Unfuck the World

I saw this shirt posted by Pitchfork from  Angel Olsen (a musician I’ve never listened to, but I know comes highly recommended). This paired with the recent news from London–the bombing, the vehicular homicide (among SO MANY other things, obviously)–brought a totaling body count to mind. Flesh heaped on flesh, red digits racking up, no time for a breath, blink and gone.

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Image via elevation.supply

Why is the world so fucked up? I mean, it’s not new. People have suffered at the hands of each other for centuries. Our whole history is made up of who won a war against who, who is memorialized for dying in it, and the nameless millions and billions and more who no one will ever know. Pride and greed top the obvious list for why our world is fucked up. Wherever there’s selfishness, there will be souls in its wake. It’s easy to point this out at a distance: Wall Street fiends, celebrity hacks, politicians and preachers–all often one in the same. We seethe at home, thinking that if they’d just WAKE UP or GET LOST, we’d all be better off. But it’s always boggled me how we wish for peace at large, yet within our own communities, we still foster discontent. In my mental wingback chair, I sigh and suppose… it’s because our primary needs of sorrow and neglect are erased by protective shields and barriers like anger and vindictiveness, which cause divide.

I’m not above any of this. I’m envious, I’m spiteful; I get sad, I get tired. And that’s part of being human. It’s impossible to eradicate all of it all of the time. There will always be something that gets under your skin, offends, pains, discourages. I don’t think the point is how to avoid reacting to any of that, I think what splits the difference is teasing forward that other part of yourself that says,”I want to try again,” or “let me understand,” not “fuck you” or “oh well.” Those are easy tropes. They can be funny while they are erase responsibility. But where is the emphasis on compassion?* Our collective culture doesn’t actively lift up language for healing. And I don’t mean that in altruistic ignorance. I mean the language that seeds what can happen when you choose to regenerate like a green plant instead of blistering under heated pride.

Pride isn’t the only cause for trouble in our world, but from where I can see in my little corner, and what I’ve had to deal with and encounter, a lot of the gratuitous fuck yous and self righteousness that feel good in the moment just perpetuate stand-offishness and aloofness could have been salved with the generosity of spirit. That thing that rings in the back of your mind and says, “We all bleed. This isn’t the hurt olympics. Help me.” Call me an idealist at heart (please do), but I do think that with each small step we take in our own lives to honestly account for our actions and feelings, the closer we will come to that embrace we all seek: hope.

*I read something somewhere once that was like, “The three hardest things to say in life are, ‘I love you. I’m sorry. Help me.’” I try not to waste my time wondering why it’s hard to say these things. I’m more interested in trying to open my mouth and say them.

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Abortion.

A great interview with Dr. Willie Parker just went up on Jezebel.com. I encourage you all to read it. He gets at the core of a lot of the abortion and female rights debate by addressing human need. He is also a Christian, which adds an intersectional element most people want to ignore or say isn’t valid in this age. His thoughts are introspective and researched. I applaud him!

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Image via Salon.com.

Here are some pull quotes:

In your book, you write about how the religious right has hijacked moral authority over the abortion debate and that the left has failed to come up with a similar moral argument. What moral argument should the left present?

The left has failed to come up with an argument because the left has conceded on the basis of, what I think, is an intellectual arrogance. They think that the facts will speak for themselves and they think that religion is so antiquated—some people even think that we live in a post-religious world; that nobody really believes in God or prayer. That has opened a space that the people who are opposed to abortion have been more than willing to fill with misinformation and encroachment of other peoples’ ability to make their decisions.

The argument that I have, with regard to abortion being a moral issue (and not necessarily a religious one) is that I believe that men and women are equal in their agency. If women have moral agency and autonomy, that means that all processes that occur in their body should be governed only by that woman’s decision-making. So what that means is that people should not be able to have laws that will allow them to be preoccupied with the well-being of a fetus that a woman’s carrying than they are with the woman. You can’t care more about the fetus that a woman’s carrying than you do about the woman who’s carrying it.

Continue reading “Abortion.”

That’s what he said.

“It was a joke.” That’s his excuse. During a recent episode of Fox & Friends, Bill O’Reilly, the infamous conservative talking head, made a poorly placed comment on the hairstyle of Maxine Waters, a Democratic representative. A recording of her giving a speech against Donald Trump played on screen while O’Reilly reacted live. Instead of keeping his commentary professional,  he decided to let everyone know he hadn’t actually been paying attention because he was distracted by Maxine’s “James Brown wig.” (There’s also a point to be made about black hair and all that AND men diminishing women in general when they say something at our expense and think we’re all going to have a laugh about it, BUT I’ll save that for another time. Dude’s just gone and thrown all his rods in the fire. He stays busy.)

In all honesty, if someone like Dave Chappelle had made that joke, I would have laughed. But even then, Chapelle would have used it to make a larger point about black and American culture. Bill O’Reilly isn’t a comedian, and he doesn’t illustrate any informational points about American culture, except a glaring one: if you talk sense to a fool, he will call you foolish.

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Dave Chappelle. Image via The Gazette Review.

O’Reilly’s apology (and the rest of it he could find in himself to bother with) was nothing more than that age-old shoulder shrug that takes the responsibility off the speaker and makes the butt of the joke seem like they’re over-reacting. We’ve all heard it and have even said it. “It was just a joke!” Sometimes it is. But what makes the difference, I feel, is not just an apology, but changed behavior. To show it’s been understood that no offense was meant and to restore respect. We can’t yet see if this is what O’Reilly will do with Maxine, but we can gather enough information from his past to assume that he’s not sorry, and when he said it was just a joke, that’s all he expects to have to say.

U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Maxine Waters. Image via Politico.

On Smash Up, I try to keep the focus away from the gratuitous nature of our current political and social climate. I don’t see it as doing any good to always be up in arms about who said what now or what so-and-so did. People will always be up to something. Kamala Harris said, “I think too many people get distracted from the task at hand with visions of wonder about their future, and it’s misguided and a bad use of current time.” Instead of fixating on a dream of how things could be, get your feet moving toward that vision.

But I decided to go ahead with this one, because O’Reilly and others like him are, to me, the machinery that keeps patriarchy and prejudice running. The words he chooses or doesn’t choose–his exaggerations, lying, and excuses are the grease that keeps us ill at ease. He’s given himself over to the fame that comes from being a shock jock. However you feel about O’Reilly, you can’t deny he’s a prominent public figure; he didn’t get that way by twiddling his thumbs while everyone else was saying, “Gee, that O’Reilly guy might be interesting…”

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Bill O’Reilly. Image via cached Gawker.

In his book, “The O’Reilly Factor,” he shirks personal responsibility because he’s just “telling the truth.” He writes, “The reader might be wondering whether I’m conservative, liberal, libertarian, or exactly what […] See, I don’t want to fit any of those labels, because I believe that the truth doesn’t have labels. When I see corruption, I try to expose it. When I see exploitation, I try to fight it. That’s my political position.” Even if he does hang up his coat at the end of each night and sigh, “When is the world gonna get it?” He still chooses to wake up every day and continue the side show. He’s active in his own image. So, with that in mind, I decided to do some digging into how he got to this place. My hope is that with this knowledge, we can be less distracted by the juggling and fire blowing.

(And he and I have the same birthday, which just insults the name of good Virgos everywhere. At least Beyonce is also a Virgo too, so she compensates for all our wrongs.)

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You know who.

Continue reading “That’s what he said.”

The best fighter is never angry.

*Quote from Lao Tzu.

All my ideas come to me while I get ready for work. Brushing my teeth, a word or phrase will pop into my head, and I fight to hang on to it while I gargle and spit, then rush to my phone for a haphazard reminder of my early morning insight–for better or for worse. This morning, the word was “anger.” More specifically, how anger is not sustainable.

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We’ve all been there.

Smash Up Magazine began, in part, as a response to the political and social discord of the recent election. Not necessarily as an expression only of anger, but as a tool to engage, specifically using the tools I can provide through the lens of being a woman (feminism). But a lot of expressions around the election are still trying to stoke that initial anger that ignited rallies, protests, and obvious displays of outrage. In that light, I wondered: how long can that last? What is it about pure anger that cannot survive long-term? Don’t get me wrong–I recognize anger as an effective fight or flight response in getting a fire lit under our asses. But fires die. The group breaks up and goes home to make dinner, watch a movie, go to bed. Pretty soon it’s just you and Uncle Lou who shows up for every fire, and some warm cans of PBR, griping about ‘nam, which you probably weren’t even alive for.

Let’s look at the word “anger,” from Merriam Webster (it’s been around since 1882; I think it’s got a few years on us): “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” Ok, let’s look at “antagonism:” “actively expressed opposition or hostility.” Perfect. It’s not hard to find examples of this in our news feeds. Everywhere around the globe someone is hostile or thinks someone else is hostile, and therein is also hostile: North Korea, Russia, Obama, Trump, George W. Bush, Paul Ryan, Kellyanne Conway, war, poverty, the 1%, the 99%. On top of politics, we have our usual buffet of problems: poverty, race, jobs, money, the environment, murder, rape, and goddammit you probably lost your car keys too. It’s a crying shame we can’t take our physical heads off and let them rest. There’s no end! It’s angering!

Continue reading “The best fighter is never angry.”