The Green Study: Have We Met?

canstockphoto8155142This past week, I’ve been ruminating about this exhortation as a writer to “find my voice”. I’ve read so much on and offline lately – voices that are passionate, opinionated, hysterically funny, heartbreaking. There are writers with unique voices who have learned how to get out of their own way. I see myself coming towards the Publish button and I promptly lay down in the road.

I’ve rationalized my moderate ramblings as being thoughtful and respectful, but I have serious doubt about whether I’m being fearful rather than respectful.  I’ve decided to spit out the topics that seem to enrage people all in one post. I apologize for the length of the post. It’s longer than my usual fare. Time to rip off the bandage.

Politics

I’m an American leftie and a fiscal conservative, but not the kind of fiscal conservative that believes that social issues should be tied to fiscal policy. I don’t want the state monitoring my calls or my uterus. I don’t think compromise is a dirty word. I loathe that classic misdirect of picking on poor people, while ignoring the military industrial complex and corporate coddling.

I believe strongly that many problems in Congress would be solved by term limits and campaign finance reform that doesn’t get gutted. Seriously, how many more mummified, befuddled congressional representatives do we have to listen to? Apparently they’ve got a really good health plan, because they seem to live a long, long time.

Religion

I am skeptical of organized religion – especially those with religious doctrines that still relegate women to chattel and second class citizens. I don’t know ANY answers about the existence of a higher being and I don’t think any other humans do, either. Some humans just like being more right about what they don’t know.

I think, too, belief systems get used to justify really horrible behavior – by nearly every organized religion. I am curious and interested in all belief systems, but I am rarely willing to talk about it, because I’m not sure that I can retain a tone of civility and respect when we start talking about theological rationalization for brutality and judgment by other humans.

Guns and Mental Health

Background checks. No loopholes. Serious regulation of high capacity weaponry. Those weapons are for one thing only – killing a lot of people quickly. For those with home arsenals in anticipation of the zombie apocalypse or less likely, a totalitarian regime (seriously, the government can’t even run websites, much less a takeover of your yahoo asses), see your local mental health experts.

Elevate mental health problems to the level of a physical illness. Give it the funding, resources, media blitz. Make options available, accessible and affordable to families and institutions when someone goes off the rails. Right now a majority of our mental healthcare system resides in the form of law enforcement and a lucrative prison system.

Gender and Race Wars

I have never made life decisions based on traditional gender roles. I’ve done what I wanted to do. I’ve mocked those that think because of my gender, they can suss me out. I’m raising a daughter who is strong and confident and doesn’t give a toss if you think she should dress like a girl. I resent inequality for chromosomes of either ilk. I think boys have a tough uphill battle fighting stereotypes and societal expectation as well.

As for racial disparities, I can read and try to understand, but I’m not going to pretend I have any true knowledge. All I can do is ask questions and listen to what those in the know have to say.

My personal experiences have informed me that being a decent human or a complete jackass have nothing to do with gender or skin color. Here’s the bottom line, though – there’s history and residual resentment and stale attitudes and some systemic shit that needs to be fixed. There is work to be done.

Whether you need to call yourself something or not, we should all be proponents of not judging other people’s intelligence, strength, abilities or worthiness based on their gender or skin color.

Sex

I apparently have the basics down, but I don’t find it that interesting of a subject to write about or discuss – enough other people are doing that. The cultural obsession with it in marketing and entertainment has made it all a bit artificial and tiresome and whatever meaningful enjoyment it has, well, there doesn’t need to be that much talking, lighting, costumes and choreography. Unless, of course, that’s your thing.

I think civil unions should be available regardless of sexual preference. I hate the phrase “the sanctity of marriage”, especially coming out of people’s mouths who have just had their married hands on a staffer’s butt. Keep religious laws in the church and out of the state’s legal protections for committed couples.

Fashion and Beauty

I am baffled by the current Western beauty culture. High heels? I don’t understand footwear in which you can’t run.

Weight. Bored with this paragraph already. I’ve struggled to meet life insurance table requirements my whole life. I’ve been in the middle of a thousand conversations with other women about bad/good foods, working out, diets – it’s incredibly tiresome. And so much of it is informed by bad nutritional information, fads, and corporate marketing gimmicks. How do I feel? Do I feel strong, nourished, energetic? I will only get there by feeding myself well, making my body move and confronting body image dissatisfaction with common sense and kindness.

I am an average looking woman and that’s all I’ll ever be. To try to meet cultural standards would kill me – it would take away time I could spend doing things I like to do, it would require chemicals and injections and spackle, possibly some duct tape. It would require money that I could otherwise spend on books and traveling and experiences. It would require me to stare in the mirror, coldly and cruelly, assessing what work should be done next. When I look you in the eye, what you should see is a smart, intuitive, generous and funny human being. If not, I’m still strong enough to knock you on your ass.

Well, I think that about covers everything that could alienate readers. I don’t expect people to agree. I have friends with entirely different opinions and beliefs and we still like each other. That’s the kind of world I’d like to live in – where divisiveness and trolls don’t rule the day, where you and I can disagree and still be friends. There. Now that feels authentic.

61 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Personal

61 responses to “The Green Study: Have We Met?

  1. fransiweinstein

    WOW! Well I do agree. In fact you might have read my mind here. I’d probably take the gun thing even further and ban them for anyone outside of law enforcement and the military, but I’m a Canadian and we don’t have it drilled into us that we have the right to bear arms.

    • There is a very loose interpretation of the 2nd amendment being used to justify the proliferation of weapons in this country. As it has been pointed out by many people, the writers of the constitution could not have envisioned the availability and the kinds of weapons on the market today. Nor that guns would have their very own powerful, monied lobbying organization. It’s shameful.

      • fransiweinstein

        It is shameful, I agree.

      • The beauty of the Constitution is that the framers could not have anticipated jet aircraft, microwave popcorn or the Internet, and yet that document continues to be as relevant to our 200+ year old democracy as it was to eighteenth century revolutionaries.

        There is a process by which the Constitution can be amended and it has been many times. I don’t think we’ll ever see the 2nd Amendment repealed, but I never thought we’d have an African American president, or gay marriage, or be able to smoke pot legally in this country, either.

        I think there is a place for common sense regulations regarding gun ownership. Free speech is limited (try yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater), why not gun rights?

        • That is the missing ingredient in all of this – common sense. It’s being trumped by monied interests at the expense of the common good. Critical thinking has taken a backseat to memes and bumper stickers and sound bites. They also could not have imagined a Supreme Court would recognize a corporation as a citizen in campaign funding, that eminent domain laws could be used even if the only benefit was monetary gain or that the court would decide a presidential election.
          I really wish we’d hear less dogma and see more common sense and civility at work.

  2. pinklightsabre

    I like your voice Michelle — run like the wind! And get out of the way, quick!

    • Thanks, Bill. I just have this sense that trying to keep a tight rein on anything controversial may in fact keep me from running like the wind. I’m always so impressed by people who know how to succinctly declare and own their opinions. But on top of that, their writing seems stronger. I’m a bit hungry for that and really working on breaking through these fears.

  3. And free medical care for all.

  4. I’ve said it before – you could be my twin. My recent experience with my last, now deleted post, tells me that people who know you online, don’t know you at all – and they’re quick to judge. I have to content myself with the knowledge that the people who do know me, think that I’m a decent person who seeks to do well. I think that way about you, Michelle and I’m very glad to have come across your blog. You are definitely in discovery mode and I wish you such a productive, profound New Year!

    • Part of my online reading was just trying to accept this idea that no matter how innocuous or funny or tongue-in-cheek a writer is, there is somebody out there willing to shriek at them, call them names and try to personally obliterate them. It just hit me – why should I be afraid? If it can happen to him or her or them and they’re still standing and still writing, why am I being such a coward? My next post is going to be on what I’ve come to think of as “the brave ones” – bloggers that I find encouraging. You’re on the list, but I must have missed your last post! I hope you didn’t have an awful experience.

      Thanks, too, for your kind supportive words. Who knows what 2014 will bring? I’m trying to jump a few hurdles to find out.

      • My last post led to an awful experience. I was disheartened to find that long-time readers and commenters made such awful assumptions about the person I am. I like to think that everyone who blogs is pretty forgiving knowing the imprecision of language online, but I was wrong. Anyway, onward, right?

        • So sorry to hear you had that experience! Not only are there issues with imprecision, but one would imagine that long-time readers would have some sense of context and not jumped on one post as being representative. I have been amazed at what people get fired up about and how hatchet jobs have been done on relatively innocuous posts, so there’s really no winning for losing when it comes to public forums.
          I take heart that there are still people able to retain a sense of decorum and balance and a sense of humor. I hope you keep yours!

  5. Yes yes yes to all of it.

  6. KDM

    My favorite of all your posts. Well articulated. Great job. (Also I agree with every word, so if there’s bias there…oh well!)

  7. Hell yes!
    I would leave to read more of these. I always enjoy your writing, and what you’ve done hear flows out in your inimitable voice.
    I would enjoy the back and forth on any issues we disagreed on, sadly, there are none here.

  8. This is the best damn post. It’s like you were reading my mind…or my email. Exceptionally written, as usual, Michelle, you articulate your views with just the right amount of personality and educated badass. Terrific start to my Saturday morning!

    • Thanks, Honie. That would be a great name and role model for a new kind of Superhero(ine). Ignoramuses (ignoramii?) meet Educated Badass. The only Marvel character to wear glasses and a disapproving look after transformation!
      I hope that you enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

  9. This pretty much sums me up, too. Except for term limits — that would result, in my opinion, with the increased power of unelected staff members with zero accountability.

    Well said as always!

    • I hadn’t thought about that particular side effect. I’d just really like the cycle of get elected, work to get re-elected, get elected… to be thoroughly disrupted. I wonder what Congress would get done if they didn’t all have a constant vested interest in keeping their jobs.

  10. Did you feel better after that post?

  11. You just scooped out the inside of my head. Which is part of *my* problem—I like reading stuff I agree with and can relate to. Perhaps I’d be a more tolerant, less judgmental human being if I could subscribe to evangelical, corporate, NRA, fashion blogs and comment with restraint and documentation. But I’d rather be *comfortable* in my community of like-minded folk. I’d rather know I’m not alone out here.

    • Well, I’m not sure what I was trying to accomplish here. After reading so many fired up comments on other people’s blog posts, I was mildly disappointed not to get a single comment calling me a stupid c***. It seems all the rage on the popular blogs. One of my friends offered, but I said that it would just be gratuitous at this point.
      You’re right, we tend to read blogs like we pick friends – generally a like-minded bunch of people. And you bring up a good point about one of the purposes of blogging and reading online – the desire to know we’re not alone. This was a bit experimental on my part – to see if I could do it, to see if I could handle any negative response. But the fact of the matter is that I’m part of a lovely community, I get to practice writing out loud and no matter how I slice it, I’m a relatively moderate person.

  12. Amen! (Not in the religious sense, just agreeing with you and appreciating your candor).

    • Hey – good to hear from you! Praise be. For some reason, your posts are not showing up in my reader, so I’m going to “unfollow” and do a “re-follow”. I started noticing that my blogger friends had dropped out of sight. WordPress has some ‘splainin’ to do.

      • I’m not sure what’s wrong with the software, but as for the posts of mine you might have missed, you aint missed much. I’ve been writing sporadically and without much heart of late. I couldn’t say why, but I’m hoping to turn it around. Welcome back!

        • I’m committed to turning around my blogging apathy or quitting altogether. I think I’m getting back into the spirit of things, but it was touch and go for awhile.

        • Many of my once loyal followers seem to have disappeared and been replaced by commercial entities from foreign lands who don’t actually write anything themselves. At first, I couldn’t blame them for leaving, as I would sometimes go for weeks without posting, but now I’m wondering if they left, or were dropped against their wills and without their knowledge.
          As for the writing, I need to be doing it, regardless of who is or isn’t following me. I’ve fallen into some lazy patterns of doing what needs to be done in my life outside of blogging and being satisfied with that – but truthfully, I’m not satisfied with that. Guess I better get typing.

        • The spam followers started really getting on my nerves, but I am very lucky to have a core of followers that are generous readers and commenters. I’m not sure what happened with the reader, besides making it more inconvenient to read posts (that whole “Open Original” extra step), but it seemed like I was not getting posts from blogs I had subscribed to for the last couple of years. I generally don’t unsubscribe unless the blog is dead, but infrequent postings wouldn’t be a reason.
          I’m trying to clean things up a bit – quite a few bloggers really did close their blogs, but I’m glad to see one of my favorites is still around. Keep writing, Dave – you still have readers and I’m glad to know you’re still blogging!

        • I’m glad you brought up that dopey extra step to “open original”. Who wants to read the first two sentences of a blog and not the rest?! I already clicked on it fer cryin out loud!
          I’ll keep writing, and reading, I just need to get over the winter/holiday/lazy/tired/bored doldrums.

  13. Right on! Sounds mostly like common sense to me.

  14. Omigod Michelle, you have no idea what you are talking about and this is the stupidest crap I have ever read!

    (Okay, I am totally full of crap… I completely agree with everything you said, but you said you were kinda hoping for someone to flame you, so, I did.) :)

    I love your voice. Consider it truly found. Kudos!

  15. I hear you about self-sabotage — I’ve been having a hard time having the confidence to get back to blogging myself.

    I’ve always loved your voice, Michelle. And this post is no different, just adds more to the sensible, resilient, honest voice you’ve created already. I always enjoy reading your posts. Please do keep them coming. :)

    –Simone

    • What a nice comment to start my Monday morning off! Thanks, Simone. Now that you mention it, I’m struggling with confidence as a blogger as well (not so much as a writer). This starts the 3rd year of blogging for me and the more blogs I read, the more I think, what am I doing? Does it work like Facebook where you just accumulate as many “friends” and likes as possible? What’s the goal?
      I’m settling down a bit and realizing that I really like interacting with readers and that it’s still great practice to write out loud. For a goal-oriented person like myself, it’s hard not to look for solid/analytical evidence of progress, even if it’s just a 400-fold increase in spam followers! I spaz out a bit and think I should be more radical or more this or that. Maybe that’s the real challenge in blogging for me – staying the course, not getting bent out of shape about stats, challenging myself as a writer to find more to write about and letting it not be about the goals, but the journey. That IS a challenge!

  16. Dang, I like your thoughtfulness and candor and clearheaded, concise way of expressing yourself so much that I’d vote for you if I thought you were crazy enough to want to run for any office. Good stuff!

  17. Luanne

    I am like you with that blend of politics that some people think is strange. I find the case interesting of Benjamin Disraeli who was considered a conservative (19th century) by political party affiliation, but he was very far left for his time in social matters, which is why he was a NOVELIST.
    Beyond all that, though, I hate politics and try to avoid it as much as possible haha.

    • I am immediately suspicious of people who are firmly aligned with either of the parties that dominate politics now. It speaks to a potential lack of critical, independent thinking. Somehow, writers, affiliated or not, belong to a larger pursuit than petty politics. Or maybe it’s just grandiose pretension, but that doesn’t have its own party!

      • Luanne

        Haha, I love it. Let’s start the political part of Grandiose Pretension!! I can call myself a GrandPre. But I wouldn’t be able to join as it’s a political party.

  18. We agree on quite a lot – and I think that there should be room for civilized disagreement. We are not all cut from the same cloth, our life experiences bring insights and variety to the table. I have never cared for the kind of politics or religion that asks me to check my opinions at the door and fall into line. Authenticity is priceless.

    • I always wonder that anyone can say that they’re right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. My opinions shift depending on new information or perspectives. And you’re absolutely right – we all have such a varying degree of life experiences that a subject can be parsed a million different ways – and that is what makes humans interesting. If we can listen and be respectful, there’s always something to learn, somebody’s shoes to walk in, some new way of looking at things.

      • I think that in matters of faith you can be secure in your beliefs and still be open to discussion – even Jesus said that we should come reason together, It’s kind of devolved into these cookie cutter niches of beliefs and politics that leave no room for thoughtful discussion. I have learned a great deal from people I did not agree with. You can find kernels of truth in what others believe, you can be challenged by them.

  19. cafecasey

    Love how you put the boxing gloves on for one post:) I was just talking about “average” in class. We were discussing the value of a life (insurance) which shocked the kid, and that me, an “average” person would get paid less for something like a scar than a supermodel….great discussion, but where it went in the end was that no one is truly average and we can all be that supermodel if it’s our priority. It’s not mine either. Great post, Michelle… Oh, and as a food/fitness person (hate anything processed, I cook as much from scratch as possible…) I think body size isn’t properly analyzed here, either. Heathy weight is different for everyone. It’s the healthy lifestyle that matters. And even then, nature does what it wants with us, I found;)

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I tend to veer away from discussions of weight and body type, because I am truly and well sick of it as a topic of discussion. You are absolutely right about body size and about nature having its way. I generally try to focus on how I feel and what I’m physically capable of doing, but it’s taken years of untangling all the unhealthy messages that saturate our culture.
      I will eventually have to write a post about the notion of being average. I think people misunderstand my “average” statement as somehow being self-deprecating. There are statistical and monetary ways to measure the value of a human, but when I say average, I mean in terms of perspective. I can appreciate my non monetary value as a human while still understanding that the “special little snowflake” approach turns people into narcissistic jerks with a sense of entitlement. We are an invasive species that will likely go extinct before we figure out how to fix all the damage we’ve done. It’s really all about perspective and skill – it takes skill to hold such morose views and still be relatively happy!

      • cafecasey

        I truly get that. I’m average, too. I tell my students, “I clean up well.” Which I do, but I prefer not to put my efforts into that. I do love fitness because I love it…but I’m benched currently, so I’m not concerned that my body is appreciating the rest… (flab)

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