Tag Archives: humanity

“Je Suis Charlie”

There was a time when I wished I was born in another era. I had romantic dreams of journalism as a youth, and still do. I believe media changes the world.

I know there are bad journalists and there are corporate entities fucking it all up, but if you talk to the average news journalist, they’re genuinely in it to tackle things they see wrong in the world. They’re in it to spread truth, challenge corruption, and effect change.

Journalists are always people I hold in highest regard. And rightly so.

Je Suis Charlie at AFP Paris


Night has fallen in Paris and the streets have been taken over by protestors and those wanting to pay tribute to the fallen members of Charlie Hebdo, the satirist paper that has never shied from controversy. They brandish pens in the air, shouting “Charlie! Charlie!”

Apparently Parisians have failed to realize they’re supposed to be terrorized in the wake of this attack. This is what happens when you attack what is arguably the birthplace of modern democracy as we know it.


Somehow, when life takes a turn for the evil, the horrible, or the immeasurably stupid, I seek a moment of beauty or humanity to remind me that it’s all going to be okay again.

Evil, inhumanity, these things aren’t modern inventions. They’re part of what mankind is, and we’ve had evil and badness among us since time began. Look at slaughters in Ancient Egypt, invasions by the Mongol Hordes.

We’ve simply improved efficiency (yay, guns!), and media is omnipresent, ensuring these events seldom go unheard today.

These shootings, slaughters, murders, and more — they’re going nowhere. Neither are the bad guys. You may dream of that day, but good luck coping with the inevitable truth that it’s simply a part of our (in)humanity. Nature is a beast, after all.

The animal kingdom does it too. Lions eat their young. Dolphins can commit infanticide with intentional impact injuries. For whatever reason, this ability to act with ultimate cruelty is stamped in DNA across species.

With 7.2 billion people on the planet, perhaps killing each other has been partly of biological/environmental necessity, but our ethical code teaches the majority of us that, even if our survival depends on population cull, it’s not something that most of us are capable of committing or ignoring. We’d rather be in it together with a compromised planet than witness mass loss that might save ourselves.

Look at the hundreds of thousands dead in the tsunami of 10 years ago. It felt like a gaping wound was ripped into the planet. We all felt the loss and horror of their adversity.


So days like today, when 12 people are killed because of one evil organization’s intent on squelching the freedom of the press, it’s strangely affecting. Just 12 people, out of 7 billion, but it’s 12 people who died for a reason that no person should die — because they wanted to challenge ideas, inspire dialogue, and push the envelope.

There is no sense to be made of this. Aside from spreading the news, not allowing it to happen in a vacuum, what else is there for us to do?

Admittedly, I’m a newshound. I follow these stories like a dog on a scent. It’s what I do. But I also walk away. Go back and find all the incidents of terror and mass shootings — outside of America, that is, because mass shootings in America have grown tragically all too common — and you’ll find 90% of the time I’ll take a long walk or bike ride to remind myself that the planet is largely beautiful, most people are kind, and it’ll remain that way most of the time.

The sunrise this morning, what I chose to seek after getting the news of this senseless slaughter. The world is beautiful. This trumps the evil of a few.

The sunrise this morning, what I chose to seek after getting the news of this senseless slaughter. The world is beautiful. This trumps the evil of a few.


Still, it’s a sad day. A horrible crime. A terrible thing to die for.

It’s a day that reminds me why I’m so outspoken, why I don’t censor myself. My language, the news I circulate, the opinions I raise like a flag, all these things are because I believe we need to speak truth to power — every one of us. Change happens on a personal level before it can take hold in society.

If you are too timid to say what you think, too scared to stand up to power, too apathetic to get involved — then the terrorists, the corrupt governments, the bad people, they all win.

Remind yourself that it’s a beautiful world. It’s worth fighting for and standing up to speak your truth. Otherwise why did these 12 people die?

Like the publisher gunned down today once said — he’d rather die on his feet than live on his knees. I like to think he was standing when those motherfuckers opened fire.

Today, my heart is with all those journalists and editorial cartoonists who feel emptier and less safe after this terrible attack.

But they’re just one small part of the fabric of humanity, and we good guys have strength in numbers.

All We Need Is Love. No, Really.

(This is not a posting about politics, or the Democratic Convention, even if it starts out talking about that for a second, so bear with me.)

After last night’s Democratic National Convention speech, Michelle Obama’s gotten a big spotlight around the world for bringing a topic up that we don’t often treat with the respect it deserves — love.

Her speech last night played on the heartstrings about the idea of love. Love for a parent, for a family member, for those who sacrifice, for heroes, for idols. Love. Love for each other.

It’s an emotion we all feel, or it can be replaced by its antitheses — hate, anger, sorrow.

For a few minutes, though, Michelle Obama talked about this love idea. This thing that, once upon a time, we’d maybe feel for those around us. We’d fight for it. We’d protect it.

Love. This many-hallowed thing of ages long forgotten. The one emotion that probably transcends every culture, and even every species.

I watched an episode of PBS’ Nature last week in which a mama grizzly was frantically running all over an Alaskan wilderness reserve searching for her cub. After a few minutes’ footage of this heartbreaking search by a mother for a child, she found it, and the joy was indescribable.

Love is a product of biology, not humanity.

So we like to think we’re all about love as a society. We’re pumping out music about it, movies that claim to be about love, and we exalt things like marriage and parenthood because they’re based, in theory, upon love too.

But we’re kidding ourselves.

We’re not about love.

If it bleeds, it leads. Be scared. Be very, very scared. Long for yesterday. Blame someone. It wasn’t me. Don’t trust anyone. Lock your doors. Don’t talk to strangers. Keep outsiders out. Money talks.

In the media today is this evil, awful loop of distrust, fear, hate, and judgment that keeps spinning and spinning and spinning.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “in the media”? I meant spinning, period.

I’m on the internet. I see the rhetoric playing out in reality. I see the lies slung, the hate bounced, the judgment passing. By people, not media.

If you think all our problems are born in the media, you got another think coming. They’re just the mirror in front of us.

I wish it were easier to see the beginning of it all. People say Hard Copy was the beginning of the journalistic decline, but Ayn Rand wrote a whole book around the concept of bad journalism and what it says about us. See that “evil” book The Fountainhead for her look at Ellsworth Tooey and pandering to the masses. That’s seven decades ago.

Did debased journalism begin, then society crowd around it like a mass of hungry onlookers at an accident scene? Or have we always been that shitty?

We obsess over celebrities. Oh, they’re famous and pretty and rich, so therefore they’re wonderful. Quick, cut them down with gossip and mockery!

Like children building with blocks, when it comes to societal successes, we look for the quickest way to disassemble that which we just built up.

Yet we’re better than that.

This same awful race who lives and breathes the TMZ religion and who conceived the inequities which plague class divisions the world over is the same race that has done everything from putting a man on the moon to discovering penicillin.

When we’re not confronted with imminent threat, we forget that we’re all in this together. We lunge at each other and bring words and weapons to spar with.

I recall Bush saying “You’re either with us, or you’re against us” and suddenly it seems we’re all living life in much that way.

In the hours after 9-11 occurred, for one brief, eerily shining moment, nearly the whole world was united in a feeling of love and empathy. I don’t think Americans realize that. The whole world felt the pain of that horrible, horrible day, and I think anywhere you were, this wave of despondency hit because we realized we’d just seen the worst that humanity had to offer.

And from that place, in the dust of the hours in the days that followed, this overwhelming feeling of love and community came out of it, because everyone needed to feel together for a while. We needed to feel like we were more than just hatred.

That’s what I remember of those days. This inexplicable juxtaposition of feeling the most hate I’d ever felt, the most anger I’d ever known, and at the very same time feeling this outpouring of love and empathy I only wish I could carry with me every day.

While we are both these things, we are more often the worst of ourselves.

Last night, Michelle Obama reminded us of some of the things that are the best of who we are, who we could be. She reminded us of those who are great who walk through the door of opportunity then hold it open so that others may also experience greatness.

But this isn’t who we are now. Not often. Not anymore.

Instead of achieving greatness by surrounding ourselves with greatness, we’re often looking for ways to tear down others. We look for failings. We protect ourselves and attack everyone who isn’t like us.

We’re the Youtube generation. Everybody point and laugh.

We have been better than this before. We can be better than this now.

I’ve found myself so often watching this year’s election process down south and feeling rather brokenhearted. I am so saddened by who we have become. I’m tired of divisiveness. I hate the blame game. But this disease keeps spreading. We glom onto hate and fear like leaches sucking a bloated carcass.

Maybe it’s because everyone’s so financially stretched and the future seems bleak. Maybe everyone’s so tired of the struggle to keep our heads afloat that we see others as a threat to our security. Maybe we’re tired of being so aware of our personal failings that we need to spotlight others’.

I don’t know.

That’s who we are, six days a week, on a public level. Maybe at home with our families and our closest friends, we’re better people. In fact, I know most of us are.

But when it comes to being inclusive in society, when it comes to thinking big-picture about our nations and our places in the world, that’s where our humanity evaporates and many of us slide into a place we shouldn’t respect ourselves for in the morning.

And for a brief little while last night, a great speaker reminded us that we’ve been more. In times like the Great Depression, we were motivated by love for others, a belief of being in it together, and an aspiration of communal greatness.

We have had our moments of being something amazing.

Unfortunately, electing a guy into an office and telling him to fix everything, and then going on with life as usual for four years isn’t how amazing happens. Amazing happens when we all remember we’re a part of something bigger. It’s when we all give back with volunteering, generosity of spirit, by helping our fellow man, and looking for the best in every situation.

That’s how greatness happens.

And for a time, I’ll be hoping people are reminded of that for the remaining weeks in this American election.

We need to remember we can be great.

And then we need to become it.

Love is a very good place to start that quest.

Hurting Kids By Protecting Them

I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.

_____________

Hey, I know what we should do.

We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.

Because that’s worked with everything else.

Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.

If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all.  New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.

R u srs? I rly dbt it.

As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.

The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.

Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.

And the internet is a portal to all of them.

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.

How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?

Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.

Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.

Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.

Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.

So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.

BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.

Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.

Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.

Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.

Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.

There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?

Know what life is?

Hurt. Pain. Achievement. Failure. Love. Joy. Accidental. Surprising. Mysterious. Unpredictable.

But it sure as fuck ain’t safe.

This safety-drive’s fucking up everything.

We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”

We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!

We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.

You know what?

Stop it.

Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.

We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.

We’re fucking pathetic.

Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.

But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.

I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.

Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.

______________

Seriously, though?

Remember Columbine?

What if Klebold & Harris had been on Facebook? Would the worst massacre in American high school history have occurred?

And, just, you know, as an aside?

Have you seen these numbers? Note the advent of the Internet’s use by the general population, starting in 1994, and the numbers of school massacres since? Declining every year.

Your fragile children? Safer than ever. So, back off, mama.

The Great Divide: When Relationships Falter

I read one of my reader’s blogs this weekend and found myself thinking about it afterwards. Now, there’s two takes on this posting of his, and this is the first of them. The other I need to write, and it’ll probably be shorter. Since this posting, he’s had awesome sex with the wife and things are looking more promising. (Again, two words: Cock ring.)

He said the following:

Lately my wife has a new habit of staying up as late as I do. She falls asleep early often, but it is on the couch, refusing to go to bed until I do, which is funny since we all know nothing is going happen there. If she goes to bed, she wants me to use the computer from the bedroom. It’s like she’s making sure I have no life to myself, that everything about me must belong to her.

I am married, not owned.

The last line really hit me. No, he’s not the first to say it, but it’s a powerful statement any time it’s spoken. We are not possessions. We are not commodities. We need air, space, trust, and faith. We cannot consciously be shown on a constant basis that we are not trusted, or not only will the fabric of the relationship shred, but so will our self-esteem.

When self-esteem goes, so does any hope of a genuine relationship. It’s a vicious fucking cycle, and one that’s often created out of the insecurities of one lover not trusting the other. Often, it’s simply communication issues, which I’ll talk about next time.

That previously mentioned distrust can be valid. Very. Infidelity isn’t some urban legend that wives whisper about around the water cooler, in daunted tones like they’re talking about the relationship equivalent of Boo Radley; it’s a pressing concern for many relationships, and something both parties need to work very, very hard to avoid.

Creating an atmosphere of distrust when you have no proof, when it’s just you being insecure or having a bad time of it, is dangerous. You’re creating a bell-jar effect for your relationship. Meaning, you’re conjuring a sense of psychic disconnection from your lover by forcing them to be guarded, defensive, or even secretive.

In talking about the article in question, my loverman and I were discussing how, technically, Haaaaa’s blogging manner is an act of defiance and untrustworthiness simply because he’s airing the dirty laundry without seeming to be working on it with his wife, but that’s arguable, considering that she doesn’t seem to be talking, and just pointing fingers. I commented that I felt he was doing the lesser of all evils; he either blogged about his anger and disconnection in a way to get to the bottom of it or would find some commonality with others out in the world, or would instead find himself an outlet or Band-aid out in the world, via an inappropriate relationship with a woman, or some other negative stopgap.

Let’s say this loud and clear: You do not own title on your lover. You simply have lease on a part of their lives, whether you’re married or not. It is always, always, always in your best interest that your lover maintain some of their privacy and “me” time.

Clichés are true for a reason; the law of averages states that, more often than not, that is the truth in that given situation. Such as, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” The more you see a lover, the more chance you’re running out of time for yourself. The less time you have for yourself, the more the likelihood that your thoughts are getting drowned out in your mind.

You may want to be with your lover every day, but it’s just not entirely healthy. Time alone needs to be had, not just by you, but by them. Men, in particular, need that time alone. Manhood is a fragile thing, and when men get too embroiled in their women, they can lose touch with part of themselves. It may not be an immediately pressing issue, but it will eventually become a problem for both people in the relationship. Women need to be more possessive about their alone time, too, because it’s far too easy to find “self”-worth through a relationship – also a very detrimental thing, and something all too common with chicks.

Personally, alone time is absolutely essential to who I am. I can do without a social life, but I cannot, WILL not, do without time alone. To do so would be to destroy who and what I am. To do so would mean you’d get no fodder to read.

Marriages, I presume, eventually have phases where things get a little crowded. We’re told that, because it’s a marriage, it’s a “partnership” and everything is co-owned and shared, etc. In the end, though, it can’t be. I’ve quoted Grandma Death from Donnie Darko before, and I’ll do it again now: “In the end, every living creature dies alone.”

Between now and your death, make certain that the person who finds their way into that pine box is a reflection of the person you’ve always been. Keep your passions, keep your loves, and allow your lover the time to maintain their own. Healthy people make for healthy relationships.

Each partner must be able to indulge in passions and enjoyments on their own, or soon, they will lose some of their sense of selves, and while the relationship may continue to seem decent in an average kind of way, it’s not going to be same as it once was. Ever. Instead, the relationship becomes a tug-of-war, or worse, routine. Never, ever settle for the routine, and tug-of-wars aren’t worth the energy expended on them.

We can easily forget about the things that make us tick. Face it, life is designed to distract us from unhappiness. Not thrilled with life? The new Audi will solve that problem. Things getting too difficult? The airline has a 2-for-1 deal on flights. Insecurities getting you down? Bedhead’s got great hold in their hair products, and they smell nice, too!

When we’re unhappy in relationships, in life, we fill the gaps with things, with television, with sleep, with food. We do everything we can but face the problem itself, fearing that the cure is worse than the illness – which is often anything but true. Talk to your lover. Trust them. Give them space. Go listen to Sting’s “If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)” and remind yourself that the song’s just echoing an eternal truth. Love comes back to you. And if it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with. Again, clichés are true for a reason.

Why it takes so long to leave an unfulfilling relationship is that we can sometimes forget what it was like to be single, and we forget the sense of fulfillment we can take from ourselves. It’s scary, the notion of being alone versus being unhappy and together. The devil you know, etc. Relationships have a way of falsely making us feel whole – until the relationship’s flaws begin to become evident and we remember that, once upon a world, we were a different person with different needs and somewhere, somehow, who we were began to murkily assimilate with who our lovers were, with the lines dissipating in the dark of it all.

We are not possessions. We are flawed, imperfect beings who sometimes need the space to remember ourselves, for our lovers’ sakes. But, mostly, for our own.