Enlightened Conflict

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

========================

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

===================

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

==============

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

why women get aggravated by men

October 7th, 2016

 

 

stupid-men-smart-beautiful-women-1

 

I had no real reason for posting this thought today other than:

 

<1> I saw these two gifs posted, and

 

<2> it reminds me how stupid condescending sexist assholes like this make my Life more difficult, and

 

<3> it reminds me how far we still have to go with regard to some fairly stupid masculine attitudes.

stupid-men-beautiful-smart-women-2

 

And just because I do think far too many guys don’t think about gender equality/inequality enough nor do they think about it thru a woman’s eyes <as best they can> if they do think about it … every guy should read the following from For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It <Carol Diehl> and just take a minute to reflect upon it:

 

 

“What if
all women were bigger and stronger than you
And thought they were smarter

 

What if
women were the ones who started wars

 

What if
too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos
and no K-Y Jelly

 

What if
the state trooper
who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike
was a woman
and carried a gun

 

What if
the ability to menstruate
was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs

 

What if
your attractiveness to women depended
on the size of your penis

 

What if
every time women saw you
they’d hoot and make jerking motions with their hands

 

What if
women were always making jokes
about how ugly penises are
and how bad sperm tastes

 

What if
you had to explain what’s wrong with your car
to big sweaty women with greasy hands
who stared at your crotch
In a garage where you are surrounded
by posters of naked men with hard-ons

 

What if
men’s magazines featured cover photos
of 14-year-old boys
with socks
tucked into the front of their jeans
and articles like:
“How to tell if your wife is unfaithful”
or
“What your doctor won’t tell you about your prostate”
or
“The truth about impotence”

 

What if
the doctor who examined your prostate
was a woman
and called you “Honey”

 

What if
You had to inhale your boss’s stale cigar breath
as she insisted that sleeping with her
was part of the job

 

What if
You couldn’t get away because
the company dress code required
you wear shoes
designed to keep you from running

 

thinker thumbtack

…… just think about it ………

And what if
after all that
women still wanted you
to love them.

 

For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It – Carol Diehl

 

 

dependence on women in life

May 5th, 2016

king is a woman feminism power life

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.

Life’s a bitch.

You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

 

Maya Angelou

 

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“Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men.”

 

Joseph Conrad

 

=======

 

 

So.

 

Feminism and gender <women> inequality will be inextricably tied to the end of time.

 

history feminism women anonymousI will get to feminism but let me take on inequality first.

 

While we flippantly talk about opportunities for women and young girls and how they can be whatever they want to be reality suggests otherwise.

 

And it does so for a variety of reasons.

 

But you know what? I could talk until I am blue in the face about the barriers women face and … well … men will not care <for the most part>.

 

They may shrug their shoulders, maybe say “gosh, that isn’t fair” and even say “boy, we should do something about that.”

 

Again and again it seems women are forced to … well … convince everyone else <men> that there’s something in it for them if they actually became involved.

 

That seems crazy.

 

That said.

 

A report from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that greater gender parity in the workforce <pay, hours worked, and access to full-time jobs> would also benefit the entire country’s economy. The report makes the case for both the government and businesses to take a more proactive role in bringing about gender equality.

 

I would also point out some sobering statistics to men.

 

It is inevitable that women will actually earn MORE than men in the future <so, men, get your head wrapped around that>.

 

Women outnumber men on college campuses <men earn only about 42% of the degrees>.

 

Teenage boys in wealthy countries are 50% more likely than girls to fail all there basic subjects in school – math, reading & science.

 

Women with no high school education dropped from 32.9% in 1979 to 11.4%, compared to men at 12.4%, in 2013.

 

In 1960 among never married American adults 25-34 there were 139 men with jobs for every 100 women <with or without jobs>.

 

In 2012 there were only 91 employed men for every 100 women. This gets worse for African American men … not even counting employed or not employed … there are only 83 men <not in jail> for every 100 women. In some inner cities it drops to only 50 black men with jobs for every 100 women.

 

Working class labor intensive jobs <which males tend to dominate> are decreasing globally while occupations which women tend to dominate are projected to grow.

 

In America pay for men with only a high school diploma fell 21% in real terms from 1979 to 2013 <women actually increased 3%>.

For those who dropped out of high school it fell by 34% <women dropped 12%>.

feminist cobain

 

<primary source: The Economist>

 

 

What is tamping down the growth of women professionally, and income wise, is that despite the sobering male work numbers the majority of leadership <where jobs, pay & employee services are decided> are made up of old white men <95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are male as well as 93% of government heads>.

 

Suffice it to say.

 

Men are getting stupider. Men are less qualified for the work force. And, yet, men maintain the reins on this horse & buggy situation.

Boy oh boy.

 

Does anyone doubt this situation will change once women assume more leadership roles? <and we wonder why old white men scoff at feminism and women inequality in the workplace? … said sarcastically>

 

Ok.

 

Feminism may be one of the most mis-discussed and misunderstood words & topics of my generation.

 

Feminism has lots of company in the tricky business because causes, in general, are tricky things.

 

Tricky in that bringing them up publicly tend to bring out the worst in … well … everyone.

 

Some people balk as they protect their own interest.

Some people balk feeling like the cause implies some sense of entitlement.

Some people balk over an implied ‘victim mentality’ aspect.

Some people become obstinate in their approval.

Some people become obstinate in their disapproval.

 

And mostly tricky because everyone would benefit from a little more education on any topic and, yet, causes almost seem to shut down our inherent listening & learning muscles.

speak listen ear

Causes are discussions. Discussions about important issues. I imagine I could point out it is tricky to discuss something if you are either shouting or not listening.

 

Regardless.

 

Feminism, while about equality, is about women and status and roles.

 

And maybe because I sometimes shake my head at how women sometimes speak of equality for women and feminism in general I begin my own thoughts where I believe the discussion in general should begin:

 

 

  • Do we doubt our dependence on women?

 

 

  • Do we doubt a woman’s value?

 

 

  • Do we doubt a woman’s importance <beyond reproduction>?

 

 

Simplistically the answer most people would give is ‘no, we do not doubt’ to all of the above. So, surprisingly, you would tend to believe feminism is off to a roaring start.

 

Next.

 

This one may be the hard part. I tend to believe many of the discussions are grounded in the wrong place … they begin with inequality.

Inequality, to me, is never where I would begin.

 

 

Why?

 

Seems like I would want to start any male/female discussion with simply assuming everyone is equal upfront <and then move from there>.

 

This permits us to discuss maximizing what should be rather than figuring out how to ‘fix something.’

 

I admit.

 

The discussion of feminism seems mired down in emotional haranguing where rational simplicity seems to be a more fruitful path.

respect women feminism

I admit.

 

I love the fact that Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named a cabinet that is equally balanced between men and women.

The ministers – 15 women and 15 men – are mostly aged under 50, in a team marking both a generational change and a commitment to reflecting Canada’s diversity.

 

Asked to explain his gender parity promise, he answered: “Because it’s 2015.”

 

I love the actions but there is still an attitudinal issue.

 

===

 

“I’m all for empowerment and equal wages and the such.

Just don’t expect me to understand or care about feminism as a movement.

I’ll be honest, I don’t care. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

Corey Milne of WhatCulture.com

 

===

“It’s got nothing to do with me.” <what a fucking idiot>

 

That sums up the biggest issue female equality faces.

 

Men and their attitudes. Its not me. I am all for equality. I do not disempower women. It is never “me” it is always someone else … and therefore it is always up to someone else to change things.

 

This is crazy.

Frickin’ crazy.

 

Of course someone is going to point out one of the few jobs that are not mainstream typical for a woman … but in general … any women can do anything that  a man can do in the work world.

 

Reflect upon that as you ponder equal pay for women.

 

Ok.

Ok.

 

Let’s set aside can women ‘do as good a job as men’ <which, frankly is not the issue> and go to the root issue of men’s attitude … “their work is not of the same value as mine”.

 

Really?

Really???

 

Rather than theoretical pontificating or made up analysis of data … how about a real case study?

 

Iceland, 24 October 1975

 

Sparked by the activism of the Red Stockings radical women’s group, 90% of Iceland’s women went on strike on this day to protest against men’s exploitation of women’s free labour within the home and women’s underpaid, underacknowledged and underpromoted labour beyond it. For one day, they didn’t go to work and refused to do the childcare, cooking, cleaning and family admin. Iceland ground to a halt, as it would if women in any country did the same. It demonstrated just how much of society ran on women’s uncredited free work. More than 30 years on Iceland is famed as one of the most egalitarian countries in the world. Perhaps we should all take a tip from the Red Stockings.

 

 

=======

 

 

‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’

 

———

 

Nope, Marilyn Monroe didn’t say it. The historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said it.

 

====

 

 

Someone has to do the care work in an economy, otherwise nothing else works, but because care is not valued, it is either badly paid or not paid at all. On some level, we still believe that professional nurses, caretakers and child minders are simply extending their natural family role as nurturers. It’s not a real job, “anyone can do it”.

At least … any woman.

 

But let’s take the women out of the home and into the economy.

feminism unfinished rights hillary

Calculations about how much growth would go up if women and girls had the same opportunities as men are important. They show us that gender equality is not just a question of fairness but something that everyone could benefit from.

But they are also problematic in that they don’t acknowledge the economic contributions that girls and women are already making.

 

When married women in the west entered the workforce, they started to devote more time to the kind of work that is counted and less time to the kind of work that isn’t. This dramatically increased the GDP in the western world.

But was this increase accurate?

 

Because no one had bothered to quantify housework, we might have overvalued the actual increase in wealth. The calculations we make today about how much wealth would increase if more women in developing economies took up paid work might be wrong for the same reason.

 

We need a new economic story. One that stresses the need for change, without ignoring the economic contributions women and girls make today.

 

Girls and women are not an untapped economic resource in the world; their work is the invisible structure that keeps societies and economies together. But they haven’t freely chosen this role. And they are not being paid, compensated or acknowledged for it.

============

 

 

Well.

 

That would suggest that we are not only dependent upon women for keeping the behind the scenes world running but we are also dependent upon them for the future economic success of the world.

 

<how many men ran to the liquor cabinet after reading that?>

 

I shared the economic stuff because, well, going back to the beginning … I felt like while gender equality kind of seems like a no-brainer I had to point out ‘what is in it for us.”

 

I hate having to do so.

But the end justifies the means.

 

And, that said, let me mention where I believe feminism seems to go awry <at least with men>.

 

It seems to far too often the discussion devolves into some bra-burning diatribe or strident loudly asserted  statements that women are better than men … or some other ludicrous ‘women are unique’ diatribe.

 

This all gets in the way of the simple fact that men seem to struggle with the fairly simple concept that feminism attempts to address unfair discrimination against women and attempts to create gender equality.

equal we are all

It is not a ‘better than’ discussion <although I do understand the intent is to ‘build value perceptions beyond current belief> but rather an equality discussion.

 

Yes.

 

Sometimes the discussion can get a little ludicrous. But even I will admit that in some way … even in its absurdity there is value. It only <most often> becomes absurd because without the absurdity it may be ignored.

 

Absurdity or not … issues of equality and civility concern everyone.

 

I’m not sure how anyone can be part of a society that treats women, even if it is only occasional, like ‘lesser thans’ in some way and say “it isn’t me.”

 

It is me.

 

It is you.

 

It is us.

 

And me, you & us should care.

 

And we should recognize it is a real issue and , consequentially, a real problem.

 

This certainly doesn’t mean every man should devote their life to fighting gender inequality. Nor does this mean that every time you encounter one of the more absurd aspects of the feminism debate you should stand and applaud.

 

It just means that you are more aware.

 

More aware that we are more dependent upon women than maybe we perceive.

 

More aware that gender inequality more often than not arises in more subtle nuanced ways than in some loud obvious behaviors.future past present

 

More aware that remaining silent in the face of gender inequality permits misguided behavior to thrive.

 

More aware that we should be concerned with the society we live in because … well … we live in this society <as do our girlfriends, wives, daughters, nieces, etc.>.

 

More aware that even though it doesn’t appear to affect you … it surely does affect you <whether you like it or not>.

 

The future of the world is dependent upon a number of things … women being one. An important one … but one. I say that to insure I am not an extremist and at the same time I will suggest that addressing gender inequality benefits us, all of us <including men> economically, socially, psychologically and societally.

 

That last sentence alone should be the rallying call for feminism and gender equality.

Enlightened Conflict