“This is part and parcel of The Big Lie we Americans tell ourselves. That one about our vaunted exceptionalism. Heh, heh, exceptionalism. Riiiiight. Exceptionalism isn’t even a real word, but then that’s par for the course. Tell me, America, what’s so damned exceptional about fearing the police? About living in fear of authority? What’s exceptional about armed troops in the streets? About armored vehicles and automatic weapons on the corners, in the playgrounds, guarding the schools and the store and the police stations? About blockades and showing your papers? What’s exceptional about being shot down without trial or due process? What exactly is exceptional about dead kids in the street? What’s exceptional about tear gas and rubber bullets – or lead ones for that matter? But then what’s so exceptional about an armed population? About citizens who solve their differences with pistols and assault weapons? What’s exceptional about racism and inequality and disparity and naked hate? What’s exceptional about crime and riot? What’s exceptional about the arrest and detainment of journalists and reporters? What’s exceptional about political division that verges on civil war? These things are all too common around the world…If you want to be exceptional, America, then you have to be the exception.” — Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station
Archive of articles classified as' "Manners For The 21st Century"Back home
Had an odd twinge of nostalgia / sadness today. Saw / heard two things that I wished I could have shared with now deceased family members.
The thing that made me feel nostalgic / sad was not that I was missing them for what they had done for me, but because I was missing the chance to do something for them.
Even something as silly and as slight as relaying a cartoon or good news that they might particularly enjoy is a privilege that I’m now doing without.
That, ultimately, is what love is all about:
The desire to do something good for another person, no matter how small, with no thought of reciprocation other than the delight and satisfaction in knowing you helped another human being.
Human beings, being human of course, tend to form their closest bonds to their immediate families / mates. That’s to be expected, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. (Indeed, I feel sorry for those who are the products of dysfunctional families, who never learned to love and trust those physically closest to them; may they find peace and happiness and that missing love with others.)
But beyond our immediate familial / blood / mating ties there should be love that extends to others. First it is those like us in age or interests or community, then it is to those who share our same general values even if they are not immediate neighbors, then our entire country / culture / religion.
But that’s still too narrow a band on love.
Love should extend to everyone everywhere all the time. This most pointedly is NOT saying that all actions are equally benign, or that all behaviors should be tolerated under all circumstances.
But it does say we are to love our enemies, to love those who despitefully use us, to love those who hate us and do no reciprocate our gestures of mercy and forgiveness and tolerance.
Never return evil for evil,
neglect for neglect.
The writer Andrew Vachss summed it up succinctly:
“Children know the truth.
Love is not an emotion.
Love is a behavior.”
“Beautiful view! Is there one for the enlisted men?”
Bill Mauldin, circa WWII [this is how a military leader
expresses love for his troops; he sees that their needs
are taken care of first, and that he enjoys nothing
they can not have as well.]
Hieronymus Bosch – Garden Of Earthly Delights
So I says to St. Pete
says I to he
gate to heaven?
St. Pete says,
Oh we’ve got the gate
and it works very well.
Understand this life
and the previous life
are like elevators
in a skyscraper.
Down in the lobby level,
anybody can walk
back and forth, back and forth
between the two sides.
One side is the love others side,
and the other is the love myself side.
Depending on which side
you’re on when you die,
that’s the elevator you take
to the penthouse.
Now, those of you on the love others side,
when you died you came straight up here
non-stop, like a utility elevator:
Not exactly plush,
but it gets you there.
But if you were on the love myself side,
the fancy elevator takes you to a foyer
just outside the penthouse.
We have a canned message playing, saying,
“Every thing you think you believed was true is false
and if you renounce it, you can come in.
Take all the time you want in making your decision.”
Now here’s the thing:
If you were on the love myself side,
you’re not caring about other people,
you’re wondering how you
are going to get into heaven.
You’re asking yourself,
“Is this a trick?
Did I really believe
the wrong thing, or
are they just testing me?
“If I do renounce my belief,
and it was a test,
then I’m in hell for all eternity.
“But if they are telling the truth,
and I don’t renounce my belief,
then I’m damning myself to hell.”
You, and the others on this side,
worried less about getting to heaven
than you worried about loving your neighbors,
treating people fairly,
acting justly and
You have no belief to renounce
because you were doing,
The other side,
they’re stewing away,
sweating it out,
wondering which answer is correct.
And they know they only get
one shot at answering it,
and that answer
where they spend eternity.
Well, what about
the ones to choose,
one way or another?
What do you do
when they come
through the gate?
What do you say
about their choice
Never had that problem.
They’re so anxious for themselves,
they never get around to making the final choice.
Every time they nearly convince themselves one way,
they turn around and argue themselves out of it the other.
Lacking love, they possess only fear,
and fear is what keeps them from entering.
Seems mighty cruel.
St. Pete shrugs.
Keeps the assholes out.
(c) Buzz Dixon
It has been pointed out that outrage is no good if it does not point to a viable solution. For those who might be interested in helping out by taking in children who are in need of foster care, we present the following resources:
Even if one can not be a full time foster parent or an adoptive parent, one can be a child advocate and help out in some way. Like the story of the starfish on the beach, it may not be possible to help them all, but it will mean everything to the ones who can be helped.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
I’ve been asked, “But what about adoption for unwanted children?”
To that I say:
and even more
That is the best, most humane solution to the problem of a woman’s unwanted pregnancy. It’s a perfect example of “pony up”. Give that child a stable, loving home. Raise it to its full potential. Personally assume that responsibility.
A blessing for the child
A blessing for the parent
A blessing for the society
GO FOR IT!
Cartoonist Lauren Weinstein was told that the child she was carrying had a high (1-in-4) chance of carrying the cystic fibrosis gene to such an extreme degree that it might require a lung transplant before age 5. Weinstein tells the story of her nerve-wracking three week wait to find out if this would be the case in her story “Carriers” (parts one / two / three / four / five).
It has a happy ending and
her daughter was born
Many reading her story will rejoice, but say to themselves,
“If it had been me, I would have never even thought of terminating my pregnancy.”
Good for you.
I mean that.
I want you to have a choice.
Just like I want Lauren to have a choice.
Just like I want billions of other women to have a choice.
Because nobody knows what is best for a woman and the pregnancy she is carrying other than that woman herself.
She gets to make her own decisions.
Just as you get to make your own decisions.
She’s certainly entitled to seek medical advice and/or moral support from others, but in the end, she is the one who has to either see it through to a live birth or terminate it.
It is, quite simply and quite literally,
And I drop the f-bomb very deliberately & in its sexual context to get the point across:
Not your uterus,
not your problem,
not your responsibility,
most certainly not your business,
If you’re serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in the world today, see to it that birth control is reliable, available, and inexpensive (free would be best; we can pay for it with the money we would otherwise spend incarcerating unwanted/abused/neglected children who grow up to be addicts and/or felons).
See to it that sex education is universal, pragmatic, sensible, and easy to understand. Wishful thinking, no matter how devoutly inspired, does not trump science or the realities of human nature. Be prepared for and compassionate to people who make messy mistakes; there but for the grace of God…
See to it that no mother ever has to worry about affording a safe place to raise her child, or how she will feed her child, or pay for her child’s health care, or her child’s education (you can slice a fraction off the defense budget for this; we can somehow squeak by with only 999 new jet fighters instead of 1,000).
…or shut up.
The Comics Reporter,
for the tip off