April 2013


Reflect. Respond. Rejoice.

The inexplicableness of it all. Either the Boston Marathon explosions were the acts of the insane or the “work” of the unheard. Regardless, innocence is the victim. An eight-year-old child waiting for his victorious father to complete the marathon is . . . what? Murdered. To what end? Because the “voices” had become too loud to ignore and the deranged driven to wreak havoc?

When New York City’s Twin Towers were leveled, it was reasonable to ask why would the perpetrators go to such great lengths, sacrifice their lives in order to kill so many? Some Americans don’t like such questions because it somehow suggests culpability on our nation’s part. That American imperialism, militarism and meddlesome foreign policy were somehow a factor. But you have to wonder, why were equivalent buildings, say, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil not targeted?

To what degree do American actions create the feedback loop that has foreigners lined-up to murder us?

Some anti-terrorism experts were suggesting on Tuesday that the bomb was crudely constructed, perhaps the creation of a homegrown terrorist showing solidarity with his foreign brothers. That would be a disappointing development as the predictable response includes the ratcheting-up of suspicion and surveillance of our neighbors (all citizens indirectly). Identify the culprits as American Muslims and that entire community suffers.

I don’t think it the work of crazy homegrown white boys (see Timothy McVeigh), as a U.S. government building was not the target. These spineless goofs/cowards are quite the puzzling phenomena. America is such a large, diverse nation that you can simply disappear to Obscure, Oklahoma or Remote, Oregon and live the independent life. Why slaughter innocence because the “guberment might take my guns?” McVeigh had such concerns.

That leaves the out and out crazy among us who “saw things in the window. . . heard things at the door.” This, to me, is unsettling. We like rhyme and reason to our explanations. Whenever I hear that someone was murdered, I ask, “Did he have it coming?” Of course that is a joke but we prefer a causal relationship to our violence. A jealous boyfriend. The aggrieved wife. The despondent “fired” employee. The deranged Second Amendment “patriot.” We prefer some underlying explanation—crazy at it may sound to us—for the (any) violence.

I don’t know where the investigation will lead or if “justice” will ever be achieved and truth served. What I do know is that life will go on. Not so much for the harmed but for the rest of us for sure. If your daughter is being married this Saturday, that ceremony of life will occur. Toasts will be offered. Exuberant dancing, perhaps even a Chicken Dance or two will get the attendees on their feet. And the exhausted couple will leave on their honeymoon, perhaps without a thought at all of the unfolding developments in Boston. Blessedly so.

That is one of the dichotomies of living. All of us to varying degrees sublimate the tragedies and sorrows associated with our species, with being alive. Very soon in our development we determine our outcomes. By age seven or eight I realized I wasn’t getting “out” alive. While disappointing—it is—what are we to do about it? As mythologist, Joseph Campbell so cogently observed, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

Reflect. Respond. Rejoice.

A Beautiful Life.

“Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.” Charles Baudelaire

President Obama was taken to task and the “liberal” woodshed for his recent comments concerning California’s female Attorney General. An old friend and political supporter, Obama said that Kamala Harris is “brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough,” as well as “she also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

It was that last observation, on her looks, that brought down the wrath of liberal women, that to comment on a woman’s physicality (appearance), in the context of her work, was inappropriate, sexist and demeaning of women. Being a feminist and a consumer of history, I am sensitive to any practice (speech in this case) that in any way demeans, limits or restricts a woman’s freedom, independence or opportunity.

Aside from beauty pageants, the consideration of a woman’s physical appearance is irrelevant to any “job” she pursues. Period. End of story. If laws (regulations) are required to eliminate job preference (promotions, wages, etc.) based on physical appearance, so be it. That said.

You’re beginning to see more “commentary” on how we, in the West, have placed too much coin on the pursuit of individual freedom at the expense of community. A favorite philosopher of mine Richard Rorty thought we need to pursue/balance both virtues. Both individuality (in its infinite expressions) and the commonweal.

One of the things that I love about America is that America’s women can freely walk around looking like goddesses. Not necessarily at 2:00 AM in rough neighborhoods (although I would like my America to facilitate just that, that no woman was ever in harm’s way, anywhere/anytime). But in much of our nation, there are beautiful women everywhere. They are ubiquitous as flowers. That America’s women—the goddesses among us—who publicly appear so, this represents a national value—individual expression’s of personal freedom. That said.

I objectify women. I have all my life. For whatever the reason, when I was in kindergarten I became enchanted by a classmate who broke my heart when she moved away that year. I couldn’t tell you what she looked like (although her joie de vivre comes to mind), but I remember her as beautiful. Where does that come from? As has been observed the heart knows what it knows and each sex objectifies the other. We do. Each sex appreciates beauty, both similarly and differently. That said.

Is there too much emphasis in America on beauty? Perhaps. Arguably. Has its consideration any place when hiring and promoting America’s workforce? We can all agree, absolutely not. To the degree that Obama’s comments undermines the commonweal (by undermining the status of women) he should be called out. All men need to hear from the women in their lives when their actions/comments cross the line. That said.

“Some guys say beauty is only skin deep. But when you walk into a party, you don’t see somebody’s brain. The initial contact has to be the sniffing.” James Caan

Know what? I wouldn’t limit “the sniffing” to just the guys. Slice it/dice it. Gals have preferences, too. Some seek the big brains. Others gravitate to big wallets. But if the brains and/or the bucks come in a handsome package, too, well, isn’t that just the beautiful life? It happens. Sometimes.