The last couple days have been more of the same of what we’ve grown accustomed to in America. Gridlock in the government. Two opposing sides, digging their heels into their ideals, stubbornly resisting any inkling of progress. I was almost brought to tears when I saw Rep. John Lewis’s speech before the sit-in—tears of pain and frustration at our inability as a people to make our country safer by implementing at least some restrictions on guns in America.
I have a lot of it. Part of it is the control freak in me—I want things to go my way; I want things to be done the way I would do them. And part of it is simply my inability to accept—people as they are, circumstances, life. Certainly I would be more at peace if I could consistently stop resisting and start accepting.
But then there’s Resistance with a capital “R.” Every generation seems to have some flavor of it, but coming of age in the 80s/90s, it was all about Fuck the Police, Raging Against the Machine, Fighting the Power, and Feeling Stupid and Contagious. And I still have that, engrained in me, but tempered with practicality and a certain docility that comes with age and responsibilities. Still, those things—racism, corporate greed, corrupt government, social and economic inequality, things that destroy the environment—are all worth Resisting, no matter what I want for myself or my family.
Our oldest has just entered her fifth year of public school with our middle child entering her second, and it's becoming more and more clear, every day, that much of what I read about school from around the country is true for us: public education is broken. I am not an education expert, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems to be that even at some of the "best" schools, education and learning is still about getting good grades to get a good job to make money to buy stuff. And how to get good grades still looks very similar to my primary school education 20+ years ago. In fact, the rubric for success in school is basically the same, too (i.e. turn in your homework, do well on tests, don't rock the boat, etc.).
Corporate Greed Threatens Freedom (again)
The video above does a great job explaining Net Neutrality, what’s at risk, and why it’s important to maintain. Of course, several corporations are threatening to further regulate speed, access, and even content based on who can pay the most, acting as gatekeepers to the internet, something that should be open to everyone. Already, the internet isn’t free and open since we have to pay for service and devices to access it—and for many providers, data speeds are regulated based on how much you pay—but soon the FCC will decide if internet service providers can further throttle speeds and content, allowing corporations even more control of an important component of our infrastructure.
It’s sickening how many of the important decisions for our entire society are decided by they wealthy few, and this is just another example of a basic freedom that we need to be aware of and fight for.
Sometimes It’s Just Football
I don’t particularly like football. I like strength, agility, speed, and throwing things, but I’ve never really been drawn to watching football. I’m a baseball guy. I sort of just have time for one sport, so there you go. If I had time for two, then it would be baseball and basketball with football maybe coming in third.
It’s not a simple dislike, either. I think it’s violent. Football harkens back to the idea of an ignorant, blood-thirsty Roman Empire that entertains itself with the destruction of others. I also believe there’s poetry in motion on the field and a lot of skill, but basically you want to demolish the guy with the ball. Add to that advertising, greed, and America’s obsession with it, and you lose me. Sometimes I think I’m not really drawn to it just because everyone else is.
Once again it’s late and my thoughts are swirling. A few things got my mind stepping from place to place. First it was this chemical spill in West Virginia that has hundreds of thousands of people without water to drink, bathe in, etc. Then there was the update on the Target data breach which now says that up to 70 million people’s card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc. could have been compromised. From there it was easy for me to jump to one of the few questions I struggle with on a regular basis: what the hell are we doing?
As far as I can see, the vast majority of the world’s issues stem from money, one way or another. Governments and companies abuse their own people in order for a few to profit. Large populations are taken advantage of in order to make stuff at a lower cost, so that product prices are lower/more competitive, thereby selling more, and again, making a small percentage even richer than they already are. Capitalism and the model of “go to school to get a job to make money to buy stuff” just can’t be sustained. Have you ever walked through a department store or grocery store and wondered, “Who is going to buy all this stuff?” And for me, the next question is, “Why do I want all this stuff?”
War Dances, A Book Review
I guess I finished reading War Dances by Sherman Alexie back in October and never got around to reviewing it. Book reviews are sort of a new thing for me, but I’ve found it’s a nice way to provide space to reflect on what I’ve read and possibly offer something helpful for anyone considering reading the book too.
Anyway, it’s a collection of short stories and poems which makes it great, if you read like me, in short spurts, catching time where you can with very few long stretches to gain serious traction. It also probably makes it a quick read for those of you who fly through books. That being said, there’s nothing light about the content of the book. Though Alexie usually wraps his characters and plot lines in some amount of humor, many of the stories deal with very non-funny, intense subject matter. One story is about a man who accidentally kills a young, black teenager who breaks into his house. The character grapples with his choices and actions, as well as what it means to be “innocent.” Of course, issues of race, violence, and justice come up as well.
Missing the Toys
Maybe this is a shallow post, or even a selfish one, but in these fading moments of Christmas, I find myself missing new toys. When I was kid I loved getting into that new toy, the one that I was especially excited about. I would carefully open the package so I could read all the details later, then explore every nook and cranny, seeing what it did, and launch it into my imagination. I remember often falling asleep content, knowing that the entire next day would be filled with as much time as I wanted playing with my new toys.
Lost to Gun Violence
Within 1.5mi of Clairemont High in Oakland, CA, there were 3 shootings a day in an eight-month period. There’s so much gun violence in that area that kids are used to it. That’s not something anyone in the most prosperous country in the world should have to get used to, especially our children.
“If I can wake up one day, walk outside, with the possibility of being shot at any point in time, that’s kind of nerve-wracking every day to do,” says Trevor Watson, 14, one of the youngest members of the group. “You can be at the most safest place that you think, and then some type of violence busts out.”
The Stealth of Racism
I saw the ad above today whilst pumping gas and it struck the same nerve that’s always a bit raw from growing up in America half-Japanese, half-white. I’ll be the first to admit I’m racist, and I also believe that means different things for different people.
I think (or hope perhaps) that there is “obvious racism” that’s easier to spot. For instance, most people notice statements like, “You’re Asian, you’re supposed to be good at math.” or looking at any written language that resembles Chinese or Japanese saying, “Hey, can you read that? What does it say?”