Thursday, July 28, 2005

Observations in Futility

Look, I know I'm not the first to say this. It's nothing new. It's not even surprising. It shouldn't have to be said. But it does. Here goes.

Conservatives really believe what they say.

I know. I know. It's hard to understand how a conservative can stand around, looking smug, patting him/herself on the back about how "enlightened" they are because they don't live in a world of racial segregation or that they have no problem with women having the vote. And yes, I do realize that that's not how they really think. But my goodness. How blind can you be when you try to say that "What's best for the children!" is one man, one woman, their kids, when history shows no such thing. There are a plethora of models out there, and no single one is right for every occasion. Study history! And when I say history, I don't mean a 2000 year old book written by a bunch of guys with an agenda. I mean actual scholarly works.

But, they really do. They think that it's okay to racial profile Arabs, because it's Arabs that are bombing the US and it's allies. (Never mind the Unibomber and Eric Rudolph. They don't count as terrorists because they're homegrown, I guess.) They think it's okay to discriminate against someone with a different sexual orientation than they have. They think that we should just ignore the excesses of our current government because, in some mystical way, the current president is "a good man". How is he a good man? He's a bigot, a hypocrite and a liar. I know politicians have a reputation as these things, but surely there's some integrity to be found somewhere in our political system. I realize that the rise to power involves compromises. The very nature of ruling a country as disparate as the United States will give rise to such compromises. But this SOB doesn't even CARE that he's showing what a jackass he is. I remember when the conservatives railed against Slick Willie for dishonoring the office. I can't see where the Shrub has done anything to build that honor back up. If anything, he's made the office of President of the United States into even more of a joke than it ever was. The Pres. doesn't make these decisions, his advisors do. I realize that a President has to have advisors that make decisions. But JFK actually made some decisions on his own. Ronald Reagan actually made some decisions. Hell, Bill Clinton actually made some decisions. The Shrub just sits there like a stunned ox if someone catches him out with an unfiltered, unsanitized (i.e. unexpected) question.

He's a figurehead. Nothing more. Nothing less. But that's okay, because he's a "good man" somehow.

The question I have is this: Why don't conservatives realize that the march of personal freedom can't be held back? Look at the general history of our species and you will see a march towards greater and greater personal freedom. That's just not going to stop. And if it hasn't killed us off yet, then it's probably not going to anytime soon. But then, scholarship is kind of hard when you have your head shoved so far up your ass that you truly think these ridiculous conservative propaganda bullshit flies.

I know the liberals have a few problems, too, but come on, compared to the modern crop of extremist conservatives, US liberals are downright mainstream centrist. This subject just makes me tired, thinking about it.

Oh well, futile observations or not, it makes me feel better to put them down here for you to see.

Think clearly and good night.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm so tired.

I am so tired.

I am tired of people who accuse me of doing things, and then do them themselves. I get accused of cutting in on people when they are trying to explain something. But when I try to explain something, I get just as cut off. Here's a real world example:

Something was said about how racial profiling isn't wrong as long as there's a legitimate reason for it, and that those being profiled shouldn't complain.

Me: The Japanese Americans who were unlawfully detained during World War II didn't think it was okay because they didn't have anything to hide.

Them: That war's over.

Me: Yes, but...

Them (cutting in): Look....

See what I mean? Short-sighted people who don't realize what they are giving up sneer down their noses at me for demanding that the government do what it's supposed to do, i.e. serve the people, not vice versa, and I'm the bad guy.

And I quote: "The time of rights is not right now."

Does anyone but me see the danger is this kind of thinking? Does no one understand how flat-out dumb this is?

Let me quote that for you again: "The time of rights is not right now."

Seeing that written out in words just gives me the shivers. Those words are the essence of the conditions that set up every tin-pot dictator in history.

This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the people saying these things are my family. My mother. My sister. Probably my father, as well, although I haven't heard him say anything like this yet.

Surely I'm not the only person in the world that has heard the saying, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it."

The Patriot Act is Japanese American internment camps all over again.

My sister asks me how the Patriot Act has actually affected me. And my answer: not much.

But it has taken away some of my rights. Illegally. Unconstitutionally. The only reason it's still a law on the books is because no one's been able to challenge it in court yet. Of course, with the way it's worded, you can be pretty sure that no one ever will. They can always be detained indefinitely without counsel first.

So, here's a question I just thought up in response: "If someone tries to take away my right to own a gun, does that directly affect me?" No, I don't own a gun. I have never owned a gun. That's completely irrelevant. I would deplore and fight that just as much as I do the Patriot Act.

My family are smart people. Why do they let fear make them so short-sighted? I know that fear is a powerful motivator, but for goodness sake, surely they aren't this blind!

But you know what? They probably are that blind. They don't understand so much about my positions or even the way I believe. My sister, in my home, told me that if I didn't shut up, she was leaving. Since she had driven my mother over, and my mother was doing my wife and I a big favor, she was essentially threatening to keep mom from doing this favor for me if I didn't stop trying to have my say about something that mom had brought up in the first place. So what did I do?

The exact exchange went something like this:

Her: "Do you want this done or not?"

Me: "I don't care if it gets done or not. Why?"

Her: "Because if you don't shut up, I'm leaving."

And my response? Simple.

I said, "Goodbye."

Let me make something clear here. I didn't force her to come over. I didn't even ask her to. I offered to bring all the necessary materials to my mother's place so she could do this stuff for us. I even offered to pay mom for the work she was doing. I still will, if she'll let me. My sister didn't have to be in my home. I wasn't coercing her. She was free to leave whenever she wanted. But if she thinks she can somehow blackmail me with a reupholstered loveseat to get me to not have my say, she doesn't know me anywhere near as well as she thinks she does.

So she leaves. I find out later that she thinks I told her to get out. Madness.

"If you don't shut up, I'm leaving."

"Well, I'm not going to shut up."

"Fine, I'm leaving."

That's the essence of what our exchange was. In what way is that me telling her to leave?

Now, I didn't handle this well. I was, in a word, a jackass. I said some pretty nasty things, especially to mom. And my sister, as non-confrontational as she usually is, was trying to come to mom's defense. I was pretty upset, and I can get really nasty when I'm upset. I apologize for saying those things. I regret them. I probably will regret some of them for the rest of my life. Even if most of them are true, it wasn't my place to say them.

So, when my sister came back a few minutes later, she decided to park in the road, blocking my driveway, because she didn't want to leave mom here with no way home (as if I wouldn't get in my car and drive her home). So, I went out and said, "Either get in the driveway or leave."

Why? Well, for one thing, I was still mad. For another, I didn't want her to sit in the road for a couple of hours when she could sit in the house, in the air conditioning. There's no reason why she couldn't come in, except her own hurt feelings, which got hurt, in part, because I didn't knuckle under to her demand to shut up.

You could see the shock on her face when I didn't instantly capitulate to her little emotional terrorist demand, by the way. I love my sister. I just wish she knew me a little better. I wish I knew her a lot better.

Anyway, she took off again. I should have known. Of course, I didn't know that she thought I had told her to leave, either. But I've already covered that.

I know that I had a huge part in tonight's fiasco. I know that if I had handled things better, and not gotten frustrated with them so easily when they started double-teaming me and cutting me off, then this wouldn't have escalated. I know that I should have just told them I didn't want to talk about it and let it go. But I didn't. And that's my fault. Now there are hurt feelings all around that I'm at least partly responsible for. Again.

And the bad thing is that nothing will be learned from any of this. Instead of trying to reach for understanding, both my mom and sister will clam up. I said some hurtful things and if I try to apologize for them, all they'll say is that "It's okay" if they're willing to forgive me. If not, they'll hold a grudge for years. But they'll still say something equivalent to "It's okay" and never even try to see what brought this about. "It's over. Nothing can be done about it now."

I'm so sick of hearing that. The same attitude that pervades their politics pervades their personal lives. It's useless to go through these kinds of things and not learn something from them. But that's always been mom's way. If it's not something that you have to completely cut out of your life, then just ignore it. Maybe it will go away. Don't ever confront it. Don't ever try to fix it. Wait on someone else to bend to your will. Don't ever bend to someone else's. Stiff-necked stubbornness at its worst.

And I'm no better. I'm thirty years old, and I'm still learning lessons I think I should have learned a long time ago. Maybe I was just sheltered. Maybe we never learn all the lessons we have to learn. Maybe I'm just a slow learner. Or a moron. Maybe all of the above. I don't know.

All I do know is that I'm so tired. And I don't know how to fix it.


"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu