Besides EQ & IQ, most people need more PQ. Perspective is a powerful focusing agent. Learn to see things from the other's point of view.
I suspect that if everyone comprehended the true natures of opinion and belief versus fact and ethics, there would be more constructive debate and less mindless conflict.
Presidential party caucus day has arrived for many of us, and it brings with it a sobering reflection on how the media chooses to exercise its power to persuade. Even more sobering is the related reflection on how we choose to exercise our power to think.
My city's less-than-intellectual newspaper has been distracted through much of the pre-election season by our governor's bid for the Democratic nomination. Not that he was ever a viable candidate, but he was ours and we were treated to interminably long months of evaluating his every expression and calorie. Since he dropped out of the race, the newspaper's ability to shift gears and focus on the larger, more relevant contest has been notably impaired. If our fair citizens know anything about the other candidates, it is due to our own resourcefulness, and not because the newspaper has done an adequate job of reporting on them.
You've read Lee Siegel, the New York-based critic who writes for Harpers, The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Republic (again). He writes erudite, prickly prose on the subject of American culture – or what counts for it. At one point the New York Times referred to him as "one of the most eloquent and acid-tongued critics in the country." In a nation that enjoys a bit of battering of our neighbor -- and which lives by the adage if you're so smart why ain't you rich? -- even the most liberal-minded of us get both an intellectual thrill and an ignoble shiver reading his work.
People are resentful that radical jihadi terrorism has caused us all to live in a Code Orange world. Women have been living in a Code Orange world for a long time. Sometimes you figure it out when you’re really young, and you carry that wariness and those high cortisol levels around with you for the rest of your life. Other times, you don’t realize you live in a Code Orange world until your boyfriend beats and rapes you over buying the wrong kind of beer, or a stranger yanks you into the bushes on your college campus. But eventually, most women come to realize that we live in a Code Orange world.
Erma Bombeck was a genius. Whenever I am seeking a wise bon mot – particularly as it relates to popular culture – I turn to her. I did so today, and as usual, I found what I was looking for.
"Some say our national pastime is baseball. Not me. It's gossip."
How does any thoughtful woman reject the concept of feminism? After all, feminism is simply defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Not better than, just equal to.
That sounds right and reasonable to me. Would anyone argue that we should not have the right to vote? Should we not be safe to walk in the streets, able to rent an apartment or buy a home without the co-signature of a husband or father, eat in a restaurant unaccompanied by a male? And I have yet to hear one reasonable explanation for the fact that women in the United States still earn 73-cents to each male dollar.
"Mom, are you working? Can you do something with me, like, now?"
"What's up son?"
"I got kicked out of the mall again. I really want you to help me do something about it."
So began our sojourn into the perception and actions of private corporate security guards. An exploration of the mindsets that look on most teenagers as potentially dangerous unless they fit a very narrow range of physical description and demeanor.
Ask me what I am
My answer depends on the time of day
Surely I cannot be all these things at once
There are so many truisms we accept without evaluation. Things our parents taught us, things the minister said, things that were drilled into our heads at Sunday school, over dinner, or in the classroom. Many of these lessons were important teachings on the path to becoming an ethical adult. But not all of them. Some were based on pop (read – unproven) psychology, fear, and the need for social conformance over authentic living.
I was delighted to see Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Glenn Close, and Bette Midler tonight on the Oscars. I recognized them. And though I am hardly in-the-know about whether or not they have had cosmetic surgery, if they have, they've kept a light hand about it. They are beautiful women past the age of 55 who look past the age of 55.
Which is brave in a society that still primarily values women based on bust size and curve ratio. Particularly in Hollywood, where sex appeal still matters at least as much as talent, the women who refuse to try to look 20 years younger are practically taking a stand.
The majority of women still spend the first 20 years of life learning what the world expects, the next 25 years devoted to families, and finally, finally, we get to ourselves. What we expect ourselves to be. What we now have time to become. But at that exciting moment, with all the time and potential in the world before us, too many women look in the mirror and see only the wrinkles, the gray hair, the softened jaw line, the extra pounds. We fail to inspire ourselves because the reflection in the mirror doesn't live up to society's expectations of fuckability.
As if that's all we're good for. As if that's what we aspire to.
Poor Kim Novak. She doesn't need kissable puffed-up lips, a wrinkle-free face, she doesn't need to look 35 to remind me of her glamor. She could have walked out on that stage with a face that bragged of her 81 years and held our attention. I don't think for one moment it was vanity that drove her decision to hit the botox hard. I don't think it's ego that causes Goldie Hawn to keep going under the knife. It's lack of self-worth. If the only value you've placed on yourself is society's meter of youth and fecundity, then you can't look in the mirror and take pride in the woman staring back.
Sure, the human attraction to fertility has a strong biological basis. But in other cultures, other times, a deep appreciation for survival, contribution, and the wisdom one gains over time have also played an important part. I gratefully traded my flirtatious and slightly wild years for my child-bearing and nurturing years. And now I've traded that role for my next phase. Maiden. Mother. Crone. All powerful archetypes, equally valid.
I'm not saying that one's 50s and 60s can't be vital and exciting. Just that we don't need to look 25 or 35 to experience the benefits. Will I still use my eye cream and my skin tone corrector? Certainly. That's a bit of vanity. But I will also celebrate my laugh lines and every reminder that I am older and therefore wiser. That's self worth.