Category Archives: Sliding Down the Razorblade of Life

Tom Lehrer coined the phrase (I think). Some things are just too ironic and bizarre not to explore.

Now I Ask You…

…is this a woman who values the sanctity of all life?

I guess your life is only sanctified if you are an unborn child- at least for the evangelical right.  “No no Mom!  Don’t push.  It’s over for me once I am out there!”

OK- save the hate mail in the comments.  Its not an anti- Palin thing.  I just wonder if she or anyone else in the campaign sees the irony.

Think Before You Send… and Don’t Send

I just received yet another rant email about Sarah Palin.  Why do people send these things?

Ok don’t get into a snit.  It is not that I think much of the Republican Veep candidate.  I just wonder what people are thinking when they send this stuff.  Do people with passionate political, social or economic views really think that they are going to change any minds by sending an email?

First of all, about 99% of what is represented in any of these emails is bunk.  Before you send or forward, how about a visit to Snopes just to find out if the entire web knows its crap before you flood your friends’ in boxes.

Second, do you really think that anyone is going to change their stance based on an email full of diatribe?  Taking today’s missive on Palin as an example:

  • If I am a Democrat, I am not going to vote for her anyway and you are preaching to the proverbial choir.  So the only thing I am likely to do is clog up MORE email boxes.
  • If I am a Republican, I am going to vote for her and your email is not going to make me see the light that my politics have been wrong-headed my entire life so that I should now abandon my beliefs.
  • If I am undecided and I make up my mind how to vote based your email then the gene pool needs a little more chlorine.  (OK- personal rant- but it is how I feel.)

Moreover- your note may not have the desired effect.  I know of at least one woman who is traditionally a conservative Republican voter.  She got the same note I did and is not web-aware enough to know that it is bunk.  Because the rhetoric was so extreme, she was very upset at even receiving it and has now gone from  “on the fence” over environmental issues back to her safe Republican views.

So let’s be real.  Even if the information is 100% accurate and verifiable, your email blast is more about expressing your fear and outrage than changing anyone’s mind.  So- if you MUST do so, please do it honestly.  At the least, check Snopes before sending that stuff.  Better yet, write from the heart about how you feel and why.  That is more likely to influence someone that 3 pages of rant that proves to mostly be BS.

Normalizing the Appalling

Years ago I took a job in a restaurant to help pay for college expenses.  I had never been in a commercial kitchen before.  On my first evening I saw wait and bus staff grazing off of plates that had come back to the kitchen partially finished.  Grilled shrimp, parts of a steak or chicken breast were prized finds, even though they were coming from the plates of patrons and no one knew what had happened to them out in the dining room.  This was not about hunger born of need.  This was opportunism, clear and simple.  I was appalled.  It was unthinkable that people who were not driven by starvation would pick over the leavings of another person’s dinner.

But little by little, I got used to seeing it.  It was no longer shocking, then no longer odd.  Then one night, I realized that I was, without much thought, reaching out for a shrimp myself.  It took less than 2 months from the day I started working there until I had normalized behavior that had so shocked me that first night.

So, why am I rambling about an old and personal story?  It is a clear example of what I am today most concerned about in the world.  We have so many issues, so many places that we have allowed the unthinkable to become normal.  We have become numb to such critical issues as death from hunger (30,000 a day by some estimates), cruelty and abuse, focus on disease treatment with much less effort on prevention- the list goes on.  If any of us was parachuted into the world with no previous knowledge, we would be appalled at what we see.  But our outrage has been neutered because the issues became issues slowly.  Like the proverbial frog in a bowl of heating water, we did not act until the challenge has become overwhelming.

No one, when the first combustion engines were invented, had any thought that the outcome would be the current scale of fossil fuel consumption.  When famines happened as little as 10 decades ago the scale was smaller.  We hardly had infrastructure to understand and respond in time.  Today, we know immediately, but have become both stretched thin and inured to the impact.

Think I am off base here?  Have a look at this presentation from TED by Chris Jordan who through art shows us (remarkably with judgment or finger pointing) the impact of our actions and inactions as a society.  Not the result of purposeful cruelty or war, but of the simple unconscious actions we take getting through the day.  Actions that have small or no impact individually- but when scaled to the number of us on the planet should rekindle our sense of outrage.

The irony here is that today, separated by several decades from my shock at grazing on dinner plates of others, I am appalled at the amount of food that is wasted every day.