Monday, November 19, 2007

Moaning and Groaning or Being Thankful

Many of us have lot to be thankful for. Often the hard things in our lives seem to take over in our heads and we take much for granted. I'm generally aware of how good I have it.

Today in the health club I talked at length with a young man I first met close to a year ago, his first day in the club after his accident. 1400 pounds had crushed one foot and he was tentative and slow moving onto equipment from his scooter. Gradually he used the scooter less and less and by last summer he was walking without the scooter to work out and while working out.

Then I didn't see him for a few months. He was back with his foot in a cast, having had a setback with more surgery. Today he told me a lot which really made me think. His doctor had told him that with the removal of the pins from his surgery he'd be walking in 2-4 weeks. A month later the doctor told him that he was sorry, but it would be four more months before he could walk.

Yes, he has few choices, but he's really trying, not knowing if he'll ever be free of pain, but hoping to be able to walk.

A high school classmate just finished a year of cancer treatments that greatly weakened her. Her energy is back and she thinks that she's succeeded, but one can't know. This isn't the first time such cancer has threatened her life.

I live in the most wonderful house I've ever lived in in my life. I've succeeded in retiring at age 55 and have the time to do some things I've wanted to do for many years. I have a loving partner and family.

My body isn't as pain free as it was a few years ago and won't let me do some things that mean a lot to me. I'm lucky in so many ways to be healthy and free to live a life with a lot of choices.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Shadow Side of Maleness

Shlomo Carlebach was a charismatic "singing rabbi" who had a large following among some Orthodox Jews such as my brother. Particularly after his death, various women discovered that they were not alone in having been seduced by him during his travels (which was clearly outside of bounds for his purported religious beliefs).

Within the Pro-Feminist Men's Movement some years ago a well known musician and leader was outed in a similar way.

Among "liberal" (and not quite as "liberal") male politicians such as Senators Ted Kennedy, Robert Packwood and Daniel Inouye (see: issues of sexual harassment seem to arise fairly regularly.

It seems as though our male drive towards power and recognition seems to correlate for far too many of us with a need for either female (sexual based) approval or for power over individual women (through harassment).

I would think that particularly amongst male leaders of the left that some of them would find much more inner peace as well as more effective long-term (inner based) success (as well as ethical "goodness"), if they were more grounded in their sexual and general personal identities. I would hope that a rooted, deeply ingrained Feminist consciousness might help some of these men.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Going Against The Norms - Significant or Not ?

As a teenager in the mid-1960's I used to walk around West Lafayette, Indiana, USA - where I grew up - particularly on Purdue University's campus barefoot. This was being "different" in a way that really had little significance for me or others.

In the summer of 1969 or 1970 - playing the French Horn in the Lafayette Citizen's Band - I bucked "the rules" and wore a Non-White dress shirt with my tie at one of our regular Sunday afternoon concerts. Why one couldn't wear a modest yellow or blue shirt - was "tradition" I guess - in those days - White was "the norm". Soon other boys (though not the older men) were sometimes wearing non-White shirts. Did this matter? Not much then I guess!

In 1976 I convinced my partner of the time to keep her "maiden name" when we married (in early 1977). Women in Chicago didn't do that then very frequently. I think that this was helpful for both of us and am glad I saw things as I did, though I didn't formally discover Feminism until around 1981.

Somewhere around 1977 or 1978 while working at the Chicago North Social Security Office - in a world where smoking was allowed most everywhere, I put a sign at my desk saying to claimants and co-workers - "No Smoking" (at my desk). Surprisingly I got a lot of respect from both claimants and co-workers who smoked everywhere else most of the time.

In 1987 my son Ben was born carrying his mother's surname as his last name - allowing her family name to move into another generation - which it wouldn't otherwise do. My son is my son - his last name - isn't something that belongs to me because I am male.

My father spoke out against the War in Vietnam to family at least as early as August, 1962 - he died in November, 1964 - before US troops escalated their efforts in 1965 (after President Johnson faked the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" to justify a massive war effort).

I grew up without television - my father's choice to ensure that we'd read a lot not allowed to have any kind of guns - including squirt guns - because they were guns.

Thinking independently - can be helpful - particularly when working through things in good ways. Sometimes it may be frivolous - other times more significant!