way. It is a reflection of my coming to a middle ground, understanding that nothing is all bad or all good. It's all in how we use it ~ and the reasons why we do it.
More on that during the week.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Susanne, a wonderful blogger on whose blog I've been lurking (aka 'admiring from a distance') tagged me for the "ten things I like about me" meme.
There are times when something comes along, just as it should. Since I've spent the past few days in some fairly serious self-criticism, it's a good thing to remember the gifts we've been given, too.
So I've decided to do this.
I am also going to tag some people. While this is not typical for me, it's evidence perhaps that I am willing to have my ideas challenged and I am willing to change my mind when it's appropriate. In a discussion on this topic, someone mentioned that tagging can be used as a welcoming tool, too. That's a valid point and I have decided to tag some people whose blogs are new to me, new to my sidebar, and a few people who I haven't seen do it yet.
And that is number one... one of the things I am grateful to be. I am open-minded. I'm willing to change my mind when presented with new ideas.
Number two: I like the fact that I am fiercely loyal to the people or principles I care about. I will step up to the plate when necessary and defend someone, even if it costs me something.
Number three: I like that I am willing to dig beneath the surface of my own behavior and examine it for things that may be hurting others. And I'm willing to change.
Number four: I like that I apologize easily ~ and mean it when I do. I have no problem admitting when I've been wrong.
Number five: I like that when I love or like someone, I do it with a wide open heart that is just so willing to admire, to respect and even occasionally adore.
Number six: I like that I came out of the desert without so many broken and jagged pieces that I was unwilling to ever trust again.
Number seven: I like that I have a very accepting spirit, that I don't need to pigeonhole people. I accept you as you are ~ as you say you are. I am non-judgmental. Someone doesn't have to be like me, think like me or view the world the way I do and I can still admire and respect that person.
Number eight: I like the fact that I have been able to embrace my own eccentricity. I like the fact that I now see it as a positive thing instead of something to be hidden and denied.
Number nine: I like the fact that I don't hold grudges. It just doesn't seem to be a part of my being.. and I can't even quite grasp what it would feel like.
Number ten: I like that even at my age, I am willing to completely uproot my life and head off to my spirit's home, knowing that it is meant to be, that I can have that faith in my path.
Now for the tagging:
Bohemian Girl: You are fairly new to me and I'm just getting to know you through your writing on your blog. I like your inherent peacefulness.. your caring.. and your gentleness. Thank you.
Mitzh: I love the little glimpses into your heart that you share with us. I love the fact that you are able to see the universality of our experiences.
Flutter: I love the openness with which you share your experiences. I love the fact that you are so willing to do this without fear ~ and it allows us to know you and our admiration to grow every single day. And trust me. I think it's a good time now for you to do this. Just as a reminder to yourself of how blessed and wonderful you truly are.
Anvil: Every time I come around your site, you give me a glimpse of what a good man is all about, what masculinity is supposed to be. For this sometimes rather cynical woman, you have no idea what a gift that is. Just because my comments are infrequent, don't think for a minute that I don't admire you. A lot. I'd like to hear what you like about yourself.
Jen: You are one of the most "together" people I've ever known. While I am not one to be effusive and obsequiously admiring (at least not openly), in your presence, I often find myself doing just that. You are such a gifted leader and an evolved human being. Since I am old enough to be your mother, I can say this: If I'd had a daughter, I'd want her to be you. I don't really care if you do the meme, although it would be nice. I love the way you present these facts about yourself.
Susan: You are such a clear-thinker and such a faithful friend. There is no way in the world I will ever be able to really thank you for that. With your quick wit and obvious intelligence, you are a teacher for me. All the time. I would also like to hear ten things you like about yourself. I want to know if they match the things I like about you. :)
I could go on tagging forever ~ but I am going to stop here so that I can save up some for the next time.
Thank you, Susanne, for thinking of me. And thank all of you for constantly keeping me on my toes.
Friday, August 10, 2007
One of the things I do after I've found myself in some sort of conflict is to spend some time in quiet thought. It is also when I call in my team of trusted others, those who know me, whom I know and with whom I have a relationship that allows for frank discussion.
One of those people is Ajahn S. I trust his judgment and perception without question.
After Wednesday's conflict, I needed his perspective. I wrote him an email, explaining what had occurred from my perspective, provided him with all the links and relevant data.. and asked him to tell me his thoughts.
He has given me permission to reprint them here. Since English is his second language, I have edited. He has seen it and approved of the changes I made, none of which involve content.
His comments are in italics.
"I don't want to sound like a fortune cookie, but if this roundtable discussion has pushed a button in you that would set you off that severely, then you have been given a great gift. When our behavior is all that we want it to be, we don't learn much of anything about ourselves. You've been given an opportunity to dig into something that gets you right where you live."
It would have been quite a stretch to get me to buy this one on first glance! I didn't feel like I'd been given a gift. It felt more like a sucker punch!
"Now, maybe, in order to deal with that, you need to take some time away. Fine. But please don't just turn tail and run. And don't blame it on anyone else. "
It was not and is not my intent to blame anyone else.. or to turn tail and run. What I really want to learn is a way to disagree more effectively, how to use my voice without it getting loud and brash. I want to be heard.. in a gentler way.
"I'm reminded of something someone said to me, many years ago, about mental illness. He said, "Heck, if we could send everybody on an endless cruise -- no stress, no poverty -- there wouldn't _be_ any mental illness." I've always felt that he was exaggerating, but there is a little kernel of truth in what he was saying. It's the things that _stress_ us, that _challenge_ our ideas about ourselves, that teach us most about who we are. I'm not suggesting that you run face-first into an electric fan, but it would be sad and wasteful for you to ignore this opportunity to learn more about yourself. How else can you grow and change for the better?"
This is a good point... but I would like to examine is how we can ALL do this better. I don't mean that in a judgmental sense. What I mean is establishing a way that will give us all the freedom to engage in conflicting opinions without hurting each other. How can we disagree without creating collateral damage? I'm well aware of the fact that I created a bit more than my share. Why do we so often find ourselves in conflict and there are bloody bodies found among the survivors? Others are simply annihilated.
"The way that we can develop compassion for even the people who don't have any compassion is to be able to bear to catch ourselves in the moments when our compassion is missing-in-action or otherwise deficient. If we give into the urge to blame our lapse on the phase of the moon or western technology or whatever, then we miss out on that opportunity, and we'll spend the rest of our lives looking down (however subtly) on others. "
Isn't it true? There is usually something we can manage to find as an object of blame. It would have been different if we'd been in person? It would have been different if the zebra crossed the road at the right time on Tuesday?
That doesn't quite make sense, does it? Not really. We all own our lapses. I own mine.
"So, as I see it, you're at a choice point. Do you scramble madly to distance yourself from your actions and remove any sense of responsibility (that's the clinging-to-the-need-to-be-right part)? Or do you sit down and say, wow, I really did something that I find reprehensible. And you sit with that, literally, in meditation. Poke it, prod it, feel it, feel around it, accept it, reject it, analyze it, fantasize about it, in short -- work through it. Believe me, in the long run, you'll be a far more humane being for doing so. And that is what it's all about, right?"
I think that is what we all wanted. And the further we try to distance ourselves from these issues, the more they repeat themselves. As women, we are not accustomed to conflict or disagreement. We are trained to make nice-nice and never offend. So when the volcano begins to rumble, it can overflow so quickly that it seems spontaneous. During that conflict, I hurt another human being with my words. Words matter. If you don't believe me, take a feather pillow to the top of a mountain, rip it open and let the feathers fly in the wind. Now go try to pick them up. That is what careless speech is like. There is no way to ever take those words back ~ and nothing is ever the same again.
What that does is effectively contribute to silencing all of us ~ making us more reluctant to discuss the important stuff next time ~ even though we have a similar goal, to make the world a better place and to understand and resolve complex issues.
We are all good people.
I believe that. We need to remember that. I need to remember that.
Of course, I would like to hear your views and thoughts on conflict and conflict resolution, how you respond to conflict, how you deal with it.
** Please take a few moments to go this site and offer Jenn some support. Of course, I send all of my best healing thoughts to her.
Today.. is Just Posts day. It has become an integral part of my blogging life and I look forward to it each month.
This is how we spread the wisdom. Please take some time... and read them. It gives hope, to know there are such beautiful minds out there, thinking beautiful thoughts and talking about things that matter.
You can find the Just Posts here:
And I also want to thank all of you who came by last night and today, leaving me such thoughtful comments. I learn from you guys... every day. I intend to answer all of them.
Thank you... for being here. I wish ~ for just one minute ~ you all could know how much I value the things you tell me, the things you share with me.. the time you give me. If you knew....
(palms together) to all of you!
And seriously... the Just Posts. Read 'em! :)
See you Friday evening.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Note: I will probably not be commenting on other blogs today... nor writing another entry on this one. My recovery from this type of upset isn't easy. Just because I chose it and brought it on myself doesn't mean there's no price to be paid for it. I really need some refuge time. I will miss all of you though, and appreciate and value every single one of you! Namaste, Ch.
First of all, I want to apologize to anyone who might have found some of my actions disturbing yesterday.
Why did I fight so hard?
I know I exposed a side of me that few have ever seen, particularly since my "conversion" to Thai culture so many years ago now.
On the surface, it might have appeared that I was fighting for my ego.
I was not.
I was fighting as a matter of honor. Honoring of an idea that I believe has merit. It's certainly not an original idea. It's not "my" idea. It's an idea that has been written about by historians and philosophers with five times the brain power of mine. Hegel and Marx, just to name a few.
Sometimes for a variety of reasons, ideas get thrown off the table, simply because they are difficult to deal with ~ or they're too challenging ~ or they're uncomfortable. When we're dealing with a topic as serious as racism, we don't always get to sit back and be comfortable.
I've learned that running away from conflict is sometimes just as unhealthy as running to it. There have been people around who thrive on it, find excitement in it and relish every moment of conflict they can find. I am not one of those people.
If this had just been a question of ego, I would have dropped it. Instead, I continued to fight. And I possibly hurt some feelings along the way. For that, I am truly sorry but I'm not sorry for fighting for my position. I'm not sorry for defending those I believe had a right to be defended. I choose my battles fairly carefully and this one was worth it. To me.
That is a part of me, too. I am a warrior for the things I care about, the things that matter. My archetype is Minerva. While I value kindness and compassion, I also value honor and courage. I don't always manifest it perfectly and I don't always do it with finesse but please don't mistake my passion for anything other than what it is: a sincere caring for others and a sincere distaste for certain things being the way they are in the world.
Sometimes we just have to stand up. Even when we risk judgment and the anger of others.
For anyone who was upset with me, disturbed by me or hurt by me, I ask your forgiveness. I also ask for your understanding.
There has been a rather contentious argument going on at BlogRhet. Some may have noticed that I've been participating in the fray.
Yes. I was angry. And I know it's unusual for me to express it so strongly.
However, a dynamic took place there that really disturbed me. People were being "othered" because their views didn't match the dominant view.
I've never seen that before. Not there. It's always been one of the more respectable forums around the Internet.
I was one of the ones who was "othered", so I feel like I can address this with that personal perspective as well as a broader point of view.
It was the stuff of real alienation.
The topic is racism. The predominant, acceptable viewpoint is that, yes, white people have no right to say anything about it because, after all, we're white ~ and therefore we're imbued with a certain level of privilege.
And I'm calling bullshit.
I have spent eleven months on the peripheries of this community we've all had a part in building. And I've been hurt a few times by something that happened or didn't happen. I've apologized.. and been apologized to.. and it all worked out in the end.
This time feels different.
Due to my viewpoint being different, I was flat-out snubbed.
And I'm pissed off because I don't deserve that kind of treatment. I don't do it.. and I don't blanketly accept it.
Even more importantly, my view is a valid one to be put on the table with everyone else's.
My opinion, in a nutshell, is that racism is a function of capitalism, it is a function of economic inequality.
We can natter on for the next ten years about what a shame it is that members of the larger human community are marginalized but until the basic reality of economic equality is addressed, we'll be nattering about the same thing for ten years after that!
I say this here because I can't be censored here.. and I can't be "othered". I can't be silenced in this space. And yes, dismissing someone is silencing.
I resent the implication that because my skin is a certain color, I don't have a voice.. and I don't have a right to use it. Guilt is a powerful bullying tool.
That is about as racist as it gets!
When we really want to solve the problem, we're going to have to be willing to deconstruct it and look at all the elements, even those that make us uncomfortable.
It means we might have to change some of our fundamental views and it means we might have to change some cherished customs.
Like economic inequality.
Like blanket discrimination of anyone who doesn't toe the mainstream line.
When there's a willingness to do that, then some useful change might take place.
Until then, the nattering and complaining will go on.... and on...
And that's my sorng baht.
Take it or leave it.
I have met a net nut.
This is the second net nut I have met since I came on line in the early 90s. All told, that's probably a fairly good track record.
Still, it's eery to know there are people like that "out there", people who look for someone seems vulnerable. In my case, I tend to be a bit naive about people and sometimes connect to the wrong folks. I take people as they are and sometimes that gives an inroad for someone who is potentially destructive.
I don't want to go into too much detail at this point but I'll just say that the good news is that I recognize it this time and can do something to put a stop to it before it gets too serious. I wasn't quite so fortunate last time.
I'll tell all... when it's resolved.
Have you ever met a net nut?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
What can someone tell about you, just by looking at you?
Last night, I had an email discussion with someone about this. As a five-precept woman (someone who commits to living her life according to the Five Precepts of Buddhism), my correspondent has chosen to wear black and white. This something that is done but is not immediately recognizable in North American culture.
I wear two amulets all the time. One of them is around my neck. One of them, in old tradition, is on a chain around my waist. My clothes are a symbol of my cultural identity. If someone knows what they mean, they get a glimpse into my worldview and belief system. Again, in North American culture, these would not be easily recognizable.
Here, everyone recognizes the turbin of a Punjab, the black and white of a Catholic nun or priest, a cross around the neck of a Christian, the Star of David on a Jew or the shaved head and saffron robes of a Buddhist nun. These things immediately give us information about a person.
Kind of like gang symbols. We know by sight who our homies are. :)
Our discussion was primarily about the importance of these outward symbols.
Personal view again: They have major importance to the individual wearing them. They reinforce and identify the wearer as a member of a certain group. Internally, it is a reminder of a commitment made to a way of life or a belief.
Externally, the symbols can mark a person for discrimination or for immediate acceptance. They can identify likemindedness. They can form community and they can alienate.
Yet most of us wear something or carry something that identifies us with our religious or cultural community.
What do you wear and what does it mean to you?
Sunday, August 05, 2007
It's been a peaceful weekend here. I slept a lot, read a lot, watched old movies on TV, took a few long walks.
I haven't been present in Blogland.
This is the first weekend I've ever skipped posting since I started this almost a year ago.
I'm feeling decidedly uninspired to write about anything much.
Only a few things have caught my attention.
This morning I was perusing the paper and saw an ad for Target. They were promoting work-out suits for little girls with the words "delicious" and "sweet" plastered across the rear end.
That nearly made me heave!
Can you imagine? Am I the only one who thinks that's just plain sick?
Back to Law and Order. Hope everyone is doing well.
Friday, August 03, 2007
So.... last night I was going through my email, reading post after post. That often happens I wake up a lot during the night unable to sleep so I come to the computer.
Something has been gnawing at me. It's a bit of a sensitive topic so I'll be careful in how I present this.
It has to do with seeking sympathy for the purpose of bonding.
As I read through the mail from my Yahoo lists, it seemed the women were competing for the most dreadful, wretched situation. "My knees really hurt", one would say. Another would counter with "Wow... I wish only my knees hurt! My back hurts so bad, I can't even stand in line for ten minutes at the post office!"
A few posts later, most of them waxing poetic about their pets, another woman writes, "My husband's back was so bad that he was in traction for three months!"
I half expected someone to post "My husband's back was so bad that he had to get a fake spine!"
This roundtable competition went on for 30 posts or more, with most of the reply posts starting with the line "Oh, (name), I am so sorry you are going through that."
Now keep in mind that the women on the list, while we know each other a little bit, are not close friends or relatives.
I wouldn't be writing this post if they were. When it comes to my friends, Internet friends included, I definitely want to know when something is going on in her life. I'm an empathetic, compassionate person. I might not get gushy about it ~ but I do care. Overall, I am not a particularly sympathetic person, more of a practical "what can I do" type. My automatic response is to want to "fix".
I resent being emotionally manipulated. That is the feel I get from the women on the mailing list.
It also occurs with some people I meet casually. Occasionally when I go to the restaurant on the corner, I invite someone to sit with me if she or he happens to look lonely sitting alone. I'm usually alone but I bring a book. The company is purely optional but I do feel weird leaving someone sitting alone if they look lonely. So I ask. Sometimes they say yes. Sometimes they say no.
Invariably, by the end of our lunch I know every bit of bad luck, every betrayal and every stored-up resentment that person has carried around. I hear about every ache and pain. I hear about every boss who's a jerk and every husband/wife who doesn't meet up to the expectations of my lunch companion.
It seems that many people have gotten the notion that inflicting their misery on the world has no consequences. All of us need to whine on occasion. It's like purging negative energy. But with complete strangers in a coffee shop or on an Internet mailing list?
That is strange.
It could be that so many people simply long for meaningful conversation. It could be that many people find it easier to bond over adversity than over anything positive or uplifting?
What do you think? How does this strike you? And truly, I don't have a heart made of stone. I just want an opportunity to develop a basic knowledge of someone, grow to care, rather than to be dumped on.
What say you?
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I like to write. And I like to read.
Overall, I love words! There are times when a word hits me just the right way and it feels good coming off my tongue and the meaning strikes me as significant.
I'm fickle. I use words in stages. A word that felt just right at one point gives way to another.
Right now, my favorites are:
5) Bouncebackability (made up word. I do that, too)
There are also certain expressions that resonate with me for a time, often giving way to something new as I learn it
1) Cri de couer
2) Mai bpen rai (Thai for "never mind. It's okay.")
3) "Wa" (Japanese for 'harmony')
4) Jai yen yen (Thai for "cool heart")
5) Cassandra's cry (I seem to be melodramatic lately)
6) Synchronicity of indeterminacy (Now is that double-speak or what?)
7) Triumph of random chance
8) Cogito ergo sum (Have to stick at least one Latin phrase in here)
9) Sui generis (I've never given this one up. Been using it since I was a kid.)
10) Chong mang (This is not nice! I only use it when I'm completely exasperated!)
Do you have any favorite words or expressions?
I know this is a silly post but I'm a bit tired today. I'll come up with my usual turgid prose tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I woke up at 4.00 a.m. And couldn't get back to sleep.
It was beautiful outside. It was cool and dark. Quiet.
I went inside, got dressed in something quick and went for a long walk around the neighborhood. Foolish, I know, in an urban area where crime lurks around every corner but I felt rather compelled to get out, feel the air, breathe it, look at other people's roses, while no one else was stirring.
Not even a car moved on the side streets where I walked. Just me. The dog was peacefully sleeping in my bedroom, at the end of the bed... She will expect a walk later. It was only me and the quiet of an early, early morning. The quiet was delicious. The only sound I could hear was the sound of my own footsteps and the occasional clatter of one of my bangles when I stopped to hold a flower and smell it.
Came back. Got undressed and went back to bed. I didn't get up until 9.00 a.m. There was something delicious in that, too.
Do you ever do that? Go for walks in the weesmas ~ for no particular reason, other than it seems like the thing to do at the time?