Why I stick with non violence

A few months ago, at the March Against Monsanto, I ran into some anarchists doing a survey in an attempt to convince people that non violence was futile, ineffective, and dumb. They made some good points that I had a hard time arguing with at the time, but I walked away from it still feeling uneasy. I just can’t believe that using violence to enact change is the best course of action. It took me a while to pinpoint why though. Continue reading

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Making dietary changes

I’ve gone on dozens of diets and made a variety of dietary changes in my lifetime. I can say with confidence that every diet I went on was utterly and completely ineffective, and if we’re measuring dietary changes by the same standard as diets, then those have been equally as ineffective. Because, hello, I’m still fat. Still, I feel much happier with the results of my dietary changes than my diets. Continue reading

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As I get older

I turned 30 this weekend.

I’ve always been kind of weird about aging. When I was very little, I was certain that I would not survive until adulthood, or even high school. I honestly believed that most children died before they had the chance to grow up, and what were the chances I’d be one of the lucky ones? Weirdly, I was at peace with this.

As I got older, and started to understand that childhood death was not as common as I had once believed, I decided that I did not, under any circumstances, want to grow up. Grown ups were miserable most of the time and frequently boring and I wanted no part of that. Unfortunately there was no stopping the march of time, and I knew it.

When I was seventeen I had this freak out moment when I realized that it was my last year of childhood. It was probably a good thing, it inspired me to pull my shit together and stop being the dumb, rebellious teenager I was. But it was frightening and saddening, and it was a long time before I stopped missing my childhood, and feeling like I didn’t appreciate it enough.

But as I’ve moved through my twenties, my views on aging have changed. Maybe it comes from having watched my kids grow, or maybe it’s from looking at the reality of my own aging in comparison to what the patriarchy has told me about what aging means all these years, but I don’t want to be negative about aging. I feel a little sad whenever I hear an older person say something like “This getting old thing is for the birds” or “Aging is no fun”. I get angry when I see ads for anti aging products, or hear women say things like “I stopped having birthdays at 29″,or the constant messages from culture telling us we have to be young. What’s wrong with aging? We all have to do it, there’s no escaping it. You can do it gracefully, or you can do it miserably. Accept it, or resign yourself to it. Either way, it’s going to happen and there’s not much you can do about it. In fact, it’s my opinion that too many products and procedures in the attempt to avoid it just end up making you look (and probably feel) worse than just aging would have. Why do we loathe and fear aging so?

Ageism is the weirdest prejudice. It’s something we all perpetuate knowing full well that we all will have to face the same fate. Are we really that short sighted? It’s bizarre. Why? And I can’t believe how many people do it to themselves as they age. Have we been trained to hate aging and ourselves that much?

I don’t want to hate aging.

I don’t want to be ashamed of my age, or go around fussing about how getting old sucks. I don’t want to talk about my youth as if it was some better time and the time I’m in now is worthless. I don’t want to have multiple 29th birthdays, or say things like “40 is the new 30″. I don’t know what kind of shape my body will keep, if I’ll get arthritis, or when my hair will turn grey, and I don’t care. I want to enjoy my life to the best of my ability right now, forever, no matter what my age is or what state my body is in. I want to be grateful that I didn’t die in childhood, that I have had the privilege to turn 13, 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30. I want to celebrate and be grateful for 40, 50, 60, and beyond. I want to cherish every birthday as the privilege it is, and my 30’s are going to be my 30’s, not my new 20’s, and my 40’s will be my 40’s, and so on. I want to get old. Very, very old. Old enough to see my great grand children graduate from high school old. And I want to love it, even if my body craps out on me, even if I go grey tomorrow and wrinkle up like a prune. I don’t want to fear aging. And I’m not going to.

That is my pledge for starting a new decade.

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Political Correctness

This morning I’m thinking about all the times I hear people complain about political correctness. Being politically correct is not something I ever think about and I don’t think the term is even relevant anymore. When I think about what it means, I realize that it’s what I would define as being polite, so it confuses me why anyone would complain about it or imply that the world was better before the age of political correctness. After all, being politically correct is just not saying anything outrageously racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, ableist, or otherwise bigoted. So, when someone says something negative about political correctness, what I hear them saying is “I wish I were free to say really offensive, bigoted things without fear of social humiliation.”
I was pretty young when the term “politically correct” was coined, so maybe this hasn’t always been the case, but these days it seems like the term is a derogatory term for treating people respectfully, used only by those who wish they could be more openly bigoted. People I know who have no complaint about treating people respectfully and as if they have equal worth as a human being no matter their race, sex, gender, religion, class, etc., never use the term “politically correct” at all. They would call their behavior polite or respectful, nothing more. It’s only a certain type of person who uses the term “politically correct”, and it’s not the kind of person I generally associate with.
There’s my observation of the day.

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You make formula feeders look bad

Any intelligent person knows that the vast majority of moms who feed their babies formula instead of breast milk are well informed, caring mothers, doing the best they can with what they have. Sure, breast milk is the food your baby is designed to eat, and all other choices are in some way inferior to it, but we have to face the fact that breastfeeding isn’t possible or realistic for many women in our society (and, if we care about the best possible health for all women and children, work to change factors in society that make it impossible or unrealistic, rather than attacking moms for doing what they have to), and that, in reality, formula is the next best choice to human breast milk. It’s better than giving your baby straight cows milk, or other solid foods too soon. In fact, if you can’t give your baby human breast milk, formula is the only other thing you should give your baby for the first six months of life. Most moms who feed their kids formula know this, and are simply providing their baby with the best food they are able to. The reasons why they aren’t breastfeeding are none of my business and shouldn’t have to be justified by them. Suffice it to say that they live in this society, and they are giving their baby the best they can given the restraints of the society they live in.

But then there’s the women who, I can only assume out of an urge to look like they don’t care what anyone thinks, say things like “Yeah I give my baby formula? So what? It’s my kid! I’ll put Pepsi in his bottle if I want!”

Really?

That’s the direction you want to take this? Instead of saying, “Breastmilk wasn’t an option for us, so I’m giving my baby the next best thing.” you want to say “I don’t give a shit about my kids health. He’s property owned by me and I’ll trash it by whatever means pleases me at any given moment. I’m not in this to raise the healthiest possible child I can with what I have available to me, I’m in it to do things conveniently and entertainingly, and if it’s bad for my kid? Who cares? I don’t give a shit about all that nonsense of health!”

I know there’s this stereotype out there of the woman who formula feeds. That she is uneducated, lazy, selfish, and that she doesn’t care about her kids as much as the rest of us do. The vast majority of formula feeding moms do not fit this stereotype at all, and yet the stereotype persists. Why? Because of loud mouthed, obnoxious women like the one who compares formula feeding to her “right” to put soda in her kids bottle.

I get the impression that moms who say this kind of thing aren’t really ever going to put soda in their kids bottle, they know how horrendous that would be, they’re just saying it to upset lactivists. But if you’re going to say something horrendous to upset lactivists, why stop there? You know what else upsets me? Sexual abuse of children. Why not say “Yeah, I formula feed! So what?! It’s my kid, I’ll do what I want with him! I’ll molest him if I want! Because he’s my property and his health isn’t important, I’ll do what I want!!!!!” (I imagine all this dialogue in a Cartman voice)

Do they ever stop to think that by comparing formula feeding to the horrendous act of putting soda in a bottle, that they are making formula look like a worse substance than what it is? Instead of saying, “Hey, it’s the next best thing to breast milk” (which it is, please don’t feed your baby under six months something other than either breast milk or formula, and please continue to feed your baby either breast milk or formula for at least the first year of their life, even after introducing solids), you go with “it’s almost as bad as Pepsi and I don’t give a shit!” Which isn’t even true, but their comments not only imply it is, but give the impression that you wouldn’t care if it were true.

Really? You don’t care about the health value of what you put into your kid? Why not let your kid smoke? Why not shoot him up with heroin? It’s your kid, you’ll do what you want!!!!!!

If you ever wonder why formula feeding moms have a bad image, it’s because of moms who say crap like this.

Let me be clear for my lactivist friends when I say formula is the next best thing to breast milk: I know that formula is inferior to breast milk, it raises a kids risk for many illnesses and diseases, it decreases your kid’s IQ, most of it contains toxins like BPA, and most of it has almost as much sugar as a soda, but it also has protein and fats and nutrients and formula is leaps and bounds above soda. Is breast milk a million times better than formula? Yes. But if you can’t feed your child breast milk, for what ever reason, is there some other alternative to breast milk that is better than formula? No there is not. Formula is the healthiest thing you can feed your baby in the absence of breast milk. Period. If you are a formula feeding mom, please own that. Please own that you’re feeding your kid the next best thing to breast milk, because you care about your child’s health and you want to give it the best you are able to. Please do not compare formula feeding to soda, or any other “I’ll do what I want because I don’t give a shit about what’s healthiest” argument. Don’t pretend that formula feeding is a choice you made because you don’t care about your baby’s health just to bug lactivists or look bad ass or whatever you’re trying to do. You’re just giving formula feeding moms a bad name.

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Militarism

There is a lot of militarism happening in this country that is not recognized and often straight up celebrated. It frightens me.
For example, when I first joined the Army in 2003, we were told we were not to ever wear our uniforms outside of duty and a few special occasions that necessitated dress uniforms, because it made us a target and because the uniform is an implied threat. Over time in my course in the Army, the policy changed allowing us to wear uniforms in more and more situations, until in 2009 when I was almost out, I sat through a training that instructed me to wear my uniform whenever I could, including to PTA meetings (which seemed an odd thing to specify) so that the community knows we are amongst them, and this can keep them safe.
Or, I thought, to get them used to the sight of uniformed authority figures so that as we grow in numbers and become more involved in daily life of civilians it will be less distressing and more easily ignored.
Like a frog in a pot being slowly warmed to a boil.

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If your belief surrounding what happens when you die requires you to belittle those who don’t agree with you, you’re an asshole and your belief is bullshit

The only thing I don’t like about being a progressive Christian is having to explain myself to countless angry progressives who seem to go all “Durr?” at the concept of any Christian not being some inbred, Bible thumping, neanderthal. I don’t mind the fear and hatred I get from the Christian right, whatever, but it’s the progressives who can’t seem to get past the idea that all Christians are idiot bigots that I don’t like dealing with.

Progressive Christianity is kind of a big thing. Many, many, many Christians are pro social justice, pro choice, feminist, pro LGBTQ, anti war, and they believe in evolution. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Sojourners

The Progressive Christian Alliance

The Christian Left

Christians Against the Tea Party

Evolutionary Christianity

The Naked Pastor

Reconciling In Christ

Nuns on the Bus

These are just a few of the many Christian organizations that are out there doing progressive works in the world and embracing modern, educated, and forward thinking ideals like social justice and science. We don’t care if you are Christian or not and we’re not trying to convert you, all we ask is that you respect our beliefs and not call us names or make fun of us for it. The same way we don’t call followers of other belief systems, including atheists, names.

I recognize that many non Christians are bullied and made fun of by the Christian right in this country, and I despise it as much as everyone else does. If it’s any consolation, the Christian right hates Christians like me more than they could ever hate any non Christian, because we’re out there showing people that Christianity doesn’t have to be a cess pool of hate, fear, and ignorance, and that that’s actually probably never what Christ intended in the first place. They work really hard to silence us in whatever way they can, mostly by shouting louder than us, but also by directly attacking us (such as Glenn Beck’s regular attacks on Sojourners and any church that preaches social justice), so that people don’t know about us. But we’re out there and we’re tired of being misrepresented.

That’s exactly why it hurts so bad to see the very people who are with us being bullied and victimized by the Christian right sinking to their level and bullying and victimizing right back. I try to be as easy going as the next person, and I can laugh at a Christian joke, but there comes a point where a line gets crossed and I have to ask, “Is this really what you think of me?”

You really think I’m an idiot because I have faith in something I can’t see? Really? You really think that deep down inside I must not really be a feminist, or care about social justice, or believe in evolution, just because I go to church? Really? You think I’m a bigot and a gullible moron? Gee thanks. I love you too, buddy.

I don’t want to jump on the “Christians are oppressed” bandwagon (I know that we are not), but if I were to make the kinds of statements about Muslims or Jews or Pagans or Buddhists that people say about Christians, I would be called a bigot. And rightly so. So why is it okay to make these statements about Christians? Because we’re the privileged group? Yes, we are, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out, but you don’t have to do it in a belittling, hateful manner. When you do, you’re no better than those Christians using their privilege to oppress you. If you had the privilege that Christians do, it sounds like you’d be just as much of an asshole with it as the Genn Becks, Michelle Bachmans, and Rick Santorums of the world are.

I hate to point fingers, but it seems to me that atheists are the worst about this kind of thing. I try to be understanding, since they seem to be like Christians in that it’s still pretty socially acceptable to pick on them. It’s natural to want to lash out, and when they do so in a manner that is logical and not just mean for meaness sake, I tend to side with them. I feel their pain. I empathize with them. But a lot of it is just mean for meaness sake, and I’m getting a little peeved with it. Here’s a few examples of stuff I’ve seen lately that bugs me.

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Okay, so I’m not in control over my mental faculties, and I’m putting other people in danger? Gee, thanks! And for the record, I’m fine letting an Atheist drive (assuming drive is a metaphor for assuming political or societal power), as long as they’re not an asshole (and by asshole, I mean shoves their beliefs down my throat like the religious right does).

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This may come as a shock to many, but The Bible is not intended to be proof God exists. There is no proof God exists. At least, not any proof that I can give you. That’s why it’s called faith. Get a dictionary and look it up.

The Bible is meant to be a historical record of our faith. That’s it. And like most Christians, I do not believe that it was meant to be taken completely literally, nor do I believe it’s exactly accurate. Much of it is simply a series of lessons being presented in the same way Aesop presented his fables. But just because it’s not literally true doesn’t mean there’s not still some valuable lessons there. Just because a city mouse never really visited his mouse cousin who lives in the country doesn’t mean that the moral of to each his own doesn’t have any value.

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Wow. So now religion is like rape? Where do I even start with this?
Okay, so anything that’s ever caused any kind of harm in the world is always a terrible thing, and any good that thing may have done is always wiped out by it’s negative deeds? Okay, so every thing and every one is evil. Case closed. I know that religion has been used to justify a lot of shitty things in the past, I recognize it, I own it because I want to learn from that and move on. But religion it’s self did not do the crusades or the witch hunts or the inquisition or slavery or sexism or genocide or terrorism or marrying twelve year olds or honor killings or mass suicide to go live in the tail of a comet or protesting Soldier’s funerals. Some (mostly male) people’s interpretations of religion were used to justify the acts that some (mostly male) people perpetrated. And since most of the perpetrators were men, I could rightly use the same logic as this meme and say “saying men have done some good things too is like saying he may be a rapist, but at least he wore a condom.” Is it fair to label all men as the cause of all this bad shit because they were major players when it went down? Of course not. So why is it fair to do to religion? Sure, religion has been in the picture big time when a lot of bad things have gone down, that doesn’t make religion the cause. Men have been involved big time when a lot of bad things have gone down, does that make men the cause? Here’s a science term for the creator of this meme; correlation is not causation. Just because something correlates with something else does not make it the cause of the other thing. It’s pretty simple.

And even if correlation were causation in this case, the creator of this meme just compared the acts of Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr. to rape with a condom. Way to go. Yeah, a lot of terrible stuff was inspired by a warped and self serving interpretation of religion by some evil nut bag (most likely a man). But a good person can read the exact same religious material, come to a totally different conclusion, and do amazing, beautiful things inspired by that same religion. I think that shows that the problem is not the religion itself, but the person interpreting it.

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This one is interesting, and certainly true sometimes. I’ve known lots of Christians like this (and worse), and lots of Atheists like this. You know what else? The opposite can also be true! I’ve known lots of atheists who live their lives according to a philosophy that goes something like this. “There’s just this one life and when it’s all over that’s it, so I’m just going to do what makes me feel good and not give a shit about consequences because there are none! Nor is there any meaning or purpose! This is just one big accident and living my life as if there’s any meaning or purpose to it would be a huge waste of time and something that only gullible suckers would do!”

At the same time, I’ve known plenty of religious people (in Christianity and other faiths) who roll a little more like this, “Wow! Look at all of this beauty all around me that God created! How wonderful and precious I must be to Him that He thought I was important enough to be even a small part of this beautiful, amazing masterpiece! Sure, there is a lot of bad in the world, but the good and beauty of it far outweighs it! And I am even luckier, because not only has God granted me the gift of being able to live in all this beauty, but He has given me the ability to enact change upon it, and work to make it more beautiful and good for my posterity! I will do that to bring honor to my generous creator, and joy to all who come after me, so that they may be at least as blessed as I have been, and hopefully more so!”

You know what I think? I think if you’re prone to gratefulness and good works, you’re going to be that way, with or without religion. If you’re probe to be a selfish, miserable, asshole, you’re going to be that way, with or without religion. Let’s leave faith out of it.

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Here’s a good one! What better way to say “I hate religion, but I’m also a sizist!”?

Possibly classist and ableist too, but maybe I’m reading too much into this. Here’s a tip, sinking to the level of bigots to make your point doesn’t make you look any better than the people you’re making fun of.

Last but not least …

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I actually agree with this one, I just would like to add a follow up.

Religious just means I believe in something bigger than myself.
Christian just means I worship that something using traditions and philosophies laid out by Jesus Christ and those followers of his that I most agree with.

- It does not mean I’m a bigot
– It does not mean I don’t believe in science
– It does not mean I vote Republican
– It does not mean I hate, fear, or distrust people who don’t share the same beliefs as I do.
– It does not mean I’m ignorant to history

It just means that I think that guy Jesus said some pretty good stuff, and I’m going to try to live by it as best as I can, because I like it that much. That’s it.
Is that cool?

If not, you’re probably not the kind of person I want to associate with anyhow. Why don’t you go chill with Focus on the Family, or some group like that? You have a lot more in common with them than you think.

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