On American Privilege

A repeat from a year ago on a bizzy month end.

Any essay on “privilege” has to start with a solid disclosure. As a middle-aged pale male, I have no business lecturing anyone on privilege. I’m at the top of the heap, and I know it. That is my point in this piece, after all. I have the privilege of contemplating privilege.

It still seems to me to be primarily the benefit of the doubt. If I walk into a store, I’m a customer – not a potential thief casing the joint. If the cops pull me over I get a certain level of respect that not everyone does, and I do use this to my advantage at times. If things get really bad and guns are pulled out, the benefit of the doubt makes me the good guy in the split second decision that separates life from death.

I have no illusions about any of this. That is, actually, my point through all of this.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Get What You Pay For

Every day a new video circulates of bad behavior by police. Someone is harassed, beaten, or even killed in what appears to be an absolutely senseless fashion. Far too often, the victims are black – but not always. It can, and does, happen to nearly anyone.

Earlier this week, another video came in from Toronto. Constable Ken Lam was seen facing down the suspect in a mass killing with determination and grace. He never flinched, and eventually made a peaceful arrest. It was law enforcement at its very best.

What is different? There are many things that made this different, including the race of the suspect, to be sure. But as an example of the kind of cool professionalism we all hope to see in our police there is one important difference in Toronto – their law enforcement officers are paid much, much better than the average US cop.

Continue reading

Our Brother’sKeeper

“Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with low SAT scores. The only differences among us is that we’re idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot.”

– Scott Adams, “The Dilbert Principle”

Three years ago, I was attempting to return to normal life after dealing with my brother’s suicide.  I had no idea how awful my own life was about to become.  Then again, this piece showed that I had a clue.  Yes, I have my moments when I can’t cope with things most of you consider simple and routine.

Continue reading

Nuking the Narrative

North Korea has agreed to de-nuclearize! Trump’s foreign policy is a success!

Headlines something like this have been circulating for a few weeks, but they contain more errors than words. North Korea hasn’t agreed to remove nuclear weapons at all, but appears ready to try to negotiate for some reason. Any concessions on their part almost certainly have little to do with the US and a lot more to do with their only benefactor, China.

And the world is a much more dangerous place to the extent that anyone believes that North Korea is somehow becoming more peaceful, especially when it comes to believing this is a result of anything to do with the US.

Continue reading

De-Bunking Buncombe

It’s a beautiful day and I haven’t done anything fun in a while.  Let’s try this from two years ago – back when we could laugh at Trump.

Every election year, it’s critical to evoke the Founding Fathers. What plan for a strong military would be complete without the spurious blessing of the Father of The Country, George Washington? How could you float a plan for tax givebacks, er, reform without evoking the Father of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson? Who would dare enter a conversation about the sanctity of our national credit without the hallowed words of Alexander Hamilton – or, indeed, his apparent ability to sing and dance his way to 16 Tony nominations?

No one, that’s who. But the process of doing so actually invokes one of the most important Founding Fathers of all, Felix Walker. His contribution to politics is nearly endless and absolutely critical.

Felix Walker, after all, was a US Representative from Buncombe Country, North Carolina, and as such gave us the concept of “bunk”.

Continue reading

Boundaries

I want to revisit this post from two years ago with no changes at all.  We should have known we would get to where we are now, and if we had looked up from our phones for a moment we might have seen it.

If you want to learn everything about someone, just become friends with them on facebook. The details often go beyond their birthday, city of birth, and even mother’s maiden name – things you would need to pull of an identity theft. You may know when they are out of town, their religious and political beliefs, and far more.

Not long ago many people would sit down at a meal and pause for a moment to give thanks, perhaps making the sign of the cross with their hands. Today those hands might raise their phone, posting a picture on facebook. Yes, you’ll even know what someone had for breakfast if you are their “friend”.

We live in a world without boundaries. And that may be the one true thing that has gone horribly wrong amid a sea of mistakes we are making as we navigate a stormy, changing world.

Continue reading

Climate & Culture

As the world is shaped a bit smaller by various technologies and opportunities, nearly everyone finds themselves working or living next to people they do not understand or even like. There are so very many cultures, beliefs, attitudes, mindsets, and ways of doing things that it’s impossible to keep straight.

People are people, however, but cultures are cultures. Generally, any given person will react about the same way, within bounds, to any given stimulus. But since all of us come from different cultures, it’s often very hard to know just what someone is thinking as we don’t know how they have learned over time to think about what is important, what is moral, or what they own.

Certainly, among all these cultures, one must be “The Best,” yes? No. Not at all. They cannot be compared that way and they are never any kind of marker for genetic or intellectual superiority. They are nothing more than a series of observations which became habits which were in turn codified. To miss this is to miss the richness of the world, and to simply accept it is to miss the importance of intuition and intellect working together which defines our species.

Continue reading