I suppose it is appropriate after writing about proper etiquette among our four-legged fellow travelers that I should revisit our attitudes about them in a different light today. Sometimes I wonder if humanity is capable of proper balance at all. We either create a false sense of balance by giving equal weight to all arguments, or they throw balance completely out the window, showing more respect for a cluster of cells or for flightless avians with brains the size of my thumbnail, than for a born human being. In particular I find it distressing because so much of this lack of balance among the left stems from an unwillingness to address our own privilege. Continue reading
Once upon a time there was a mindset among the fortunate that they had a certain responsibility to the less fortunate. Oh, I quite understand that the magnitude of their generosity was mitigated by personal greed and a certain ignorance of the magnitude of the problems of the poor, but there was a time when the upper middle classes and above wanted to make sure that the lot of those “beneath” them was not completely unbearable.
I try to be open-minded. I try to think that, even when someone holds views different from mine or behaves in a way I see as harmful to myself or others, deep down they are OK people. Mitt Romney sure makes it hard to keep believing it. Continue reading
Fair Warning: This post is deliberately meant to challenge certain long-held ideas. It is intended to shock you into awareness. I will try to do so as kindly as possible, I know most of you are not willfully ignorant, but I want to help you to be the best you can be, even if, maybe especially if, that means getting you to give up something you love. I also do not want to out you to your children, so please, don’t let them read this without reading it yourself, and even then, only after you have seriously reflected on it. Continue reading
Okay, gonna go on about a little old news here: 70,000 dollar tax break for a dressage horse. That’s seventy thousand dollars. Seven, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero pennies. That, my friends, is a whole lot of Cheetos. Continue reading
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
It is so easy to say that this is an area where the Western World has moved out ahead compared to the rest of the world. After all, for the most part you just need some simple documentation to prove that you belong in your homeland (ie, a passport) to return. You don’t have to generally carry ID to move about in the States, and there is public space for everyone to move through for free and to even squat on, while camping, for a relatively small fee. These are both good things, but they miss an essential point that I so far haven’t brought up in these essays: human rights are not only capable of being violated by the state.
Our space is becoming increasingly private. People wall themselves off in gated communities, barring strangers from even walking down their streets. Racism was not the only cause of Trayvon Martin’s death. Classism and a siege mentality by those in the upper middle class contributed to an atmosphere where it is perfectly reasonable for one stranger to a demand of a second an explanation for what he is doing in open space.
Rather than shop on Main Street, we do so in malls, or in privately managed shopping districts, where private security has the right to push “loiterers” out if they are deemed undesirable. The elderly are no longer taken care of by family or nurses in their own homes, but warehoused in “assisted living communities” where they are often made to make themselves accountable for their whereabouts at any given moment. I know this latter example is done in the name of taking care of these people, but what about their basic dignity? What about making sure that people are incapable of taking care of themselves before putting them in that situation?
It is easy to think of these rights in the terms of state vs. private individual or in terms of the classic violation of those rights. There are plenty of examples where this is the case, Cuban refugees where clause 2 of this article come to mind. Still, power is power and state power alone is not the only threat to human rights. It becomes more obvious every year that private power, corporate power, and the collective power of the moneyed interests threaten human rights and we need to remain vigilant and united if we are going to have a chance against that power.