|By: Esther M. Powell|
Posted on: Sat, March 01 2014 - 4:00 pm
March 10, 2014 Madison, IN
Sometimes I think hatred is undervalued in our society. Maybe hatred is the only thing that can keep a person alive for a short while during a very difficult time.
The problem enters, it seems to me, when the person experiencing the emotion feels obliged to return the favor by nursing his hatred along.
Then, of course, the question becomes whether anyone else is going to be allowed to survive.
March 9, 2014 Madison, IN
We have all heard adages, old "sayings", "old saws," quoted to us by well-meaning seniors (many of whom, say in the case of my parents, would look like seniors, all right - in high school - to me now.)
"The early bird gets the worm."
"Waste not, want not."
"A penny saved is a penny earned."
They are all part of our conventional wisdom, or - as it may turn out - our lack of wisdom.
For one thing, our language changes. What do you mean by "early?" for instance. Do you mean early in the morning, or "before expected," or "first?" Early in the morning isn't going to get you the worm if the worms retire before dawn. Showing up "before expected" is often unappreciated if not downright dangerous. (Hmmm... do owls have a taste for robins?) If "first" is meant, well... duh.... by definition. And are we talking about the robin or the owl? And who likes worms, anyway?
Okay, okay. Maybe I am being too literal. But in a way that is my point. A penny saved might be a penny earned in a hundred years or so if you save it in the bank. If you save it by mending or fixing something old, then you stave off the time when the object must be replaced. Is that real savings?
Plus, people who know money would say that "saving" money is not the way to increase your earnings.
"Waste not, want not." Well, maybe, but it assumes you have so many resources you have something to waste. Not a safe assumption, unfortunately, in the history of the human race.
No, these little bits of conventional wisdom are just so many bits of conventional folly if taken at face value - and worthlessly ignorant if not.
The worst, though - the absolute worst - pertain to ignorance.
"Ignorance is bliss." "What they don't know won't hurt them."
Avoid people who spout this kind of stuff as if they had the plague. These are the sayings of the most cynical members of our population, who I assure you, would never substitute the first person in that last "old saw" for the third. People who believe that they are better off in a state of ignorance and that ignorance won't hurt them are using that old saw to cut down the branch of the reality tree that is supporting them.
March 8, 2014 Madison, IN
Aging has me absorbed these days. Does it involve a diminution of powers or a diminution of Power?
Am I doing less writing, for instance, because I no longer have the ideas coming, or because I no longer have the desire to comment on every movie I see or every book I read?
Sometimes I wonder if aging is just a matter of self-indulgence. No one and nothing, including my early childhood training, any longer has the power to make me do what I do not, in a given moment, feel like doing.
When I had three children, however, I was not doing much writing either. Nor did I write much when I had forty-five hour workweeks.
Am I writing less now than I did three years ago because my life is in some ways more demanding?
You hear about writer's block. Maybe Life is the big block to writers. Family, ill health, and the emotional concerns that arise from these big important parts of life are enough to distract some of us from the focus needed for writing.
Excuses, excuses, some would say, and maybe they are right. But it turns out that some of the eighteenth and nineteenth female writers you hear about who had children also had extended family and servants to assume a lot of the work. The irony is that many of the proponents for women's lib were actually already liberated.
I can only really report my own experience. I didn't write at all, then I wrote a little more, then I expanded my writing although the nature of what I wrote continued to change. Now I'm back to writing less. Old age? Self-indulgence?
What moves you - or fails to move you? What makes you say, "Enough!" and put aside projects that you used to enjoy?
It is as if it doesn't matter how many hours there are in a day. If challenging enough reality impinges on them, they are only good for escapism or just plain old hanging-on survival.
March 6, 2014 Madison, IN
Let me see. I have the constitutional right to freedom of speech, but a corporation (or in my case almost twenty years ago a "non-profit organization") has the right to fire me if I divulge what I am being paid at my job. (I wasn't fired - I was merely told by the person who had hired me that it was a firing offense.)
I have the constitutional right to freedom of speech, but in the last job I had (last year) one point that was brought home to us in orientation was that we should not say negative things about the corporation or about our co-workers on social media. On Facebook when I am at home I am not free to say what I see as the truth! (They actually, as I recall, had recourse to that old saw, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.")
You know, if I wanted to go back home and live with my mom and dad in the fifties, I couldn't. Now one's employers think they have the right to control your behavior when you are not even at work. (One of the four or five reasons I quit.) Evidently, judging by how long businesses have been operating by these rules, they can.
Lately I have been hearing that businesses should have the right to support politicians without limit. The argument is that spending money is a form of freedom of speech and people should be able to spend their money the way they want to.
So let me get this straight: I have to give up my freedom of speech in order to work at wages little above the minimum wage, but if I have any money left over from my non-living wage I can spend it as I please.
Any amount of money I could give to any politician is insignificant compared to the huge amounts of money the very wealthy can give.
The conclusion I come to as the result of these two current conditions of American life is: we may have the theoretical right to freedom of speech in this country, but some people have a hell of a lot more freedom of speech than I do!
March 4, 2014 Madison, IN
I want to read The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger. I only just heard about it because Penguin India "has agreed to pulp the book, partly out of fear for its employees' safety" to quote The Week for Feb. 28 of this year.
If the furor over its publication hadn't been so great, and the press hadn't been intimidated into scrapping the book, I probably never would have heard of it.
Some people who know me well know I have never read a previous history about the Hindus, not because I am not interested but because I would have talked about it to them. I always talk about what I read. Starting a learning program about India with an "alternative" look might be refreshing.
So why am I on fire to read this book? Because it has been banned, of course.
Just as I have been meaning to read Rushdie's Satanic Verses for decades now (although from what I have heard, Midnight's Children is wonderful. Maybe I'll read that instead.)
Of course I read Huckleberry Finn and Peyton Place and Lady Chatterley's Lover when I was very young.
My point is, of course, that trying to suppress books is just dumb - makes for great publicity.
Want a good reading list? Find a list of banned books.
March 3, 2014 Madison, IN
Foreign cultures and countries, maybe you had better look elsewhere for a country to emulate.
The United States is not what it used to be. Hell, it didn't even use to be what we all wished it were.
For instance, equality. We never have managed to really consider ourselves as equals to all others. Take away race as a basis for discrimination (and many Americans haven't) and most people must, seemingly substitute something else.
Those things, as I see it from my present lower middle income (if not poverty) level, are:
Education: Nothing new about this - part of any major discrimination effort involves keeping people from acquiring useful knowledge and the degrees to prove their expertise. The nineteen-sixties and -seventies, when the attainment of a college degree became common - those days are long gone, in the States. Look to a country with free higher education for your model in this.
Income: There are more than half a dozen countries whose ratio between the highest earners and common wage-earners is more egalitarian than ours. People who have more money and who can "live large" look down on people with less money - for no other reason than that. This misplaced value is on the face of it almost silly, but it is also a truism.
Consideration: Respect and disrespect have been so commonly talked about that the words are becoming meaningless. (Besides, everybody is more concerned about getting respect than affording it to others.) My parents taught me a degree of consideration that seems to strike many as almost sycophantic. Safe, it has been - so far. Even if you can't summon up RESPECT for others, how about practising a little (insincere, if necessary!) CONSIDERATION? Turning down music to oblige another does not get you killed. Removing yourself physically or by distracting yourself with a book (or, lacking everything else, your imagination) from sources of irritation does not get you killed. Consideration might possibly be inconvenient at times, but it is a smart way to be.
Of course, I think that treating everyone as an equal is a smart way to be. Just because I can't always achieve it doesn't mean it isn't a good goal.
Do we any longer in the United States have that insight and inspiration to offer to other nations?
I don't think so. Except from lowly people like me.
And who should listen to me? I spend most of my time whining about the weather.
March 1, 2014 Madison, IN
Well, finally the March snow leopard has arrived and just for a change is tickling our cheeks with its whiskers before pouncing on us and freezing us so that at some later date it can devour us at its leisure.
Hopefully the end-of-March lamb appears first - then, who knows, we might be able to escape devouring until the end of next winter.
I have been making a stab at paying my taxes. If I understand correctly, I owe no Federal taxes. I'm not sure about the State of Indiana.
I have been twice to the local library, once coming out empty-handed and once coming home with a veritable booklet which I find, upon perusing, is not what I need, I hope. I hope I need the EZ form, if that.
So it is back to the library again tomorrow, to pick up another Tax Form (if they have it) and to return the book called, Button-holed, which turned out to be as big a mistake as the tax-form, except that at least I haven't ruined the book for a more forgiving reader by writing my social security number on it.
At least I had a "Eureka" moment when I finally realized why the IRS calls it a Tax Code: it is supposed to be hard to crack by your enemies. And God knows, the IRS is definitely my enemy!
As anyone would be, who tried to set me to cracking codes.
This article has been viewed 286 times.