November 2007


The Good Life For The Good Wife

I attended a party recently and, as I am wont to do, got into a conversation with a woman whose politics remained unclear to me.  I asked my standard question about Iraq and was pleasantly surprised to see we concurred.  But I had this nagging feeling about her.  I then asked, “Do you unequivocally support a woman’s right to an abortion?”

With a little hemming & hawing she said she did not.  I said,  “How can that be?  You’d have the government control and manage a woman’s uterus?  You’d want your daughter’s body to become state property?”  I continued, “Who better than the individual woman to make such an intimate, private decision?”

She said she understood my position but she’d had a child at a young age and had given it up for adoption.  And, how could she have terminated that life and she was so happy this child, now an adult, was alive.  I said, “Fine, but that was your decision, you made it for yourself, why would you interject yourself into another woman’s life and decisions?”

“Uh, uh, uh.”  We parted. I continue to be stunned by people, women in particular, who do not support reproductive freedom for women.  I simply do not get it. Put on your Imagine Hat and all of a sudden it is men who get pregnant. Do you think men would tolerate “the state” telling them, “Sorry, fella, your body really belongs to us during your reproductive years?”  It’d be gun shopping, for sure.

I recently received an e-mailed article from a reader (Thank you Linda F.).  It was an article from a May 13, 1955 edition of Good Housekeeping.  It was titled: “The Good Wife’s Guide.”  Guide to what you might ask?  Guide to being the good wife. Let’s review a few highpoints from what the good life for the good wife was just 50 short years ago.

This was advice on how to greet your husband after he’s been out working in the “mines” of corporate America.  Some of it (not listed) actually makes wonderful sense.  Particularly if both the wife and husband were treating one another as equals.

Here’s a few highlights. * Let him talk first—remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours.  * Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Or, even if he stays out all night.  * Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. * Remember, he is Master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness.  You have no right to question him.

And my favorite, * A good wife always knows her place.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.  This was the mass media message to America’s women just a few short decades ago, “A good wife knows her place.”  Exactly what place would that be?  Does any man today want such a woman or relationship?

Thank gawd, my mother didn’t know her place. She was 36 in 1955.  She had four kids. She wanted more and she got it.  Good for Mom and good for America.  America has grown as America’s women have grown.  Stronger.  More self-assured.  More confident. More independent. Sexier.  Free.  Free to be.  To fail.  To succeed.  Free to live. Free of the tyranny of men.

I consider myself a feminist.  Feminist in the sense that how could one view the other sex as anything but equal.  Do I, as a male, necessarily approach living the same as a woman?  I don’t know about that.  Men and women are different.  Blessedly so.  But what has that to do with equality and freedom?

To me when I hear a woman question another woman’s right to reproductive freedom, I think of those ignorant, brain-washed women of Africa who perform ritual clictorectomies on their daughters.  I think of those subservient Islamic women who are required to wear burkas, clothed head to foot in black because their culture, a man’s culture has brainwashed them into accepting such nonsense.

Aside: we need to send every Muslim woman worldwide a pistol and 50 rounds with instructions to do the right thing.  For herself.  Let’s get the NRA on that now!

The abortion issue is about life.  That is correct.  It is about a woman’s life.  And the right to make her own decisions about her own body.  To think otherwise is a cultural vestige and expression from a time when a woman knew her place.  For a woman today to articulate a subservient position for herself and her daughters is an abomination worse than any actual abortion.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

11.29.07

I’m Thankful.

I am thankful for the following:

For being alive.  For having a consciousness.  I thank my mother and father for discovering each other and having enough faith in one another to have me.

For my past.  For all the people who have influenced my development. I am particularly thankful for my mother and father in this regard.  To my father for instilling in me a love of books and knowledge (and all that that implies), teaching me by example the concept of family loyalty and again, through example, the importance of being your own man. And, for an attitude.

From my mother I was taught the family’s 11th CommandmentThou Shalt Not Sweat It! That I was unequivocally loved. To always have dreams.   That art is life. “It’s art.”  And, that the unexplored life is not really living.

I am thankful for my brother and sisters who have been unwaveringly loyal, loving and supportive. Inspirational, too!

I am thankful for my wife and for the children we have raised, the family we are and for our life together. I would be less of a man without their influence and impact upon my life. They are an unequivocally rich blessing.

I am thankful for all the wonderful, delightful friends I have all over America who accept me with all my idiosyncrasies, flaws, excesses and arrogance. I thank them, too, for their individuality, generosity, creativity and affection.

I am thankful for all who have inspired me.

I am thankful to be alive in 21st century America. I am thankful we live in a representational democracy and that peaceful change is possible.  I am thankful that hope is a possibility.

I am thankful that America was blessed with bountiful resources and incredible human talent that have contributed to the standard of living that I, and those I care for experience today.

I am thankful America is about freedom to pursue your dreams and not about truths imposed.

I am thankful for living in the West, to be a “product” of Western thought and traditions.  I am thankful for the Renaissance.  Again, I am thankful for my freedom.  I am thankful that the West had its religious wars hundreds of years ago and that the wisdom of separation of church and state will not be lost to us.

I am thankful for an economic system that has transformed my life materially and for the better.

I am thankful that our economic system creates wise and successful men and women who understand that there are considerations beyond the bottom line or, the bottom line is more than dollars and cents. (Yea, it’s Euros! Ha!)

I am thankful for the American not-for-profit sector.  Imagine your life without the many contributions (real, meaningful and measurable impact) of our non-profits? One of the genuine reasons America is a special place in the world is our non-profit sector.

I am thankful for art.  Museum art.  Gallery art.  Book art. My art. Yard art.  Street art.  Marybelle’s art. Sandra’s art.  Stephen’s art.  Public art.  Private art. For books!  Essays.   Fiction.  History. Art. And architecture! Everywhere and anywhere.  Historical architecture. Modern.  All of it that is beautiful, stimulating, and stunning.  And movies! THE MOVIES!!!  I so love American film. English & Australian.  French, too.  And Italian.   I am thankful, so thankful for music.  For jazz. For Coltrane, Davis, Getz, Brubeck, for WUCF FM 89.9, the “BEST” radio station in Florida. IN THE UNIVERSE!

I am thankful for living in Central Florida.  I am thankful for the local citizen who runs (and serves) for public office and tries to do good by looking out for all of us.

I am thankful for the discussion which is America.  I am thankful to the Observer (Thank you, Kyle.  And thank you, Gerhard.  A tip of my hat to both of you.) for providing a forum for this ongoing discussion.

I am thankful that America was created with ideals in mind. Like it or not, America is an ideal.

Freedom.  How do you balance the freedom I so love (as do you) with the need for national solidarity and cooperation? Through discussion.  You do it by talking and listening and synthesizing. An American ideal is that the conversation, the national dialog never stops.  (Judge America’s pulse, its health by the conversation it has with its self.)  I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for family and friends and turkey and dressing and noodles and gravy (gottta have gravy to die for) and butter and rolls and salads and desserts and champagne and music and laughter and light and hilarity. And toasts.

And conversation.

I am thankful for all that and I am thankful for you, the reader.  Thanks for reading the Observer and Happy Thanks Giving 2007!

Reach Jepson at:
Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

11.22.07

Firm But Flexible.

Vote, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.  Source: The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Okay, kids.  This week’s magical word is relativism.  Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1973) defines relativism as 1 a : a theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing.  And, in this essay, how Rudi Giuliani and Pat Robertson answered my prayers.

Now right off the bat I embrace the above definition. Theory.  It says it’s a theory.  Theory is an open-ended word for general conversation.  What is the difference between theory and opinion?  In my universe, stating something is an opinion suggests an open-mindedness to contrary positions. Yes, of course, we all have firm opinions about things.  We are human after all. Yet.

I have a scribbled note to myself taped above my computer that reads: firm but flexible.  I was thinking of “a” particular Congressman at the time when firm but flexible floated through my mind as an appropriate descriptor.  He had principles that were firm but flexible.  Like it?

Theories are flexible, too.  They have to be.  But evoking a theory not identified as your own suggests a degree of peer review. Others have examined “said” idea and opined “X” about it.   And then, frequently at this point, the conversation shifts to defending one’s experts, as opposed to clarifying the issues and setting priorities. Regardless, that can be fun, too.  I like it all.

Please review now (above) what Ambrose Bierce said of the word: vote.  In it is implied a theory about us.  That we’re dumber than a box of rocks and our stupidity is destroying the nation. “What is America’s current condition?”  That would be my shortest answer.  There’d be others, too.  But Mr. Bierce captured it well, too.

That’s my opinion.  But I suggest it’s a theory, too.  Who among you has the temerity to challenge my assertion? The evidence is overwhelming.  Anyone who intelligently considers is a “peer” on this one.

Ah, but Chris, what about relativism?   Some will argue that the electorate is not actually dumber than a box rocks.  But I counter that such people are proving my point admirably by demonstrating the limited nature of the mind (their minds).  I jest but only slightly.

Actually, I am more interested today in the second definition of relativism and how it applies to the sanctimonious American Right.  Relativism 1 b : a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them.

Does that definition not sound familiar?  I consider myself a relativist.  I willingly practice situational ethics. And, I make no particular bones about it.  I see infinite shades of gray (and, oh, how lovely gray can be).  What was it Emerson said about the hobgoblin of little minds?  Yet, the Right has for decades made relativism an epithet, a charge of ungodliness. If not, un-Americanism.  If you are a relativist you are unclean.

What words better sum up the Right’s criticism of the Left than, “He’s a rotten SOB of a secular humanist and a relativist.”  I willingly wear the label of secular humorist and relativist. Thank you very much.

But, but, but can it be?  Can the Right be relativists, too?   No, you say, “Purity” doesn’t swim with pigs! Never!  Truth doesn’t whore itself for votes! Never!  America’s Righteous Right doesn’t truck with thrice-married, abortion supporting, gay loving, Second Amendment quislings.  Never!!

But what did I see last week? Do pig’s now fly?  Pat Robertson endorsed Rudi Giuliani for President of the United States.  Mr. Self Righteous 700 Club himself with feet of clay?  How can this be?

How can the epitome of sanctimonious Rightwing dribble so publicly prostitute himself?  Actually, the same charge could be leveled against Rudi Giuliani.  Would you vote for a man who had the endorsement of Pat Robertson?  If I were Giuliani, I’d sooner bed down with Monica Lewinski than become bunkmates with Pat Robertson.  But then again, I’m a relativist. Ha!

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Recall the old joke that had two strangers meeting and one agreeing to have sex with the other for $100,000. Upon approving the price the man said, “We’ve determined what you are, how about doing it for $20.00?”

I am unsure in the Giuliani/Robertson transaction which participant determined the price and what act will actually be performed.  But I thought such public acts of “indecency” were once anathema to the Right.  Hmmm?

Go ahead you stalwarts of righteous certitude, vote your conscience.  It’s all relative, huh?  Ha!

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

11.15.07