What I Heard From Sanity and/or Fear Rally

31 10 2010

An echo.

“When we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Llike an echo of my own refrain as a new blogger at Culture Kitchen five years ago, urging (in a quite civil indoor voice!) some well-modulated post-partisan Sam Waterston Unity ’08 thinking and talking: Amplifying Our Differences

Amplified sound, in effect, may diminish rather than amplify our individualism, our audience, even our own ability to pay attention or care about all we’ve lost. . .

Should we care, if the heavy bass and deafening levels of powerful modern difference-amplifiers blow out everybody’s eardrums along with our will to live, and thus our chances for ever building any majority audience able to appreciate artistic, nuanced and truly innovative political theatre?

. . .Does it matter if we the people learn to prefer politics to problem-solving, screaming to singing, mass media to personal passion?

I wish the ralliers more luck with being heard now than I had then. America’s appetite and audience seem bigger now for subtle, intelligently designed sounds of sanity, so that’s something.

Maybe as usual I just peaked too soon? I’ve been straining to hear and understand for many years while guns were blazing and sirens shrieking, tuning in earnestly to years of FOX and right-rant radio, trying to figure it out.

It’s insidious. Amplification deafens you to the wrong thing! — by trying so hard to be intellectually curious, fair-minded, engaged and reasoning, I’ve been systematically deafened BY the loudest and craziest, FOR the loudest and craziest, TO all but the loudest and craziest! It feels like a lifetime ago that I could comfortably hear (or speak) real hope about America’s chances of restoring sanity.

So could my personal power of story be that I’ve paid a hubris price for going it alone without publisher or party, hoping I could individually trade off small damage to myself in return for contributing to the common good but failing miserably, like Dr. Jekyll experimenting on himself for good cause but becoming Mr. Hyde?

Halloween two days before a momentous election, is a better time than most, I guess, for ghostly fears to echo. I won’t scream it, but please. Vote.





Helping Real Kids in Their Real Lives, Right Now

27 10 2010

This teen reporter underlines a key point as we try to help all kids, not just those bullied at school — that their real lives are right now. Today matters utterly.

Dear Husband and I both were the oldest children in our families, and both my parents were firstborn as well. Talk about delayed gratification! — we were masters.

Fortunately for my own children, I was able to change or grow out of this mindset or learn its limitations at least, after the painful epiphany of losing both my parents much too young. I saw the gratification they’d so conscientiously delayed and delayed, denied to them forever . . .if you’re a Thinking Parent, that really makes you appreciate the people you love and the life you can live fully with them NOW.

Sayre Quevedo, 17, is a reporter with Youth Radio, a youth-driven production company based in Oakland:

I love the “It Gets Better” videos as much as the next gay kid. But I worry that the campaign makes it seem as if gay teenagers need to stow away in a time capsule until adulthood, when we can feel fulfilled and safe.

. . .I don’t think we should have to wait to live happily. . . Kids don’t change because we realize we’re gay. Our opportunities to be happy shouldn’t either.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a gay issue or a girl issue or about sex at all. Upper-crust universities have bullies. They just tend to make it about money as power instead of sex as power (well, except for the Duke Lacrosse guys who one might reasonably observe, combine both and don’t ever defer or deny gratification!)

By the end of the month, only a handful of students hadn’t given.

. . .”There was a huge push,” she says, which included knocking on the doors of those who had not yet donated. The student interns who ran the drive encouraged volunteers to ask about a student’s personal reasons for not giving but to accept no as a final answer.

With 24 hours left, there were, serendipitously, just 24 students who had not donated. One volunteer, an honors student in sociology, sent out a list of those students’ names via BlitzMail that was passed along to many people.

Candais Crivello was on that list. A former fund raiser for Dartmouth’s annual fund, she was surprised that some of the tactics her peers were using . . . In the end, the lone holdout was Read the rest of this entry »





Women of the TEA Party

16 09 2010

UPDATE: Christine “I dabbled in witchcraft” O’Donnell

From a (female) Cornell psychology professor: Who are they and what do they want? If they take America away from the rest of us, what will they do with it and will there be enough of it to share with the whole class?

JJ’s approach would be to compare their supposedly family-friendly advocacy with Teresa Heinz Kerry’s work for a healthier planet and for healthier women and children and families, living healthier lives upon it.

See also Natural Parent Power Kind to Climate, Children, Women Too.

Yes, Sarah Palin and all your grizzly pit-bullies, I’m talking to you. What counts is what you DO, who and what you live and work FOR rather than against, who and what you take responsibility FOR and what results you get. Is the world more heaven and less hell because you’re in it, or vice versa? People notice the difference sooner or later, you know:

As a young Methodist once upon a time, I remember deciding that heaven and hell described the state of mind each of us lived out in real time on earth, created by who I became, how I lived and why.

We can read heaven and hell into everything from the daily news to married life; in both journalism and marriage counseling, for example, what counts is what’s done, not just the words — of position, prescription, praise or promise — but their meaning manifest in reality, what’s behind the words, the circumstance and change described and delivered.

Show, don’t tell.

Whether in preaching or politics, inspiration literally means a new spirit goes “in” and becomes part of who you are, that you are affected and the totality that is “you” changes somehow that makes an outer difference for others. I suppose all presidents inspire the people and thereby change the nation’s reality but some presidents including the present one — hey, does the word president share a root with present? — inspire us to healthier change than others!





We Need to Sing Our Epics or Lose Them

20 08 2010

For any nation in any age including here and now, the ultimate war is over competing narratives, conflicting power of story.

Snook, as faithful readers can attest, is all about narratives and the power of story — in education, relationships, science, politics, work and play, war and peace, in the meaning of life itself. Search this blog using the phrase “power of story” to stay busy reading and thinking for many hours. Add music/musical theatre and “thinking and feeling” to your search, and plan on making this your new homepage indefinitely. 😉

We’ve animated Snook with epic discussions of the Great Derangement of Matt Taibbi, the language stories and Political Mind of George Lakoff, the political right-speak realism of Frank Schaeffer, the situational ethics of Philip Zimbardo and his Lucifer Effect, Harvard’s Howard Gardner on educating kids to love truth and America instead of fighting over it, Don Beck and Ken Wilber’s memes, Richard Florida and his “creative class” plus meaningful movies from Milk and Mindwalk to Hairspray and Madagascar, not to mention Harry Potter and Stanley Fish, plus the leading science lights of edge dot org.

(More Mindwalk and Harry Potter. More Stanley Fishing for meaning of life memes. And the beat goes on . . .)

But nobody tells the story of story better than this new offering from another expert, one with a name that sings a story too, Read the rest of this entry »





When Your Daugh- um, Your Olive Oil Isn’t Like a Virgin

25 07 2010

Ruminations of Olive Oil by Favorite Daughter (when she was 16 going on 17) —

I never really understood the concept of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to begin with. Is it made from olives that aren’t allowed to touch other olives? Are they modestly shielded from life’s elements by tarps?

And Extra Extra Virgin Olives – what on earth does that entail?

Or does the “virgin” refer to the oil itself? Has it never been mixed with another oil, commingling and developing new, brassy flavors? I certainly hope not, one takes for granted when one buys olive oil that it is, in fact, olive oil, and not some other hybrid. But then it seems that they shouldn’t have to bellow about its virginity so explicitly.

. . .It’s not just olive oil – women, too, now, are expected to come with a label that reads Extra Extra Virgin.

Much of society appears to have decided – rather abruptly, if you ask me – that it is not enough to wait for a person, time, and place that connote “right” and “safe” before you have sex for the first time. . .

I could say a lot of things about the abstinence program. I could say that repression, sexual or otherwise, isn’t healthy. (See this movie to learn how it leads to broken families, insanity, and arguably the Great Depression.)

I could say that it makes people ashamed of what’s perfectly natural, and thus leads to self-loathing.

But I think I’m going to focus mainly on how creepy it is. . .

(She was indeed a devout Disney Princess disciple growing up.)

Now comes news in the year 2010, finding Favorite Daughter a senior in college, age 20 and a student of power of story religious and not, are you ready to face facts? Your actual, literal (not metaphorical) olive oil may be acting all coy and innocent, telling you what it thinks you want to hear. But it’s lying!

A new study from the University of California- Davis claims more than two-thirds of random samples of imported so-called extra-virgin olive oil don’t make the grade. . .

“It’s become a very sophisticated practice, the adulteration of olive oil throughout the world,” Shoemaker says. He says the lab can prove defects, degradation and dilution in olive oil beyond what human taste buds can figure out.

Suppose two-thirds of supposed teenaged virgins are lying to us, too. And some of those who AREN’T lying, don’t think it’s any of your business anyway. Now what? Nobody much listens to Favorite Daughter even when Read the rest of this entry »





Will Marriage Defenders Fight This As Immoral Too?

24 06 2010

There will be many travelers on this journey . . .
Mary Nell and I call ourselves the “New American Family,” and perhaps we are a Marriage of Three. . .
I have no answers for others, offering only what I have done and learned and chosen, knowing that it was right — for me.





Why Educate Our Kids? Part Four: Audience Behavior

13 06 2010

So today as Spunky started a new conversation about what it means for a child to be “well-educated” I noticed it afresh and thought I’d mention some of what it makes me wonder, about what’s being taught and learned and why to our kids out of school, not in.

The phone number is painted on the glass, too: want your child well-educated in mind, body and spirit all at the same time? Who needs School OR Church? Just call 8-WE-KICK. . .

Y’all know the way our kids are educated out of school and church. One big part of it is musical theatre:

Favorite Daughter at age 17 in her college honors history class, answered a bonus question for a perfect score on the final, that her professor couldn’t figure out how she knew, because it wasn’t in the text of the lecture notes: name all five of the members appointed to write the Declaration of Independence and the colonies each represented in the Congress. So he asked outright what her secret source was, and got a good laugh when she started singing, “But Mr. Adams” from the musical 1776.

See also There is Nothing Sexier Than a Baritone and “How can we learn about our present if we don’t educate people about what happened in our past?””

So when I saw commentary on Helen Thomas having tragically overstayed the audience’s support for her role on the public stage, it spoke to me about everything in America’s power of story:

Botchirng an exit cue in a stage production can result in dramatic disaster, says Sara Freeman, a professor of theater history at the University of Oregon. . . . staying onstage when you are supposed to exit is considered “very bad etiquette or an act of outright aggression or disrespect” in the theater world. . .”and upends planned narrative or visual effects. It distracts attention from what the focus is supposed to be in the story.”

Freeman says she has a million stories of actors who missed their entrance cues, “but missed exits are rarer because they usually have to be chosen. It’s far harder to not exit by accident.”

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth:

I believe we’re in an age where a view of humanity as dark and “herd-like” should not govern . . . I believe we must take the high road by simply telling people the truth about the products, services and issues we represent. That presupposes that we can in good conscience represent nondeceptive, truthful clients. . .

My own view is that manipulating the darker forces of human nature is inappropriate. . . . Here are my Ten Commandments . . . Read the rest of this entry »