To the Thief Who Stole a Teacher’s Textbook

bae

I wish no ill will

if to steal will fulfill

a desire to learn–

a worthwhile return–

in literary taste

as is truly the case

in so fascinting a text

“What happens next?”

The suspense never ending

in essays mind bending

priced at a mere 100 bucks

which to you probably sucks

because you obviously can’t pay

so keep it and have a joyful day.

Oh, and the essay on morality

skip it lest it damper joviality

at having stolen a book

to resell to some schnook

who’ll think he struck gold

at this collection re-sold

replete with scribbles galore

like none sold at the book store

but good luck deciphering words

gifts as intended but to  fools, absurd.

 

Before there was Bernie, there was Peter.

singer

Peter Singer, an Australian-born ethical philosopher, writes in his essay, “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” that ‘wealthy’ (living beyond basic needs) people should donate to world organizations that feed the hungry so as to eradicate world hunger:

In the world as it is now, I can see no escape from the conclusion that each one of us with wealth surplus to his or her essential needs should be giving most of it to help people suffering from poverty so dire as to be life-threatening. That’s right: I’m saying that you shouldn’t buy that new car; take that cruise, redecorate the house, or get that pricey new suit. After all, a thousand-dollar suit could save five children’s lives.

He even provides in his essay a toll free number to call Oxfam with a donation.

Singer asks elsewhere (or maybe it wasn’t Singer), if every person in the developed world donated the cost of his or her third pair of shoes (Do we need three pairs?) to the world bank, which would effectively end world hunger, are we morally obligated to so donate? If morality is defined as right behavior as in doing right by another, then yes, to be considered moral, each person is morally obligated to donate.

But what if ending world hunger results in overpopulation and the disappearance of planetary resources to feed everyone like water, clean air and soil, for example? Is it then moral to donate?

 

credit: pbstwimg.com

Wrestling with brooding thoughts and ahimsa

 

 
So what, do the Ashley Madison hackers or “malicious crackers,” if you will, believe in some moral equivalency? Is it justified to harm unfaithful spouses because the victims of their hack are deemed by their culture to be morally bereft? Pretty easy to hide behind a screen and commit malice, not caring about the innocents in the bombing fallout, like children and unsuspecting spouses. Seems to me sociopathic, flexing God complexes by rejected social misfits, more likely. Hard to come up with a sympathetic narrative or righteous cause.

No, they cannot be blamed for subscribers’ suicides as something more goes on in the lives of suicides than fallout from exposure by affairs. Psychological destruction is already part of those poor souls’ lives. But the old but-for test could prove damning. But for the exposure by the hackers, the suicides may have not been pushed over the edge of the precipice, maybe found a way to seek help before grasping on to the no-hope ledge and sliding down.

A travesty seen up close, as well for the hackers who now can live as the hunted. That treacherous misstep or march outside the law is one in a long road into forever curtailing freedom so taken for granted like air. Even if they get away with it. Their freedom has been delivered up to forces greater than their prank, crime and self-serving “morality.” They are no Edward Snowdens. 

They remind me of the elementary school kids I grew up with who threw M80’s out of the school bus window on to the lawns of random properties along the bus path. The vandalists just wanted to stir things up, satisfy an urge in themselves to destroy something. 

Isolation and independence are an illusion, the distortion of the un-self-realized minds, like rowdy, selfish school children. The deluded hackers are learning about the laws of cause and effect in their god-i-hope-so-for-their-mothers’-sakes invisible hideouts. I am hard pressed to wish them well.

 

credit: regmedia.co.uk

Cultural Appropriation or Emulation: Does it Matter?

  
Published in the Mindful Word, please enjoy an article I contributed to the ongoing conversation about Rachel Dolezal, cultural appropriation and social media. 

For those of us who grew up in a Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, or Nepali household, our struggles to fit in are vastly different in magnitude, but the solidarity exists. So that’s why we are upset when someone wakes up one day and decides to exploit our turbulent identities as a disposable fashion—and by doing so be rewarded as a paragon of globalization and cultural acceptance. How dare they regard Indian fashion as effortlessly cool and chic while we make it look “fobby,” or a stubborn adherence to our culture that purports us to be “fresh off the boat.”


How dare they have a crush when we spent our entire lives trying to love.

Read more here.

Peace, 

Gaze

Mindfulness: Culturally Diverse not Divisive

  
My Eagle (Eastern Washington University Eagle) and I speak most days about her training, school, roommates and life in the Northwest. Her pre-season schedule keeps her wickedly busy, but yesterday we ended the day unwinding to the news of her day and mine. 

After reminding me of her class schedule, one class being African American studies, we began a discussion about cultural appropriation, having referenced the class that Rachel Dolezal (former professor at EWU and President of the NCAA who made the news recently by her parents outing her as white) would have taught. 

Not surprisingly, she and I differed. She thought social media had gotten it right this time. People should not be consuming cultural artifacts as if unattached to the people who suffered or strove through the badges, persecution or honors of and by those cultural expressional effects. 

One example she insisted on was the appropriation of “clueless white girls” adorning themselves with henna though they do not care a whit for Indian culture or people. In fact, she claims, these same young white girls actively discriminate and ridicule cultures different from their own (if whiteness is a culture as well as a position of privilege and power?), including Indians.

Admittedly, my most played role as devil’s advocate annoys my children. But this time I was not baiting. I countered with labeling and generalizing as liable to injure as much as the lack of consciousness of some consumerists. Not all cultural appropriations spell disrespect. 

We live in a multicultural world, America being one of the most diversely populated. Adapting the behaviors, clothing, styles and language of other cultures organically arises from living among others. What matters–the same always–are words and actions consciously spoken and taken. 

To love another culture so much as to adapt it is not uncommon. People move to other countries more suitable to their natures. Look at Cat Stevens, who left American fame and fortune to live in a culture more nourishing to his spirit. One can question his or anyone’s motives for “abandoning” his or her birthright, but why, what’s the point?

The people my daughter–and her social network–criticize, live inauthentically and thereby injure others, I suspect. To affect the style of another group is an act of honoring, blind imitation, or malicious mockery, depending on the intentions of the adapter. 

But all behavior may be measured as moral, immoral or amoral, depending upon the degree to which the actor moves beyond him or herself toward another–and with a conscious intention of producing good or ill will.

Mindfulness is an overused term, quickly turning trite. But in truth, to bring mind to bear on everything we do matters most. Morality is another term that gets maligned in its use, overuse and abuse. But the morality that the philosophers hypothesize about in classrooms, bars and libraries through time immemorial informs the morality I believe defines mindfulness:  an ethics of right behavior toward others, which is situationally switched on by a mind and heart likewise opened and active.

I am not foolhearty enough to believe in a “correct” behavior for every situation, but the footpath toward morality starts with a consciousness of the causes and effects of what we do, otherwise known as awareness. Thinking awake and remembering that we belong to a community are two steps in the right direction on that path.

At the conclusion of our call, I asked her what I should write about next, after plastic bags and waterless urinals. She offered sex work and cam girls. Um….wait, what?
 

credit: socialwork.simmons.edu

Why the People Should Not Mete Out Justice

“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“This day of torment, of craziness, of foolishness—only love can make it end in happiness and joy. —W. A. Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, Le Nozze di Figaro (1786)”
― Martha C. Nussbaum, Political Emotion

“What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.
Hannah Arendt

Chinese mistress beaten in the streets by a mob of women marks new trend of wronged women meting out punishment in China. This disturbing bit of news brings to mind so many social, moral, and philosophical questions such as the meaning of justice, the role of power and violence and social contracts. But mostly, it is a disturbing lack of humanity to use shame as a method of punishment.

The details of this bizarre story may be found here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2791108/mob-rule-chinese-adulteress-stripped-naked-beaten-senseless-latest-attack-kind.html