Category Archives: sociology

freedom of the press?

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remember this story? effectively, CNN made a decision to air video clips depicting insurgent fighters targeting us soldiers. and then … oh outrage flew about. hmmm. why? coz we wanna take the blue pill? y’know – just look away and hope it’ll all go away?

maybe if none of the tax paying americans see exactly what is going on in iraq, then … well, maybe the government could keep a lid on this thing until after the election? RIGHT. and if you believe that … well, i got some land to sell you. ha ha.

so … given that the clips shown BLACKED OUT any scenes actually showing a us soldier getting shot … what’s the problem? do we kid ourselves as to what, indeed goes on during war? and … are those who oppose CNN’s decision to air the clips telling me they its only disrespectful to the sacredness of life to watch death when its real … as opposed to staged (ie fictional) purely for entertainment?

PTOSH! take your blinders off. the only way to put an end to all this suffering is to acknowledge it … that means witness the suffering. oh – but i guess that’s asking to much ain’t it? you’d all rather be watching monday night football, or desperate housewives or something equally as assanine.

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Filed under humanity, ideology, iraq, middle east, politics, sociology, war

breathe. can we?

deny. demonize. deny some more. then kick sand in everyone’s face if they express opinions that differ from yours. have we, here in this north american society, grown this small? really? i despair. it feels like we have. where, oh where, have our hearts and minds gone? where has constructive outrage gone? where has compassion gone? oh … sometimes i feel like its all too much. far too much.

did we think the threat of mcarthy-ism dead? think again. maybe not. did we think solving the middle east difficulties would really be that easy? did we bother to inform ourselves of the history of the conflict? did we already forget about lawrence of arabia? did we already forget that 54,000 canadian, 400,000 american, and 25 million in total, soliders died in WW2 – a war that spanned 6 years? the world effectively lost an entire generation of men. do we have a fucking clue? about history? about things that happen on the other sides of the oceans?

do we really think its ok to send adolescents, who have questionably yet to reach the age of consent, into a environment filled with manipulative, power-addicted narcisstists (read:politicians)? OMG. what the fuck makes us soooooo blind and naive? really, its all too much. i wonder if its occuring to anyone out there that sexual deviance and sexual repression go hand-in-hand. or if we are all just going to put another pair of blinders on and get on the ‘indignant outrage’ soapbox?

it saddens me a great deal that people out there still think the collective WE bears no responsibility for all the world’s suffering. absolutely saddens me. that they honestly believe, because they did not pull the trigger, wield the torture device, or hold down that 15 year old girl so 14 others could rape her, this grants absolution and frees them from accountability. why? why, if another human, somewhere – anywhere – out there, suffers would ANY one think they have no responsibility to contribute toward efforts to relieve said suffering?

and why have we attached some sort of twisted ideological entitlement to the relief of suffering?

and what the fuck is up with this culture of retribution and revenge?

breathe. can we?

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Filed under historical analysis, human rights, humanity, ideology, politics, religion, sociology, war on terror

on sexuality and its repression

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repression: attempt to subdue forbidden desire. it speaks to the reality of perpetual conflict that reside within humanity. the forces of our rational thought processes versus our subconscious, primordial desires.

what makes some societies more repressive than others? intuitively, i see an association between repression and monotheistic religions. such religions have sophisticated structures in place to assist with the subjugation of their subjects. and villification of human flesh plays a key role in this subjugation.

the example of catholicism spins through my head. repressive. subjugating. vilifying the human sexual experience and all pleasures of the flesh. if we vilify the process/act which produces the human fruit – read: us – aren’t we vilifying the human entity, ie ourselves? vilify. subjugate. forbid. repress. and then i think.

i think, what’s born in the dark, and grows in the dark, must stay in the dark. and secrets? they erode. and therein lies the cancer of repression. so? where does this lead me, as i continue along this thought trail? it begs me to begin articulating my observations.

observations that the vilification-repression dynamic seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. like … creating the very conditions one sets out to avoid. does the reality of our sexuality make us villains, or, does our vilification of this sexual nature? i guess i’m asking – does our own sexuality, or our denial of this sexuality, make us villains?

just wondering.

image originally uploaded by benkard

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in the face of helplessness

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“… i eventually realized the hopelessness of the situation.”

the words of my husband (a UN brat who spent one-third of his life in africa) ring true in my head. i peer thru a veil of tears, as sanjay gupta tells the stories of the sudanese refugees of brutal civil war. silent sobs fill my chest, as i focus on the photon-spewing flat screen sitting a mere 6 feet away from me.

a united nations worker strolls with gupta on camera as she paints a picture of daily life in sudan, near the chad border. a 14 year girl, gang raped by 15 members of one tribe. the women and children of another village taken, raped and killed. my heart crumbles, with each syllable, each word, each phrase, each story uttered. and the videography? equally heart-wrenching.

my heart crumbles. and i feel the fullest sorrow of those words – “… i eventually realized the hopelessness of the situation.” such carnage. such brutality. such corruption. so widespread. i feel no outrage. or indignation. or anger. just incredible sorrow. and something i feel inclined to call guilt. for, the fact of my membership in humanity holds me, in some infinitesimal way, accountable for such pockets of incredible suffering and carnage.

and so, what do i do? how to i act? i know. i know. one person cannot change the world. but, i believe in the eisenberg principle. and i believe that humanity changes one human at a time. and, i see witnessing as an crucial form of action, of doing. and so, i watch. i fervently watch.

i deliberately choose not to look away from the screen. or leave the room. or cover my eyes and ears. i do not shield myself from the event of this suffering. i embrace its connectivity in my living room. it touches me. i touch it. i decide. not to let go. and then, i embark on a journey. my mind’s journey. a journey into my humanity. i seek to inform myself. i owe it to myself, to my humanity.

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on blogging and the web of humanity

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wordpress.com says 398,000 blogs.

technorati.com says 55 million blogs.

livejournal says 11,299,071 blogs.

why do we blog? what do millions of us derive from blogging?

does it serve our primordial animal requirement for social contact and connectedness? does it fulfill the hunger pangs of that narcissistic wedge of our being? does it serve as a tool of self-discovery for those who have lost themselves to the fray? does it somehow seem ironic that blogging, this communication tool upon which many depend heavily for human connectedness in a dehumanizing era, emerged as a possibility only because of dehumanizing technological advance?

i don’t have the answers. but observe, from my year or so of blogging experience, that this phenomenon appears to reflect an interesting fact about humanity. a mostly overlooked fact of humanity. a profound fact about humanity. essentially we share the same core. regardless of what latitude, of what longitude, of what continent people reside within. regardless of what religious or political beliefs that people follow, they all have hopes. fears. thoughts and worries of the future. children. dreams for those children. jobs. careers. stresses. neighbours. vices. joys.

the more i blogged. and the more i read the blogs of others. i realized. its all so simple. what makes them (being those individuals who do not reside in my geo-culture space) so different from me? stripping away all the superfluous? nothing makes them different than me. me and them — that’s a construct, a mere construct. there’s only us. fractured, in some places. but its us. if you liked cliche and believed in god, you might say, ‘there but for the grace of god go i.’ truly. we = them. them = we.

startling? or humbling? or despairing? that mere circumstance and socialization separates me from the fundamentalist and fervent religious believer. or the comfortably numb suburban stepford wife. or the family living among savage violence and carnage in baghdad. or the soldier, stationed somewhere in the middle east and a witness to unspeakable attrocity, venting his soul to cyberspace. or that homeless person living in her car.

since taking an online presence i have learned about life in the swedish arctic circle, have increased my awareness of the cultural distinction between canada and the usa, have found some absolute treasures of humanity – intellectual, artistic, spiritual, eccentric. have discovered entire communities devoted to fetishes i once loathed myself for having. have felt disturbed and chilled at the ease with which one could become homeless.

i’m not that different, on the most fundamental human level, from any of these people. however, i am definitely a different person now, as opposed to before encountering any such individuals in the blogosphere. blogging quickly becomes addictive to all who engage it fully for this reason. it enriches us. energizes our humanity. of course it does! for in contributes to the growth, and also our understanding of, the web of humanity. it melts the walls, fences and other obstacles that separate so many humans in the physical and social worlds. it helps us see ourselves. it makes us feel we belong.

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the human rights of our enemies

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in 2004, on the UN international day for the victims of torture, dubya stated that “America stands against and will not tolerate torture.” he further stated that “The United States also remains steadfastly committed to upholding the Geneva Conventions, which have been the bedrock of protection in armed conflict for more than 50 years.”

ok. that’s hilarious. a real load of steaming brown poop, considering what’s in the CIA’s bag of interrogation tricks. torture as an interrogation technique? yes, you will find the cold cell and water boarding among these so called acceptable techniques. interesting – since such interrogation techniques violate the geneva convention of which the president spoke so passionately in the above quotes.

so, in the wake of the absolute horror unveiled in abu ghraib and given dubya’s attempts to undermine the geneva convention and challenge the habeas corpus principal, i – josephine public – face some serious realities. at the very least, a betrayal of truth – for, such abuses are beyond my imagination and comprehension, given my social, cultural and geographic setting. but, i must transcend that outrage and focus on the facts presented, on what’s said and on what’s not said. and most of all, on what it represents in terms of the political tide that’s turning here.

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it disturbs me. mostly because of my visionary way of looking at people and events. i see behaviours and actions as manifestations of an individual’s motivations. motivations being rooted in values and human ethics. and, very telling of any society’s values, is the conditions with which it’s prepared to live. what do we think we can live with as a society? what does that tell us about the value we collectively attach to life? pride? power? humanity? THINK ON IT.

i don’t see occurences in isolation. rather, as a culmination of circumstances, conditions, behaviours and actions. my present results from my past. my interaction can alter its course. my apathy and complacence leaves it unaltered. and so it is for world affairs. we look to dark lesions in human history with disdain and politically correct outrage. we tell ourselves we can’t imagine what those german people were thinking, voting for a monster like hitler. really? i think it’s quite simple, when you consider the social, political and cultural forces at work in german society at that time.

the horror of it all lies in its insidious nature. they did not vote hitler in based upon a platform of annihilating 6 million jewish people. they voted for him based on his fervor and passion to lift a weak, confused and floundering germany to a strong and proud germany. he spoke so passionately the comforting rhetoric the german public longed to hear, needed to hear. and once hooked into a belief tract, one sees what one wants to see and hears what one wants to hear. and of course, since its dawn as an institution, government has always carefully controlled the flow of information to its citizens, with a carefully crafted spin.

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considering the atrocities in our modern information era that went unnoticed as they unfolded – such as bosnia, abu ghraib, etc – it does not seem hard for me to imagine that a majority of the german public remained blissfully unaware of the ‘final solution.’ and then, consider the social and cultural climate of the time: rigid and intolerant to any deviations – a setting in which hatred and bigotry flourish.

the horror sinks to our own level even further, doesn’t it? for, don’t a goodly portion of people out there believe that all the abu ghraib torture fell upon deserving victims? ‘they’re the enemy! they don’t deserve human rights!’ sound like a familiar rhetoric? sound like the sort of rhetoric that gives rise to hatred and bigotry? it does to me …. chillingly so, in fact. isn’t that what underlies the american government’s assertion that terrorist will not receive ‘due process’ under the law?

and so … do you think america’s enemies deserve human rights? think, for a moment, before you answer. recall that hitler perceived the jewish people as his enemy, and, more importantly, as an enemy of the germany nation. whether you or i or the public at large agree or disagree is really beside the point. perception governs the direction of one’s action’s. that’s my point. which leads me to the conclusion that not much separates us, a 21st century society driven by fear, despair and rage, from that floundering and broken german society of 6 decades ago.

frightening, isn’t it?

images originally uploaded by pantufla and sataniod

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11/9 – a post about 9/11

ON THAT DAY
i recall vividly the moment i heard about the crash. 08:10 – it was a wednesday morning – we were driving under a bridge, on the perimeter highway – lupin driving me home after a 12 hour nite shift (my 2nd nite – my 2nd 12 hr shift in as many days). i did not sleep that day. we stared at the telly screen, dumbfounded. a colleague at work worried that his mother – who lived and worked in NYC – did not survive the crash. he had no news of his mother for a few days. each of those days we worked together, the anguish swirled in him. things turned out ok for that family … but i remember the anguish of those early days.

ABOUT THAT DAY
for me, the anguish of that day swells, with each passing year. with each passing year, life tumbles past us, the way leaves glide upon gentle breezes. and moments pass. moments from which death has banished those dearly departed. they say time heals all wounds, but with time, the wound gapes ever wider.it feels as though, i think, with each year that passes, the dearly departed shrink further and further from our grasp. from our mind’s grasp.

when do we forget the sound of their voice? the way touching them made us feel? when do their images start to fade in our minds? and … we ask the question … why? for eternity — WHY? each joyful moment, forever after, has a bittersweet taste. can joy without our dearly departed truly feel like joy? or does it feel plastic and contrived? like, sort of surreal. for us – survivors left behind – a tomorrow exists. can we live with that?

AFTER THAT DAY
stunning photographs captured horrorific moments – remember these?

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and the OUTRAGE

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they caused?

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and … how soon, we never saw them anymore? well … LOOK. take a good LOOK.

SANITIZING?
do you ever ask yourself, why? why the desperate urge to sanitize these deaths? considering the extremely graphic and disturbing images seen at the liberation of the concetration camps after WW2, why did these pictures trigger such outrage? 11/9 IS. irrevocably. do we want to remember it? or are we going to have dinner with that big white elephant on the dining room table? i, for one, don’t care to dine with the big white elephant. been there, done that. i choose to live in brutal reality. death = life. the value of life lies in the eternity of death. (does that sound sort of too surreal, maybe?)

i had the wonderful privilege of seeing the north american premiere of this movie: the falling man. it traces the origin of the photo, from the photographer thru to the journalists who sought to identify the ‘falling man.’ but, more interesting that this, the movie speaks to the whole denial of death, despite the massive loss of life on 11/9.

its true – for the most part, we only wanted to see images of the rescue workers sifting thru the rubble. we desperately wanted to turn our heads away from the terror and ugliness and such a death. why? are not those who made a choice and resolved to plummet to their death … are not those people victims just the same as those who did not make that choice? do we honour their memory by denying the way they died? i think not.

i ask myself. what would i do? what would you do? would you make a phone call? who would you call? what would you say? what would course thru my mind moments before such a horrific death? we cannot begin to imagine having to make such a choice. death by fire or death by sudden deceleration? no escape. only escape to death. so — what of the falling man photo? when i look at it, i am stunned by the stark contrasts that converge there: the bright sun and a solitary, free falling figure, almost perfectly aligned with the vertical axis of the tower. and then reality – a person, falling to his death. and death, DEATH.

that feeling you have? that uncomfortable feeling?
its called humility
… because …
death is a most humbling experience.

what do you see in the falling man photo?

what do you see, in all this?

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