Thursday, August 2, 2012

Heads Cut Off The Political Chicken

Delving into politics.  And food.  Kinda.

First, everyone is entitled to hold an opinion and to share an opinion. Sometimes the opinions of others aren't going to be something with which you personally agree.

THAT is what Freedom of Speech is about --- being able to give voice to one's views which have been based upon one's accessible knowledge and life experience.  This speech is knowingly subjective and likely will be different from the knowledge base and life experiences of other peope.  So the whole Freedom of Speech business is about being able to hold discourse about such things without recrimination, reprisal or censure.

What it does not mean is having the freedom to denegrate someone whose exposure to facts and/or life experience have led them to alternate points-of-view.

The problem is that sometimes people take the differing opinions of others very personally, as if under personal attack, when no such slight is intended or purposeful.  They feel somehow victimized by the idea that someone isn't agreeing with their views, and so those damned dissenters are obviously then disrespecting me and making me feel bad.

**** This issue tends to rear its ugly head when folks are debating politics or religion ****

Well, let's look at this a bit.  Holding a different opinion DOES NOT denote that the speaker is making any sort of judgement about those who don't share the same views.  Holding a different opinion DOES NOT automatically imply discrimination or equate with subtle hate speech.

Just because I don't share your opinion on a given topic does not mean I dislike you as a person and all you stand for.  It simply means that on this particular subject, we've looked at whatever relevant data we've been exposed to in our respective travels, compared it to our life experiences thus far, weighed the perception of it with our stock emotional range and arrived at a conclusion about how the subject makes us feel about ourselves.

No one is force feeding you, no one is demanding that you side with the conclusion they've arrived at through their own process just because they happen to be sharing their opinion with you.

There isn't any judgement going on, other than the judgement you have of yourself upon hearing the opinions of others.  You get to choose how to feel, how to react.  It is ON YOU!!

So all that offering up an opinion really is, is one person's wish to vocalize a view that they hold and they are offering it up in the "court of public review" and then the individuals comprising the public are free to assent, redress, or amend their own views accordingly.

The mileage of other people and their private experiences can and should vary, because we all come from different backgrounds, have different levels of education, have lived within different demographic populations, and have acquired experiential knowledge first-hand that colors our viewpoints.

To quote Voltaire: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
So yes, I think the intellectual contrasting of opinions is not about being combative of the other person, but is instead asking that everyone involved with the conversation use this opinion to take a more critical look at the foundations of their own feelings on the given subject.

While debate is not a personal often is perceived as a challenge, although not of a personal affront to the recipient's character.  It is offering a challenge to see if you can match the root of your opinion to the conclusion arrived at by others.  Can you review your findings and see if they are made more substantial when confronted by opposition or do you see where your prior assessment may be missing some insights that this other person found that you didn't....or that you found that he didn't.  Now is your chance to share, learn and offer the basis of your opinion back to allow the other party a chance to review and give rebuttal.
Healthy debate is good. Diversity is good. These things should be welcomed because they teach us to reach beyond what we currently believe and empathetically reconsider viewpoints outside ourselves, beyond our present scope.
While after doing this review we may not always be convinced enough by the viewpoint of others to change our own POV, we might least engender a more compassionate understanding of that other person's experiences that generated their opinion.
Which brings me to this whole stupid Chik-fil-a thing.

Their owner is as entitled to espouse and voice his opinion as anybody. If you don't like what he says and want to "vote with your dollars" by not buying food from his restaurant chain, then do it.  If you want to use your "voting dollars" to show your support of his opinion, then do that. Since when did food become a political rally?

I'd say....since Hooters. Yeah, Hooters.

I've never set foot in one of those joints because I, private citizen little me, long ago decided that the kitschy/gimmicky concept of using a slang term for women's anatomy and making the uniforms none-too-subtly denigrating to women, were unacceptable to me and so I choose not to purchase what I've been told are their remarkably delicious hot wings.  Ever.

Do I think that the owner of Hooters has a right to run his business like this? Yes.
Is he entitled to hire only a certain segment of women who are willing to dress like that for tips? Yes.
Do I think that by doing so he's being a misognyist sleazeball? Yes.
But he still has a right to his opinion that women dressed in risque clothing will help him sell more chicken wings.
So it is with Chik-fil-a.  I happen to disagree with the owner's opinions about the GBLT community, and so therefore I'm going to not spend my money in his establishments and buy my drive-thru chicken sandwich from some other place.  I'm making that political, for me, not for anybody else.

Hmmmm....Chik-fil-a....Hooters....waitaminute....maybe the problem isn't so much political agendas as it is CHICKEN?!   *grin*

Sorry.  Just trying to inject a little humor.

Still I don't see the point of getting all bent out of shape for the Chik-fil-a guy voicing his opinion. He's entitled to it, even if you don't agree....which I don't. 

It may be that he had such a sheltered life that he has had no contact with the GBLT community ever.  Or was brainwashed by pressure-laden dogma without having had actual real-life interaction with GBLT people after which he could form a more realistic understanding.

All one can do is vote with your dollars then.  Which I will do.  Besides, Wendy's has a damn good asiago chicken sandwich on their menu.

Still doesn't make everyone a homophobe for buying Chik-fil-a.  No more so than shopping at Hobby Lobby ---a retail craft store which proclaims that it is closed on Sundays to allow its employees the day off for church service--- makes everyone who does automatically an anti-semite since the store doesn't insist on being closed on Saturdays too.

When it comes to politics, religion, and other such hot topics, I don't think anyone has all the right answers. The best anyone can do is explore, experience and use a lifetime honed skill that combines critical thinking with empathy. It is then that you can follow the course that is best for you and compassionately allow others to do what is best for them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

John Barleycorn must die...and I have to write about it!

Ok, so as absentee custodian of this blog, it is my duty to report that I've finally completed my move into my new apartment and am mostly unpacked now.  At the very least, I'm back online and able to write more frequently. 

Starting now! 

So here we are at the crux of another holiday....Lughnasadh/ Lammas/ Loaf Mass / gee ain't it hot out!  Today is also a full moon, so I'm going to keep this pithy and relatively short.

For most of the big holidays, a few of the local traditionalist groups in Chicago metro and their various pagany pals and retinues gather together to celebrate the sabbat together, feast, make merry, gossip about each other and the "pagan community at large" and just have a general good time.  Some of us are a few decades or more into the Craft, so we have that tongue-in-cheek sense of humor about things, which makes rituals fun and mostly light-hearted.

As we hail from different trads, we do a round-robin thing with a different HPS hostessing the rite and sharing a watered-down (read:  not oathbound) version of how their group would normally celebrate the seasonal rite. 

This time, it is my turn to wear the pointy shoes and striped tights (well, since we're not doing the Gardy thing, I have to wear something y'know!)

And I'm really quite excited to write a little ditty for this particular festival.  I like the harvest festivals.  Something about the winding down of Summertime's extreme exertions of heat and growth and production of bursting fruit...the coming to term...the ripening...the culmination of all that abundance, by way of making the outcomes into something nourishing, sustaining...the PURPOSE of it that potent energy to yield a tangible result that you can now hold in your hands, take a big bite out of and pronounce it YUMMY, FILLING and GOOD!

I like the healthy WHOOSH! of the scythe in the field --- or in this modern age, to see the combine rolling all that grain and corn through the blades, shooting it in a magnificent arc into the waiting bin trailing along behind. 

Yeah, and I really like the clever old English poem about Mr. Barleycorn.  You've probably heard it set to music by Steeleye Span or maybe Traffic....yummy!  The tale of the seed, growing to shoot through the soil, gracefully reaching upward toward the sun, turning golden with the Midsummer heat and then ol' John Barleycorn's eventual demise at the hands of the reapers, the miller and finally being partially ingested and partially reseeded so that he would return again the following year.

Gotta love a story with an adventuresome plot.  First, the rise of our gentle hero in who is faced with dangerous odds.  Then there's his struggle to prepare himself for battle, followed by a wild chase and a climactic moment when our hero recognizes that the situation calls for making a "personal" sacrifice for the greater good.  He offers himself up, and in a twist of fate, finds that his choice offers him rewards beyond imagining.  He becomes a legend, a symbol and blessing to others.  Nourishment for the spirit.

Sharing bounty among family, friends, community.  Labor and hope made manifest.  Real.  Tangible and yet ephemeral.  Breaking bread.  Warm barley cakes drizzled with clover honey...and whisky aged in barrels that offer a heat which warms from inside when you take a sip.

Gratitude for work, for toil which yields plenty.