In the last few weeks, I have been going through some changes. Ch..ch..ch…changes. And strangely, I’m pretty okay with it. There was a time when I would constantly talk about change. Change this, change that, oh why oh why can’t I change – that sort of thing. I was stuck in this view that some outside influence would be the vehicle of change and I constantly berated my own ability to help it along. I realized lately that if I want change, then I’ll have to do it myself.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” || Anatole France
There is a hint of melancholy that is accompanying this process of change, of letting go. That kind of acceptance when you know where you need to go, but look back with bittersweet sadness at what you’re leaving behind. That final look back as you step out the door.
I’ve been spring cleaning myself lately, making room for all the new experiences ahead of me. Finally growing up, I guess.
Mind you, I’m scared of what’s to come because there is so much unknown in front of me. The stability of school will no longer be there. There is some doubt: will I succeed; will I make it; will I find a job; will I survive? But I’m sure I’m not the first person to ask and I certainly won’t be the last.
With law school coming to an end, I guess I’m just taking stock of my life. I’m taking the time to differentiate between the child-like/childish and mature, I Corinthians Chapter 13 style. Go figure.
All I know about secular humanism and the Zinn Education Project, I’ve read in blogs. Thus, not knowing much about the content of ZEP or other works/statements/anything made by Howard Zinn, I have no opinion as to the accuracy of the blogs. If you’re interested, then I would suggest researching more into it. My interest in this topic was sparked by a Twitter conversation I had between a few intelligent people, spurred by Ben Shapiro’s blog entitled, “Religious Fanaticism and Illegal Indoctrination of Your Children.” It mentioned the Establishment Clause and the Lemon test, so obviously, I was instantly drawn in by the promise of discussing Constitutional law.
You ever find yourself stumped as to what word to use when describing someone? Is it African American or black? Is it Oriental or Asian or Asian American? Can I call this person short or is it ‘vertically challenged’ now?
In situations like these, you find yourself between a rock and a hard place – you don’t want to offend (and you certainly don’t want to get your ass kicked for pissing off the wrong person) but you can’t accurately describe someone without using racial or gendered modifiers. You can’t tell that joke you that made you laugh because it’s not “PC”.* You can’t speak your mind because you’re straight-jacketed by this social contract.
I dislike “political correctness” because it reaffirms the assumption that if it is racial then it is racist. If it is gendered, it is sexist. It doesn’t matter that someone is just using an adjective to describe a characteristic; the mere acknowledgment of the characteristic, the pointing out of “difference”, is racism/sexism/homophobia/whatever-ism.
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For certain crimes, there is an element called mens rea which looks into the state of mind of the actor. Was the act intentional or negligent? Was it planned and malicious or was it just an accident? Mens rea is important as it can decide whether someone is convicted of first degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.
I mention mens rea because it provides the best analogy of how I approach racism. It helps me distinguish between a fight worth fighting from one that is merely cosmetic. I look at a situation and ask myself, essentially, “Is this something I should be concerned about?”
Take for example last month’s uproar about Senator Harry Reid’s comment that Obama has “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” After reading a few articles about it, I brushed it off as negligent (well, actually stupid). I did not see a malicious intent in Reid’s comment. I didn’t read it as Reid purposely being racist against blacks or then-candidate Obama. I realize there is an interpretation of the comment that leads to the conclusion that Reid implicitly believes that the “Negro dialect” is uncouth and would hinder a Presidential candidate from winning the Presidency. But hey – I believe it’s true that not all manners of speech are treated equal. I do not expect a candidate that only speaks in Hawaiian pidgin to win many votes. But I digress. I didn’t see a racial intent behind Reid’s words, I just saw him saying “Obama appeals to all audiences”, much like news anchors.
The problem with political correctness is that it treats this kind of negligent statement the same as fire-hosing Civil Rights protesters. The former makes me face-palm at the inanity, the latter makes me want to actually do something to change it. Doling out the death penalty for a two-buck crime just takes away from actual progress. Keep your cosmetic hang-ups to yourself, I rather work towards a real solution, kthxbai.
When I was in high school, my friends and I had a joke that we had to avoid the following topics in order to remain friends: race, religion, and politics. What I did not realize then that this is not a joke for some people – this is an active (or is it passive?) way of dealing with others in the world. Rather than it being a joke, it really is a rule. Up until five years ago, I would have been more than compliant of this implicit standard of social relationships. I liked having friends; it seemed antithetical to be able to talk about “race, religion or politics” and still have friends.
But after five years of talking politics with people much smarter than me, I am curious as to why the stakes are so high. Why was it assumed that relationships would be better off not discussing certain topics? Is it because we knew it would only end in a fight?
What I have learned that it is possible to get into these high stakes discussions without fighting, even end in a way where both parties have higher respect for their “adversaries”. Mind you, I have had my fair share of heated discussions, but nothing to the point where I wanted to end the friendship (or acquaintanceship if that was the case). Of course, to be truly honest, some of those discussions have resulted in me losing some respect; not because I disagreed with the other person but because of the manner in which the discussion took place.
I am a glutton for intellectual stimulation. I like learning new things and seeing if it fits into the vision of how I see the world. I like seeing things from both sides (or all sides because nothing is that black and white). I like to be confronted with facts and logical arguments. I like seeing things from different perspectives because it just one more way of figuring out this big puzzle that I call life. But most of all, I just like being able to discuss issues without it getting personal.
What I don’t like or appreciate is the feeling of being attacked for what I believe. Or the feeling that the other person thinks I’m just a lost soul wandering around without a clue as to what is going on. Or the feeling like they are trying to convert me to the “right” (or “left”) way of thinking. Most of all, I absolutely abhor being talked down to or being disrespected.