In one (perhaps many) of Terry Prachett’s books, he opines that the strength of a god is dependent upon the number and strength of the belief in that god. But of course, gods don’t dies, so there are a number of ghost-gods whisping their way around reality, seeking believers.
While practice has shown this is not the case off the Discworld, it still can be said that belief shapes the world. “If you think you can’t do something, you’re right,” and other quasi-inspirational platitudes. If enough people believe that [women/darker-skinned people/other denigrated minority] are worthless, then they are. But once people stop believing that—or start believing the opposite—reality changes and it suddenly becomes inconceivable that what society used to think was taken as gospel.
Two recent developments have impressed this upon me.
The first, a blog called No Unsacred Place was begun to remind its readers (and its creators) that all is sacred—and we need to be reminded of that. Along the lines of “my body is a temple,” if we can remember that everything is sacred and everyone is holy, perhaps we can make the world a better place. Our beliefs are borne out in our actions—whatever the beliefs are. I would like my beliefs to bear joy, beauty, and holiness.
The second was linked to me by the first, the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth [English amateur translation] was recently passed by the Bolivian government. The commentary about it that I found on No Unsacred Place was “It Matters What We Believe“. This theory is also present in Our Mother’s Keeper, a new Mormon blog.
It has always baffled me that Christians do not pay more attention to the rape of their planet. But then, I suppose the differing translations of Genesis 1:28 are proof that more people believe they need to “subdue” the earth than “govern” it. That belief has certainly shaped this reality.
So, when I first saw this, I thought it was a public service ad about how we should be aware of climate change:
But then it ended and I realized it was an ad by a company that would benefit from ongoing climate change. A company that looks forward to a day when we can “ice skate on the equator” and “sunbathe past glaciers” (already possible). A company that thinks nothing of showing major world icons adrift in an ocean that laps at their toes. A company who clearly didn’t think this one all the way through.
I think it still serves as a great warning about climate change and rising sea levels, even if it’s not trying to. Why not do nothing? Because this is the result if we don’t.
In response to my own feeble attempts at a vegetarian lifestyle, many of you have shared your views on eating. From these conversations, online and off, it occurs to me that there are two primary approaches to consumption:
- Individual morality.
- Consideration of impact.
The two are by no means exclusive, and most people seem to use some combination of the two. The first strikes me as idealistic, and the latter as essentially pragmatic. One is more concerned with the personal act, and the other with the ultimate outcome. Applying these categories to vegetarianism, the former may apply to people who are strict vegans or vegetarians, who see eating meat as their complicity in the needless taking of another life to sustain their own. The latter may include flexitarians who try to minimize meat-eating because they feel it is better for their health and for the environment.
I suspect that the latter will ultimately have the greater impact on the ultimate reduction of animal lives taken, though the pragmatists would probably not have the influence that they could without the leadership of the idealists. And I suspect that this is generally the case in history. I think that Marxism ultimately failed in Europe and North America because corporations gave in to many of the demands of the proletariat: a wide-range of labor laws and protections were enacted, labor unions became new power centers, and a social safety net was established by social-democratic governments. Not the ideal worker’s paradise, but a vast improvement on the unfettered capitalism of the white world in the 1800s. But none of these gains would’ve been possible without the hot-blooded visionaries. This is why I can forgive all the jet fuel Al Gore burned promoting an Inconvenient Truth. The ripple effect of his message compensates thousands of times for any moral transgression caused by his greatly enlarged carbon footprint.
I have strong idealistic and practical tendencies, but as I get older and more cynical, the pragmatist becomes more likely to win out. I mistrust dogmatism of any type, even my own (though I hold stubbornly to my pacifism, in the hope that some small gains will be made as history marches on). What am I afraid of? Getting burned again. Of swinging from one extreme to another. Of unintended consequences that defeat the very aims of my idealistic motives.
It’s funny and disturbing to me that I can’t approach something as simple as going vegetarian without diving deep into myself this way. As much as I’d like to draw the line in the sand that some of my friends and family have done, and say, “I will not consciously and willingly take an animal life to feed my own,” I see far too many exceptions. Sure, I’ve all but eliminated meat from my diet and I let wolf spiders on my desk live and I don’t eat even vegetarian fast food, but: I send my cats after tasty little critters. I eliminate fruit fly and boll weevil infestations in my home without hesitation or remorse. The painful deaths of countless small critters is a horrible price to pay for the huge drop in human infant mortality rate, the near eradication of certain horrible diseases, and progress on everything from heart and organ transplants to fighting cancer, but it’s one that I think I’m willing to pay if it saves the lives of more (human) children and reduces the number of excruciating (human) deaths. I’m willing to look into alternatives to those lab deaths, but if I’m convinced that it’s a zero-sum game, and it’s either a dozen rabbits or, say, my daughter, you can bet that I’m going to choose my child’s life. But fortunately or no, we rarely get to make those kinds of stark decisions.
So, this is the cynic in me. I believe that to some extent, my life is predicated on the deaths of others. Remember, I’m not arguing against vegetarianism–I’m moving in that direction myself. But as I embark on this path, I have to examine my fundamental assumptions and values with starkness and brutal honesty.
And by doing so publicly, I count on you to keep me brutally honest in my endeavors.
an awesome vid & song:
Politicians that can give me hope.
Music that can give me hope.
Maybe this country is going somewhere good.
This is a link dump for things that make me want to spit. Things that piss me off & make me want to bitch—remind me why I should be angry. John just posted his experience at Church the other day, I think most of us can agree that his experience counts as something we all want to bitch about. Feel free to respond to mine or add your own in the comments.
“Sweetie” pisses me off. In fact, most diminutives or “familiar” forms, especially from strangers (although also from other sources: DH called me “baby” once during sex & that did not go over well for him…) really make me mad. I’ve posted about this in the past, but now, research shows that it’s not just me: treating people like you’re better than them affects them psychologically, which can then affect them physically. I wonder what it says about the person who’s doing the treating.
The Republicans’ sheltering of Palin makes me mad. The fact that they don’t want to let her have a forum reminds me how little they think of women. Andrew Sullivan calls on us to “Demand a Press Conference” and both Rachel Maddow & Keith Olbermann have offered to let Palin name the terms in order to get another interview (after the Couric interview, apparently, the Republicans locked her in a penis-shaped tower, word has it that they’re tending their garden of cabbages below, flying about on broomsticks at night, and climbing up her hair when they want to access her—no word yet about a white knight). The awesomeness from CNN’s anchors (which I previously posted) reminds me that sometimes, the mainstream media doesn’t suck.
Trayce Hansen, Ph.D. and her ilk infuriate me. She’s the one being quoted on Christian & conservative websites as claiming that “social endorsement of homosexuality [...] will lead more individuals into a homosexual lifestyle”. Which, if you think about it, really means that closeted gays will no longer feel shame if society didn’t think that homosexuality was an unnatural, dirty activity that leads to STDs and death. Wait, isn’t that their same argument about sex? About divorce? About abortion? Oh, that’s right, they’ve only got one! Her name might be Hansen, Coulter, or Schlafly, but whatever her name, the Conservative Woman Who Hates Women So That She Can Prove To Men That All Women Suck But Her (or maybe that She Is The Only Woman Who Will Suck) drives me crazy.
People who deny the rights of everyone because they don’t want to exercise them. This goes for the anti-abortion lobby (don’t have one!), the anti-gay marriage lobby (don’t be one!), and the anti-euthanasia lobby (don’t do it!). Don’t tell me I can’t do it just because it makes you feel icky. What if militant vegetarians took over the country & denied people the right to hunt and eat meat? Or if militant environmentalists turned every highway into a bikeway? Sure, the world might be slightly better, but it wouldn’t be right. Equally, it is not right to deny rights (heh. get it?) just because you don’t want them. Hell, I don’t want to marry a woman. But you know what? I’m glad I have the right to if I wanted. I do not understand what is going on in the minds of people who want to deny rights. So often, we hear the story of a person who was anti-this or anti-that and then suddenly finds themselves in such a position that they are glad that they and their friends were unsuccessful because now? Now they’re really glad they have the right to this or that.
There are too many links for that one, but here’s Dan Savage’s recent experience with his mother’s terminal illness and death. He lives in Seattle, too—I’m not really sure who has the greater reach, though, my father, with his religious network or Savage with his queer network (I hope it’s Savage), but at least someone there is standing up in opposition to my father’s desire to take rights from others.
Again, I have to say: if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. Leave in the comments the things that get you righteously angry, and about which you are passionate. Anger is only helpful if it’s channeled.
Here. I’ve heard the argument represented in the graph before but, as they say, this is worth 1000 words.
A vid take on MoF’s Sparks:
First up, Stuart Shepard, who I’d not heard of before today but is apparently a member of Focus on the Family’s activism arm, is encouraging everyone to encourage his God to rain on Obama’s acceptance speech. Which seems to me to be incredibly petty: pray for peace? pray for a cure for AIDS? pray for the inconvenience of a guy you’ve never met? Oh, the last one, please.
Next, a funny/geeky break from your morning drear. Carmensita, starring Natalie Portman (who is entertaining, but really you should watch it for the awesome lip-syncing and the incredible translations). Best to watch at full screen to fully appreciate the subtitles. Wonderful in the way that only Internet vids can be: not quite laugh-out-loud funny, but can’t tear your eyes away and must send it to everyone you know funny.
And, back to your regularly scheduled politics (wasn’t that awesome, tho?), This Lawn is Your Lawn, a plea to the next pres to plant a Victory Garden (and to get more citizens to do the same). I just finished planting herbs on my balcony, so this one’s close to my heart.
“Hypermiling” has become all the rage in the media sources I frequent (in order of its appearance: Wired, NPR, and GroovyGreen), but it’s always seemed too dangerous and requiring too much thought. I learned to drive on the Autobahn, where there is no speed limit, only a minimum, and a posted “recommendation” of 120kph (about 75mph); where I rarely went less than 160kph, and often had occasion to cruise closer to 200kph (about 125mph); where I once hit 210kph and still got passed.
But the most recent article in GroovyGreen (linked to above) and my most recent fill-up of $60 convinced me that I needed to do something to change my driving habits. So I turned cruise control on (this is a switch on my car, so it stays on even when I turn off the car) and set it whenever I can. Here comes the kicker: I set it to the speed limit. This is new to me and has brought greater zen to my driving. I hang out in the slow lane, passing slower cars languidly, merging away from on-ramps and vehicles on the shoulder, and getting passed by just about everyone. And it doesn’t bother me. Tailgaters amuse me and I no longer antagonize them (I have been known to turn my lights on to simulate brake lights, or simply brake…). I generally stay in the lane that is going my speed, merging away for faster cars when necessary.
I haven’t yet had to fill up again, so I can’t yet say whether this has made any difference to my pocketbook, but it does leave me arriving calmer, driving more nicely, and I’ve not noted any real change in the amount of time it takes me to get places. Ten to twenty miles per hour difference only makes a difference if you can maintain that speed for close to an hour.
Why Higher Gas Prices Should Make You Smile, at least if you believe that the only way we’re going to get out of this crisis is by switching to “alternative” (to fossil fuels) forms of energy. I have often said that $4 was the price point at which I would stop driving and I’ve been trying to live up to that. I’ve been better about biking to work (I have my husband poke me in the back when my alarm goes off each morning to get me out of bed) and I’ve actually done so twice a week for the last three weeks. Yay me It means getting up & getting ready earlier than I’m used to, it means more exercise than I’m used to, and it means being more organized (like figuring out what’s for dinner the evening before I have to go shopping); but it also means a certain smugness that makes me feel warm inside (or maybe that’s just the exercise) when I pass gas stations, and an even better smugness when I pass cars because I’m actually going faster than they are in traffic.
Grow your own grain in Massachusetts. This is an awesome story about *ahem* grassroots sustainability. I’m so envious of Jana and her veggie garden, but I’ve never even considered growing my own wheat. Having such a relationship with a local bakery/miller is truly awesome. I can only hope that more such ingenious schemes come around. This is what’s going to help when the zombies attack.
Containing, as it does, both Earth & Arbor days, April is the month when we look to the soil and the earth for inspiration. Earlier this month, I created a new Urb Garden, which is so far doing quite well. My cucumbers are happily strangling my tomatoes and the strawberries & mint are locked in a death-match-for-world-domination. All is right with the universe.
Today is earth day. A good day to take stock of where you are in the arena of recycling, biking, growing-your-own-stuff, and so forth. I like to take extra time to do yoga (I try to do it every day, ’cause it’s better than caffeine in the morning) and include a prithivi namaskar (earth salutation…I just like saying “namaskar”), although the closest I’ve gotten is this awesomely illustrated Earth & Sun Salute Variation. The pose on either side of the bottom pose is child’s pose. As I like including a mantra with my yoga, my earth salutation mantra is “We dance joyfully upon your face, we are your children.” Which I always think puts me in the right mood bike to work, snip fresh herbs for an omelet, and just generally go about my day.
My earth day resolutions include figuring out what kind of bug has infested the strawberries (more to get it out of my kitchen than to save the berries), to eat vegetarian more often, and to bike to work for one full week (hopefully this will extend, but the flesh, as they say, is weak). Also to do my yoga more consistently.
Lets take these one at a time:
I’m so happy to have my Urb Garden back, although it currently contains few herbs. Just checking on it and watering it daily relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m doing something. I’ve got a strawberry, a mint, a chive, a rosemary, a cucumber, a tomato, and a hot pepper. Except for the herbs, which don’t need to flower to produce fruit, none of these have proved especially *ahem* fruitful. But recently, itty bitty bugs have been noted hiding under the broad leaves of the strawberry plant. They flit, flea like, around when I water and I don’t really want them migrating across the kitchen to fruit or anywhere else in the house, really.
As usual, I think I should eat less meat. And I feel healthier when I keep it to a once a week thing. I’m all for dairy and for eggs, so it’s really just a chicken-fish-and-beef thing (lamb, pork, and what-have-you are of course included). I’ve even got vegetarian cookbooks that leave me absolutely no excuse not to eat more healthily.
Gas has officially hit $4/G here in the “great” state of California and this galls me. That said, I think we need to strongly increase taxes on gas so that the incentive to
compensate for self-perceived physical inadequacies buy Hummers is lessened. Last week I resolved, after filling my tank, to bike to work! Every day! And I did so once. In observation of Earth Day, however, I shall renew my efforts & see if I can convince my husband to keep me on track with it.
The yoga goes hand-in-hand with the biking: it’s a great way to warm up my muscles to trek off to work. And since it makes me feel more grounded, it’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day, me thinks
I got confused about when Arbor Day was and wrote some of this post on Kentucky’s Arbor day…apparently, most states have a different arbor day, a day when they celebrate their particular arbor of choice (in Kentucky’s case, the Tulip Poplar). So, although National Arbor Day is not until the 25th, I’m combining posts here. Since my Earth Day post is so late, the earliness of the Arbor Day post will hopefully even things out.
I’ve been looking for a Vriksha Namaskar (tree salutation) with which to properly greet Arbor Day but have, as yet, been unsuccessful. Here is, however, the tree pose which I can only do with one of my knees, and is very very fun because it requires so much concentration to not topple over. If anyone has any ideas for a tree mantra or such a namaskar, please do let me know
For Arbor Day, I have but one resolution: there are few ways for me to incorporate trees into my life, although this is an option for some people. So my resolution does not have to do with trees so much as it does flowers. I resolve to make and use seed bombs.
Before Homeland Security shuts down this website, seed bombs are a form of guerilla gardening which involves tossing ready-made clumps of sod and seed into fallow land to make it less…fallow. Learn how: text, vid. And if you have the attention span for it (just over 4 minutes and worth every second), I highly recommend the vid, it’s got some awesome interviews & war paint. For seed, I plan to use bee-friendly plants, as bees are on a sharp decline & can use all the help they can get. And California Poppies because I think they’re beautiful. I’m announcing this one early so that I can prepare for it. With luck, I can keep a supply of seed bombs on my bike & toss them appropriately as I ride.
How have/will you celebrate?
A fantastic set of artistic works that capture, in a snapshot (I use the term loosely, more often in a 60′x40′ canvas) the kinds of things that get through out daily, weekly, every five minutes, &c. Many of these I would love to buy prints of (I especially like Paper Bags and Jet Trails).
Spark is a new category for sharing links. No intense commentary, just a link & a brief reason you might want to click on it. Something to Spark your Mind to Flame, if you will.
Courtyard: a communal herb garden. Gone.