Friday, May 16, 2014

The American Spring - A sad day

Well, today was supposed to be the big day.

An estimated (according to operatives like Alex Coffey) 10-30 million americans were to swarm onto the National Mall in Washington D.C. to kick off Operation:American Spring.

A cursory head count from one of the several live video feeds from the mall today (thank you internet age) shows about 100 people, most of whom are touristy types staring at the couple of dozen banner wavers.

Unless we assume the rumored FEMA encampments were miraculously filled up in the span of 24 hours with rounded up "patriots", this must indicate some level of failure on the organizers parts.

It is abundantly clear that the lunatic fringe of the right is angry. Indeed one could say that the lunatic fringe of the left is also angry. And there are plenty of people who wouldn't align with either of these camps at gunpoint who are also angry. And there are a lot of things to be angry about.

A crappy economy. A vanishing middle class. An education system where even the government profits from it, at the expense of students. Healthcare reform that, while better in some ways than what we had, is still lipstick on a pig. Too big to fail banks that are bigger and more profitable than ever. And a political process driven by money, greed, and special interests.

Today's lack-of-an-event reminds me in a very roundabout way of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Though eventually disbanded, they were actually able to pull something off and stay organized and relavent for quite a long time. And it's clear why this was so.

There was no hatred. True, there was a deep and strong sense of injustice, and a lot of righteous anger, but no blanket "blame" in the same sense we see with the extreme right Tea Party wackadoodles. Within Occupy, we saw participants of various genders, creeds, colors, religions, ages, and socioeconomic status coming together for a common purpose. Sadly one that didn't resonate loudly enough.

Most of the noisemakers who were loud and obnoxious enough to have gotten the attention of media for today's nonevent? Largely angry aged white men. People willing to ignore all the easily obtainable evidence about Clive Bundy, who is merely a deadbeat. People who are convinced that FEMA is going to round up millions of Americans. People who expect martial law any day now (I've been hearing this one periodically for years now from a relative). Still waiting...

I have a family member who is one of these people. And it is a frustrating reality to see how genuine concern, anger, and ire can become so easily twisted into conspiracy theory chaos simply because someone is blinded by that anger.

We do have real problems in this country. Real concerns. But they are not conservative concerns. They are liberal ones. Every single solitary social advance that has ever come to any citizen in the United States has been fought for diligently by progressives, and fought against with equal fervor by conservatives.

Today's angry non-event shows more clearly to me than anything recently just how clueless right wingers have become. More importantly it shows how deftly the right wing establishment is at keeping it's fringe occupied with nonsense, just to keep them stirred up....and on their side.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Dangerous Game

Ever been on a first date? Or a blind date?

I'm not asking this question to some teenager or twenty-something either. When you're that young all sorts of fears, uncertainties, and doubts rear their ugly head that don't happen (hopefully) when you're 30 or 40. Well perhaps they do.

Things tend to proceed in an almost scripted manner, and you spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on where your eyes are (don't stare at her cleavage), or where your hands are (don't play with my hair, don't seem too forward). A lot of it is rather silly in hindsight, and yet we still do it.

Some of this is entirely because of how we are made. Being male *means* you sexually evaluate females nearly every waking moment you see them. Women do this too so it isn't quite a black and white difference, but not to the degree men do. This is an entirely separate process from evaluating how much you like the woman across from you however. Totally separate, though women often fail to realize this. Women evaluate intentions and try to glean understanding constantly from a myriad of passive signals. Sadly these passive signals are ones females are much better than males at revealing. So women use intuitive tools, that don't really work well when evaluating a man's mind.

These innate things create little more than "mystery" when you fail to grasp the truth of them.

Our cultures and societies add structure to the progression of our lives, but most of these distort the intent of our more basic behaviors, making an already difficult process all the more complicated.

We live in a world now of unprecedented freedom. And I don't mean this in the immediate sense. Sure, the economy is still in the toilet...etc. I mean in the broader sense.

Women were basically not in the workforce much at all before 40 years ago. A married couple could raise a family of four on even a shitty one man salary in the 1960's. Neither of these things are true today. And though the economic aspects create some level of hardship, the broader result is...


Men and women no longer have to play out the same story. More to the point, that same old story is barely feasible anymore. Though "Leave It To Beaver" was just a television show, people for many many generations have bought into that nuclear family thing as how things should be, at a level of precision that often made sense to try for. Such things are now not only impossible, but ludicrous.

Even though we have much more in the way of choice in our lives (and it's true to say most of this new found choice is for women's sake) WHY DO WE STILL PLAY BY THE OLD RULEBOOK?!??!?

Why are men who dally around called "Players", yet women called far more horrible things like "Whore", "Skank", "Slut"? Language matters a great deal because it colors how we think of things. These travesties of thinking survive because we still collectively view a woman's chastity as something to be venerated.

It is not to be venerated! It is a mistaken view, held by men and women, that turns ones gonads into a discussion of ethics, and it is a stupid idea. It turns the whole notion of sexuality itself into a video game, with a woman's pants the "Final Boss".

And everyone is disappointed when you've beat a game. The game is over after all. That's how games work. And men and women behave in ways that reinforce this stupid line of thinking.

This is why so many people who are single at this stage of life are unhappy. They are playing out a new found experience (i.e. being single and content) based on an old set of rules that no longer work. Women withhold access to intimacy (far broader a concern than mere sex) because they consider access to their sexual nature a prize to be won. Men persue intimacy (an equally broader concern than mere sex) until they at last achieve it. We make that one fearful thing way too important. Not because it isn't important (because it is) but because we've made it into a false prize due to misplaced pride.

Both parties end up being let down, because they have let a cultural taboo become too much of an obstacle. Overcoming that obstacle thus becomes more important than it actually is, and you realize in the end...

You've wasted your time because you let a really stupid way of thinking about your own sexuality drive you into a corner.

Why do we do this? It's because we've culturally turned sex into something too private. Too dirty. A taboo.

Think this is crazy? We all know intuitively that liking people, loving people, and understanding people are how all *other* relationships work. And for the most part we do this easily and effortlessly. I love my children, my mother and my brother. And I even have close friends whom I really really love. Some of them are male, and I'm not the least bit attracted to them, but I do love them.

Why is love between a man and a woman (gonna stick to hetero here for simplicity) different? Sex??!?!?! Though sex is indeed a *NEED* as important as food, water, and shelter, does it make such a relationship elevated above all others? Or do we simply think this is true, and just deny that sex is just an aspect of that particular type of relationship.

The more and more I feel these ways of thinking are true, the more I realize how so few others see this. Moreso, I begin to see why and how so many people create their own misery. I've encountered this indirectly looking at other people's failed attempts at relationships as well as my own. Too many times I've broken up with, or been broken up with by someone who has let this distorted sense of their nature keep them from accepting me, or force them to run away in fear.

Understanding yourself, and attempting to understand others around you? Well this is really the only game in town. All of existence is about this one thing. And not realizing this turns many of our attempts to reach out to others into merely a dangerous game.