Friday, December 30, 2011

Not Talkin' About The Football Team

    Understanding has great potential to prevent conflict. Frustratingly enough, one catalyst of conflict I've witnessed stems from the misunderstanding of one word: Patriot. Patriotism is a strongly emotional word, but it's flung around far too much. Admittedly the height of paranoia in the wake of 9/11 has subsided, but the abuse of the word is still a go-to method of attack for two kinds of people: idiots, and those who intend to control us.
    Patriotism is defined as devoted love, support and defense of one's country. Too many individuals become so blinded by that love, however, and feel that to support one's country one must follow whatever we are told without question. The simple act of calling elected officials and lawmakers into question can draw accusation that you do not support the entire country, which is unquestionably fallacious. Unfortunately this kind of catastrophizing is very popular, and draws a great deal of public support. And why not? who wants to appear unpatriotic, especially in the middle of a crowd? Cries of who is or isn't patriotic is used to great effect to control many kinds of people, and it's comical.
    I love my country, I am thankful for everything my country provides for me. However, to claim there are no problems, that nothing needs fixing, is bluntly delusion. I would probably come under fire, and be labeled among the "Blame America First" group, of which I believe is a gross oversimplification. However, if I am looking for flaws in America, and finding them, I have two options: leave the country, or try to fix it. If I'm trying to fix it, then it's because I believe the problem can be fixed and the change would benefit the whole country. Change is not bad, and it is illogical to assume that a desire for change implies a hatred of the the entire nation. I can hate one aspect and still love the whole. From the lyrics of Immortal Technique, "I love the place I live, but I hate the people in charge" and as the graffiti says on the 590/490 can-of-worms "You can't spell 'Patriot' without 'Riot.' As I keep coming back to, think for yourself.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Have Yourself A Merry Little One

    I hope all your Christmases and Hanukkahs were and are enjoyable! Welcome back, let's dive right in to what pissed me off this Christmas. Your first question is probably why I'm talking about Christmas when I've made no secret of my Jewish descent. I subscribe to whatever religious practices I want without the label. I like celebrating Christmas, so y'all can deal. Now, I'm sure you're now wondering what could possibly have pissed me off about such a happy time, and the offending party is closer than you or I might think. Family. You can't choose 'em, and you can't choose to ignore 'em.
    My wife and I made a last minute decree to not leave the house at all on Christmas. With the presents forgone, we decided to respond to her grandmother's guilt-ridden phone message asking us to Christmas dinner with her by ignoring her. In a stroke of honesty, we told my parents of this, and they immediately began in with the shame to goad us into dinner with them and my grandmother. "Or at least you could come down and talk with her for a while." My grandmother, by the by, was coming to my parents house for a traditional Hanukkah dinner scheduled for Christmas day.
    I rapidly grew weary in life, of the phrase "well it's family" or "well he's family" or "she's family" as if that is all I should need to go against my better judgement and my personal preferences. Throughout life the only family member I ever chose was my wife. Other than that, I'm stucm with and emberassing hodgepodge of people I don't see eye-to-eye with and who disapprove of me. Why should I sacrifice so much for a person who thinks so little of me? The moral of the story is that for coming down and chatting with my grandma, she gave us a Hanukkah card with $25 in it. That translates to each of us getting paid $12.50 for 45 minutes of awkward, pointless conversation in which both sides speak but not about each other. In my opinion, not worth it. Keep the card and the money. I'd rather have spent the time the way I wanted, with only my chosen family.