Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Race (regarding skin color)

"Racism" is a word that would, truly, make no sense if one really thought about it. While the term "race" has been used to separate social categories (originally based on location) since the 1700s, that does not make it any more accurate when one is really referring to something as simple as the quantity of melanin in one's skin. I don't know about you, but I belong to the human race.


You hear it everywhere these days. “It’s reverse discrimination!” “That’s reverse racism.”


Discrimination, according to, is “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.”

Racism, from the same source, is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.”

Logical Test: Since neither definition is specific as to race, group, class, or category, there is no way for it to be reversed. Each term describes an action and/or attitude regardless. The person who is being discriminatory or racist is being, regardless of race, group, class, or category, and regardless of the object of that discrimination or racism. A person with chocolate skin acting for or against someone because their skin is vanilla is every bit as "racist" (which I feel is a total misnomer anyway, but that's another post) as the other way around. In fact, I have seen very "racist" remarks made by people toward people of their OWN skin shade - that is still "racist" even though it is the same "race."

Accurate, or Alternative Needed? The word "reverse" should never be used with the terms "racist/racism" or "discrimination."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Opposite of Love

This post was sparked by a comment on Facebook by Keith Groover (whom you should see if you're in need of any kind of musical instruction - let him teach you, or let him recommend somebody to you if it's one of the instruments he doesn't want to teach you). His remark was as follows: 

"I've heard many people say over the years that the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. When I think about that, though, I realize that I vastly prefer someone who is indifferent to me over one who hates me."

This is a popular saying - I have to admit to having used it myself. Let's put aside our indifference to the phrase, and decide if we love it or hate it.

Emotional Appeal

There are several reasons that this phrase makes us feel good. We don't like to think that people might hate us - or that we might hate someone. Just not thinking about somebody is, at worst, a sin of omission not commission. It goes against conventional modes of speech, which makes us feel modern and free-thinking - or for that matter, thinking at all. From the artist's perspective, one prefers to have either praise or panning and not, as Keith put it, "a resounding yawn". It matter to us that other people think of us. We hate it when people are indifferent, even if we're indifferent to their hatred - but only if we care about either them or us, and it usually mostly us. We tend to take things personally.

Logical Test

Let's attempt to define some really nebulous terms. Since Wikipedia is the compilation of all common human knowledge, we'll use that resource for definitions.

Love:  an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment.

Hate:  a deep and emotional extreme dislike that can be directed against individuals, entities, objects, or ideas.

Indifference:  an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life.

Love vs Hate: The similarities are both indicate strong emotion, both are personal in some way, both indicate some level of attachment, both indicate an active emotion. The differences are: affection or dislike.

Love vs Indifference: The similarities are only that they both deal with emotional content in some way - love by action, and indifference by inaction. The differences are emotion or lack thereof, affection or absence of interest.

Hate vs Indifference: The similarities and differences are the same as love vs indifference (except of course substituting the word Hate for the word Love).

Logically, both hate and indifference are opposite of love. Hate is love's opposite in direction, and indifference is love's opposite in essence - the complete lack of any strong emotion, attachment or interest. Indifference is the opposite of hate in the same way that it is the opposite of love.

Accurate, or Alternative Needed?

As the saying goes, pain is in the hand of the bee-holder. It depends on what you, as the object of said emotion or lack thereof, were hoping to get from the other person. Let's face it: using a saying like this is the equivalent of saying "It's all about me". Existentially, of course, you are correct. If what you really wanted was attention, but didn't get it, you feel the opposite of loved. If you wanted constructive input, but were ignored, you feel the opposite of love.

Really, though, this is an excuse. We can justify ignoring another person (I don't care if you're talking about the person himself or his ideas or work, it's still ignoring the person - we are holistic beings, and everything we produce is part of us) by calling it lack of time, promotion of peace, or other reasonable-sounding names. It's so much work to hate somebody, often even more than it is to love them.

The reason it is so much work, is that it means we still care. We care about what the other thinks. The other person has an effect on our lives. We have to put effort into it, at maintaining that particular kind of relationship. And we often develop "an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment" for the hatred at least, if not for the thing we hate. We wind up loving to hate. They are just too closely related in the human experience to be completely separated.

So check yourself when you are tempted to use this phrase. Are you trying to justify someone - most likely yourself? Are you feeling oppressed, depressed, or repressed? Because, let's face it: the only one of these ways of relating to people that we should want to make a part of us is love. So let us love love, and consider hate or indifference states that must be overcome by love.

Let's try this rephrase: The opposite of love is a challenge for me to make a difference.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

It Might Have Been

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these - It might have been." ~John Greenleaf Whittier

It is true that when something does not happen to which we were looking forward, we are not happy about the situation. However, it is equally true that when something does not happen that we were dreading, we are relieved.

It might have been ... that a mother died instead of living through an ordeal.
It might have been ... that one didn't recover any health and ended up bedridden.
It might have been ... that the car exploded instead of just leaking.
It might have been ... that he lost his job instead of just getting a pay cut.

It might have been. Maybe not so sad after all!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The First Step

Since you don't know what you can accomplish until you try, I've decided suddenly to launch a single-purpose blog, dedicated to the ruthless and wanton panning of the myriad "wise sayings" that are posted, pinned, and otherwise propagated on the interwebs. It seemed fitting to begin with this one.

The first step for this blog was the moment I clicked on the "New Blog" button. However, the blog began in my head as a result a response to a meme posted on Pinterest, which prompted me to post this on Facebook: "I wonder how many motivational phrases actually hold any water once they've been honestly evaluated... Could be a fun blog theme." This was followed by my suggestion of the blog's title a moment later. Then a search for the use of the title across the rest of the English-posting blogosphere. Then a discussion with my sister Dawn Harvey (who will also be posting here) about the merits of having multiple platforms for writing, not to mention non de plumes (you can call me Al).

So you can see that, prior to taking any material steps toward creating the blog, I had at least FOUR prior mental steps.

That's how a journey of any kind begins: an idea, followed by planning. You do all the work before you do the work. You've walked the path, sailed the sea, written the blog before the first rubber meets the road, seasickness meets the sea, and binary meets LCD.

That being said, the journey is undertaken. And miles to go before we sleep.