The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 23: Calming the Conniptions

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June 23, 2020-

Taking part in a lively debate, in the Age of Hypersensitivity, is no small thing. Most of those who operate from a place of political correctness have at least recognized that I operate from a humble posture of learning, and if I can be proven wrong, by facts rather than well-presented emotion-based opinions, I will actually be grateful.

Any man who voices opposition to abortion is going to get pushback, unless that opposition acknowledges that the mother of the fetus and has the final say. Making that acknowledgement, and prefacing my own qualms about the matter with the sacredness of being, from the moment of conception, has been, for all but the most fervent abortion advocate, enough room to set common ground.

The same may be said about the dispostion of controversial historical monuments. I have reservations about the wisdom of wholesale destruction of statuary. Certainly, those figures whose presence causes extreme anxiety for African-Americans , First Nations people or anyone else who has faced systemic persecution, need to be removed from public view-not because there is a need to comfort the overly sensitive, but because there is a deeper genetic memory than is commonly accepted.

I will discuss this last, in another post, insofar as it pertains to my own being. For now, note that the practices adopted by enslaved people, over the period of chattelhood and right up to the end of the Jim Crow Era, in order to ensure the safety of both their children and of themselves, have found continuity, in the seemingly draconian disciplinary practices of a good many African-American families. Keeping the child safe, by limiting his/her freedom to explore, is one feature of this. It goes back to keeping the child safe from exploitation.

Thus, the strength of an emotional trigger is far different for a person whose forebears faced oppression, than it is for one whose hardships have been more in line with the struggles inherent in earthly life, in its generality. Life is complicated like that, and we do best to grow a thick hide of patience, along with a strong spine of fortitude.

Gratings, and Sour-utations

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January 25, 2020-

The comment was unmistakable- I had crossed a line of political correctness, by stating that my colleagues at the school where I worked, the past two weeks, were going to wipe the school’s laptops clean, with a view towards safety.  This struck the commenter as borderline illegal.  Such is not the case:  Those computers are the property of the school district, and by extension, the State of Arizona.  No one advocates state control of personal computers.  It is the duty of educators to safeguard students from identity thieves and predators-period.

This has been the mood today- both online and here in town-sour, formal and hypercritical.  I was raised to walk through such environments and look to a brighter day.  So, here I am, having focused on positive aspects of life.

While it’s true that I am not returning to Peach Springs, next week, that does not mean, as some seem to think, that I dropped the ball, yet again.  My view is always to look for the most competent instructor for a group of children, and she will take the reins on Monday.

While it’s true that I spent two weeks helping that school, it doesn’t mean, as others have suggested, that I ignored the needs of Yavapai County, just to bring in more money. If that were true, I would not have come back here, signed on for more hours and added more schools in the county to my availability list.

While it’s true that I reserve the right to block people who make derogatory remarks about my late wife, and family, on social media, it does not-as one person is telling anyone who will listen, that I care nothing for the welfare of the mentally ill.  It is simply a matter of common decency-and pandering to a person’s baser instincts is doing nothing to help improve their state of being.

So, I hope people in Prescott and vicinity, and readers of this blog, feel better as the days in the northern hemisphere get longer, and as conditions in Australia and elsewhere improve.   May we not grate on one another, or give in to sour moods.

Equity/Equivalence

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October 27, 2019- 

There is no inherent tie, between being in touch with femininity and emasculation.

On a visit to one of my best friends, here in Home Base, I enjoyed another of her unfailingly fine meals, followed by plenty of food for thought.  The fare, this evening, included a thorough look at the effects of  excessive social policing on the male psyche.

I am a fairly sensitive soul, who notices people’s feelings and reactions to their surroundings.  As such. weighing my words and actions has been a much higher priority, in my life, especially these past ten years.  Yes, I have had relapses, during the low water marks of grieving and recovery, not so many years ago.  Said friend has had much to do with the movement away from that low state, as has my personal faith.

I thoroughly enjoy the company of peaceful people, especially of women who have arrived at a state of personal peace.  The higher goals of one’s existence are far more achievable, when one is not pre-occupied with a set of self-conscious, other-imposed expectations.

All this underscores that emasculation,  depriving boys and men of their pursuit of meaning, in the name of gender equivalence, is the source of  much of the violence and aimless behaviour, which we see increasing in some quarters of the populace.  It cuts across all sectors of society, and its fingers may be found in the areas of drug abuse, domestic violence, unemployability, and general listlessness.

Emasculation does NOT proceed from giving women and girls the wherewithal to process their goals and pursue their dreams.  It does derive, though, from making gender equity a societal seesaw.  When Penny was alive, there was no time when her pursuits meant that mine did not matter, and vice versa.  My son’s dreams and goals matter no less than do those of my daughter-in-law, and vice versa.

Equity of opportunity and encouragement under the law does not mean equivalence of function, any more than any group of men or women must all do the same things.

Jordan Peterson calls for less political correctness, in the overall course of civic life.  To the extent that one group does not actively work to diminish another, I see his point.  I don’t really believe that there are all that many women who wish to emasculate the men and boys in their lives.  There is, though, an urgency that people attend to those who feel cut off from their hopes and dreams- regardless of the social inequality that led society to turn aside from their needs.  Again, gender equity is NOT a social seesaw.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 260: P.C.

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August 15, 2015, Prescott- The Chaplain giving a benediction, at today’s “Spirit of 45” remembrance of World War II veterans, referenced political correctness as a threat to freedom, while noting how the GI Generation accomplished their goals without a systematic enforcement of unwritten social code.

That got me thinking about “P.C.”  I was raised to look at people, strictly as individuals.  Pejoratives were not allowed in our house, pure and simple.  My parents were people of their time, and it took Mom years to accept the idea of “mixed marriages”.  Yet, every person with whom we came in contact was to be respected.

Being unusual, in my own right, made it actually easier to accept and embrace differences. I have since had the bounty of having a wide variety of friends, from all backgrounds.  Political correctness has had little or nothing to do with this.

I see how P.C.has had some great benefits, as it brought people out of their “business as usual” comfort zones.  The Civil Rights movements, which have brought codified assurance of equality under the law, to women,  people of colour and to the LGBT community, were a vital necessity in a society that was too immersed in a comfort level that thrived on separation.

I need to say this, though:  The only thing that really will result in a truly inclusive society, which will not discriminate against ANY of its members, is a change of the human heart.  We are reaching a saturation point, in terms of the amount of criticism being directed at those whose opinions or lifestyles might not mesh with those of the critics.  The over-dependence on political correctness, as a guide to personal and community choices, will likely result in a confused generation, alienated from its legacy- as no historical figure could possibly clear the bar that overuse of political correctness is foisting upon our education system.  Yes, it is good, and necessary, to know that several of the Founding Fathers owned slaves, hated Native Americans and were condescending towards women.  It is good, and necessary, to know the truth about Abraham Lincoln’s view of people of colour, or Franklin D. Roosevelt’s anti-Semitism.   That should not blind us to the good that those men did. It should only remind us that no one is perfect, save the Founders of the Great Faiths.  It should show us where we were, as a people, at various points in time, and that we are making progress, steadily.  WITHOUT EXCUSING the wrongheadedness of our forebears, let us remind ourselves that the march of history is forward, upward, towards enlightenment.

Consigning all historical figures to the dust bin is a mistake, for then we will, at some point, revert to the same practices we claim to abhor, albeit in a different form.  Banning those of different, sometimes archaic, OPINIONS from speaking, will only lead to clandestine and terror-oriented groups, such as IS, the Rakhine Buddhists, the Ku Klux Klan and Opus Dei,  to openly hostile congregations like Westboro Baptist Church, or, worst of all, to criminal cartels, which profit from the dregs of human suffering.

Only attention to one’s heart and soul can bring about the peace and inclusiveness that we all seek.  How this is done, should be solely up to the individual, so long as it does not bring harm to another.  Violence, intimidation, or codified pressure from without cannot work to our advantage, in the long run.

The only correctness that can bring lasting peace, is personal correctness.  It is a huge responsibility, and it is given to each and every one of us.  No government, or social medium, can tend to it in our stead.

The Road to 65, Mile 151: Smoke and Fire

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April 28, 2015, Phoenix-  I’ve been in Baltimore three times.  The second, and longest, stay in the city was a week, in 1972.  I got off a bus in East Baltimore, and walked about ten blocks, through an old and visibly proud African-American neighbourhood.  There were hints of a place going to seed, but more common were the well-kept yards and people greeting one another in friendship, as I’ve found in lots of places.   At no time did I feel unsafe.

Similarly,I have driven through south Chicago,  south central Los Angeles,the Bronx and Harlem, and walked all over Washington, DC, and not felt at risk.  The thing to remember is:  “Black on Black” violence is far more frequent than “interacial” crime.  I have never been struck, or held at gunpoint, by a person of African descent. There are many, I know, who have had very different experiences, and my sorrow for your losses.

The violence in Baltimore, yesterday and today, will end up hurting Black people more than any other group.  This has been the experience of countless other people, in too many other cities, large and small, across the United States, in the United Kingdom, France and South Africa.  The poor end up poorer.

There is a dynamic at work, at the opposite end of the social scale:  Pursue the well-being of society, only to the extent that it doesn’t upend the current economic system.  Thus, we have calls for “soul-searching”, each time a riot breaks out, or a high-profile person is killed.  What is needed, and sorely, instead, is soul-action.

One can best effect change locally.  I grew up in what many would call a “white-bread” town.  There was still a lot of need there.  Lower-class whites were somewhat “privileged”, but they were still regarded as lower-class. I tried my best to call attention, as a teenager, to issues like economic disparity and civil rights, seeing them as closely-tied.  I was ridiculed for this, but I noticed that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were saying the same things.  The Irish kids who cheered their assassinations were biting the hands that were outstretched to them.  The Italian and Polish kids who groused about Affirmative Action, seeing it as permanent, and a privilege system all its own, were way off the mark.

My conclusion was that, unless and until people saw how they were being manipulated to separate themselves from others, and did something to build a bond with people to whom they were more closely tied than they thought, there would be the same cycle of riot and rebellion, followed by oppression (by the same people who used divide and conquer), followed by a period of acquiescence, then more riot and rebellion.

Solutions?   The disenfranchised must vote.  Citizens attending, and speaking out at, public meetings is crucial.  Parents actually bringing up their kids is not subject to substitution. The politician must be held to viewing the title public servant as more than a sobriquet.

Further:  Women are the equal partners of men, and not just within the bounds of matrimony.  There is neither a favoured class, nor a protected class.  Political Correctness, the ultimate band-aid for society’s boils, deserves to be consigned to the refuse pile.  Human decency could ably take its place.  See someone who looks different from you walking in your direction?  Stay on the same path, and offer an appropriate greeting.  “How’re you doin?'” or “What’s happening?” are words I have heard from countless people, in cities all over the country.

These are simple thoughts, but the great innovators have brought change to society, not by quantum leaps, or fell swoops.  The changes have been systematic, and through persistence.  This has been true of everything from the automobile industry to the expansion of civil rights.  So it must be for the reconstruction of neighbourhoods:  Not through gentrification, not through creation of urban deserts, but “brick by brick, block by block” , designed by and for the benefit of those already living there, as well as artisans and entrepreneurs who are actually invited by the community, rather than by the real estate market.

Extinguish the fire and clear the smoke.