Sunday, November 3, 2013

When again the better angels of our nature

I was recently told by an extremely smart person that she greatly values my thoughts and opinions--that I should "start a blog" (knowing full well I have this...thing) because she thinks the way I interpret the world, and my ability to break things down, are valuable. Of course, I was deeply flattered. Anytime a PhD. wants to tell me that they think my brain is valuable, they're welcome to do so.

So I thought about that for a while. I do have certain things going for me: Chicago Public Radio is my most-listened to preset in my car, and due to my work hours I hear a lot of BBC World News. I spend a lot of time on social media making judgmental Martin-squinty-eyes at happenings in pop culture. I detest hyperbole and overreaction. I tend to subscribe to Occam's Razor in most everything. I have a lot of free time, and I actually do enjoy gathering outside perspectives on most things. I'm pretty good at summarizing things and being legitimately fair and balanced.

All that said, the world is full of middle-class, white 20-somethings who think their thoughts and opinions are worthwhile. A lot of them cook and bake way better than I can, most of them dress way better than I do, and I'm willing to bet a bunch of them are a lot more resourceful than I am. A lot of them have more life experience than I do: they've lost someone close to them, they suffer from a chronic illness, or have overcome cancer, or perhaps overcome an addiction. Who am I? Other than being a lady, I more or less have had every privilege afforded to me. I can't believe that my ideas or point of view are needed in any way, shape, or form. I'm a slightly poorer, less disaffected, and far luckier-in-love Lena Dunham (who has been quoted as saying "I'm anti-pants", so we clearly have things in common).

All THAT said, here are my thoughts over the last couple months:

-I was very surprised George Zimmerman was actually found not guilty of any sort of culpability in the murder of Trayvon Martin. I assert you can easily figure out where people's hearts and opinions lie about that case based upon their framing of it as a "murder" or a "killing/shooting". I spent a lot of time thinking about ways I could speak out about what I felt was injustice, without co-opting the feelings of black Americans.

-The WikiLeaks scandal made me uncomfortable. I understand why Julian Assange is free while Chelsea Manning is jailed. I don't like that our government was keeping some really damaging things from the public, but I also don't like government secrets getting leaked. I'm team "anti-leaks" while also being "team transparency in governance. I assert you can tell how compassionate a news organization is whether or not they respected Chelsea's request to call her Chelsea and use feminine pronouns.

-Mass shootings keep happening, and I will never, ever be able to have a rational discussion about gun control with people who aren't anti-guns. Not because people who are pro-guns/pro-2nd Amendment/anti-gun control are horrible people, but because I am extremely irrational in my fear and loathing of guns. I can understand the right to bear arms, and the framers' intent, and social/cultural factors that probably contribute more than access to guns, but I don't think I'll ever be able to shake that gut feeling that guns are bad, and no one should have access to murder machines. For these reasons, I stay out of these discussions.

-Boo government shutdown. Boo Tea Party. Boo Republicans for letting yourselves be bullied by party extremists. Fist-bump to the President for negotiating with Iran and not bitter GOP House members. Some people thought that reflected poorly on the President, but I think it sent a loud, clear message about what he thought about the Tea Party and their demands. We don't negotiate with terrorists.

-On a related note, I'm not completely a bleeding heart namby pamby liberal person, in that I had only marginal reserves of sympathy for the government workers who were on forced paid leave. I repeat--paid leave. Yeah, not getting your paycheck at the beginning of the month was probably hard, but welcome to the private sector. Except in the private sector you wouldn't be getting those un-worked days paid back to you on a later check, you'd just be SOL. "What are they supposed to do??" cried politicians and citizens decrying the shutdown. IDK, dip into their savings? Budget? Find a new job? Your average American seems to have been able to figure it out when it happened to them, and Congress hasn't been securing their back-pay.

-The Affordable Care Act has already helped me (the Boy only needed 6 months of gap insurance before he could be added to my plan since he could stay on his parents' plan until he was 26, free birth control, free yearly preventative care screening), and I'm excited to find time to read the literature Friday's sent me to see if I'm eligible for subsidies. I'm sorry if younger, healthier people will be "penalized" for being young and healthy and having higher premiums than they're used to, but I think (if for some reason this system stays in place for the long term *cough team nationalized health care cough*) they'll appreciate young people carrying that burden when they themselves are older and sicker and don't have to pay a zillion dollars to stay alive, let alone have any sort of quality of life.

-Logic behind American obsession with English nobility re: royal baby eludes me to this day. Didn't my elder Martins fight a war to ensure I didn't have to care about the monarchy?

-Egypt: get your act together. Please don't ask me, or the US, how. We don't have good ideas. A similar entry would fall under "Syria".

-I'm kind of mad at Edward Snowden, more than I am Chelsea Manning. That is exactly the kind of leaking I disapprove of. Boo Edward.

-I've been married for over a year and will be spending Thanksgiving in Boston. Thumbs-up and smiles all around.


Word-vomitingly yours,