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Wearing high heels is like drinking until you throw up.

There are many reasons you do it: peer pressure, an attempt to fit in, maybe you just think you like doing it… but it always ends the same, face down in the toilet swearing to yourself you’ll never, ever do this again.

And then a little bit of time passes… the headache goes away and the nausea subsides and you can eat normal food again.  And a bit more time passes and you sort of forget how bad it was.  And then you find yourself toying with the idea of doing it again.

Only to end up remembering – when it’s far too late – exactly why it is you promised yourself last time you were never going to do it again.

Wearing heels is like that.

There’s the pressure to be ‘fashionable’, or maybe to add height, or you just like the ‘click-clack’ sound of walking on linoleum flooring in them.

The day wears on, and you’re walking a little slower, a little more gingerly.  And soon you realize your little toe has that really painful blister forming on it, and you have to run hobble to the first aid kit to get a bandage.

By half-past lunch you’re cursing whoever made these shoes and wondering what possessed you put them on that morning, and why on earth didn’t you think to bring a simple pair of flats to change into after that big meeting?

And yet what happens?  You go home, and kick them off and oooohh it feels so good, and maybe you give yourself a foot bath and drink a glass of wine and even as you swear you’ll never wear them again, you find you’ve put those shoes back into your closet… where they’ll lie in wait, lurking for the next time you forget, and slip them on…

Tonight when I get home, these things are going in the ‘donate’ box for the local thrift store!

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Welcome to the GeekyFriedRice Guild!

I am currently looking for job which means that I am stuck at home for the time being. I can’t complain very much because I get to spend a lot more time on personal projects, plus I get to hang out with my three little dogs. In the past week, I’ve been diligent in taking them to the park. Every day, I came across an old man who pushed around a mini cart and scoured the park for trashcans. Living in this city has taught me to be wary of people regardless of how innocent they may seem. For the first few days, my dogs and I walked on by without so much as a hello. I kept my eye on the man, however, and he would just mind his own business and dig through all the trashcans he could find. He didn’t bother anyone else at the park, never…

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I admit it.  I think of myself as normal.  I think that’s pretty normal, isn’t it?  But I am constantly proved wrong, of course, because no one is normal.

I mean, there are *some* things I do that I know aren’t normal, like spinning my own yarn.  But then there are normal things I know I don’t do, like knitting.  And then there’s my friend who is herself about as far from normal as she can be, who loves to tell me how not-normal I am in the best possible way, and yet that’s partly because we’re alike in many ways (who needs a fork, we can eat the eggs and ground beef straight out of the skillet!)

Still, there are times when my perception of what normal should be runs head-long into reality.

Like, it’s really bizarre to me that someone wouldn’t know where to go to buy cardamom.  I like to have not just a well-stocked spice cupboard, but I actually *use* the spices in my spice cupboard.  Regularly.  Not just daily, but meal-y!  Which I know makes me not normal, but only not normal compared to people who think spice means salt, which I hardly ever use, but makes me really normal compared to people who use herbs and spices in abundance.

It’s also really weird to run into people who think letting your pets lick your dishes before you wash them is gross.  Seriously, I’m still going to WASH them.  It’s not like you’re eating your next meal off cat-lick.  I promise, the hot water and soap that can kill raw meat germs will clean kitty spit.  And by the way, get that hand sanitizer away from me, gross.

Or finding out that for some people, 10 minutes is a really long drive and can’t I find any place closer to eat, because my brain immediately says “What on earth could be closer than 10 minutes away? How do you get anywhere!?”  Because for me, a trip to town is 45 minutes, one way.  Whereas they can walk three minutes and get almost everything they need.

And I still remember the time I went to buy a good dress shirt and the lady told me it was wrinkle-resistant fabric, or something like that; that you pull it out of the dryer and hang it up, no ironing needed. And I said, oh, well I use a clothes line.  And I got *that* look.  That look that the 20-something year old sales attendant gave which can only be described as somewhere between disbelief and condescension, as if who uses clothes lines THESE days, it’s 2010! (or was at the time.)

Or maybe I’m just being really unfair to the 20-something year old sales attendant who had likely never conceived that anyone who would be buying business casual dress shirts would consider putting them on a clothes line, because that isn’t exactly normal.

And for as much as I recognize (and am sometimes flat-out told) how not normal I am, my brain just insists on assuming that I am normal.  Because I am the only way I know how to be.  Being something else isn’t wrong, but it’s not something that generally comes to mind when I run into scenarios like the above.

Then there are other times when I experience a strange feeling of culture shock without ever leaving home.  Like realizing my friend in New York has no idea why I think having a good snow fall in the mountains in winter is good, because it helps prevent drought in the summer.  Or having someone from California up who is boggled that we have a store dedicated solely to selling potatoes.  (In season, of course.)

And I realize everyone thinks they’re pretty normal.  Which I guess makes me normal.  Except I’m not.  Because no one is.  We’re all normal in that we’re all different, and we’re all different in so many beautiful ways, that I’m glad there isn’t any such thing as normal, cause life would be really freakin’ boring if there was.

I really like not being normal, and I wouldn’t want to be.  But sometimes I still forget and think I am.

Which means normal is only how I am compared with how I think I am.  If I do something I find not normal, it’s only not normal compared to myself, not compared to anyone else.  And when I do things that are normal, it’s only my own normal, and no one else’s normal.

I just have to remember that everyone is just as normal as I am, as everyone is pretty much the only way they know how to be.  Which means everyone is their own normal, and everyone else isn’t.

Which I guess means I am normal.

Just a different same normal as everybody else.

I was gonna write this whole wordy rant about this, but really, that’s all it comes down to.   I am not lacking.  My biology is not impaired.  My physiology is not dismembered.   I am not a deviation from the norm.  My vagina is not the lack of a dick.  It’s an organ in its own right.

My worth is not diminished.

The US, of all countries on earth, the US especially loves to be the standard of individuality.  The individual, not the group, not the whole, the individual is important.  The individual choice is king.  The “Army of One” ideology.  40 acres and a mule to everyone and you rough it out on your own.

And yet in reality, beyond whatever ideology we espouse, we are – as are most humans by nature – sheep.  In all the ways that really count.

We want the choice between Coke and Pepsi, we want the choice of 500 channels on the TV, and we want the choice in which cereal we put in our shipping carts.

And yet for all the choices, for all the individuality we desire, we choose based on what we think everyone else is doing.

4 out of 5 doctors tell us what we should do based on the majority opinion.  Most moms agree that they would do what most moms would do.  After all, the majority rules in a democracy, right?  So the majority must be right, and we want to be right, so we’ll go with the majority.

We don’t want individuality.  We want conformity.  In fact, we demand conformity around us.  We don’t want the person with the pink spiked hair to express their individuality, we want to tone them down into what we have deemed to be normalcy.  We don’t want to be the one who speaks out when everyone else seems to be agreeing.  We don’t want to be the one who stands out in a crowd.  We want to blend in, to go on with our lives, to be unremarkable.

We don’t want individuality, we want invisibility.

We will let evil happen so long as it looks like everyone else is letting evil happen.  Because we don’t want to be singled out.

But when we see someone step forward in dissent, we are more likely to be emboldened to dissent ourselves.

We don’t want to be individuals.  We want to be part of a group, and we’ll find the group that best fits what we want to be to become part of, but we won’t be a group of one if no group really fits us.

We won’t vote for the candidate who truly expresses our ideals, we’ll vote for the candidate we think is most likely to win.

We don’t want to be individuals!  We want to be part of a winning team.

We don’t want to rock the boat.  We WOULD jump off that bridge if all of our friends were doing it, because if they were *all* doing it… they must have a good reason!  Surely someone thought this through, and well, if they decided that was the best course of action, and if ALL of them decided it, who are we to dissent?  Who are we to go against the flow?  We don’t want to think, we want to follow.

We want to assume everyone else has put in the proper amount of thought and process into their decision making and come up with the best solution, and we’re just going to capitalize on their effort.

That’s why commercials show people “just like you” who have made this choice for you so you don’t have to think about it, they already did that.  All you have to do is buy this product and you can have whatever it is this person “just like you” has.

We don’t want to be the whistle blower.  In fact, we don’t even want other people to be whistle blowers.  We HATE whistle blowers!  We hate individuals.  We hate non-conformity.  We hate difference.

We have been conditioned to conform as part of our human nature.  In fact, we have been conditioned to believe that non-conformity not only is bad, but is useless.  We believe that *I* can’t make a difference.  *I* can’t change things.  *I* can’t help.  *My* vote doesn’t count.  *My* choices don’t affect anyone else.

We *fear* difference.  We *fear* change.  We *fear* standing out.  We *fear* being away from the heard.  Stay in the heard, blend in, be the group: you’re safe.  Be the stand-out, be the straggler, be the individual: be dinner.  We embrace conformity unless we think that through individual identity we can achieve greater power.  And it’s this belief that we can have power that overcomes our fear of being individuals.  But we don’t really let go of the group, we merely become leaders of that group, we gain power to control and direct the group.  We *become* what others need to conform to, and then we enforce that conformity on the group.

*I* did this.  *I* made this happen.  *I* deserve recognition for greatness.  *I* deserve to be given power for my accomplishment.   Therefore, you must follow me.

We want to act as a heard for safety, but we want to be recognized as an individual when that recognition brings us greater benefit than anonymity would.  We want to get the raise, we want to get the prize, we want to get the award, we want to achieve the fame, when these things come with positive benefits to us.

We want to act as a heard when it comes to blame, or better yet, treat others as the heard on which to be blamed, but act as an individual when it comes to our benefit or to avoid blame.  *We* failed to achieve our goals, *you* let down the customer, *I* did everything I could.

But even if we crave individual power, individual recognition, we instinctively know that anonymity in the group can give us greater power than individual recognition.  We instinctively recognize the power that anonymity grants us.  From wearing white hoods to hiding behind a keyboard, we allow the group to dictate our actions, our anonymity to become our immunity.  In order to express our power, we prey on the powerless.  The individual.  The stand-out.  The straggler.

We become that which we feared.  We become the predator.  We riot, we lynch, we laugh at the racist joke, all to conform to the group, all to gain power through group action, to conform to group-think.  We don’t want to be the one who stands up and says this is wrong.  We don’t want to be the one who stands in front of the tank.  We don’t want to be the one who goes to the press.

We don’t want to be individuals.  Yet we keep perpetuating the lie, the myth, that we are.  We are, in some ways, worse than cultures who work for the benefit of the group at the expense of the individual.  We will work with the group that brings the greatest individual benefit for ourselves, and sacrifice both the good of the group and other individuals to achieve it.  And especially, we want to ensure the “other group” doesn’t take the power from our group.

If you want to be an individual, don’t think that your choice of car models or soft drink or how you cook your eggs is somehow relevant to your individuality.  It’s your social choices, your choice of “groups”, your choice to remain silent, your choice to speak, your choice to act, your choice to stand-by that will make you a human being or a pack animal.

Which one are you going to be today?  Which one will you be tomorrow?  Which one will you be every time a chance to make a choice is presented?  Which “group” are you going to choose to belong to, and why?

A Response

A response to this post, because No, I am not content to silently disagree: no-homosexuality-is-not-like-left-handedness  I’ll never disable comments, because I welcome differing points of view.  How on earth can we ever grow living in a bubble to ourselves?

The above indicates an opinion that homosexuality is wrong because there is no chance of pregnancy.  I will refute one thing, homosexuals are actually just as capable of producing children, just not with others of the same gender.  However, if the topic of acceptable sex is whether or not children are produced…

So to be barren or post-menopausal is similarly to have no right whatsoever to engage in sexual intercourse since a baby can never be the result.  Just making sure I’m clear on sex and it’s purpose, here.  No children = no sex.  No matter the reason, because sex without children is selfish and wrong and clearly a mental disorder.

Oh, you must similarly abhor birth control of any kind, because that allows for sex without the possibility of procreation.  And of course surgically having your tubes tide or cut (male or female) is akin to choosing to be homosexual because you’re now creating a situation where you are having sex without the possibility of procreation, and should be labeled as having voluntarily adopted a mental disorder.

Every time I have sex with my theoretical future husband, I had damn well sure better be prepared to get pregnant and under no circumstances – no matter how many children we’ve already had or what our financial situation – should I attempt in any way to prevent the possibility of again becoming pregnant, or else I’d just better clamp my legs together and say, “Not tonight, honey, we can’t afford it!”

Because before these pesky homosexuals came along, no heterosexual couple ever dreamed of having sex without having a child.  Yes, it was those homosexuals who corrupted us “straighties” into thinking birth control was ever an acceptable choice.

Though I must wonder, if the only function of sex was to have a child, then why would women who are “legitimately raped” have bodies that could have a way to “shut all that down” and prevent pregnancy?

Clearly there is something *wrong* with women who are raped if they can prevent their own pregnancies.  Right?  Just making sure I understand the whole line of thinking here.  Raped women had damn well better be sure to have that child so it isn’t confused with being selfish or having a mental disorder!

Non-sarcastically now: Sex can create children, yes.  Sex also nurtures intimacy, trust, compassion, mental well-being, stress-reduction, and a host of other things that are beneficial to long-lasting relationships.  Having sex for pleasure is as much about your *partner’s* pleasure as your own, while for some, having children can be an extremely selfish thing to do.

To assume that sex for pleasure always equals selfishness and sex for children is always some selfless higher calling is just plain ignorance at it’s … best? worst?

It’s disturbing that this isn’t obvious to more people.

Really, I don’t think it’s Authority you have a problem with, Matthew.

This ongoing discussion on the merits of herbal/natural medicines got me very animated as I’ve had similar discussions in the past, with varying levels of rhetoric and vile.  I wonder if those who say that natural medicines are utterly useless and have never been proven effective even realize that many of our “modern, conventional” medicines are actually based off natural cures used for centuries and known to be effective.

Aspirin is synthesized from white willow bark, and even today I use white willow bark to ease mild headaches.

Honey has been proven to be effective for healing and preventing infection in wounds.  It isn’t any faster than something like Neosporin, in fact it was a little slower, but it was just as effective.

My sister’s dentist told her to pack a sore tooth with cloves until she could get in to have it looked at, because of it’s numbing properties.

Everyone knows about drinking cranberry juice to help a common urinary tract infection.  Why pay extra for a trip to the doc when you can just chug that down for a while and be fine?

Really, our ancestors were smart.  If they were as stupid as they’re often made out to be, they wouldn’t have lived long enough for us to be here, so they were smart, they were just as intelligent as we are and probably more wise because they had to be.  They knew that all these things around them had, from generation to generation, worked in a certain way.  Ancient Egyptians performed brain surgery.  In the 5th century BC, cataract eye surgery was being performed in India.

So we had advanced surgeries and functional medicines long before the advent of the modern age.  So it isn’t that these natural medicines don’t work – it’s that they don’t always work the way we *want* them to.

It seems there are three major issues with natural medicines once you get past the simple ignorance of history.

One is it’s nearly impossible to determine potency of naturally occurring medicines because the plant itself will vary from place to place, season to season, time of day, and even how old it is.  So yes, it can be difficult to determine or prescribe a dose when the dose may vary widely.  Even today, though, the dose of a medicine is often dependent upon many factors of the patient, body weight, age, gender, and just personal chemistry.  Dosages often have to be adjusted over time to get what works for each person.

Second is that yes, historically, our ancestors did get it wrong sometimes.  There are a lot of folk remedies that – more than not helping – may actually do more harm, and sometimes could kill you outright, but then we do that a lot, too.  We determine later that a medicine is ineffective, or that the side-effects outweigh the benefits, and some medicines, therapies, or cures that have been advanced in modern times are later retracted or revised because of new knowledge, so just because something falls under the heading of ‘modern’ or ‘conventional’ medicine doesn’t make it the best treatment.

And third is a general misunderstanding of how natural medicines are often meant to work in the first place.  We want fast, we want effective, and we want proven.  And even today it seems we can get two out of the three at best.  We can get proven and effective, but it takes time.  We can get fast and effective “experimental” drugs, and we can get fast, proven drugs that work ‘sometimes’, and all of them with side effects that make me think that the original problem might be preferable!  I’ve actually had a doctor prescribe me pain pills that made me so sick I decided the pain was better than the sickness the pills caused!

Today we have this picture of how medicine works: you go to a doctor, you get a pill, you take this pill for X number of days, and you’re better.  The only role the doctor plays in this is to write you the prescription to get the pill.  And it seems even more and more, those “X” number of days means “for the rest of your life.”

Natural medicines often work almost entirely differently.  You go to a doctor, and they prescribe you a medicine, but rather than that being the end of their role, they will be involved in the entire process, ensuring that the medicine is working, and working as expected.  They may increase or decrease the dose depending on how you respond.  They may add another complementary medicine to help.  They can ensure that if you begin to have side effects that they are caught quickly.  They aren’t just the Pill Despenser ™ that many people have come to expect.

And you know what?  This is exactly how modern medicine often works as well!  So I don’t know why some people continue to knock natural medicines when all in all they aren’t too different in approach or effectiveness than modern.

Years ago when I was in therapy for post traumatic stress and at the time moderate depression, my therapist suggested St. John’s Wort tea.  It didn’t “cure” me, but it helped.  That was the point.  I wasn’t supposed to drink a cup of tea and magically feel better.  It was supposed to be a temporary stabilizer for my moods, and that in combination with plain old *walking* which is again proven to improve mood.

When I had a certain type of glandular infection, my doctor gave me options.  she said the conventional approach was to give direct injections of antibiotics to the area (this type of infection did not respond to oral antibiotics.)  She also said that could be combined with lancing the area and letting the glands drain.

Neither of these options sounded terribly inviting.  First, I’m terrified of needles, and second, lancing basically means *cutting it open and letting it drain* so yeah, no.

The natural remedy was to go to the local co-operative, buy some goldenseal powder, make a paste, and apply it to the skin with a warm compress.  The goldenseal contains natural antibiotic qualities and would be absorbed into the skin to help fight the infection.

I decided that was the way I was going.  The very first application relieved the pain.  It took a few weeks to fully get rid of the infection, but it did work.

Okay, it took longer than either of the conventional remedies would have.  But you know what?  Now when I get that same kind of infection again, I don’t have to necessarily go back to the doctor and pay for another examination, pay for another round of antibiotic shots.  I go back to the co-op and buy more goldenseal.  (actually, I keep it stocked in my house now.)  I also keep a tincture of it for when I have sore throats, it takes the pain away instantly and lasts for a few hours, but it does taste utterly vile (so I guess that proves it’s medicine?)

Now wait a second, I hear you say.  You just contradicted yourself!  You cut the doctor out of the process.

Yes, I did.  Because once the first round was over, once I had a mind of what was normal, what to expect, then I can reasonably determine that I have the same infection, and treat it the same way.  Barring any complications that arise, I don’t necessarily have to go back to the doctor for the same thing again.

Diagnose myself?  Treat myself?  Who do I think I am? I didn’t take medicine in college, I’m not qualified to act as a doctor, the arrogance!

But just watch TV for a few hours and count the number of drug commercials that are being marketed directly to you, the consumer, in the earnest hope that you will go to your doctor and say “Give me this!”  You diagnose yourself, and want to treat yourself, but that pesky need for the doctor to prescribe it gets in the way.

So really, the only thing that keeps modern people from using modern medicines the same way we use natural medicines is the stop-gate of needing a prescription.  So the argument of self-diagnosis and self-treatment quickly becomes a non-issue.  The only thing to watch out for is when the treatment doesn’t work or complications arise, you do have to go back to the doctor.  But you have to do that with conventional medicines, too, so it really isn’t an argument for or against either one.  It’s something they have in common!

Really, when it comes down to it, natural medicines are just like conventional: it’s best used under a doctor’s care, but even so there are plenty of over-the-counter that can be used more or less at will.  The dosage often needs adjustment.  They aren’t always effective, or as effective as we’d like, and sometimes they just taste terrible.

Really, the two major differences between natural medicine and conventional medicine?

One: drug companies can’t patent a naturally occurring plant.  They can only patent a specific kind of extraction or synthetic equivalent, so modern medicine pushes profits.  Use the “purple pill” instead of a natural equivalent so the patent holders can get their exorbitant kickback.

Two: without the need for a prescription, it can be easier to abuse or misused natural medicines, but given the ease at which convention is abused, it’s hardly a difference worth noting.  Mostly it just requires the same care as any other drug.

And before anyone says I’m against modern medicine, re-read everything I’ve just written and tell me where I said that.

Anyway, that’s my $2.50.

Read part 1, also, but definitely read part 2.

Slavery

Why do some people think that acknowledging the suffering of others somehow diminishes their own?  That in order to validate their suffering, they must deny the suffering of others?

Was the African slave trade a blight on the face of humanity?  Was the African slave trade a horror that none of us can truly comprehend?   Is there anyone at all who will argue that the answer is anything but a most emphatic yes?

Since that is so, why isn’t the Irish slave trade similarly acknowledged as even existing, let alone acknowledged as that same blight, that same horror?  Why are the white slaves taken in Africa not likewise acknowledged as existing?

Why is acknowledging European slavery in Africa a threat to the memory of black slavery?

I’m not talking about racism, discrimination, civil rights issues.  I’m not talking about comparing the suffering as if one can be found to be more worthy of notice.

I’m talking about slavery.  Real slavery.

When the population of Ireland was cut by nearly two thirds within a single decade (1641 to 1652), with an estimated 300,000 Irish slaves shipped to the New World to work for English masters and another 500,000 killed outright, that is a reality of history.   They were every bit as much slaves as the Africans brought to the Americas.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

And don’t kid yourself.  These were not indentured servants who labored for some years and then were set free.  They were slaves.  Every bit as much as the Africans were slaves.  They were slaves who were sent to the Americas to labor and die by the master’s hand, to be seen as property and chattel, not people.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these [Irish] women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

Is it true that many descendents of slaves today have lighter complexions because their ancestors were raped by white masters?  Undeniably.  However, it is just as true that many are the descendents of slaves both white and black, that their lighter complexion is from an African slave father and an Irish slave mother, rather than a slave master.  And the descendents of those slaves are as much descendents of their Irish mothers as they were of their African fathers.

When the Barbary pirates captured white slaves from Europe and took them back to Africa, they were every bit as much slaves as the Africans brought to the Americas, suffering under brutal conditions.

By extension, for the 250 years between 1530 and 1780, the figure could easily have been as high as 1,250,000 – this is only just over a tenth of the Africans taken as slaves to the Americas from 1500 to 1800, but a considerable figure nevertheless. White slaves in Barbary were generally from impoverished families, and had almost as little hope of buying back their freedom as the Africans taken to the Americas: most would end their days as slaves in North Africa, dying of starvation, disease, or maltreatment.

As per the above quote, the number was smaller than the African trade, but does that justify forgetting them?  Does that justify pretending that there were no White slaves in Africa, taken by Africans?  Does that justify pretending that there were no white slaves in the Americas?

Ignoring this piece of history does nothing to correct the injustices today.  Ignoring this piece of history does nothing to ease the suffering of those who continue to suffer, so what is the goal of such willful ignorance?

The suffering of those today is not validated through denial of others suffering.  It is validated through the suffering itself.  Those feelings are their own validation, they need nothing more than that.  To attempt to use ignorance of history as a validation for feelings can only serve to diminish that validation when history is illuminated.

There is no data, no statistic, no historical fact that can diminish the horror of the Africa slave trade.  Why, then, is data and historical fact so quickly brushed under the carpet as if to acknowledge that the suffering in slavery was not one-sided somehow detracts from the suffering of Africans?

My ancestors were Irish.  My people, too, suffered slavery, both at the hands of the English and at times the hands of the Africans.  I won’t pretend that I have forgotten this history, and I won’t stay quiet when someone else tries to ignore it.

That does not mean I am pretending to understand the current discrimination that happens today.  The Irish have been integrated into society in a way that blacks have not.  They became “normalized” whereas blacks have not.

I learned about the African slave trade in school.  But I never learned about the Irish slave trade.  I never learned about the white slaves in Africa.  These things were quietly ignored.

This has nothing to do with justifying racism.  It has nothing to do with detracting from African suffering.  It has nothing to do with telling someone to ‘get over it.’

I am not asking for anything beyond the simple acceptance of facts.  I am not asking for pity, or sympathy, or empathy.  I am not asking for anger, or guilt, or any emotion at all.

It has everything to do with acknowledging the reality of history.  We can’t learn from history when we refuse to accept the whole of it.  And accepting the whole of history in no way diminishes any one part of it.  Tragedies are tragedies, there is little chance of having any major tragedy of history watered down through the knowledge of others.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/white_slaves_01.shtml#two

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/mar/11/highereducation.books

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076

Imagine…

…that you could only read 7% of the internet.

Imagine if you couldn’t understand most of what was posted on youtube.

Imagine if you were cut off from most global news.  Or worse, cut off from even understanding news about your own country or community from an outside (let’s say for the sake of argument, less biased) source.

Imagine if you couldn’t take free online college courses because you couldn’t read the lessons or communicate with the teacher?

How much knowledge would you be denied…

…if you didn’t speak English?

 

I don’t think it’s enough to have one common language to bring us all together.  I think we need to all understand and strive to communicate in multiple languages.

Language isn’t just a set of words and grammar rules; it’s a reflection of culture, belief, ideology, philosophy, history, and modern influences.

There is a reason that some phrases, some ideas, can’t be translated from one language to another, there is no common frame to draw from.  There is no common belief to relate to.  There is no common philosophy which binds these two languages together.

When we attempt to distill human language down to common denominators, when we try to make all other languages subordinate to one, we lose more than we could ever realize.  We lose phrases that can not be expressed, we lose understandings which can not be shared, we lose cultures which see the world differently.

It’s a shame that the US does not teach second or third languages from birth.  It’s a shame we live in such an overwhelmingly mono-linguistic society.

If you are multi-lingual, I would beg that you teach that to your children.  If you have a chance to learn another language, jump at it!  If you could preserve the diversity of language in the world, you can help preserve the diversity of cultures, too.

Imagine if you couldn’t read this post…

 

The painful irony is that I wouldn’t be able to.  I know less than the most basic Spanish, I know a few smattering words in Swedish and Hebrew.

And when I come across pages written in other languages, even other writing systems, I always wonder what it says, what I’m missing by being unable to understand.  I wonder if perhaps some beautiful wisdom or humorous anecdote  is lost to me because I know only one language.

Of course, I speak English, 95% (if not more) of the internet is open to me.

But what if it wasn’t?

I can’t help but imagine if I was denied the vastness of this body of human work because I couldn’t understand it.  Because I wonder if, in that 5% that is closed, there may hide some marvelous revelation that I have missed.

Or maybe it’s just more cat pictures.

I don’t know.