Hooked on Once Upon A Time

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This past weekend, a couple of folks mentioned aspects of Once Upon A Time, a show I had never watched, that interested me. Now, about 2/3 of the way through the first season, I think I am hooked. It will take quite some time to get through more than 60 episodes at one or two a day, but I admit that I have looked ahead at some You Tube clips of my favorite story arc, Rumpelstiltskin and Belle.

OUAT may be the best-plotted TV show I have ever seen. (I make no claims about shows I haven’t seen!) It is so multilayered, jumping back and forth not just between two worlds but in time within the Enchanted Forest world. The connections between the characters are amazingly complex and, so far at least, make sense of things in both worlds that otherwise seem unconnected or incidental.

More than one person has said the second season isn’t as good, but that’s some days away for me.

Columbus Day?

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Ever since I learned a bit of history, many years ago, I’ve wondered why we in the U.S. have Columbus Day. He was not even the first European to set foot in what eventually became the U.S.–indeed, he never set foot there at all.

I am not of the school that thinks of indigenous peoples–in the Americas or elsewhere–as beneficent, peaceful idealists whose paradise was shattered by the arrival of outsiders–European or otherwise. Oh, maybe in an isolated village here or there the scenario was something like that. But overall, I have been and remain unpersuaded that humans in general in any time or place are much different from humans in general in every other time and place. Certainly humans have created cultures and societies that each of us, according to our own values, might consider “better” or “worse” than what we have. Certainly in some times and places the really horrible elements (by my standards, of course) have attained such ascendancy that they seem “Other.” Have there been times and places where the very best elements (by my standards, of course) have attained such ascendancy? I can’t think of any offhand, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

Indigenous peoples, in the Americas and elsewhere, were/are no exception. The Americas’ indigenous peoples had war, slavery, human sacrifice, and pretty much every other human evil, along with pretty much every human good. Because they were … well, HUMANS. The invaders had–as triumphant invaders usually do, it seems*–superior technology.

But back to Columbus Day. Why do we in the U.S. honor him? If it’s because he was a great adventurer, yes, he was, but so were many other, and earlier, Europeans. So was Zhang Qian, to name just one non-European. Even if we stick with the Americas and the explorers for whom we have individual names and evidence, we have no Eric the Red Day, no Cabot Day, no De Soto Day. I admit that we have a Leif Erikson Day, but how many people know about it? If what we want to celebrate is Europeans arriving in what is now the U.S., any of those or several others would be more appropriate. “Columbus Day” is just silly.

But if we want to celebrate the fact that HUMANS eventually arrived in what is now the U.S., I can think of no better replacement for Columbus Day than Indigenous Peoples Day.

*Not always. I just copyedited a book on the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek vs. Mao Zedong.

The Hobby Lobby SCOTUS Decision

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The corporate structure separates the business entity from the human owners, among other things protecting them from personal liability. That’s the reason the structure exists. I cannot make sense of a viewpoint that says the owners are not the corporation and so have no personal liability under the law, but that allows the corporation to  enforce their personal religious viewpoints in ways that evade the law.

If this evasion is allowed, where does it end? It isn’t just the extension of this in other areas of medicine. There are, for example, religious beliefs that oppose payment of taxes. There are religious beliefs that once a woman is married, or a married woman has her first child, she should stay at home and not be in the workplace. What will now prevent corporations whose owners have such religious beliefs from declining to pay their taxes or from refusing to hire married women?

Of course I could be wrong…

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Once when I wrote:
“My viewpoint is that when you want to share knowledge, you START with the presumption that it is just possible that you are wrong.”
Someone asked me, why would you share knowledge that may be wrong?

My answer: Because that’s the only kind of knowledge there is. Unless, you know, you’re God or something.

I’ve thought about it more, and I stand by my answer. Even those who believe they get their knowledge from God are relying on their own, or someone else’s, human brain to interpret what they believe to be God’s word–and usually God’s word multiply translated through a couple of human languages. So unless one is personally running the universe, the only kind of knowledge there is, is knowledge that might possibly be wrong.

Where I seem to be different from many–by my observation most, maybe even almost all, but of course I could be wrong!–people is that I am perfectly comfortable with that. Well, maybe not perfectly, but sufficiently.

This can be inconvenient. It means that I often see, as clearly as one can feel is likely (you see what this philosophy does? everything has to be qualified), the “other side” of a disagreement or difference. There are any number of controversial issues on which I do have an opinion, but I understand very well where the other side comes from. The downside of that is that sometimes people who have considered me an ally are disappointed by my not joining them in demonizing the other side.

Another downside is that I’m very, very frustrated when I simply can’t understand a viewpoint, when I can’t grasp it, wrap my head around it–whatever metaphor you want. I find it hard to effectively oppose things I can’t understand. (And yes, there are things I think I should oppose, because that’s my best judgment at this point.)

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis speaks to me. (When it speaks to me in Hegel’s voice, or even Kant’s [when I take those quizzes, I usually wind up Kantian], my response tends to be “Huh?” or maybe “WTF?” But I digress.) Synthesis is, I think, a good one-word descriptor for my wordy “This is what I think right now, based on experience, observation, and knowledge up to this point.” Always, always maintaining the realization that while my experience is what it is, my observation and knowledge may be wrong.

Yeah. Knowledge that may be wrong is the only kind of knowledge there is.

Footprints in the Sand

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At 16, I won a prize in a local poetry contest—I think it was second place—for this:

I walked along a lonely shore
Upon the just-damp land
And left behind me all the way
My footprints in the sand.
Though some washed clear, a few remained
To tell where I had been,
And someone may have seen and thought
Of something new to him,
For those few footprints somehow changed
The pattern of the land.
I left my mark upon the world—
My footprints in the sand.

Many years later, I heard the Starfish Story. You know that one, don’t you? If not, just Google it. It’s the final line that matters here:

“I made a difference to that one.”

That has been my main life-goal for a very long time: to make a difference to that one. I knew it at 16, which was 50 years ago, when I wrote that poem. My mark on the world would be just footprints in the sand that might happen to make some small positive difference in another’s life.  I’m still working in it.

The Santa Barbara Killings

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(NOTE: I will not use the killer’s name, and I ask that no one do so in comments.)

It seems to me that the vast majority of the commentary on the Santa Barbara killings either completely leaves out or passes over with barely a mention half of the people he killed: the first three.

They don’t seem to fit in with anyone’s cause. They weren’t shot; they were stabbed. They weren’t women; they were men. They weren’t random strangers; two were his roommates and one their visitor. So no one can grab these as support for their own cause.

They didn’t die because we lack gun control (stabbed); they didn’t die because they were women (men); it appears they didn’t die because they were men who were successful with women (no evidence that they were). They died because, according to his writings, he wanted them out of the way and because they were “nerds” and “ugly.” They died because, if one reads between the lines, they were Asian, the subject of the killer’s racist ranting. They died, in my opinion, because of the killer’s self-hatred. (I don’t claim it’s anything more than my opinion, but numerous people have mentioned “narcissism,” and some psychological research links those two.)

George Chen, Cheng Yuan Hong, Weihan Wang.

Three victims of violence. Not gun violence, not misogynistic violence. Maybe racist violence. It doesn’t really matter. As long as there are humans who think their own needs or wants trump others’ right to go on living, there will be violence.

White Pride

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I don’t understand the concept of “white pride.”

To be fair, I don’t really understand “black pride” or “gay pride” or any of those others as well. But since I am white and straight, I am going to talk about “white pride.”

I have never grasped the idea of being proud of anything other than one’s own accomplishments. I have always been reluctant to say that I am “proud” of my (now adult) children’s achievements or character, because those are theirs, not mine. To say “I am proud of you” seems to take credit for something I didn’t do. Oh, I know that their dad and I contributed to their lives, but that’s just what we were supposed to do, the job of parenting. They are the ones who took our input along with everything else around them and within them, and turned it into wonderfulness.

So how much more strange it seems to me to take pride in things that were done by people who share one incidental, superficial characteristic with me, to take pride in things I made no contribution to at all. And if that characteristic is the color of my skin, my hair, my eyes–something I have absolutely no part in deciding or maintaining–it becomes downright bizarre.

The larger the group that shares the characteristic, the stranger this is to me. To take pride in being Irish American is less weird–“less,” but weird–to me than to take pride in being of Irish heritage or to take pride in being European American, and those less weird than to take pride in being “white.” Depending on the definition (I’m pretty sure that most people who claim “white pride” would not include as “white” Caucasians such as some [subcontinental] Indians and North Africans), there are hundreds of millions of “white” people alive today. Where is the “pride” in belonging to such a category?

If one is going to take pride in simply belonging to a category, I think that one must also take shame. If one is proud of being white like George Washington, one must also take shame in being white like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. If one wants the pride of belonging to a group that one had no part in joining, one also must bear the shame.

For myself, the pride and the shame of things I have actually done is sufficient for my lifetime.

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#Signs of Love

An Alison Kirkpatrick blog

Carrying It with Me

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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