Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nobody is ridiculous or bad or disgusting, says Vonnegut

When his father accuses him of never writing a book with a villain in it, Slaughterhouse Five's narrator (who claims to be Kurt Vonnegut himself) attributes this to his college education, which taught him that "there was absolutely no difference between anybody" and that "nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting."

Nobody is ridiculous.

When Jennifer Lopez demands that her coffee be stirred counterclockwise, she is still a being whose thought processes and opinions are just as valid as anyone else's, even if others don't always understand them.

Though calling a person ridiculous isn't usually considered very mean, it seems to be refusing to see him/her as a whole person. This is dehumanization, which may be the root of hatred (or at least a prerequisite to hatred).

Nobody is bad.

When a man cuts his wife's nose and ears off to punish her for running away, he is still a being whose thought processes and opinions are just as valid as anyone else's, even though it can be best to interfere with destructive behavior. The Christian teaching "Hate the sin, not the sinner" comes to mind.

Nobody is disgusting.

When Abraham Alexander embezzles over $200,000 from CRF, a charity that helps people with cardiovascular disease, and spends most of it on dominatrix Lady Sage, he is still a being whose thought processes and opinions are just as valid as anyone else's.

"Kyle is not ridiculous or bad or disgusting."


Removing these three characteristics from our interpretations of people urges us to see past hate and fear, which hopefully makes room for us to become more perceptive of the beauty of humanity as it exists in those around us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The New Yorker's cover addresses Thanksgiving/immigration controversy

The cover of The New Yorker's Thanksgiving issue
Illustration by Christoph Neimann
The title of this piece is "Promised Land."

The artist, Christoph Neimann, commented:

"I'm an immigrant myself and what I always found staggering is that there are tons of Europeans who get green cards and I know some of them are not legal from the get-go and that never comes up. Having a racial undertone in this debate is extremely hurtful. It shouldn't have anything to do with where the immigrant comes from."

The Huffington Post just published a really interesting article about this.

Here are a few other noteworthy works by the same artist:

"Dependence Day"
"Divided We Stand"
"Dark Spring"
(like Silent Spring)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

National Day of Mourning, or: Thanksgiving

It turns out that this lovely American holiday is protested by many Native Americans--and for good reason.

"The pilgrims did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores."

"[The Europeans] would not have survived their first several years in "New England" were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are [now] treated either as quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible."

"On many reservations, unemployment rates surpass fifty percent. Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services."

[quotes from this great article]

National Day of Mourning

Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England have been coming together for a protest on the National Day of Mourning to "speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles [Native Americans] are involved in." The National Day of Mourning is a day (which intentionally coincides with Thanksgiving day) set aside to, "mourn ... the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action."

The National Day of Mourning in 2008

This year's National Day of Mourning is dedicated to Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976.

A flier I made to inform people about the National Day of Mourning protest. Feel free to print it and post it if you want.

Should I stop celebrating Thanksgiving?

I am actually comforted by how much many holidays have lost their meanings. There are holidays that I wouldn't want to celebrate if their origins were important parts of the celebrations. I am much more comfortable celebrating "Santa Day," "Bunny Day," and "Turkey* Day" than I would be if we were earnestly celebrating Jesus' birthday, Jesus' rise-day, and whites-and-Indians-get-along-so-well day.

At the same time, I think that celebrating Thanksgiving does give the impression that all is well with the Thanksgiving story (though it would give that impression more severely if the Thanksgiving story were more prevalent in Thanksgiving celebrations). For me, however, I think that choosing not to celebrate Thanksgiving with the conventional feast would be hurtful to my family, so I am going to continue celebrating it until I find a better option. But if I can figure out a way to go to the National Day of Mourning protest and be back in time for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I will definitely do that.

Let me know if you want to go!

*I prefer to think of Thanksgiving as "Stuffing Day" because I don't eat turkey, but I love stuffing.

By the way, want to sign a pledge to "Drop the I-word"?

Friday, November 11, 2011

DIY tiki man mug

Recently Nate's tiki guy broke. Needless to say, he was really disappointed. So I made him a new one.

This is basically what Nate's original tiki mug looked like

So you want to make your own tiki man mug? Okay!

1. Cut out light brown things from magazines. It's nice to have things that aren't just one flat color because it creates depth.

2. Cut your light brown magazine scraps into shapes that resemble the tiki man's features. Use lighter colors for the features that would stick out the most on a real tiki man.

3. Use the remaining brown papers to cover three sides of a glass jar. Adhere using Mod Podge or glue.

4. Arrange the shapes you cut out into a tiki man shape on the uncovered side of the jar. Adhere using Mod Podge or glue.

5. Brush over the whole thing with Mod Podge or glue.

6. Draw in some details and shadows with black and brown fine point Sharpies.

I did some details with dark brown paper and some with a brown fine-point sharpie.

The backs of the magazine clippings can be seen inside the jar.