Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Invite beauty into your life

It was interesting to read this paragraph today, because I had just been thinking about a piece of art I want to buy, though I’m not sure when or where I will put it (I have a fair bit of organizing/donating/selling to do, though slowly making headway through it.)

This is what I’ve been eying:

Why this image? It brings to mind the poet Caedmon, and his poem about the creation of the world.

Caedmon’s story is one I first encountered as a child, and then even more memorably in university when I learned to read it (sort of) in the original Old English.

Retold as a children’s story:

My account partly explaining how Caedmon and Hild have entered into my story is linked below. I say “partly” because I don’t ever feel like I can fully explain why this story means so much to me. It has a way of continually inviting me back in, pulling me into  complex root systems, seeking, seeking some unseen well of water.  I did a bit of a deep dive in university with my long poem  “A Gift of Bones,” but I’ve never felt like this has exhausted the potential. If I pay attention, I feel like pieces of my life are always returning to this story. 

What happens if I invite it in? 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Easter memories

Back in 2006 I was 26 years old and living in Athens, Greece with my aunt, my dad’s sister. I had the opportunity to visit the island of Kefalonia for Easter break with a family friend. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and one of my favourite all time memories.

I wrote about it on my old blog here. I’ve mostly archived this blog but I keep a few favourite entries online.

I think of my trip to Kefalonia, along with the trip a few weeks later to Scotland, as transformative experiences. Catalyst moments. The transformations had been underway long before the actual trips, and would continue long after (arguably still continuing, along with transformations begun even earlier). But sometimes a particular experience acts as a kind of plot device in my life, allowing me to see the structure of it more clearly. Or it allows me to pull something half-realized out of that mist and be specific about what it means.

I did not write all of my impressions of Kefalonia in the blog entry above, which was adapted from an email to friends and family and written mostly in a breezy style. Some years later, recently engaged to be married, I revisited the experience and wrote more personally about it.

Some places are just.....very special. They are more than what meets the eye. Kefalonia is one. I don’t know that I will ever go back, and anyway the “me” that returns won’t be the same as the one who was there before....but that’s ok. It’s as it should be.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Gratitude for place

A couple of entries ago I commented how I often fantasize about leaving the city. But today I was reminded how lucky I am to live, with my family,  in the urban neighbourhood that I do.

Spring feels like it’s well on its way though not officially here until next week. It was the warmest day that we have had this year. Outside a chorus of birds were singing, of which I identified robins, chickadees, woodpeckers, and crows plus at least one unfamiliar song. My husband was feeling unwell today after a vaccination, and I am still getting over the sniffles (not Covid) so I decided to do something solo with the girls. I figured anywhere we could drive to would be insanely busy, so we decided to just walk/bike/scoot to local playgrounds. Best idea ever! We were out more than three hours, and the girls were riding or playing for most of it.

Our first stop was a small playground tucked in a corner that we call “the secret playground” because it is unexpected. It is surrounded by tall trees on on side and a quiet alley on the other, so very quiet (and frequented by woodpeckers).  We played there for a while then moseyed over to a larger and busier playground on a hill with a view of the mountains. Finally we checked out a local pump track for the first time, which my three year old in particular was keen to try on her strider bike. 

After I came home I listened to  this very enjoyable podcast from Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. Their first topic was a study that claimed to find evidence that living near trees reduced anti depressant medication (in other words, depression) particularly among lower income people. From there they wondered what other factors might contribute, for example: 
  • Being able to view and hear animals 
  • Seeing the night sky
  • Viewing a horizon line, especially mountains or coastline 
  • Living near water 
Anecdotally, I 100% agree with all of these hypotheses. I have always lived near young and mature trees and can’t even accept a landscape as decent without them (unless it had cactuses: I might make peace with that). I do believe our neighbourhood would turn into a forest without human intervention, as anything and everything grows here. I frequently can catch glimpses of the mountains while out on errands, albeit not from my house, and it gives me both a sense of peace in place and a sense that adventure is always possible.

As I mentioned previously I hear a plethora of birds anytime I step outside, especially in spring, and it never fails to raise my spirits. We also have rabbits, skunks, and apparently a bobcat or two, by report. I lived for a while in Athens, Greece in my mid 20s and while there were many interesting things about that environment, I noticed with pain the lack of biodiversity. The most noticeable wildlife were stray dogs and cats and it gave the place a sad, two dimensional feel in my view. While no urban environment has given me a view of the Milky Way, the air in my province is generally clear and unlike Athens, you can see for miles most days and a short drive at night offers views of the stars too.

What Athens did have was the Mediterranean Sea, and most of my leisure was walking along the coastline by the surf or swimming at beaches. At home, we are not within walking distance of water but a very short drive takes us to parks and a trail system around G— Reservoir, a large artificial lake that is beautiful in every season. Sailing and canoeing on the reservoir is also available.

We have talked lately (not seriously) about whether we should move one day. Our house is small and older and not always convenient to life inside. On the other hand, days like today remind me how amazing our neighbourhood is and how much our quality of life and mental health is likely being helped by our environment. It may well be far more important than our physical house. Something to think about, very carefully.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Solitude and Solidarity

Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents was a much easier read in most ways than Cynical Theories. I took several months to get through Cynical Theories and about a week to get through this one. Rod Dreher’s book, while it refers to the academic theories discussed in the Pluckrose/Lindsay book, is not an academic discussion. It’s much more applied: How do you live in a society which is infiltrated by applied postmodernism, critical theory, and (Dreher argues) soft totalitarianism?  It is also written specifically for a Christian audience, so one must read with at least openness to that perspective.

For me personally, it was very interesting to read this book after Cynical Theories. Cynical Theories spoke to my adult, postmodern and agnostic self, the one that went to university and absorbed a certain amount of academic knowledge and a few practical strategies for getting along with people. It also led to to consider why, despite many similarities, I seem to run different mental software from most of my peers. I thought this must have something to do with family and cultural background. How engaging then, that Live Not By Lies specifically addresses family life and encouraged me to explore this very question.

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a “Christian dissident” (it is a stretch for me to claim membership in this group, though I’m sympathetic), an interesting and valuable part of Live Not By Lies are the accounts of people who lived and grew up in Soviet Bloc and how they maintained their identity under a totalitarian state. It’s a fascinating insight into how different perspectives on society are formed. For me, it provides insight into my family life and background and why I have the perspective I do today.

The introduction to Live Not By Lies provides the thesis of the book:

Part one of this book makes the case that despite its superficial permissiveness, liberal democracy is degenerating into something resembling the totalitarianism over which it triumphed in the Cold War. It explores the sources of totalitarianism, revealing the troubling parallels between contemporary society and the ones that gave birth to twentieth century totalitarianism. .... Part two examines in greater detail forms, methods, and sources of resistance to soft totalitarianism's lies. Why is religion and the hope it gives at the core of effective resistance? What does the willingness to suffer have to do with living in truth? Why is the family the most important cell of opposition? How does faithful fellowship provide resilience in the face of persecution? How can we learn to recognize totalitarianism's false messaging and fight its deceit? (pages xiv to xv) 

The new, "soft" totalitarians will not (at least initially) gain control over people with threats or awful punishments. Rather, they will appeal to the desire to be safe and able to pursue any pleasure we want. This is at least partly because capitalism encourages people to think in terms of satisfying their desires, and stopping to consider if those desires are actually any good for you takes a lot of effort and is perhaps close to impossible anyway without reference to a concept of a greater good. (read my outtakes here) Meanwhile, multiple forces continue to undermine a coherent story of what that greater good might be. They are discussed in a series of subheadings: Loneliness and Social Atomization, Losing Faith in Hierarchies and Institutions, The Desire to Transgress and Destroy, Propaganda and the Willingness to Believe Useful Lies, A Mania for Ideology, and a A Society that Values Ideology more than Expertise (pages 31 to 46). I don't have time to go into all the arguments, but those who follow what is called "the culture war" should be familiar with them. Progressives don't generally use the term culture war, so for them I call this section "all the reasons Those People won't accept on trust our program for improving the world." 

Part 2 of Live Not By Lies moves away from explicit commentary on the contemporary world into accounts from people who lived under Communism in Eastern Europe.  They tell their stories of how they maintained their identity and faith despite living in a society that was hostile in every sense including deadly force.

The first challenge is to not repeat the lies that the totalitarians insist you repeat. One might argue, the first step is recognizing that they are lies, but perhaps this is not even possible outside of the simple act of not repeating them. For example, many people refused to swear oaths or display/repeat slogans supporting the totalitarian state. This resulted in losing opportunities in education or jobs (but it its way, led to other opportunities). In extreme cases, pointing out state lies led to torture and imprisonment. But even outside of that, living in an environment where people avoided discussing their own observations of reality for fear of saying the wrong thing, led to a distortion of reality for everyone.

I relate to this because I grew up in a family of very blunt speakers. Certainly, neither my parents nor brothers nor myself were always right about everything.  And sometimes we talked over and past each other when it would have been more prudent to listen. But there was no shying away from difficult topics.  There was no "We won't discuss this because someone's feelings might be hurt or it might be unpleasant." The highest value was recognizing and naming the truth of what is important. This has stayed with me, even as I have explored and challenged a variety of beliefs. I do not think that the search for truth can be uncoupled from the act of speaking and writing (other creative pursuits could also be included). This is why I have been fiercely protective, from my earliest memory, of my right and ability to express my thoughts.

Have I seen the value of telling the truth acted out in the society around me? Not necessarily. In my university years, my friends mostly wanted to sound witty, ironic and cynical. As we grew older and became active on social media, people started to share slogans that signaled comradery to people who agreed with them, and intimidation to those that didn't. Influencers "boost" signals or try to go viral, which basically means getting people to react to or repeat what someone said, mostly without any evidence of reflection. I find this creepy. On the other hand, I continue to have opportunities to engage in thoughtful conversation with individual people, in which at least sometimes we seem to be carefully considering and challenging our observations. 

Other strategies that are outlined in Live Not By Lies involve maintaining cultural memory by explicitly teaching the history, religion and culture of the group. In the totalitarian states, this was usually done within families, or in small groups inside private homes. Czech mathematician and human rights activist Vaclav Benda called this a parallel polis: "an alternative set of social structures within which social and intellectual life could be lived outside of official approval. The parallel polis was a grassroots attempt to fight back against totalitarianism, which mandated, in Benda's words, 'the abandonment of reason and learning [and] the loss of traditions and memory.'" (page 121)

Vaclav Benda and his family are discussed at length as examples of how to create the parallel polis. As a family, they screened and discussed classic movies such as High Noon. They identified with the heroic stance taken by the characters. Kamila, Vaclav's wife, read for hours every day to their children, and a favourite was The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. For the children, it was easy to draw a parallel between Mordor and the state which oppressed them. But neither is it that simple. Philip, Kamila and Vaclav's son says:

"[The Lord of the Rings] is about the East and the West. The elves on one side and the goblins on the other. And when you know the book, you see that you first need to fight the evil empire, but that's not the end of the war. Afterward, you have to solve the problems at home, within the Shire."

This is how Tolkein prepared the Benda children to resist communism, and also to resist the idea that the fall of communism was the end of their quest for the Good and the True. After communism's collapse, they found ways to contribute to the moral reconstruction of their nation. 

 "What my mom always encouraged in us and supported was our imagination, through the reading of books or playing with figures," [Philip] says. "She also taught us that the imagination was something that was wholly ours, that could not be stolen from us. Which was also something that differentiated us from others." (page 138-139) 

I am reminded a lot again of my own family in this description. I believe my dad, coming from Greece where he experienced war, occupation and tyranny, shared many of the Benda family's attitudes about family as the bastion against a hostile world. My mother did not share the same background but came from a Canadian cultural and religious minority, so she knew what it felt like to be outside the mainstream.  More so than the families of anyone I know, my parents tried to create their own little culture within our family. They had ambivalent feelings about their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds, so there was little effort to explicitly teach Russian or Greek traditions. Rather, they tried to take the best of what they had encountered and create something new. 

Like the Bendas, there were always books and reading in our home, and while there were children's books, we were never limited to children's books. Those we had were also most likely to be classic children's novels. We had no TV until I was 11, but I remember seeing classic movies in a local artsy theatre: Charlie Chaplin's comedies and Ben Hur are ones I remember. Later we would borrow film reels from the library and watch documentaries and movies on select weekends. We might have accidentally been exposed to some 80s or 90s pop culture on those weekends but it was more likely to be The Sound of Music. My dad was haunted all his life by his wartime experiences and sought to understand them by reading and viewing anything to do with the World Wars. There was no effort to censor or protect our innocence from this history that I recall. I saw the footage of gas chambers and mass graves at Auschwitz on one of those family movie nights, when I was no more than 8 or 10 years old. There would also have been extensive discussion around it, though I don't recall details. There was also regular discussion of the Soviet gulags, as Stalin did not get a pass anymore than Hitler did.

Music was particularly important to my dad, and probably the deepest emotional connection I share with him. Our alarm clock every weekday morning was classical music mix tapes he had created. Although we did not play instruments, the house was outfitted with the best speaker system that could be purchased at the time. I attended my first ballet and opera at age 4, and later there were frequent trips to the orchestra. There was no pretension about these outings or an attempt to be something we weren't. We wore our best clothes, but they were always second hand. Fashionable clothes were a luxury that could be dispensed with; music, dance and song were not. As an adult, I feel as at home in a concert hall as I do in my own living room. I do like to have stylish clothes though. 

 While my parents were not very impressed with the cultures they were born into, they also weren't particularly trying to fit in to mainstream culture. My dad often spoke disparagingly of Greece, but he was not impressed with many things about Canadian life in the 80s and 90s, either. Divorce and sexual promiscuity horrified him, and he saw it mainly as shallowness and selfishness on the part of adults who should know better. Pop or rock music, movies with nudity, easily most culture from the 60s onward, was looked on with disdain. In fact I think my parents stopped paying any attention at all to pop culture after the 50s and 60s. They talked about the Beatles and Elvis but I am not sure they were ever aware of the existence of say ABBA  or Madonna or Billy Joel. Michael Jackson I heard about, but never heard his music in our house. (Not until I got my own radio, at least.)

As you can imagine, this is all a bit complicated. I had a very rich childhood in many ways, filled with creativity and imagination and unique experiences. I have not described a fraction of them. I was enriched by all the beauty I was introduced to. Myself and my brothers were always academically precocious. We were shy but also confident and not easily influenced by trends that our peers fell for. But there is a cost to growing up more or less alienated from your social environment. As Jonathon Pageau would say: "But how does it scale up?" -- meaning, how do you take a belief or lesson or truth you learn as an individual and replicate it in your life and the life of your community. It's very difficult, and probably impossible, to do this as an individual. You need a community that is oriented around the same values.

In the sense of community, I see the Benda's experience as different from my own. Like us, they were isolated from the mainstream culture, such as it existed in the country: "Don't be afraid to be weird in society's eyes," says one subheading, and this is certainly a lesson myself and my brothers learned well. (Or when we were afraid, we didn't show it and pushed through it.) "In our classes at school, where we were different, we were different through our faith but also through our clothes," says Partik, another of the children. We were poor....It was totally impossible to buy anything fashionable, or to take part in any fad that was popular. Collectible toys that every child had, we didn't. Sometimes it was hard, but it made us stronger" (page 139).  I agree: such an experience can make you stronger, and it's not good parenting to indulge every whim of a child or their peers anyway. Still, the music, toys, clothes and other culture are part of a collective consciousness that is important in forming an identity. It is not the things themselves, but the fact that others know and understand their meaning. If you are going to take that away, there needs to be something to replace it.

The Benda family as described in the book was not just a world unto themselves but always connected to something bigger as well. They were founding members of Charter 77, the main Czechoslovak dissident community. This connected them to a community of intellectuals. They maintained their Catholic faith within their family, but did not isolate themselves on that account. Kamila entertained a stream of visitors at their apartment every day, as many as twenty people at once. She taught seminars. Her children continued the practice, showing movies and then having discussions around them for example. Teachable moments result. "...We don't just screen new movies but older ones," says Patrik. "Jumping between eras helps the young people to understand the cultural context in which the films were made. The fact that the younger ones can learn from the knowledge and experience of the older ones is really meaningful" (page 145).

Reading Live Not By Lies helped me to consider the difference between solitude and solidarity. Facing a hostile social environment can teach people how to live in solitude, which is not a bad thing. For one thing, solitude is often helpful to know your own mind and creativity. If you are never alone, it may be hard to know where other people leave off and you begin. To be excluded is not always a terrible thing. On the other hand, solidarity provides an environment - even if populated by other outsiders - where practices and ideas and values are reinforced. Assuming they are healthy ones, this is a more sustaining way to live.

I can't change anything about my past, or other people's decisions (and who would want such a responsibility, anyway! Life is much to complex to say  with certainty "if this had been done differently, then this would have resulted!" who really knows?)  I can think about how I live my life, however. I have chosen less solitude for my family than my parents have. I view the culture surrounding us with rather less suspicion. Still, at least some of the points made in Live Not By Lies resonate with me. It leads me to wonder how best to balance solitude with solidarity. 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Get free. Believe. Go real.

I usually have only one request on weekends. Can we leave the city? Find a mountain? Walk in the woods? See different scenery? Air out my brain? Get out of my head?

Sometimes we actually drive to the mountains (or the foothills); sometimes we only make it to a playground or city park. Whatever the diversion, it’s welcome. Walking helps me relax and think. In my 20s, and single, I would spend hours roaming about on weekends. In Greece, I would catch a bus out of the city and explore beaches, hills, ruins. When we were dating, and in the first years of our marriage, my husband and I would also jump in the car and drive, often without a destination.

Now with kids it’s rather less convenient to go driving to nowhere on impulse, and we rarely walk far and pick up a lot of rocks when we do. But escaping to nature is still where my wandering mind goes. Especially as spring approaches, I think about leaving the city incessantly. Covid and its accompanying restrictions and reductions on life add to the angst. 

On that note this is my favourite song lately. I don’t tend to respond to music as rapturously as I did when younger but sometimes a song hits my mood the right way still and I can’t get enough.

Road Trip

And what exactly I wonder are “ceilidh boots?” Whatever they are, I want some!

Take heart: cheat the dark
Get driving with the lark
As cities sleep
Steal a march before the sun
It's all philosophy
On an open motorway
Chasing break of day
Somewhere on a border town
I've packed my ceilidh boots
I've got my "once was" looks
I've got my tubes and hooks
Reel, drogue, priest and bung
Throw away your fears
Peel away the years
I've seen too many leaves
Falling down

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Tell both sides of the story

I have a longer blog post in process that’s taking a while, but in the meantime here are words I try to live by from Jordan Peterson, one of my favourite humans. 

Friday, 12 February 2021

Personal belief is not a political obligation

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity was a slog of a read in some ways. It’s tightly argued and throughly researched (the bibliography is about 65 pages long; this is not an emotional screed about things the authors didn’t like) and never boring. But it’s still a challenge to take on, one argument at a time, theories based on half truths and misunderstandings about the world.

How did I get here?

I’m one of an elite, but deeply uneasy about my membership. I grew up in one kind of a milieu, and was educated and built my career in a very different one. At some point I need to invest serious energy into understanding how the descendent of uneducated, if not outright illiterate refugees and impoverished political prisoners became someone with two degrees who has never worked a blue collar job in her life. The answer(s) are probably both simpler and more complicated than the propagandists and weavers of cliches would have me or others believe.

I mention my background because 1) I find it interesting and astonishing and 2) I think it must have something to do with why I find a lot of my elite peers baffling.

(Here I could take the route of valourizing my parents; make them heroes in a treacherous world. And they were (are). But they were also deeply flawed, and in many ways traumatized people who made big mistakes even while getting a lot of things right. And they knew it. And I know it matters more to them that I keep going forward, keep trying to make things better in my own way than to be an apologist for them.)

Anyway. Leaving my family aside, most of my friends and colleagues are middle/upper class, secular, highly educated, and very freaking convinced that they know exactly how to make the world a better place, and that is through social justice activism. They follow politicians and politics obsessively in some cases. They share slogans and painfully biased news stories. They wear their hearts on their sleeve/social media. My friends are good people, I would say, though not nearly as good as they sometimes think they are.  But why do they all seem to believe the exact same thing, and why in the blazes are they so sure they are right?

Eventually, I had to investigate. I had to figure out the difference between the point of view I saw in my social circle and my broadly liberal one. The investigation became urgent as I became more aware of media biases. I observed reputable news outlets and journalists twisting the truth about people to smear their character, or strategically underreporting. I saw emotional reasoning more and more frequently. Complex, interesting people disappeared behind slogans and platitudes. I saw fragility and victimhood cultivated and encouraged to gain a perverse kind of authority.

Cynical Theories tracks the development of critical justice scholarship in the universities, and how it emerged later to influence the broader culture.  It describes the post modern rejection of grand narratives and eventually the acceptance of a social justice grand narrative.

The new forms of Theory arose within post colonialism, black feminism, intersectional feminism, critical race (legal) Theory, and queer Theory, all of which sought to describe the world critically in order to change it. Scholars in these fields increasingly argued that, while postmodernism could help reveal the socially constructed nature of knowledge and the associated “problematics,” activism was simply not compatible with radical skepticism. They needed to accept that certain groups of people faced disadvantages and injustices based on who they were, a concept that radically sceptical postmodern thinking readily deconstructed.  (Page 57)
Two post modern principles and four themes in application are identified, which the authors track through several strands of scholarship and activism.

  • The postmodern knowledge principle: Radical skepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is attainable and a commitment to cultural constructivism 
  • The postmodern political principle: a belief that society is formed of systems of power and hierarchies, which decide what can be known and how.

  • The blurring of boundaries
  • The power of language
  • Cultural relativism
  • The loss of the individual and the universal
Here is the main thesis of the book:

What happened is that applied post modernism has come into its own, been reified, —-taken as real, as The Truth according to Social Justice—-and widely spread by activists, and (ironically) turned into a meta narrative of its own. It has become an article of faith or an operational mythology for a wide swathe of society, especially on the left. To fail to pay obeisance to it can be literally or —-more often figuratively—-fatal. One does not merely challenge the dominant orthodoxy.
I have a need to understand ideas, and especially their origins. Cynical Theories has been a help in partly achieving that goal. It is not, obviously, a sympathetic explanation of Social Justice. However, the references and analysis are thorough. It is easy for me to bitch about things I don’t like, but intellectual honesty demands I go further than that. My investigation doesn’t stop with this book, but it gives me a good sense of the territory.

There are any number of passages in Cynical Theories that I could quote and discuss, but this one from the final chapter probably best sums up why this was an important book for me to read.
The postmodernist overwhelmingly prescriptive, rather than descriptive. An academic theory that prioritizes what it believes ought to be true over the aim of describing what is—-that is, one that sees personal belief as a political obligation—has ceased to search for knowledge because it has seen The Truth. That is, it has become a system of faith, and its scholarship has become a sort of theology. This is what we see in Social Justice scholarship. Declarations of ought have replaced the search for what is. 

It is one thing to believe that knowledge is a cultural construct that is used to enforce power, and that this can occur in unjust ways. This is an argument that can be submitted to the marketplace of ideas. It is quite another thing to take this belief as a given and assert that to disagree is, in itself, an act of dominance and oppression. It is even worse to insist that everything short of constant spiritual submission to your belief system and calls for puritanical social revolution is complicity in moral evil.  In other faiths, this is the remedy to a problem called depravity, the corrupt desire to sin. Secularism relegated these matters to the individual’s private conscience, and absolves anyone of the requirement to accept or play lip service to a belief they do not share, to avoid social stigma.
I have no particular objection to theologians or theology, as anyone can see from previous entries where I discuss interesting ideas I’ve found that come from (so far) Christians. I may even choose to formally belong to a religion one day, though I grew up in a very secular and postmodern environment. But. All of those explorations hinge on freedom of thought and conscience and the ability to question and consider without threat or obligation. They have no meaning if forced onto me outside of my will, curiosity, and desire to understand life better.

 The dogmas being pushed by Social Justice theorists and their disciples undermine those freedoms.  They pit individuals and groups against each other in a zero sum game where “my” truth or knowledge oppresses “your” truth and knowledge (or vice versa). They give me the licence (indeed, obligation) to analyze your words for racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia or whatever the sin of the day is (or vice versa). Now, it is still true I think that most people consider  this a pointless activity and refuse to do it. However, that can change in a moment if someone has a grudge against a person or a disagreement they can’t see to resolve another way. It creates a space for the exercise of malice and self - righteousness. And yes, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

So what do I do? Well, the one thing I always know I can do is learn. My act of learning and thinking does not change the world or anything that ambitious, but it might help me avoid some foolish mistakes. It also helps me be patient with people who disagree with me, believe it or not. If anyone is reading this going “omfg she read WHAT” all I can say (well, all I choose to say at this moment) is I am actually a much more tolerant and generous person when my higher level thinking faculties are engaged. It is not in your interest or mine to become reactive, spiteful, or cynical.  

Invite beauty into your life

It was interesting to read this paragraph today, because I had just been thinking about a piece of art I want to buy, though I’m not sure w...