Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Flipping" - the "Oppressions"

It seems strange how:

"oppressions" - often seem flipped upside down.

Black Men in the South were lynched because they were "oppressing" the "victimized" Southerners (sometimes Women, sometimes not). The White people were somehow the oppressed class, rather than the Blacks. Strange - huh!

We U.Sians - are somehow "oppressed" by all these other countries in the world. Most of those "oppressing us" somehow seem smaller, often people of Color, and on the surface don't wield faintly close to the Power that we do, but....

In centuries past the Jews were somehow oppressing the Christians in countries (and needed to be attacked and sometimes killed as a result) where the Christians were generally a majority, and the Jews had no "military strength" and seemingly didn't have "the power" - but.....

We men often seemingly are oppressed by Women for various reasons. Obviously Sexism is no longer much of an issue huh....

Gazans - are somehow oppressing the Israelis horribly every day, as are the West Bank Residents who aren't Jewish as well. Arabs in general are seemingly oppressing the Christian-Judaic West in so many ways, but....

In all these situations - I see common threads including:

1. Change - bringing insecurities to people,
2. Powers that be - who prefer to Not have the attention focused upon themselves,
3. Scapegoating - people who have their own problems and issues,
4. A lack of clear insights - into what the Problems Really Are
5. Fear

In all these cases people really need to deal with their insecurities, confronting those who manipulate them, learning in depth what the real issues they face are and being strong and compassionate people who can grow and do better.

There are real instances where we are "attacked" for who we are. In such instances generally there is a "true" victimization of (relatively speaking) "powerless" people - such as elder abuse or racist attacks or a lashing out of (generally) really hurting people at Who they perceive as their oppressors (or those they can reach) such as might happen when Young Men are abused and then Abuse others or when Whites are attacked by People of Color - because they are White. In the latter type of instance - those attacked are "victims" - obviously, but really they aren't a "victim class" - because People of Color simply Lack the Power - in Total to keep us Poor White Folks - under control.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

I Can't (and Why Not?)

Often we say things such as: "I'd like to but I can't ....." as in

>>> I'd like to travel to Europe this summer but I can't afford it.

Looking carefully at these statements there can be varying explanations of what we say and feel.

1.) Is it simply a "lie"?

*** I can't go to the store today because I have too many other things to do.

2.) Is it a rationalization for what we want to do, but we don't want to admit it?.

*** I'd like to go out to dinner with you sometime but it wouldn't be fair to my family.

3.) Is it next to impossible or impossible?

*** I can't afford a large screen television because my low income (under $30,000/year) and substantial debts make it not viable.

4.) Or, is it difficult to do but we're not willing to explore How to Make it Happen or are Unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary for it?

Many things in life are hard for us to do. Sometimes it is Not Worth it - too much to give up or it really would hurt others to get it. Sometimes it will break promises we don't want to break. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage.

Should we go there? Sometimes yes and of course sometimes no. Should we seriously explore IF we should try to go there? More frequently!


Friday, March 06, 2009

My "Middle East Primer" (re: Israel)

While I find plenty of disagreements related to Israel and the Palestinians, I find myself clearly "highly prejudiced" and not fully understanding "the other side" in many ways. While I can understand the fears many Jews have of another Holocaust, my sense is that the real, major dangers are long-term continuing with the status quo.

I'd like to state a number of "facts" and try to talk separately about issues relating to them:

1. Jews were a tiny minority in Palestine, which began growing after World War I.
2. Palestinians were a diverse vast majority of the population in Palestine after World War I.
3. Turkey lost its control of Palestine after World War I
4. Conflicting promises were made promising both Palestinian and Jewish States beginning in 1918.
5. Increasingly after World War I the Jewish residents of Palestine gained in numbers and power which met increasing resistance from some Palestinians particularly in the riots of the late 1930's.
6. Palestinians in the period 1918-1948 - were not a single, unified group. The strongest Palestinian leader was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, however he had significant opposition amongst Palestinians.
7. The United Nations proposed the creation of separate Jewish and Palestinian States as hostilities increased in 1947 which was rejected by various Arab States and Palestinian leadership.
8. Israel declared its independence in May, 1948 and was invaded by several Arab armies.
9. There was no "Palestinian Army" and significant numbers of Palestinians did not fight against the new Israeli Army and State.
10. Significant numbers of Palestinians fled their homes often under pressure from the neighboring Israeli forces.
11. Other Palestinians remained within Israel and became Israeli citizens.
12. After the 1967 War, Israel took control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank (both of which had been in Jordan prior to the War), the Golan Heights (which had been in Syria previously) as well as a significant part of Sinai and the Gaza Strip (which had both been within Egypt previously).
13. Israel later negotiated peace treaties with Egypt and later Jordan. The peace treaty with Egypt resulted in a return of significant land in Sinai to Egypt. Jordan basically regained no substantive land.
14. Israel has unsuccessfully (to date) negotiated with Syria regarding making peace related in part to the proposed return of the Golan Heights to Syria.
15. Since the 1973 War the only serious military actions have been Israel's incursions into Lebanon and most recently in Gaza.
16. No country neighboring upon Israel poses a military threat to Israel. Israel's military strength is substantially greater than its neighbor's military forces.
17. Various efforts have been made to make a permanent, comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
18. The Palestinians under the leadership of Yasir Arafat and his Fatah Party increasingly sought peace with Israel eventually recognizing Israel's right to exist.
19. The Oslo Accords of 1993 and the Camp David Summit of 2000 both did not lead to a permanent peace agreement. One major area of disagreement from Wikipedia was explained as: "Barak offered to form a Palestinian State initially on 73% of the West Bank (that is 27% less than the Green Line borders) and 100% of the Gaza Strip. In 10 to 25 years the West Bank area would expand to 90-91% (94% excluding greater Jerusalem).[1][2][3] As a result, "Israel would have withdrawn from 63 settlements."[4] The West Bank would be separated by a road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, with free passage for Palestinians although Israel reserved the right to close the road for passage in case of emergency. The Palestinian position was that the annexations would block existing road networks between major Palestinian populations. In return, the Israelis would cede 1% of their territory in the Negev Desert to Palestine. The Palestinians rejected this proposal."
( )
20. In the United States criticism has been leveled at Arafat and the Palestinians for rejecting the Israeli proposals at Camp David in 2000. IF - Arafat had accepted the terms proposed by Israel he almost certainly would have lost power, most probably being assassinated because of how much the Palestinian leadership would have conceded to Israel - related to The West Bank, Jerusalem and the rights of refugees.
21. Towards the end of Arafat's life and since his death Hamas, a much more radical group, has increasingly gained power as the more moderate Fatah Party has failed to bring an independent Palestinian State into existence.
22. Free and fair elections were held in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006 at the urging of the United States and others.
23. Hamas won a significant victory in the 2006 elections.
24. The United States (in particular) has significantly Not recognized the leadership of Hamas because of its failure to fully recognize the existence of The State of Israel.
25. Violence in the West Bank and around Jerusalem has been minimal in recent years.
26. Problems have persisted in Gaza despite its supposed "independence" when Israel required its Jewish residents (who had occupied a huge amount of its land despite being a tiny minority of its population) to leave it.
27. Shelling of Israel coming from Hamas ceased after a ceasefire was established between Hamas and Israel. This ceasefire was broken by Israel, not Hamas in November, 2008.
28. Israeli's invasion of Gaza in December, 2008 was intended to stop the shelling and weaken the power of Hamas as well as ending the smuggling of arms from Egypt into Gaza.
29. Despite the killing of many in Gaza and a clear "military victory" the power of Hamas in Gaza has increased, not decreased as a result of the invasion.

I would argue that prior to 1973 there were serious threats to Israel coming from Egypt, Jordan and Syria, but that the Israeli military was stronger than the combined armies of those three countries. Since 1973 the only potentially serious threats to Israel from Middle Eastern countries have been from Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) and Iran at various times. Iraq and Iran are the only major Middle Eastern States where the Shia (as opposed to Sunni) Moslems are the majority population.

Hamas is no friend to the leadership of all the Middle Eastern countries currently with the possible exception of Iran.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank have grown substantially and continue to grow. Palestinian resentment and violence, where there has been violence, has often related to the expansion of these settlements as well as the expansions within the Jerusalem Area in formerly Palestinian dominated areas.

Peace is possible for Israel. Israel has long not wanted to make peace absent a serious expansion of its pre-1967 borders within the West Bank. Initially it had military concerns related in part to how narrow Israel is in the middle of its country. More recently the concerns are largely not military. The concerns now relate to the desires of some Jews, mostly highly religious, to keep control of: "Judea and Samaria" where an ancient Jewish history certainly exists. These desires inevitably conflict with Palestinian desires for their own country in the West Bank.

Peace is possible IF Israel will accept an independent state primarily of nearly all of the West Bank (with possible "land swaps" in small areas) and Gaza. The negotiations in these areas could result in peace within a relatively short period of time.

The more difficult negotiations will occur related to Jerusalem. Even there, there are certainly possible compromises which can result in peace.

It would seem highly logical to me for The United States - to pressure Israel to make peace with the Palestinians related to: 1.) Settling permanent boundaries in the West Bank and ceding Gaza and 2.) Creating a framework for negotiating related to Jerusalem.

Negotiating related to the rights of refugees won't be simple, but is also resolvable.

A Palestinian State would presumably be demilitarized and thereby not any military threat to Israel.

While I don't want to overly simplify things in my descriptions above, it really is not that complicated. The big issues are: 1.) The Radical Right forces that control much of Israel's political base, 2.) The powers that radicals in Israel (and to a lesser extent within the Palestinians) that sabotage the few honest efforts that are made, 3.) The necessity of negotiating with Hamas and holding them accountable with Serious Negotiations, 4.) The totally crazy - control that the U.S. has pushed in both letting Israel do what it wants and in rare instances doing things against Israeli interests to prevent peace.

We in the U.S. could force Israel to negotiate seriously and probably help bring about peace. Logically we would do this by listening to the moderate forces that exist elsewhere in Europe, Turkey and other places who would work with us if we genuinely sought peace.

Certainly, there are risks to trying to make peace as I've proposed above. I would argue though that the risks of Not Having Peace - are much greater both in the short-term and long-term. Israel will likely eventually lose its strategic importance as oil reserves run out in the Middle East in coming decades. It will likely gradually lose its strategic importance and support from the United States then (if not sooner). It is best to negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness.

The U.S. should focus its energy on making peace and dealing with Iran, which certainly potentially is much more dangerous (as well as Pakistan - which is far more dangerous).

Thank you!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Feelings - regarding Erectile Dysfunction

In my August 27, 2007 blog entry I "came out" (amongst my tiny readership) about having erectile dysfunction issues. Though it is difficult to talk of such issues, it is important within me to not be silent - as we men often are - about our feelings particularly regarding issues which may be embarrassing to us.

In 1995 I first had questions about something being slightly wrong and gradually it has gotten worse since then. I have had one instance of faintly faintly satisfactory intercourse with the help of a vacuum pump over the past 1 1/2 to 2 years or so. I can feel aroused and orgasm (though orgasming is getting slightly more difficult to do gradually over time) but not get fully erect.

My most recent urologist indicated to me that most men he sees with these issues begin having problems in their 40's. I had naively assumed that it was a "late 50's and older" issue when clear medical causes didn't intervene at a younger age.

I would like to focus now upon feelings, rather than mechanics.

My feelings do not relate to feeling like I'm not a "man" or "real man". I certainly have feelings of insecurity. I wish that I could please my partner and feel good inside in a way that I used to take for granted. Thankfully she accepts me (for the most part) as I am.

The most prevalent feeling I have related to my erectile dysfunction is that I'm (symbolically) beginning a Path Towards Death - at its earliest stages. Logically I know that I could lose all sexual feeling in my penis and still be very much alive, but it doesn't feel that way.

I think of moving towards death as a process of increasing pains and lessening abilities physically and mentally. My getting slower in other areas is not yet as vivid within my imagination as my loss in my penis.

A related feeling is that of losing control (in this instance of Not Feeling what is there). I sense that women are forced as girls and women to cede control in ways that often as primarily het, White, middle class men we commonly don't face absent disabilities or traumas until we are really aging. We don't face menstruation, childbirth, nor being harassed because of our gender often by others we don't know.

I've been very lucky in my life to have never (so far) broken a bone nor had a really major injury or illness. For the most part until e.d. intervened, I was used to feeling like most things with my body were "earned" whether good or bad. I ate or drank too much or the wrong things and felt sick. I exercised and my body was and is in shape.

As a younger man sexual arousal and an erect penis went together. Sometimes in seemingly non-sexual situations I'd not be aware of something turning me on until I felt an erection tightening my pants. I used to enjoy sexual times with my lover for several hours at a minimum where I'd be aroused off and on and really enjoying the mutual touch. In such situations my sexual pleasure generally did not correlate with number or frequency of intercourse or orgasms. Getting turned on then was a feeling that tingled and moved me but had quite varying situations. Pleasing my partner and feeling a connection with her was the key ingredient then.

It has been increasingly disconcerting to have little or no sense of whether my penis is marginally erect or totally flaccid. To feel very sexually aroused and to be "totally soft" is unsettling to put it mildly.

In my earlier e.d. days I felt caught in a trap. I had trouble then sustaining erections and lost confidence that I could do so. Gradually my confidence would interfere more and more to the point where I never knew if my softening penis was of physiological or psychological origin.

I am thankful that both my partner and I value physical closeness, affection and touch itself. To feel oneself totally tied to one's penis - would make any man - totally lost with e.d. issues.

It is difficult though to deal with the conflicting feelings when her desires and needs are different from mine. I feel badly that I can't give her a pleasure that she would like to have with me. I want to try to pleasure her however she wants to be pleasured by me. At the same time, as in other areas in our lives, sometimes we both want something, but it's not the same thing. Sometimes we are both separately needy individuals wanting to have the other focusing upon our needs.

E.d. has helped me to realize how lucky I am in most areas in my life. I never felt great about my sex life on the whole, because I took for granted that it would remain as it was. I'm learning not to take other things for granted and to appreciate them more than I used to.

I feel sad to have the e.d. issues I do. I feel lucky in being able to try to share a little of one area of my emotional life here, despite how scary it is to open myself up as I am doing.