Thursday, January 14, 2010

Each One Teach One

One of the ideas I've been contemplating for a while is Adjectives. Surely, when someone is describing an individual's character, that individual would prefer some adjectives over others that might be applied to his/her name. I expect we'd also like those adjectives to be accurate, in our estimation, but you can't control another person's interpretation of your behavior or the connotations they attach to a particular adjective.

Sometimes you have an opportunity to debate the matter. For example, one night Woody and I were talking about Tennessee Williams movies and one of us referenced Blanche Dubois. I denied any resemblance to Blanche Dubios, but Woody suggested that I was as manipulative as Blanche. At the time, I could only say, "Surely there's a better adjective." Since then I have built a case showing I'm much more Maggie the Cat than Blanche Dubois and I'm not manipulative. I'm calculating and a strategic social thinker. I insist on this distinction because, to me, the term Manipulative carries an air of weakness similar to Passive-Aggressive. It's dishonest and underhanded, whereas Calculating suggests a degree of self awareness and strength. A calculating person may find herself saying, "Curses! Foiled again," occasionally, but at least s/he acknowledges and takes responsibility for his/her role in a situation. People can Miscalculate but you never hear of somebody MisManipulating.

All this contemplation of adjectives goes along with my evolving identity now that Velvet is off to college. Distance parenting provides an opportunity to address your own needs for a change as opposed to having a life that revolves around your child(ren) every waking moment. Ergo: I've been thinking about who I want to be. If we describe each other's characters with adjectives, then there are a few I certainly wish would be used for mine.

One I particularly like is: Subversive. Lately, I've been a bit militant. Militant is good occasionally, and so is Radical. As important as those qualities are to The Resistance, I prefer to be someone with a sense of irony and humor. Militants and Radicals often lack a sense of irony or humor because The Resistance is serious business that requires serious focus. In my mind, Subversives can be playful, like Billionaires for Wealthcare and The Yes Men. Mr. Diety brings a bit of subversion to the mainstream. Davis Fleetwood is an aspiring subversive who produces youtube videos via No Cure for That.

In addition to The Hermit series, Davis Fleetwood also produced This Day in the USA. Here's an episode from January 12:

In this clip, Davis discusses the value of satire as a tool for social change. Obama rode a wave of hope for change into the White House. Lots of folks are disgusted with him now. Granted, we still have Don't Ask Don't Tell, and Congress seems determined to let Health Insurance Companies write Health Care Reform legislation. The way I see it, America today is so fucked up that even Jesus Christ himself couldn't fix it alone - Just look at what Pat Robertson has been doing for Jesus lately.

When I visit my parents in Houston, I traditionally have trouble because the Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican Straight White American Male viewpoint is so loud and pervasive that it seems like it is the dominant, majority view. That's because nobody wants to get in arguments in the grocery store line or at the neighborhood barbecue with ignorant, mouthy assholes.

Silence means consensus.

The bad guys are counting on our silence. Barack Obama may have the national spotlight because he's the president, but as we see day in and day out, the president can't do shit without the people behind him. We were the people who got him elected, and we are the people who have to speak up now.

In 1987, a handful of activists in New York City started plastering the town with this image:

The Silence = Death project came about due to the AIDS epidemic which had been dismissed because those who died were marginalized - just like the tiny percentage of people with money marginalize the rest of us today. Maybe those bankers aren't murdering us when they cheerfully give and receive obscene bonuses, but the system that encourages and supports their behavior will remain entrenched as long as we remain silent.

The problem is so big and overwhelming that making the smallest dent seems impossible, but all I can say is: Each one, Teach one. That's what Davis Fleetwood is doing at NoCureForThat.


Blogger Gail said...

Hi Trish-

Wow, quite an amazing, and of high quality intellect post. You really are a talented and well informed writer. How's that for adjectives??? :-)

And that word manipulative - I really dislike that word - well, especially and most likely when it is said about me. It was once, and I was quite offended. Of course, it was a lie. Or mis-perception or it was that the other person was being manipulative. I just know that you are right on the meaning - not nice. grrrrrrr
great post.

Love you

January 14, 2010 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Re: Adjectives

As I express it in one of "Mis Dichos," "Sex is simply sex; everything else we say about it is mere adjectives..."

Gay/straight, hetero/homo, anal/oral, pre-marital, post-pubescent, bestial, etc...

Though I suppose "bi-" as in bi-sexual, is probably an adverb...

January 14, 2010 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger VV said...

I think adjectives matter too. One I keep trying to be in my life is "courageous." I tend to tilt at windmills, come out all brave, make a small difference and then go back and lick my wounds after the battles. As for health insurance companies and the banks, could we also add to that the oil industry reaping/raping billions of dollars in profits from the public and then insisting the high price of gas is necessary. BS!

January 14, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Dang! I would say that I forgot Oil Companies, but I'm pretty sure that having grown up in the oil patch, I simply took it for granted that they are among the world's biggest douche bags.

Gail, they are great adjectives.
Woody, I still say I'm not talking about that stuff with you ;)

January 14, 2010 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger intelliwench said...

I'm trying to figure out who I want to be, too -- I caught myself thinking that things at home were "back to normal" this week, with intellikid back at school. Welcome to the new normal? (But if anyone tries to call me "normal," I'd take offense!)

Re: adjectives, one time an acquaintance called me a liberal, and meant it as an insult. Didn't work.

January 15, 2010 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Maybe you could be a normal liberal

January 16, 2010 at 5:06 AM  
Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

We can do more than we think we can, but often not as much as we might wish.

January 16, 2010 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Keep the faith, Comrade.
Hope you're having fun in DC

January 16, 2010 at 4:28 PM  

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