Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
This was the plan: on Saturday, September 11, a small church in Florida (very ironically called the Dove World Outreach Center) would commemorate the tragedy of 9/11 by burning copies of the Qur'an. Despite this church only having 50 members, the issue took over the media, as such a hateful act naturally should, people from all over the world protested it, including many Americans. Because such a bonehead move will add fuel to the extremist fire, undoubtedly making someone declare jihad against American targets and when asked about the possible consequences and loss of life from this act, the pastor of this church - which on its website proclaim that "Islam is of the devil" - declared that "we do not feel responsible for that." Right. Dude, you do know that you are the Christian equivalent of an Islamic extremist, right?
Yesterday afternoon, the burning was canceled, the pastor claiming that an agreement had been reached with the builders of the “Ground Zero” mosque to move the location, but this doesn't appear to be the case.)
But it's more than that, isn't it? Is a particularly egregious example of the hatred and intolerance increasingly expressed towards Muslims. There’s Sarah Palin whipping everyone in the room frenzy about the mosque that's going to be built on Ground Zero, neatly sidestepping mentioning that the proposed site for this mosque is four blocks away, as well as ignoring the existence of strip clubs within that same ratio and the plan to build a mall on Ground Zero. Which is so much more respectful, y’know.
And then there are countries like France that ban women wearing the hijab - hiding it in a rule against wearing any religious clothing in state schools (does that mean you can't wear a yarmulke, either?) - and I find it particularly ironic that the country of "liberté, égalité, fraternité" was leading this particular social movement, because it proves that just as Napoleon - the Animal Farm: Centennial Edition, that is - said, "some animals are more equal than others." And it's also sort of ironic that to make this point, I use a quote attributed to a pig.
It makes me wonder why there seems to be so much confusion about Islam and Muslims in the US, why there's continuing polarization and simplification of the issue, with so many people equating being Muslim with being an extremist and not understanding the difference. It's sort of ironic that the country created by people who fled religious persecution has so little understanding and tolerance towards religions that aren't Christian. And naturally, I'm making a huge generalization as there are many very smart and tolerant Americans who have as many problems understanding this as I do. But that’s the first thing I don't understand and the second is how so very many people are using Christianity, a religion of love, to spew such hatred.
Part of my reaction to this is my general bleeding heart liberal tree-hugging politics, but the other part is that I live in an area where there are many Muslims. A good quarter of the tenants in my building are Muslim, are terrific neighbors who are very involved in our little community and any time somebody starts with the bigotry, I see the faces of my neighbors, see the faces of my friends and wince. We're not perfect, far from it - my mother's homecare worker has teenage sons who are afraid to speak Arabic in public and it makes me wonder what their everyday life is like to generate such fear. But I think there is hope in this neighborhood, in the city because of the integration of different cultural groups -the different becoming familiar is the first step to understanding and that counts for cultures, disabilities and any other difference you can think of.
Getting back to the Qur’an burning, I did some reading about it and on Wednesday, the National Post posted an opinion piece called A Double Standard on Rage. They make a good point that regardless of burning or no burning, extremists of any faith finding something to be pissed off about, then talk about the infamous Danish cartoons of the prophet, saying that "There was little wrong with the original 12 cartoons to Western eyes; we see cartoons of our leaders and idols on a daily basis that are as bad or worse." And then go on to defend our God-given right to print caricatures by saying "[a]nd we shouldn't have to curtail our beliefs and cultural practices just because people half a world away with only a sketchy understanding of our culture go into violent fits of rage." And my question is why not? Why not lead by example?
Let's say a friend of yours comes over for dinner to introduce a new boyfriend, who happens to be Muslim. Would you serve pork roast and tell him to suck it up? If you wouldn't be that intolerant and rude in your living room, why would you be that rude anywhere else? It's about respect, the respect you show to your friend because you don't want to hurt her feelings by being an arse, respect you show to other people in your neighborhood by not interfering with their right to religious expression (provided, of course, that it doesn't hurt anyone else and I don't see how e.g., wearing a scarf can infringe upon the rights of anyone). And it is the respect you would show the neighbors further away where, in the immortal words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, you may disapprove of their opinions, but would defend to the death their right to have it.
And then I started thinking about the irony of that National Post piece, because although we don't think we should curtail our beliefs and cultural practices, we certainly expect others to do so, don't we? We expect Muslims (for instance) to curtail their beliefs and cultural practices not just when they, as so many other people from so many other cultures, move to our countries, but in their own homelands, too. I guess some of us really are more equal than others, after all.
And it makes me wonder about the legacy of 9/11. We have a choice: to nourish more hatred or to create love. Why not go for love? Why not try to build a world where there is less reason to hate?
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Not having wee ones of my own, I had no idea. I received information about a new book dealing with pregnancy when you have RA and it looked like something we should review for MyRACentral. I interviewed the author - a lovely woman named Suzie from
Also, I'm featured in a special section on Joint & Bone Health in today's National Post, but I think only the print version.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
It all started last Thursday morning as I was making my way to the grocery store after having kicked in 30 minutes on work. I'm making a mental list of what I'm going to do after I've been shopping, actually keeping it fairly reasonable, trying to take it easy on my shoulder. As I get close to the grocery store, said shoulder starts making its presence known - not screaming, just grumbling - and right there, on the sidewalk, I had a minor epiphany. An epiphanette, if you will. Namely that my shoulder should decide what I do, not my mind. It could be argued that I've claimed to learn this lesson a few times, but this one felt like practical learning.
I went home, shoulder felt okay and I decided to do two small things, easily done within half an hour so I didn't set the timer. The next time I looked up it was an hour and 15 min. later and my shoulder was as tight as a drum. At which time I engaged in several minutes’ worth of yelling at myself, which may have involved unladylike language, thoughts of banging my head against the wall and/or employing a dominatrix to crack a whip at 30 min. intervals.
Right. Park time. Sit in the sun and bake, letting the heat penetrate deep into my bones. And this is where I had another epiphanette. When there was about 20 minutes left before I had to be somewhere else, I turned off my book and just sat with my eyes closed, listening to the wind and the world. And realized that I need to take time to do just that, because if I'm always listening to a book, there isn't time for my brain to slip into free association mode, the state where the brain makes connections and leaps, where ideas bubble up from beneath and where there is enough mental space to figure things out.
And it wasn't long before one of those leaps… erm… leaped. Because I started to think about partners. About how my body is my partner in my life and I need to treat it as such (yes, this again, but with a slightly different slant). I thought about my other partnerships, be they of love, of friendship, of family or of work and what I do if a partner in one of those relationships tells me they're tired, that they can't do, that they have to stop. I respect that, I even encourage it. Then I thought about respect, about what it means and went home to look it up, finding this definition:
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment
I don't do that with my body. Don't consider it to have a right to which I should defer. Instead, I ignore its requests, hate it for making them and not only do I not give it a veto, I don't even give it a voice. And this was big enough to make it all the way to an epiphany, something I thought about the rest of the day, kept thinking about for days, actually. I throw these words around, discuss the idea of working within your limits, of respecting your limits, but I never sat down quietly and thought about what respect means or what respecting my body's right might look like.
Over dinner, I held forth about the epiphanies of the day, going on about this concept of respect and how I'm good at it with the other people in my life, but horrible with myself, talked about working within my limits and David opined that my definition of this seems to be to work right up to my limits. And this is when it gets ridiculous and a little sad because this statement triggered an epiphany of such proportions that I still have aftershocks.
Do you know the Spoon Theory? It's a way of explaining the energy requirements of having a chronic illness, assigning units of energy/spoons for different tasks in your life and taking away your spoons as you go through your day. A field of light bulbs or viewing it as a bank account with a positive or negative balance make more sense to me (my math isn't good enough for only 12 spoons), but whatever. The point is that until now, my interpretation of working within my limits has been exactly that - working within them, but being so close up against them that at the end of the day I have maybe half a spoon left, but more often none or I'm deep in overdraft. As a sidetrack, maybe I need to change how I speak of this, because language matters and working within your limits and respecting your limits are two entirely different things. And – back to the main track - in tying together one epiphany to another, if you respect your limits, you ought to go through your day in such a way that you have two, maybe even three spoons left when you go to bed. Or, making it personal, I ought to do this.
How much less pain might it be in if I lived like this? And taking a look at how I work in the context of this, what kind impact might it have if I stop not when it hurts, but before it hurts? Okay, so there'll always be pain, but maybe it would be manageable pain instead of the kind that requires me to spend the evening applying ice packs and taking codeine, too exhausted to do anything but watch TV.
And then came another idea, something equally revolutionary and mindblowing. Because it occurred to me that going that close to your limits, zooming right past them and leaving them in the dust ought to be reserved for really important events, not for your everyday life.
I'm still reeling. Still thinking about how to apply it. But I think this may be the moment where I choose another path.
Friday, September 03, 2010
My friend Dawn came by for our end-of-summer lunch with her daughter Lana and Lana’s friend Autumn, both about 8 years old. Overheard when they're meeting Lucy (who was ecstatic about the kids):
Autumn: cat tongues are so funny.
Lana: I never wipe off kitty kisses.
Autumn: you shouldn't wipe off any kisses.
Lana: maybe puppy slurps, but not kitty kisses.
Words to live by.