Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things My Mother Tried To Teach Me

I was a truly obnoxious teenager. Sad really, to think back on it. I went from a fairly sweet little kid, to a precocious and self-righteous tweener... straight to smart-ass-know-it-all teen.

And then I encountered the paradigms of nihilism, and pessimism, and I thought that I had met with ultimate "cool." And really, when you think of all the things that "cool" wants to be and have? I may have been right.

My mother had a very low opinion of "cool." She always compared being "cool" with being cold and emotionally shut down. She said that when you are "cool" that it is a state of not caring about others. This is one thing that my Mom tried to teach me, and she did a pretty good job in that I was never able to throw myself wholeheartedly into the quest for coolness, much as I wished for that kind of numbed closed-off approach to life. I could never really encase myself, or protect myself from the crap-storm that came from my own actions; so I was able to learn from the consequences and I think I turned out better for it.

Another thing that my Mother tried to teach me, I don't know if she will even remember. It was one of those moments that happen between parent and child that shape that child forever... but you don't know that it's coming as a parent, and sometimes you never know that it happened until decades later when that kid tells you. Sometimes you never know what has happened. Mom, I'm telling you now.

First it should be said for the record on this blog, that my parents are both really, really smart. The have their quirks; for instance my dad has fabulously atrocious spelling and yet eschews spell check functions. But they are some sharp folks, and I have always known this, even in the depths of my teen disdain for their screwy-churchy-Mormon-crap... so it was an interesting conversation when I started to trot out my Public School Indoctrinated Ideas of "Overpopulation," "Zero Population Growth" and "How Humanity is a Blight on this Earth." Because- see, I was a "Gifted" kid, and we all knew about the "Science" behind the unsustainability of the human race, all the depleting resources, how there is not enough food and it's all going to hell in a handbasket unless we STOP HAVING BABIES!

I cannot tell you today what my mom said, word for word... not like another instance of Things That My Mother Tried To Teach Me that my mom denies that she taught me. A really nifty bit about the true value of black pepper when cooking an egg, that you will always know if you have salted your egg if you see pepper on it. Salt and pepper see, you put it on in that order... salt then pepper, and you will always know.


I was expecting some drippy churchy rebuttal to my fear-mongering and got science. She trotted out instance after instance of scientific advances that have the power to feed everyone if we choose to do so. She insisted that this earth was designed to hold over twice what it currently does in terms of humanity, and do it cleaner and safer and more environmentally soundly that we currently do it, and this was back in the mid eighties; over two decades ago! Basically she was teaching the idea of "Abundance vs Scarcity" a topic I scatterbrainedly addressed here, and it left an impression on my brain. I am not saying that I changed my ideas right then and there... but her ideas forced me to stay "open" in much the same way that her ideas about "cool" forced me to stay "open." I have never been able to fully subscribe to nihilism and pessimism and the pervasive culture of fear that seems so rampant in intellectual circles.

Fear. It is very important, and performs a valuable life saving function of getting us out of sketchy situations and keeping us out of them as well. But it is a thing of momentary value, or rather, it has value in the moment of danger. Humans are not meant to live in fear, and when we do live in it, we turn into rats in a cage. Living in fear, basing our decisions on fear, reacting as opposed to acting... it does something to us individually, and it does something to us as whole societies. It causes us to start basing our actions on fear as opposed to reality. Fear makes it's own reality.

I have the blog Junkfood Science on my Bloglines, I have begun to read it because it is fascinating and sometimes is the only source for the layman to get at studies and findings that the media ignores because it doesn't feed the fears of society, or sell papers. Today's post... well.

There are several of y'all reading my blog who are currently pregnant or have recently given birth. You may not want to read the first section the post that I am about to link to, skim it perhaps to get the gist. Suffice it to say, it gives statistical and anecdotal evidence of forced abortions and sterilizations happening in China in order to force it's population into compliance with it's One-Child Policy. China... with the assistance of UNFPA (United Nation Population Fund), a fund that was receiving about $34 million a year from the US under the Clinton administration. That funding was stopped during the Bush administration upon the recommendations of Secretary of State Colin Powell after... well, go read it.

But be prepared to skim over portions of the first section of the post if you suffer from MFOD (Mom's Freak Out Disease)... keeping in mind that the blog author herself even skips the more horrific and graphic details of what is going on in China. This is happening with the assistance and money of the UN. Supposedly the better part of the civilized world, putting it's very likely groundless fears ahead of human life itself.

I submit that this is the natural outcome of living in fear. People... let's think and act rationally please, and have a care about allowing our fears to make our decisions (reaction) instead of our brains (action).

I want to also add... this goes right along with what I have been trying to say in terms of coercion and governments "forcing" it's populations to do what is right. Because sometimes? What one person thinks is the "right" thing to do? Sometimes it just isn't, but if governments already have in place the machinery of coercion... what the heck to you propose to do to change it? Keeping in mind that many many people believe that China's One Child Policy is the "right" thing to do, no matter the cost. You think this could never happen in America? Ever? Really?

And the hell of it all is this is happening based on non-science. Nonsense. Just generally accepted feartheories.

Dude... my mom was right all along.


Sunni said...

All very interesting stuff. I sure do like that mom of yours. Although I do remember thinking as a child, "I wonder what Granny would say if she knew Aunt M. had statues with naked butts all over her house"... Haaa I was just sure her mother would be shocked. uh, I grew up and realized that wasn't the case.

bon said...

HAhahaaaaa! Yep, with all those naked butts all over the house, is it any wonder I turned out like I did?

That's funny about your childhood ideas about Granny though... One of my early memories of her was her explaining that when you are old, it's not cursing to use the word "sh!t" if you use it in context, and then she DID! As in, "Excuse me, I have to go sh!t."

bon said...

Ohhhh dear. Did I tell you that my actual vocabulary deteriorates when I am pregs?

It does, but not as much as my interior monolog of obscenity does. Be glad you are not in my head.

bahecky said...

Ha Ha! You guys are hilarious! And Granny is the best.

Superwoman said...

Yeah, I never bought the whole concept of overpopulation. It truly was horrific to read about the forced abortions and such. What an awful, awful thing.

elizasmom said...

Hooo, boy, China's population control policies. There's a topic that sets me fulminating. You know, their chickens are coming home to roost in a horrible way — those policies combined with the culture's inherent misogyny has led to a population gender imbalance that is already fraying their society, which is not helped by the fact that China's women have among the highest suicide rates in the world.
I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that abortion should remain legal and safe, because there are those who legitimately must have access to it, but China's abortion policy is like an ironic horror-movie flipside of the invasion of privacy that this country's Roe v. Wade ruling meant to address by allowing abortion here. It is also no small irony that a procedure feminists here fought to have is used to oppress women there. Creepy.

bon said...

Elizasmom- Yeah... what a strange day when the "lifer" and the "choicer" stand together jaws dropped in horror at what is being wrought with abortion. As much as I am against abortion as a method of birth control, I can understand the arguments of many of it proponenets. But this? This has NOTHING to do with the debate raging in America. And the ironic thing is that the "reasons" that the Chinese government claims it needs to enforce these policies (resources, economics, education, poverty) are all problems that are realistically laid at the feet of the government and it's own jacked-up policies. It murders and distorts it's population to retain it's power, and I say EVEN IF THERE WAS something to overpopulation... China's answer is WRONG because it is patently wrong. Murder is murder, and even the most dedicated "pro-choice" knows that aborting an eight month old fetus IS murder. At eight months that baby is a BABY and can survive on it's own without intervention past what any term baby gets.

And THEN we can discuss the oppression... sorry, I like to go in order of atrocity.

elizasmom said...

Hey, look — we agree on something!

I have a VIVID memory of watching a movie in my ninth grade social studies class about China's "population control" policies. In retrospect I think it was pretty ballsy of my teacher to show a bunch of kids a movie that included discussions of abortions at 6 months.

The other awful thing about this is that in some ways those only children are more spoiled and valued than ever, and yet, the abortions, the abandoned babies, etc., shows that this society has been pushed into a fundamental lack of respect for life, and, by extension, its future, which I think connects in turn to the fact that their industries adopt/condone/bribe/whatever poisoning not only our pets, but THEIR OWN CHILDREN'S FOOD. I think it's all connected.

I hasten to add that I don't think everyone who lives there is a bad person, most are simply trying to get by in a bad system; I do argue, however, that the trickle down effect of the government's self-protectionist policies has been to erode the moral infrastructure of the country in ways that its population will be paying for, for generations to come.

Anonymous said...

I cant imageine that my onwne dotter would accuse me of being a pour speler. LOV DAD

Mama D said...

Heavy. How do you do it when you are about to give birth?

My brain is still too mushy to really even comment. You've all said it very well. But yeah, China. Crazy.

Becky..AMHW said...

The overpopulation people should move out and live where I live.

I am not currently pregnant nor have I recently given birth. Dilate already would you?