My Blog Week: August 11 to August 17
A Word on the Week
Here’s a radical idea.
I’ve talked about it in an earlier essay, the concept of Reliability, the importance of regarding this in light of a possession, a type of personal sovereignty on a par with control over your own body. Reliability is your innate compliance with social norms and expectations, your wish to be right with other people, to fix anything you’ve done wrong, to obey laws and rules, to be courteous in your manners, and self-sacrificing in the name of cooperation. (You can throw in patriotic feeling, as long as you don’t get carried away.)
Above all other things, respecting the reliability of other people, which is entirely akin to the powerful American belief in innocence until (or unless) guilt is proved, means that we don’t do wanton harm to strangers, about whom we know nothing.
We do considerable harm, uncounted harm, when we decide another person, going about her business, is somehow a danger (while she may not suspect those watching are a present danger to her)...because of some label we attach to her, long-distance.
If you care about patriotism, you can’t separate it from honor.
Honor demands that you don’t talk about other people, you talk to them.
When I say radical, I mean the Right to Reliability is something I would add to the Equal Rights Amendment, and then, of course, get it fully ratified. Not, I jump right in to clarify, that I would criminalize taking someone’s reliability away, by discrimination based on gossip, labeling, wild imagination, tumorous “better safe than sorry” thinking. I just want our culture to believe in protecting reputation, in good faith dealings with others, as a civic responsibility.
Examples of “calling people dangerous” have been all over this week’s news, from the Arkansas woman who short-term kidnapped four boys raising money for their football team, to the refusal of the Israeli government to allow Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to enter their country. (Reversed, with restrictions, in Tlaib’s case.)
The Palestinian problem is challenging to progressives; there should be a common thread to be drawn through the treatment of this people, and that of the Uighurs and Rohingyas. And in fact there is one, and we can see what it is.
Israel has been an ally of the United States for many years, and the current attitude has cropped up, to the awareness of the general public, only recently, only with Trump supporters. Much of the rhetoric is cynical human shielding.
Consider, any Israeli citizen should feel absolutely free to criticize America’s detention camps, our abusive treatment of refugees. To do so is no betrayal of loyalty. No American should wish to deny the right of free speech to anyone in the world, certainly not on the basis of “owing” us, in our embarrassment, silence. But who would be the first to complain, if a group of Israeli citizens issued a critical report, article, staged a protest, etc.? Can a true best friend also be the first to shun and condemn you for exercising a fundamental human right?
I do suggest that Tlaib has been angered into reactivity, and she should resist this tendency. Reactivity is not a thing anyone needs to have in common with the president. The original mission was to report; she also hoped to visit her grandmother, and that is a high enough priority. The job of a reporter is to tell what she sees. Reporters can’t choose how those events they report on are going to play out. Had she gone, and had she been followed, intimidated, prevented from moving about at will, those things would become the story.
But here again, react to what is, not to what can be imagined.
Monday, I posted a poem in the Jumping Off series, “Dispel”; Tuesday, the first episode in a reissue of “The Impresario”. Wednesday, a new Totem-Maker, in which the character imparts a lesson, and travels to the sea. Thursday’s Catastrophe has some interest for those curious about prophecies, even politically motivated ones. Friday, a non-series poem, “Resolved”, a script for robots doing their best. Saturday, more of Celebrated, Petra getting to the story outside the story.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: August 11 to August 17