Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cultural Appropriation

Racism exists (in people of ALL skin colors). But "Cultural Appropriation"? Ok, let's play that game for a minute. And we'll use Black/African Americans as an example, because the BLM Activist movement is a primary source of these "Cultural Appropriation" claims. Regardless of the history behind it, the fact is, modern Black Americans alone (ignoring every other racial minority, because everyone always seems to), "Culturally Appropriate" just as much as any other human being in the history of humanity has.

Do you like the radio? Television? Phones? Modern computers? Film/Video? Youtube? Cars? Airplanes? Recorded music? Modern Electrical Use/Technology? Facebook? Instagram? Video Games? Pizza? Sandwiches? Cheeseburgers? French Fries? Fried Chicken and other modern fried foods? X-rays and a lot of other modern medical breakthroughs, etc.? A lot of modern clothing fashions? European folks invented ALL of those things and more. So if you enjoy using those things, or taking part in those things, then you're "culturally appropriating".

Do you like the heroes and villains of Marvel and DC comics? Most of those were created by white people. Do you like Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, or Dungeons and Dragons? Them and many other major modern fantasy fiction works, as well as major science fiction works, were made by white people. Do you like modern pro wrestling? It was started by European folks, white people. Do you like sports like Baseball, Rugby, Hockey, Football, Basketball, Tennis, Golf, Volleyball, etc? Almost all invented by white people. If you enjoy and take part in those things, then you're Culturally Appropriating.

Most Black Americans to this day still bear European last names. Regardless of the history behind it, it's still technically Cultural Appropriation. Those are European names, thus you are appropriating European Culture. A LOT of Black Americans are religious, mainly some strain of Christian. While Christianity was allegedly spawned in the Middle East, if claims on the life and existence of Jesus are to be believed, the religion and various incarnations of Christianity, were spread and developed throughout Europe, by Europeans. So it is, mostly, a European or "Western" religion, for better or worse. So in a very real sense, if you're Christian, you are Culturally Appropriating a European religion. Every single Black American speaks American English as their primary language. They are, technically, Culturally Appropriating European language every single day, when they read, write, or speak the English language.

All of that and MORE can be said of Black Americans, let alone ANY other kind of American, about Cultural Appropriation. Do you enjoy Chinese, or Mexican, or Italian, or Turkish, or Japanese, or Greek, or Thai cuisine? That's also Cultural Appropriation. Literally everyone in America, and honestly, almost every single human being on the planet, takes part in "Cultural Appropriation", every single day. Should people who are NOT Japanese, stop enjoying Japanese food, because they are not Japanese? Because it's "Culturally Insensitive" to partake in Japanese Culture when you're "not part of it"? Or perhaps somehow, eating Japanese food, and using chopsticks, soy sauce, etc., is "mocking" Japanese or Asian culture in general? Or maybe it's just enjoying good food?

The fact is, "Cultural Appropriation" has been a thing ever since HUMAN BEINGS have been a thing. Human beings see or experience things from OTHER human beings that they like, and they decide to do or use it too, aka "Appropriation". Every single American, REGARDLESS of ethnic background, even modern NATIVE Americans, "Culturally Appropriate" every single day of their lives. Is it "racist" to dress up like a Mexican stereotype on Cinco de Mayo? Arguably. But then so is dressing up in green and Irish stereotypes on St. Patrick's Day, if you're not actually Irish (meaning ANYONE, who are not some part Irish).

Are there ways that it IS dumb and insensitive to "Culturally Appropriate". Sure, just as with anything, you can take things too far, or be a jerk about things. The bit at the beginning was not to point out how "great white people are". European folks and folks of European decent have made or done a lot of BAD things too. But so have almost every other kind of person in the history of humanity. And while a lot of NON-European humans have invented and created awesome things too, the fact was, an awful LOT of awful/useful/convenient modern amenities and forms of entertainment MOST of us enjoy, regardless of skin color or background, happen to have been invented by some sort of "white" person. And if you REALLY want to take shit to extremes, enjoying or taking part or making use of those things, could be considered "Cultural Appropriation" just as much as anything else.

Humans have been "Appropriating" since before there was recorded history. Hell, even in close social circles, like friends or family members, people "Appropriate" philosophies, attitudes, sayings, mannerisms, traditions, etc., from each other ALL the time. I know I have. And literally every other human being that has ever lived, or ever WILL live, has or will as well. There are a LOT of very real racial/ethnic social issues in this world that still to this day need to be addressed. And we ALL need to tackle them together. I'm just here to tell you, that "Cultural Appropriation"? It's NOT one of them. If you find yourself getting upset over "Cultural Appropriation"...you both have far too much privileged in your life to being worrying about something so trivial, and you also need to look hard into a mirror, because YOU, just like every other human being, do it too. On a daily basis, every single day of your life.

So move along, and put your energies towards issues that ACTUALLY are a problem, and ACTUALLY matter to everyone's future.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Freedom of Speech

If you value Free Speech, then value it for bigots as well as yourself. That's how Freedom works. You cannot want free expression for yourself, but silence for them. Let them bury themselves with their own words.That does not imply that if people go TOO far, and are actively hurting others, or purposefully trying to cause harm with their words, that there shouldn't be consequences, even punishment.

But to try and silence racists and bigots, or anyone you disagree with for that matter, goes against the idea of Freedom. Freedom of Speech means Freedom for Everybody. The true price of Freedom, after all, is not war. It is having to put up with everyone else being Free too.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Make the Earth Great Again

Not a popular statement, but people need to let go of this notion that America was or is "great". It's just a country.

Humanity, at times, CAN be great. Individuals can be great. Countries and governments, are not.
My slogan would be: "Make the Earth Great Again".

Because our planet WAS one great, beautiful, majestic. And we've done everything in our human power to tarnish, pervert, and destroy it for the last several hundred+ years.

You want a mantra to actually unite humanity? Forget social groups. Forget nations. Have humanity rally around saving the world we live on, and restoring the beauty, and health, of Nature. In doing that, we also save ourselves.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mental Health

I feel like far too many people these days, are either being diagnosed, or worse, SELF-diagnosing "mental health issues" and disorders. Don't get me wrong. There are real mh issues, and some people do legit suffer from them and need various manners of help.

BUT, I also think it's very dangerous, this growing mindset that every single kind of behavior needs to be labeled, and often diagnosed as a "problem", that they often "need a pill" for. People self-diagnose as having this that or the other issues or disorder, when a lot of times, they actually don't.

To hear some people talk, you'd think that MOST people have some sort of disorder, and I find that very hard to believe. I am sure that I, myself, would be diagnosed by some as having some labels or other. The real problem here is, I think it's becoming too convenient, and also quite frankly dangerous, that SO many people are either GETTING diagnosed with issues, or deciding, after researching on Google for an hour, that they "have ____". This need to label and compartmentalize everything, and point everything out as a "disorder" or "functional disability", is rather absurd, and kind of scary.

Again, SOME people legit have mental health issues, very real ones, that they struggle with and need help with. But I find it very hard to believe that EVERYONE who has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist, or who have individually decided they must fall under ____ disorder, actually have them. "Mental Health" itself is a very vague, fluid term that can cover a LOT of territory, and yet at the same time meaning nothing specific.

EVERYONE has "mental health" to maintain, it is your cognitive and emotional functionality, how you handle and process thoughts and feelings. But just because you're sad, doesn't mean you suffer from "Clinical" or chronic depression. Just because you often feel anxious or uptight or scared, doesn't mean you absolutely have anxiety disorder. Just because you often have trouble focusing or paying attention, doesn't mean you have ADD, anymore than being super focused or detail oriented makes you OCD.

I think in many cases, there are people who actively WANT to believe they have some kind of disorder, to believe that there is something "Wrong" with them, or rather because they think if they are diagnosed as such, it makes them part of some larger group, it makes them "belong" in a very weird way. And, just maybe, there are folks who WANT to fit into one of these labels, because they think that will somehow make them special, because they claim to have "special needs" and thus expect people to treat them unlike everyone else.

And to me, that is a massive disservice to those who actually HAVE serious mental health issues. I myself have struggled and dealt with depression for most of my life. I do not need someone to tell me that it's because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, nor do I need to be labeled with some official "disorder". The fact of the matter is, I've had hard life, and in general, life can just really suck at times, frustrations and sadness and loneliness and other negative feelings build, and it makes you unhappy, or even miserable. That doesn't automatically mean you have a "disorder", nor does it mean you need to get on some sort of meds, or pay some stranger to give you therapy.

Maybe some folks actually, legitimately DO need that kind of help. But me? I've made it literally decades, on my own, and I've suffered, and struggled, and survived, on my own. No pills, no shrinks, and no diagnoses. I do, in point of fact, have a very big Mental Health issue. It's called "Life". And it can really bring me down, or piss me off, or make me sad, or even sometimes make me not want to still be here. But I deal, I survive, and hope that as I continue struggling, one day I will ultimately triumph, and the many things that make me angry, or frustrated, or sad, or lonely, or afraid, or anxious, etc., will lessen, and I will as a result feel mentally and emotionally better. And if my life suddenly becomes great, and I have everything I've ever wanted, and I STILL am unhappy or miserable? Well then I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Nothing I've said is meant to make light of people with mental health issues or disorders. I've dealt with depression that is, at times, utterly crippling, in my life. And that's just one thing. So I know that, to borrow a stupid meme, "the struggle can be real". I get it. But I am also just getting increasingly sick and tired of people talking about "mental health" as if it's the newest trend, when it isn't, and shouldn't be treated that way. There are an awful lot of things we can do in this life, to cultivate and maintain positive Mental Health, emotional equilibrium, etc. Most of them have to do with simply learning how to deal with other human beings, and more importantly, learning WHICH human beings to bother dealing with or not. No one ever said it was easy. But it also does noone any good, if everyone just wants to wear diagnoses signs around their necks, and not actually actively deal with their problems, or with life.

Food for thought.