Understanding Art

Here are three videos by The Nerdwriter, “a weekly video essay series that puts ideas to work.”

I’ve always enjoyed art and wish I could participate, but I’ve also always felt bit distant. Even though I look and stare and draw conclusions, it often seems the art “Won’t give an inch.”

“Boredom is exactly when we feel time and being most acutely. It can inspire a profound mood.”

Also check out Movies inspired by Art, see how The Village stole from The Princess Bride, or more ideas from Nerdwriter1.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Art : Nerdwriter1

Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins

The following are excerpts from Stephen R. Covey’s Principle-Centered Leadership. He begins the chapter with, “Mahatma Gandhi said that seven things will destroy us. Notice that all of them have to do with social and political conditions. Note also that the antidote of each of these “deadly sins” is an explicit external standard or something that is based on natural principals and laws, not on social values.”

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

Wealth without work :

“This refers to the practice of getting something for nothing” and get rich quick. These ideas are dangerous because, “Justice and judgement are inevitably inseparable, suggesting that to the degree you move away from the laws of nature, your judgement will be adversely affected” (pg. 88).

Pleasure without conscience :

“The chief query of the immature, greedy, selfish, and sensuous has always been, ‘What’s in it for me? Will this please me? Will it ease me?’ Lately many people seem to want these pleasures without conscience or sense of responsibility, even abandoning or utterly neglecting spouses and children in the name of doing their thing. But independence is not the most mature state of being - it’s only a middle position on the way to interdependence, the most advanced and mature state. To learn to give and take, to live selflessly, to be sensitive, to be considerate, is our challenge” (pg. 88).

Knowledge without character :

“As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong principle character. Purely intellectual development without commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high-powered sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high on drugs. Yet all too often in the academic world, that’s exactly what we do by not focusing on the character development of young people” (pg 89).

Commerce (business) without morality (ethics) :

To Adam Smith, author of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations, “every business transaction is a moral challenge to see that both parties come out fairly. Fairness and benevolence in business are the underpinnings of the free enterprise system called capitalism.” “If we ignore the moral foundation and allow economic systems to operate without moral foundation . . . we will soon create an amoral, if not immoral, society and business” (pg 90).

Science without humanity :

“If science becomes all technique and technology, it quickly degenerates into man against humanity. Technologies come from the paradigms of science. And if there’s very little understanding of the higher human purpose that the technology is strive to serve, we become victims of our own technocracy” (pg 91).

Religion without sacrifice :

“Without sacrifice we become active in a church but remain inactive in its gospel. In other words, we go for the social facade of religion and the piety of religious practices. There is not real walking with people or going the second mile or trying to deal with our social problems that may eventually undo our economic system. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people - the sacrifice of our own pride and prejudice, among other things.”

“If our church or religion is seen as just another hierarchical system, its members won’t have a sense of service or inner worship. Instead they will be into outward observances and all the visible accoutrements of religion. But they are neither God-centered nor principle-centered” (pg. 91-92).

Politics without principle :

“If there is no principal, there is no true north, nothing you can depend upon. The focus on the personality ethic is the instant creation of an image that sells well in the social and economic marketplace.”

. . .

“If you get a sick social will behind the political will that is independent of principle, you could have a very sick organization or society with distorted values” (pg. 93).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On LivingDo Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

Scales of Justice : When Pigs Were held Accountable

In January 1457, a domestic sow and her six pigs were charged with murdering and partly devouring an infant. “The sow was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging”, but her offspring were pardoned, “partly because of their youth . . . and the fact that their mother had set them a bad example,” (via).

The mother, for her part, was “hanged and strangled on a gibbet of wood, near the gallows” (via), as an example to the other pigs and livestock on how they were expected to behave.

Because in the mid 1400’s, animals were running amuck, and they needed to be held accountable.

In his 1906 book, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, historian E.P. Evans recounts dozens upon dozens of instances where animals were put on trial and convicted for their crime: sparrows were prosecuted for chattering in Church, a cock burnt at the stake for laying an egg, and sheep, according to Criminal, “a true podcast that understands crime,” were being tried, sentenced, and executed “for seducing men into more than friendly relationships” (via).

It was a very scary time young sheep in America.

At any given time, a man could see a sheep, misinterpret it’s bleating and body language for sexual advances, and be unable to control himself. He would have to have that sheep.

And the sheep - not the man - would be held accountable.

“Eventually,” the podcast continues “people decided that criminal intent wasn’t something you could ascribe to animals” and a sort of paradise was restored. For the sheep, at least.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. “Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child,” with” only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators” ending up in prison.

Six out of 1,000! That number is abhorring. So too is the fact that “{n}o more than 20 percent of rapes are reported to the police” (via), a number that many find unbelievable. “If it was as bad as you say,” the argument goes, “if he was doing something you didn’t want, why didn’t they scream or fight back? Why didn’t they fight for their life?”

And the answer, unfathomable to many, is that by staying silent and allowing it to happen is exactly what they were doing, fighting for their lives.

“One of the things that is difficult for most of us {to understand} about a rape,” Dr. Lisak states, “is that there doesn’t have to be a gun to the head, there doesn’t have to be a knife present, there doesn’t have to be a verbalized threat for the act itself to be enormously terrifying and threatening.

There is a difference between sexual violence and other forms of assault. Sexual violence is so intimate.” When your body is penetrated by another person against your will. It often induces a uniquely powerful kind of terror. According to many peer-reviewed studies, a large percentage of the victims of non-stranger rapes “actually feared they were going to be killed,” even when “there was no weapon and no overt violence.”

Staying silent means staying alive, so too is remaining silent. “Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved. People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe” (via). Rapists can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbors, family members, partners or exes”, not some stranger hiding in the bushes. It’s someone they see consistently, that they know by name, and that will probably see in their house, at work, or at the next family reunion.

Which makes the allegations all the more difficult, because the victim will be asking family and friends to face each other rather than stand united. And that, according to Judith Lewis Herman in Trauma and Recovery, is extremely difficult. “It is morally impossible,” she writes, “to remain neutral in {cases of sexual assault}”, because “{t}he bystander is forced to take sides.”

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering . . .

Victims of sexual assault demand empathy. Sadly, however, what they often receive is apathy. “Boys will be boys,” they hear echoing from police officers, school administrators, lawyers, friends, and the many others who are meant to serve and protect them. “You shouldn’t have been drinking,” victims are told, or “Look at what you’re wearing” and “why did you put yourself in that position?”

Instead of empathy, victims are often attacked and maligned for speaking out. Instead, they are held accountable for the perpetrators actions, or mocked on live television.

“Drunk guys,” Krakauer writes in his terrifying book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, “who may have ‘made mistakes’ nearly always get the benefit of the doubt. Drunk girls, however, do not” (via).

Why is that?

The answer - or problem, rather - seems to be that we, as a country, lack empathy. At least for those unlike ourselves.

In the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus finds himself defending Tom Robinson, a black man, before a white jury. Tom Robinson has been accused of raping a white woman, but the evidence against the claim is as clear and as simple as “black and white.” Atticus, the judge, and every person in the courtroom knows Tom Robinson is innocent, but because black men were considered little more than cattle, it wasn’t shocking to expect a black man to pay the price for a white man’s (or woman’s) sins.

Atticus understood this. He understood that in order to win and save Tom Robinson, he needed the jury to empathize with the victim; he needed them to see and understand Tom Robinson like they saw and understood themselves - as human. A task as murky and complicated as black and white.

“You know the truth,” Atticus states, “and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women - black and white.” And you can almost see the jury, nodding their heads in approval, perhaps even whispering, “them Negros” under their breath or quietly in their minds. But then, Atticus asks them to reach towards empathy.

But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.”

Atticus paused and took out his handkerchief. Then he took off his glasses and wiped them” (pg 205).

It is here, perhaps, that Atticus lost the jury, and the point were Tom Robinson was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. In order for the jury to acquit Tom Robinson, they would have to empathize with him. And in order to empathize with him, they would have to admit that they, white men, were similar to a black man. And if they were similar to a black man, that would mean black men weren’t property or cattle, they were human. And if they were human, then the white population would have a lot of explaining and reconciling to do.

Instead, they convicted him of a crime he didn’t commit, as an example of how they were expected to behave.

It was also an example and reminder to themselves and their fellow white Americans, because if they sided with Tom Robinson, if they took his word over the white man’s - if they empathized with him - they would reduce the gap of power. And if they lost the gap of power, they might lose control. If they lost control, the African American community would have a voice and the ability to defend themselves against the white power. They could also accuse it. And that would be extremely dangerous for the young white men of the coming generation.

So they chose to avoid empathy and embrace power. They decided to keep things as they were: divided, and imbalanced.

It is often said that history is written by those who win, by those who have the power. But so too is the present.

Those in power decide what is real and what is fake. They determine who is right and who is wrong, and perhaps most importantly, they decide who is responsible. Be it sheep, black America, or woman.

But the thing is, “Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs,” writes Jessica Valenti, a Guardian US columnist, “Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them” (via).

Sure, woman can become better educated on how to defend themselves, where they should or shouldn’t go, on how much is too much to drink, and on how to recognize the warning signs of a possible sexual assault.

Or, men can just stop sexually assaulting women.

It is a scary time for young men. It is a scary because if they are consistently allowed to behave like animals, if they are not be held accountable for their actions, and if we as a country do not collectively begin to expect more from them, it is indeed scary to think of the men they will become.

And the offices they will hold.

Three (plus two) favorite quotes from You Are A Badass

51ypp1C+97L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”

I just finished this book a few weeks ago and, to be honest, it wasn’t earth shattering. But it was a good reminder - a great reminder even - that I am a badass, and so are you. We just need to get rid of the many obstacles that we set in our way.

To help (inspire and save you time, if you can’t read the book), here are a few write-em-on-a-notecard points of encouragement that you can post on your frig, your dash, your workspace, or anywhere else you find yourself thinking and procrastinating.

In no particular order:

  1. “If you wanna stay stuck in the same place and keep getting spanked with the same lessons over and over, be negative, resentful, and victimized. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn . . . write your thank-you notes!” (pg 120).

  2. “Sometimes the road to freedom lies in deciding you’d rather be happy than right” (pg 125).

  3. “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse” (pg 153).

Favorite quotes that were quoted:

  1. “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past” - Lily Tomlin

  2. “We tiptoe through life trying to safely make it to death” - unknown

If you want more, you can see some of my other favorite quotes here from, You Are A Badass, here.

For more on . . .

Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Notable Women : Swapping out faces we all know for faces we all should

notable-women-01.jpg

Notable Women features 100 historic women selected from the Teachers Righting History database, a collection of women whom the American people recommended to appear on actual U.S. currency during my time at the U.S. Department of Treasury (via).

After all, inspirations lead to aspirations, which is why we have a responsibility to highlight the women who have shaped our past and serve as role models for our future. I want to thank you for your interest, and hope you will share Notable Women with your friends and family (via).

Although very cool and better than nothing, somehow, it seems a bit, I don’t know, shallow maybe? Because really, that’s all we can do to honor the woman who have helped shape and form our country?

I applaud the attempt, but am embarrassed just the same.

You can view modified notes on the website, like Sojourner Truth (top), Grace Hopper (below), Amelia Earhart (bottom), and Amelia Boynton Robinson.

notable-women-02.jpg
notable-women-03.jpg