Tag Archives: humane

Because it’s too complex and long for a hashtag. Black Lives Matter. Yes All Women. The Mockingjay Lives.

27 Nov

It’s Thanksgiving in the year 2014 (by a certain reckoning) and I live in a world where people behead other people. Seriously! Beheading! I live in a world where women are scared to be women. Where people with darker skin get shot at and killed. Where shooting and killing other people is often considered (and then demonstrated) to be ok.

I want to live in a world where humanity is free to discuss the exciting stories of our times. “Hey! There’s a new Star Wars teaser trailer coming out tomorrow!!” “Star Wars Episode 7: The One Where Han Solo is Old.” “Have you all seen the brilliant Mockingjay (part 1) yet?”

In one corner of my Facebook newsfeed people are discussing how the cops in Boston are pretty good and that being afraid of them doesn’t make too much sense. In another corner a friend of mine posted about their experience peacefully protesting and being forcefully pulled across a barrier and then arrested by Boston police. They’re pretty good though and being afraid of them doesn’t make too much sense. Maybe I read too much Facebook.

We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world. I like to start from there because it’s the ultimate purpose behind things. The goal isn’t “just” equality. We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world.

We ought to live in a world where it is never ok to shoot another human being. We ought to live in a world where everyone is encouraged to be who they are and given the support they need. We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world.

Theoretically, we tell stories because they help us learn and grow. Well told stories can inform us about being human, and about how we can work towards that humane world that we all ought to be living in. I want to talk about the story of The Hunger Games, I don’t want to live it. Heck, the point of telling The Hunger Games is to show us all how to avoid living it.

And yet… here we are.

We ought to live in a humane world. Katniss is a hero because she is deeply human. She is powerfully humane in even the most inhumane and cruel circumstances. She is not a hero because she kills other people. She is not a hero because she can fight well. Indeed, when she fights and kills she becomes less human.

We need more empathy and less fear. We need to remember not just to love our friends and our families, but every human being. Every. Single. One. Even the ones who behave inhumanely.

Happy Thanksgiving. May the odds be ever in our favor, and The Force be with us. Especially since it’s waking up.

The Least of Three Evils (for MA voters)

13 Jan

In Massachusetts, a state where gay marriage is legal, the representatives of the state ought to believe that gay marriage being legal is a good thing, right? Joe Kennedy is sort of for gay marriage, but only in that the government shouldn’t really have a say and that churches ought to be allowed to decide for themselves. Scott Brown believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Viewed through this lens Martha Coakley is the only viable candidate. But Martha reeks of standard party-line politician, and I hate the party system. Nearly everything she says seems like it was pulled from the “how to be a democrat 2010” handbook. Maybe she believes it all, but it all reads and seems like it’s just politics. It seems like she says things because they are the-things-you-say-to-get-people-who-believe-what-I-believe-to-vote-for-you, and not because they are her true beliefs.

Aside from gay marriage, what I want from my government is the, well, the governance, that will lead us to a humane world. Everyone wants a humane world. We’re human beings. We ought to have a humane world. That said, the three areas which I think are most important for a humane world – Health Care, Education, and the Environment – are all poorly represented by these three would-be-representatives.

Joe Kennedy is by far the most realistic candidate of the three. His website shows that he’s familiar with bills currently under review by the legislature, and that he understands what the job he’s applying for actually is: he’ll be reading a lot of complicated bills written in legalese. He’ll be writing other bills, filing bills, and voting on bills. That’s it. Promises like

“Martha will fight to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities”

or

“I believe we ought to strengthen our border enforcement and institute an employment verification system with penalties for companies that hire illegal immigrants (Scott)”

are un-detailed statements of large scope essentially beyond anything that a senator can actually do and they do little to convince me that Scott or Martha are actually aware of what the job is (odd for Scott, who is already a state senator). Joe Kennedy is, at least from the impressions he’s given, trustworthy. He makes his share of un-detailed statements of large scope too, like “I believe we must promote free trade and peace” (who doesn’t?) but he also includes detailed ideas about what bills he’s going to write and file, and how he’s going to vote on current ones. Unfortunately he seems to be wrong about Health Care, and claims to be against both income and sales taxes, which sounds nice but does beg the question of where he expects the government to get any money at all. China?

Like Joe, Scott is also wrong about Health Care. Both of them vehemently oppose the current Health Care bill (although only Joe claims to have actually read it) but neither of them provide any workable alternatives. The bottom line is that we absolutely have to change our Health Care system. It’s awful. It’s inhumane and utterly embarrassing that a country claiming to be civilized doesn’t provide healthcare to all of its residents. While Martha is at least vowing to support the reform the Obama Administration is hoping to pass, she doesn’t seem to be aware that it doesn’t go nearly far enough and that while changing what we have is extremely important (so important that we must change it even if it’s only for the sake of change), changing it into something which treats health care as the humane right that it is is even more important.

None of them seem to understand this.

Martha is also weak on education, seemingly pleased with the foundation of “No Child Left Behind” stating that it just needs “several reforms” in order to “deliver the changes students deserve.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Joe thinks we should abolish “No Child Left Behind” as well as the Federal Department of Education and instead let each state innovate their own educational systems. It might work… it might not, but at least it’s an acknowledgement that our education system is in need of truly radical reform, something neither of the other two candidates seem to know. Scott is politically vague about education, saying he is “passionate about improving the quality of our public schools” (who isn’t?) and that he “support(s) choice through charter schools, as well as the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement.” Goodie. Let’s first give them a “choice” about which type of school to go to but then continue using standardized tests as a way to determine the education level of our citizens regardless of which school they chose. Great plan.

Nothing short of a complete redesign of our educational system is good enough. We need a system which acknowledges that each individual student has different interests, different ways of learning, and different levels of understanding which develop at different rates. Anything less is inhumane.

None of them seem to understand this.

As for the environment, here’s Martha:

“I support common-sense environment policy that will help to reduce pollution and preserve our precious open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave.”

Here’s Scott:

“Our planet is in trouble. I believe protecting our environment must be a priority, not only for today but for future generations.”

No, I’m sorry, that’s backwards. The first quote is Scott, not Martha, she’s the second quote. Point is they sound basically interchangeable.

Give Joe points for being different at least:

“I would consider myself an Environmentalist and I am a strong advocate of green initiatives… The Greatest Polluter in America is the US Government.”

I kid (a bit) about the similarity of Scott and Martha here but give Martha credit for at least being thorough and detailed and stating that “climate change is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time.” I’m not sure it’s a moral issue, but it’s certainly pressing. The only thing Scott’s website provides are vague promises and beliefs about the environment and his site doesn’t mention even once global warming or the climate crisis (neither does Joe’s) although I know from the debate that he’s not convinced it’s entirely caused by our actions. Scott says

“I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities”

as if there’s someone who doesn’t. Way to say nothing. I support the sky being blue. I support wheels being round.

Look, we can’t have a humane world if the planet our world is on is sick. It’s really more important than anything else. It doesn’t matter how well educated we are, how healthy, how safe, how peaceful, how anything, if our planet is sick.

None of them seem to understand this, though Martha comes out as the strongest of the three here if only because she’ll support the progress that the Obama Adminstration is trying to make in this regard.

So I’m genuinely stumped here. I have no idea which of these three represent the least of the three evils. I’ve read and heard that a lot of people are voting for Scott simply because he opposes the current party that’s in power. This is true, he does, but he represents the other party. Checks and balances aren’t supposed to work the way the party system works. If you really want to elect someone who is going to ensure that one party isn’t in control, vote for Joe. But is that even a good reason to vote? If I truly don’t want any of these people to represent me, shouldn’t I not vote for them? Isn’t that how a democracy is supposed to work? Votes are our way of saying “yes, I agree with you. You represent me.” Isn’t there more to you than just “I oppose large government” or “I oppose the currently-in-power party”?

How about “I support a humane world with an effective government”? I’d vote for the one who could back that up with details about how they’re going to do it.

Ideal Presidential Candidate ’08

2 Oct

“I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith”
So sayeth John McCain.

It’s funny, my ideal president wouldn’t attribute “the rights of human dignity and human rights” solely to Judeo-Christians, and my ideal president wouldn’t claim that therefore the Constitution founds a Christian Country.

In fact, I think my ideal president would actually seperate church and state. Isn’t there some kind of provision for that?