The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, July 14, 2008

What you hear is not what I say

It could be that I'm using sloppy language somehow, but I notice there are certain thoughts I have about race in America that seem, based upon repeated comments in this blog, easy to misunderstand. It may be that people are finding meaning in my words that was not consciously intended, that they are simply misunderstanding, or are projecting their own stuff. Maybe there are internal inconsistencies in my position that people are seeing, or that my sometimes teleological philosophy conflicts with yours--we can't really discuss events until we are viewing the world through a perceptual lens with sufficient similarity that a common language of thought can be devised between us. Otherwise, words just bounce off each other.

But a few things kept coming up, and I think it important to address them. Some folks seem to think that:

1) I think white people are different from black people: more racist, evil, whatever. No, no more than I think they're more intelligent or closer to God. I think that people are people, and that certain human tendencies get REALLY damaging when you outnumber the "other" group largely, or hold massive power advantages. If I say "white people can see the humanity in demons more easily than the humanity in black people" is it really that difficult to think: "oh. So Steve thinks blacks can see the humanity in demons more easily than that in whites? And that it just doesn't matter as much because there are fewer of them, and they don't control the economic and judicial systems. Hmmm." You can agree or disagree with this, but its fascinating how few of you seem to grasp what I'm saying. I suspect there is HUGE cultural programming, much of which you are not consciously aware of, to believe groups are very different, at core.

2) I want white people over 50 to die. Hmmm. No more than I want black people to die, no. I think there would be certain positive changes when they do, as certain negative attitudes will die off to a critical degree. But that doesn't mean I'd push a button, even in secret, to make it happen.

3) I want Hollywood to make more movies with black and brown people represented as fully human beings. No. I want Hollywood TO BE ABLE TO make more movies with black and brown people represented as fully human beings. A subtle difference, perhaps, and one that people keep missing. I think that America, as a whole, has voted against it with her dollars, the only vote that counts in a capitalist system, or to a corporation. Am I being politically incorrect to say, specifically, "white Americans"? No, just honest and seeking greater clarity. Do you think BLACK people are refusing to watch sex scenes with black actors? Please. I've spoken endlessly about a universal 10% disconnect, that the average person empathizes about 10% less with members of another group than members of their own. It's enough to doom movies---but also fill prisons and cause shootings. Now that means that 10% of people are actually "Xenophiles"--actually feeling extra love for the Others. Of course, that means an equal number on the other end feel actual venom. You are perfectly welcome to consider yourself in this group. But it's a small boat, folks. And you'll rapidly notice that more people CLAIM to have tickets than will actually fit. Make of that what you will.

4) I expect white people to do something about this situation. No, I don't. I expect time to fix it, so long as people are honest and follow their long-term selfish interests. I've never asked anyone to do anything specifically to "fix" this. I've never asked anyone to do anything other than take care of themselves, live balanced, healthy lives, follow their dreams, and be gentle and strong. Can anyone out there remember a single time when I ever, to a single person, black, white or whatever, given any advise that was less than positive? Actions speak louder than your interpretation of my words. How could I want white people to die out, and simultaneously encourage them to actions that lengthen their lives? You are perceiving a duality that doesn't exist. My pain doesn't control my desires.

5) Although I certainly see innate differences between individuals, I don't believe in them between groups when it comes to basic qualities of humanity like goodness, sanity, or intelligence. I am perfectly aware thatabout 20% of good, intelligent people DO believe there are such differences. And I also believe they rarely state this belief bluntly in public. In other words, about 20% of whites think blacks less capable, 20% of blacks think whites intrinsically evil, 20% of women think men are innately less "good" than women, 20% of men think women less capable than men, etc.

I've been crystal clear that I believe the differences in performance and attitudes in racial groups in America is due to different starting contexts and perceptual lenses. That means that black culture was horribly damaged by slavery--and is still healing. I am horrified by the criminality, justifications of abandoning children, lack of reading, misogynistic music, and so on--all symptoms of damage and disease, passed from generation to generation: and until the late 60's reinforced by legal pressure. You expect us to get over this in a generation? People damaged in childhood routinely take decades to sort through their shit. I find the expectation that a culture could overcome 400 years in 40 years to be sheer blindness.

But it also means that whites were just doin' what comes naturally--to all human beings. Nothing especially sick and twisted on either side, just a burp in history that we're still getting over, and that it sucks to be in the middle of.

But if you have a different philosophical position, I suspect it is difficult to believe that this is actually mine. I get the sense that you think I'm kidding. That deep down, yes, I think whites are especially bigoted. Yes, you think that I secretly, deep inside, fear blacks are inferior (frankly, before I read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" I had to fight a bit to keep from worrying about that, yep.)

But when I talk about differential behaviors, and you KNOW I believe the negative behaviors on either side are mostly historical and environmental, not innate, it is interesting how few of you take the next step: "if Steve thinks this stuff is mostly programming and environment, what programming or environment would cause differential criminal behavior, prejudice, violence, or whatever? Who created the context? Can it be changed? Is it changing?"

Etcetera. Instead, constantly, the assumption leaps to: "you're saying whites are especially bad! Racist!" Or, even more interestingly, there seems to be a bit of "how dare you say that whites aren't special!"

Of course there are biological factors. It is even possible that they are the cause. But until I see the playing field level, I reserve the right to suggest that that is the basic problem--especially since the only people who believe the problem is biological are members of the group who "win" that contest. Not exactly courageous to devise, administer, and interpret a test, and then declare yourself the winner. And even then, is looks like only about 30% of the experts agree that the results indicate racial differences in capacity. When black experts agree, I'll look more carefully. Or are you saying that blacks, (even those few you believe are operating at that intellectual level) wouldn't be honest about what they see? I can understand that position, but what reason would I have to believe a higher percentage of blacks would lie about it (for the sake of political correctness, perhaps) than whites would lie in the other direction (for the sake of political correctness to racial identity?) If we suppose an equal percentage of liars and bigots on either side, the whole thing looks like the absolutely standard "we rule, you drool" scenario, just monkeys climbing trees and throwing shit at the other monkeys, then saying "who, me?"

##

The point is: have you ever heard me suggest black people ask white people for anything? That blacks shouldn't raise their children, pay their bills, study hard, whatever? Why not find a single instance, and get back to me.

But this doesn't just go for black versus white. That would also go male versus female, rich versus poor, gay versus straight, Christian versus Muslim, and a few others. I don't buy ANY of this shit, remember? Dan, how many times have we argued because I don't believe different violence statistics mean men are worse?

And if you think they are...then I ask you how you come up with one answer for men, and another for blacks? I mean, if men are worse than women, because they commit more violent crimes, shouldn't blacks be worse than whites on the same account?

But the reflexive corollary applies: if there is something wrong with blacks because we commit more violent crime...isn't there something "wrong" with men, by the exact same standard? It seems to me that anyone who attributes one but not the other to basic "goodness" or whatever isn't thinking clearly, or is changing their beliefs whenever it is convenient, whatever makes them feel good about themselves.

I have taken shit from black people for suggesting, yes: there is damage aplenty. Our culture has some serious holes. There is work to do, and no one to do it but us.

And I have taken shit from white people for suggesting: nope, I don't think you would have done one whit better if the shoe was on the other foot.

That's my attitude, my only core attitude. If you're irritated that I keep bringing up the movie thing, think how it feels to be the only one who seems to see it, or have the courage to speak. Think about how it might feel to run into this stuff every day, and have the perpetrators constantly deny its happening, or that it might affect behavior and potential on a wider level, in more important arenas.

I have counseled entirely too many smart white people on their obesity, lack of money, and poor relationships. And it always goes back to choices, and those choices are always based upon damage that happened to them early, rotten beliefs, distorted values. Their software is buggy. Their hardware is fine. Black hardware is fine. Our software is buggy, or designed for an operating system we are always just a little incompatible with. We didn't create it, but we have to find a way to cope with it. And are. But in my experience, software emulators always run just a little slower than native software.

No, I don't want white people to do anything except be honest, work hard, and love one another. Live long, and prosper. And: if you think you would have done better, given the same situation, please say so clearly, and not hide behind political correctness. That serves no one.

35 comments:

Christian M. Howell said...

No, I don't want white people to do anything except be honest, work hard, and love one another. Live long, and prosper. And: if you think you would have done better, given the same situation, please say so clearly, and not hide behind political correctness. That serves no one.

I totally agree. I hope I wasn't misconstrued. I hate everything. It's just a general mindset that enables me to be happy and prosper in my work.

I realize that the plight of America is NOW everyone's job to improve, but that the root cause was the abominable institution of chattel slavery and later Jim Crow.

These are hard things to overcome, of course, and it should not be hard to believe that blacks will have lower average levels of success and perhaps a LARGE chip on their shoulder.

It's unfortunate though that so many black men take the "white" way otu and construct remarkably elaborate "glass ceilings" for our women, reducing them to video hoochies and the like.

As you can see I for one have NO PITY for any man who can't find the strength to persevere. I would only lift a finger for young girls. They have it much worse than any male.

I really only thought your "50+" theory was short-sighted, not a call for extermination.

Those old fucks are stuck between a rock and a hard place, where on the one hand, the law of the land has changed but many FERVENTLY DESIRE the ability to hollar "nigger" and be "better than them" for no reason other than "that's how it is."

Logic has no place in such thoughts which may explain why our country is in such debt with such high levels of functional illiteracy. The 20-40s(of all races) are lazy pieces of crap, spending much of their day trying to promote an atmosphere of "fear of change."

Until every person in every group realizes what's really important, nothing will change.

Money is not important, love is not important. What every last person on this planet needs is technology. It keeps you warm, helps preserve food.

Since only 10%(in my opinion) of the population even cares how anything works, very few people actually provide any kind of service that will keep society moving forward.


I remember you mentioned that part of the problem of obesity in this country is the difference in an agrarian and industrialized society.

People are so used to having things provided for them, they don't bother to excel physically or intellectually.

In my society, idiots don't have magic fucking cell phones or IPODs, they have fruit to eat and no access to technology they can't understand.

In other words people need a tyrant with no concern about their petty differences. It's all about the advancement of the world.

And believe me I'm working on it.

Mike Ralls said...

Hey Steve,

I really don't have much to say with this post because I pretty much agree with it. I don't think whites would do any better because I think all available scientific evidence points to their being no significant genetic differences between Blacks and Whites in terms of intelligence or general ability. Hell the first 150 years after the end of slavery in Europe were pretty crappy ones in terms of white people making advances after all.

But regarding one comment in your previous post;

>The racial complexion of this country is changing. Your white children are going to be on the losing end of this one day.<

You're right in the sense that everyone everywhere will know defeat someday. Death comes to us all, weather nations, governments, "races" or individuals. But in the terms of the next 50 - 100 years, which is what i think you were talking about, I think you are on less steady grounds.

One key to looking at the demographic future is total fertility rates, TFR. The TFR for non-Hispanic whites has been rising for about 20 or 25 years. By contrast though, all other US sub-groups ihave been declining in TFR. For the first time since records have been kept, for instance, the black fertility rate is about the same as the white rate. The Asian-American rate is lower than the white rate, the while the Hispanic rate is higher than the non-Hispanic white, it's declining. So if one group, which is already in the majority, has a rising birth rates, and the other groups have a decreasing birthrates, does it really have to worry about becoming the minority any time soon?

And then of course there is the intermarriage rate. The rate of intermarriage between whites and Asian Americans or Hispanics is high and increasing rapidly. In fact, more second generation Asian-Americans marry "out" these days then marry "in." and the Hispanic rate is not that far from that point either. By contrast, Black intermarriage rates remain low, and to a large extent blacks remain part of a different marriage markets in the US than most other groups.

In 2050, what do you think we'll call someone who has two grandparents who were white, one who was Hispanic, and one who was Asian? My guess, and I could be wrong, is that we will call that person white.

Race is a social construct after all, and "white" does not mean the same thing is does now as it did 100 years ago when people were wondering if Italians could ever fully assimilate into America. Or 200+ years ago when Benjamin Franklin was saying that the Germans weren't white people. My guess is that we are not more than a generation or two from considering Hispanics as white people. (And really, even today if they were walking down the street how many people would look at Jessica Alba, Cameron Diaz, or Keanu Reeves and say that they aren't white?)

And if Hispanics become white, like the Irish became white, then whites are highly probable to be in a dominate position for the rest of the century.

Mike Ralls said...

>Hell the first 150 years after the end of slavery in Europe were pretty crappy ones in terms of white people making advances after all.<

Thinking this over, I wouldn't hesitate to state that Black-Americans have made a greater contribution to the human race in the 150 years after slavery ended in America than white-Europeans made in the 150 years after slavery ended in Europe. This is due to culture, of course. Ex-Slaves and the descendants of slaves in America were operating, although in subordinate positions, in the strongest Democratic-Capitalistic-Scientific-Industrial country that had ever existed in the history of the planet. The ex-slaves and descendants of slaves in Europe were operating in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire in a collection of violent chaotic war torn small poor villages and hamlets. It's perfectly natural that one would contribute more to the human race than the other, given the different environments.

Vincent S. Moore said...

Steve,
I usually have no problems with what you say. I get it and you often provide plenty of food for thought.

Wanting to change the topic slightly, have you seen Meet Dave? I saw it yesterday and could almost see it as a picture perfect example of what you've been talking about. What are your thoughts on it?

Pagan Topologist said...

I don't have stats at my fingertips, but black-white marriages seem to me to be rapidly becoming more common. Certainly I see more and more couples of this sort. They [we] used to be rare. Not so any more.

Steve Perry said...

I know you think you understand what you thought you heard me say ...

Nature of the medium -- always going to be an approximation -- words on paper or a screen are poor tools -- less than vox alone, much less than face-to-face, with sound, sight, and pheromones to shade the words.

Plus we all carry our own axes, and how we grind them has to be considered.

Broad, sweeping, general statements are always wrong ... including the one I just made ...

You do the best you can with what you got. If some people get it and others don't, you aren't completely off the beam. If most people get it wrong, you have to consider that you didn't cast it well enough. Try again.

When you deal in polarizing issues -- race, sex, abortion, gun control, politics -- some people won't ever get it -- their cups are already full, or even if they have space, they don't want what you are offering to sweeten the tea.

Somebody says, "Love doesn't matter." anything else he has to say is suspect -- for me. One of my axes ...

Mike Ralls said...

>black-white marriages seem to me to be rapidly becoming more common<

Black-white marriage rates is increasing, but it is has increased slower over the last 50, or even the last 25 years, than the Hispanic-white marriages rates have, and also slower than the Asian-white marriages rates have.

Bennett said...

Right on, Steves (P and B)


Though I would point out one other thing. My sensei told me, when I joined the dojo, that there are three kinds of people in the world. Those who love Bennett, those who hate Bennett, and those for whom Bennett is a relative nonentity.

Most of them belong to that last group, and don't give me much thought, positive or negative. They can't. It's the notion of the monkeysphere--you can only really care about so many people, or it makes you wonky.

And I think your notion of 10% Xenophobia and 10% Xenophilia syncs up to that, on a macrosocial level. Granted, these are all approximate, placeholder percentages, but the notion seems about right. Some people of any group prefer the Other, and some despise him. And then there's the majority in the middle who are just worried about paying the bills and walking the dog and don't give a rat's patoot about any other group--positive /or/ negative (My dad's like that in a major way--he loves my mother and I, our dogs, and basically couldn't care less about the rest of humanity, no matter how they're divvied up into shares.)

So the problem often isn't antipathy, it's apathy. By refusing to help or even acknowledge an onus to be aware of racial or gender issues, members of the dominant group can exacerbate them.

It's a convenient illusion to stand atop a hill and pretend that you're looking out at a level playing ground. Makes you feel tall, as long as you don't look down.

Christian M. Howell said...

Somebody says, "Love doesn't matter." anything else he has to say is suspect -- for me. One of my axes ...

If you meant my statement, I reiterate it. Love doesn't matter. It's an imaginary crutch. Fall in love and go out into the snow and see if love will keep you warm and alive.

If it does, I retract my statement.

Everything is perception. If you don't understand why that person has the plastic thing in his ear, you would think he was talking to himself.

I said at my first post, I AM MR. CONTROVERSY. I rarely agree with anyone cause I've seen things from so many different sides. Most people have a narrow existence that doesn't allow them to truly view things from another person's perspective.

Just like blacks may be on the same block their whole lives so will whites, asians and latins, etc.

And many will fight for their preconceived notions and incorrect assumptions. Fools. Fools, I say.

Dan Moran said...

It could be that I'm using sloppy language somehow

I think you are. Look, your use of "white people" in this phrase really bothered me:

Let's just put it bluntly: on an unconscious level, white people can see the humanity in a demon from hell more easily than in a black man.

I don't think it's fair and more importantly I don't think it's true. Some white people? Sure. Some people of all groups -- and not necessarily otherwise bad people -- have a hard time seeing the humanity in other groups. But what sorts of percentages are you talking about? 10%? 50%? 90%? That's a huge blanket statement that might have been broadly true fifty years ago, but which I think is broadly untrue today.

Look, I heard people make racist statements about black people when I was a kid. Not at home, my parents were OK in this area, but my grandmother was a unrepentant racist, and a lot of the people I knew back then were casual upfront racists. I don't think blacks in general realize how much this has changed -- anti-black racists don't talk around blacks much, but they do talk around white people. In the last five years I haven't heard a white person use the 'n' word and have only met one white person -- a guy about 70 -- who made comments about blacks. Admittedly, I live in a pretty liberal place, but I've got family all through Red-State San Bernardino County -- 8 or 9 years ago I ran into a woman out there who talked casually about "the element," but that's it in the last decade. And I've sat in bars with Hell's Angels and skinheads.

"Let's just put it bluntly: black people are violent criminals." C'mon, Steve, that's just not right. It's not right the other direction either. If you really think the great majority of white people can't see the humanity in black people ... well, you're wrong, at least generationally wrong with everyone under 50 ... and you're wrong on the percentages ... but the statement isn't badly phrased, if that's really what you think. If it's not what you think, it's rotten phrasing.

I want white people over 50 to die

I don't think you do, no. Any more than I want black people over 50 to die. (Or let's use 45, because that's my age and includes me in the conversation.) People our age and older have a different experience of race than the generation coming after us -- different scars. My point about Jesse Jackson is that, however righteous his anger is, and given his life experience he's got good cause ... it's not as appropriate as it used to be. It's not useful any longer. His own son called him out for his comments about Obama (which made me think worse of the boy, let me tell you, but that's his dad and his problem.) I suspect Jesse Jackson Sr. thinks that white people can't see the humanity in blacks -- but he's wrong.

I'd really like to know what percentage of white people you're talking about when you make your demon from hell comparison.

~~~~~

Dan, how many times have we argued because I don't believe different violence statistics mean men are worse?

And if you think they are...then I ask you how you come up with one answer for men, and another for blacks? I mean, if men are worse than women, because they commit more violent crimes, shouldn't blacks be worse than whites on the same account?


We're back to nature/nurture, and while I don't know of any evidence that shows whites and blacks or asians or whatever, are different in meaningful, biologically driven ways, I sure do know of tons of evidence that says that men and women are different in meaningful, biologically driven ways.

~~~~~

I'm going to repeat this, because I love you, Dan, and this obviously struck a nerve.

I knew a guy once who was incredibly smart, knew every piece of psychobabble you can imagine about how people work and how to fix your personal problems and so on, knew really useful stuff about how to profile and solve various sorts of problems with motivation and discipline and analysis ... and hated his parents and screamed like a harpy at his kid. There was nothing special about him, either; I've known a fair number of people who met that general "feet of clay" description, including me sometimes. (Not the screaming at kids thing, I have no patience with screamers, but in other areas of my life.)

You know how much I admire you. In my 20s I spent a lot of time investigating various "human potential" movements, and mostly what I found is that the people running them were completely full of crap -- and worse, lying to themselves and everyone else about it. Very much like the therapist thing -- some of the most damaged people I've ever met were working professional therapists. The very fact that someone's attracted to this kind of work is a strike against them, in my mind -- not because I don't get the impulse, because I share it; but because so very few people have fixed the parts of themselves that caused them to get into that stuff in the first place. You, you're honest, as honest as people get, anyway -- I think you're full of crap sometimes, but I think all people including me are full of crap sometimes, so no problem there. But you're honest, which is strikingly rare -- not surface honest, not honest-when-it's-useful, but genuinely and consistently as honest as you can force yourself to be -- and you've actually overcome real problems that most successful people have never even had to look at; and that resonates with me. I've known people who had bad shit to deal with as a kid, and I've known very successful people, and I've known good parents, and I've known happy people ... and the intersection of those groups is brutally small. In the intersection of all of that + the human potential/save the world gene, there's you ... at least in my experience. So I give very substantial weight to the things you've had to say over the years ... and the "white people/red demon" comments bothers me a lot more from you than it would have from almost anyone else.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

It's an imaginary crutch. Fall in love and go out into the snow and see if love will keep you warm and alive.

If it keeps a father around to bring up his kids, it's more than an imaginary crutch.

If, on the other hand, it "fades away like morning dew" as the folk song goes, and the father isn't around for his kids, then maybe imaginary might be the right word.

Bennett said...

Incidentally, if people who don't understand technology shouldn't be allowed to touch it, does that entail that those who don't comprehend human emotion shouldn't be allowed to socialize?

Marty S said...

Christian: What good is survival without love. If your life does not frequently contain pain, you are very lucky. Without the joy that comes from the people I love to balance the pain I would just as soon go out in the snow and freeze.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

That last isn't meant as any kind of aspersion against Christian, BTW; it's just that I recently read something on another blog that pushed my "fathers abandoning their kids" button.

Josh Jasper said...

I'd like to suggest one thing that I think white people, at the least, owe black people -when back people get angry, and when they use angry language, to try and be a bit more forgiving and tolerant than they'd usually be.

Just to make a bigger effort on a regular basis to accept that anger as having a reason, to not take it too personally, and to listen for a bit.

I don't think it's "owed" in any sense of a debt, but I think that in Karmic terms, it's a way to make progress towards a time when that anger isn't there.

So, when Christian is angry and talks about "white people", I don't take it personally. I try and see the grater message.

If you're in the majority, I think that doing this will all oppressed minorities is a good idea. Men should do it for women, straight people should do it for LGBT people, etc...

No affirmative action necessary, if you don't agree with it. No voting for "Extra"rights if that's how you see it. Just listen with respect, and be a bit more tolerant of anger. That's all.

Dan Moran said...

Josh,

This is fairly personal on my end. I don't begrudge Christan talking about "white people" ... I'm begrudging it a little to Steve. Possibly that's unfair of me.

Marty S said...

This maybe a little off topic, but I am fascinated, by the lack of any comment on the New Yorker cover.

salina said...

me too. I sent it around last night (the cover) and most folk weren't shocked. I'm not a regular reader of New Yorker, but at least two people said "Oh, the New Yorker" saying that type of "satire" is typical of it. Other folk who responded do NOT support Obama, asserting that he is part of the machine, and therefore can't be trusted anyway...

Josh Jasper said...

Dan, one always expects better than his friends.

Christian M. Howell said...

If it keeps a father around to bring up his kids, it's more than an imaginary crutch.


No, that's responsibility. To me, love is just genuine concern as it relates to relationships.

Christian M. Howell said...

Christian: What good is survival without love. If your life does not frequently contain pain, you are very lucky. Without the joy that comes from the people I love to balance the pain I would just as soon go out in the snow and freeze.


How do you define love? is it the closeness of companionship towards your chosen sexual\life partner?

Is it the feeling you get when you look into that person's eyes?

Is it the concern for the well-being of those around you?

Can you find love in your favorite prose? Or in the rising of the sun?

Fundamentalist Mormons and many other cultures practice plurality. Do they use love to choose these mates?

It's all perception and subjectivity as love for one person causes domestic violence and for another person causes unhappy unions for the sake of...

The examples abound. It's difficult territory particularly because it involves a physical component that doesn't need the other person's "fulfillment."

I reiterate my statement that the most important thing for survival is technology.

Steve Perry said...

I find myself in agreement with Marty -- odd enough, by itself. If there was no such thing as love, Christian, then going out into the snow and dying wouldn't bother me because I"d rather not live in a world where you were right.

But, not to put too fine a point on it, I believe you are wrong.

Actually, what I believe I'll refrain from saying on Steve's blog, but it's a bit more graphic and scatological than "You are wrong."

Anonymous said...

Christian, respectfully, What good is more technology, better tools, and things if we are no smarter or wiser? Many of the problems we face today are caused by technology. Not the tech's fault. Its ours we learned to split the atom and the first thing we did with it was create a bomb. Love may not keep you warm in the snow, but it keeps you moving when you would otherwise give up. Im not going to try to define love. IMHO it is needed more than any Tech. Love along with wisdom and discipline. Langdon

Salina said...

who knows, if trangenics and evolution allow for the development of a race of Ubermensche's (pardon spelling), perhaps LOVE,as is currently defined and practiced in the western hemisphere will become obsolete. Survival of WHO and WHAT? Homo-Sapiens? "LOVE" has done VERY little to alleviate or eradicate the suffering, starvation, degradation, oppression, and genocide against millions upon millions of people on the planet. Humans have BOTCHED things up something terrible...The planet will be FINE with or without us.

Mike Ralls said...

>"LOVE" has done VERY little to alleviate or eradicate the suffering, starvation, degradation, oppression, and genocide against millions upon millions of people on the planet.<

Keep in mind that "LOVE" and all those other things that make us human, is what makes you even regard suffering, starvation, degradation, oppression, and genocide as _bad_. Without that, they would be mere events.

Josh Jasper said...

Salia "LOVE" has done VERY little to alleviate or eradicate the suffering, starvation, degradation, oppression, and genocide against millions upon millions of people on the planet..

Wrong. Love has had everything to do with efforts to stop those thins. Not romantic love, but love for one's fellow humans.

Love moved Shakespeare to write his plays and sonnets

Like this one:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-----

Love is not important? I'm unconvinced. Without love, what would be beautiful in that sonnet?

Christian M. Howell said...

Wrong. Love has had everything to do with efforts to stop those thins. Not romantic love, but love for one's fellow humans.

Love moved Shakespeare to write his plays and sonnets



How do you know why Shakespeare wrote his plays? It seems to me that is was for money. Everyone has to have it.

So, in your mind, the definition of love is genuine concern for others?

I just want to understand how love is defined as something noble or important to the society at large.

Mores demand "coupling" of men and women so that means find someone you can deal with the pressures of society with, not particularly some emotional response based on socio-physical attraction.



As far as needing love for poetry:


Aaah the feeling of the sunswept winds
against a field of flowers.
The smile of the child as proceeds past the school bus
its happy faces reflected against the morning glare
The rain begins to fall and the sky lights with the panorama of arced color
revealing a slight mist emanating from the steel of the cars in is midst
Its melodic symphony plays itself against the umbrellas of passersby
heralding the start of a glorious day
of new beginnings
of life enjoyed
of time well spent
What in fact is love?

Marty S said...

You can look at all the evil men have done and say the world would be a better place without us. But to paraphrase and old question, I ask;

Would there be any beauty in the world if there were no one there to observe it?

Mike Ralls said...

>Would there be any beauty in the world if there were no one there to observe it?<

According to some of the quantum physicists, there would be no world, period, if no one was around to observe it.

Marty S said...

Did anybody else see this week's episode of In plain Sight on USA? If you did I would be real interested in how you view a show like this one as a barometer of where we are on race.

Steven Barnes said...

I'm gonna talk about love soon. Dan, I COMPLETELY accept being held to a higher standard and consider it a complement. I will try to live up to it.
Try this reformulated statement:
"Members of group X will identify more with their own fantasy constructs than with living members of a competing group"

What percentage? I'd say more than half. Call it 60-70%.
#

Steven Barnes said...

I'll say this about love: ultimately any position about life can't be proven--one can only amass evidence and sharpen arguments. That granted I say that love and fear compete for the same space in our hearts. Both motivate us. But I can both fight for love, nurture for it, create for it, and die for it. I find it a far purer, stronger motivation than hate or short-term self-interest. That's the logical side of me. The other side just loves love, and lovers, and loving and being in love. I'll chose love over fear or greed every time. And so long as those who love recognize that there are others who do not--and must be defended against--I will chose to live in a loving community when possible.

Steven Barnes said...

Dan--

I agree that male domination and violence has an inborn aspect. What we disagree upon really, I think, is whether men actually benefit from dominating women. But since we seem to be able to disagree while behaving in similar fashions toward the women in our lives, obviously our opinions are less important than something else in our hearts. Whatever it is, thank goodness.

Dan Moran said...

I agree that male domination and violence has an inborn aspect. What we disagree upon really, I think, is whether men actually benefit from dominating women.

Depends on your value system. Would I benefit from dominating women? No, I'd feel badly about myself, and I've worked hard in my life to feel good about myself. But plenty of men wouldn't/don't feel badly about themseves for such conduct.

Let's try it like this: you know how you can clearly see how whites get to feel better about themselves because they've been in a dominant position in this society, historically? It's the same thing for men. No matter how poor and ignorant whites were, they could feel superior to blacks. No matter how miserable a man's life was, he could always go home and work out on the wife. It's the exact same equation, the exact same entitlement and privilege.

Using "benefit" the way you mean it -- of course men didn't benefit. Using benefit the way people did until quite recently, when humans-as-property was SOP ... sure, better to own other people than to be owned.

The remnants of that are in our legal system today. You haven't lived until you've watched the courts treat children as the property of their parents. (And it's the father's rights crowd that's most guilty of it. Fuck the "best interests of the children, those are Mine".)

But since we seem to be able to disagree while behaving in similar fashions toward the women in our lives, obviously our opinions are less important than something else in our hearts. Whatever it is, thank goodness.

I think I think that men are more naturally violent than you do. But it doesn't really matter at the end -- regardless of how hard or easy it is for men to behave as civilized human beings, the obligation is there. I don't care if men really are naturally violent assholes; no excuses. We have animal natures, but we don't have to be animals.

Dan Moran said...

"Members of group X will identify more with their own fantasy constructs than with living members of a competing group"

Sure sounds much nicer that way. But your 10% disconnect is now a 60% or 70% disconnect -- I buy 10%.

You want to know precisely how racist this country is? See how many whites vote for Obama in November and contrast it with how many voted for Gore & Kerry. That'll be an instructive number. Most whites won't vote for Obama -- but most whites won't for a Democrat in the first place.

Dan, I COMPLETELY accept being held to a higher standard and consider it a complement. I will try to live up to it.

I'm really not sure that was fair of me. I was right on the verge of telling you your feelings were wrong, and while I may not agree with what you feel, I'd be a bigger than usual asshole to lay that on you.

Yes, there was a compliment in the midst of all that. I love you too. :-)