Be patient, padawans.
fas·cism - noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government
I would add into this particular definition that the government is a “socially conservative, one-party” government, not so much with regard to money matters, but with how it approaches social needs and issues with its controlled corporate money. It promotes some element of its morality through religious means to get the people on the bandwagon. This type of government is typically associated with Hitler’s regime during the World War II era, though I recall better Italy’s Mussolini.
And of course there was my mother carrying forth the dictatorial precepts after WWII….. just kidding, mom. If you are reading, I’m just so impressed you made it here!
Here is what fascism looks like in the modern-day social media mindset:
Notice the elements necessary to make “the people” accept the whole idea. You first invoke a threat. Pick any you like….communism, terrorism, Somali pirates…anything that perceptibly threatens our modern-day way of life. The threats are often real and actually have a grain of truth to them. I dare say back in the 1800′s, the threats involved were along the lines of indigenous people, or the companion fear of the white invaders, crimes involving horse theft and a version of drunk “driving” by horse in the U.S., tribal battles over resources, natural disasters and weather-related fears.
Towards the bottom of the list, you see that the press is restricted and dissent about the evolving process is cast as “treason.” Here would be the propaganda machine’s active work towards discrediting any voices who call out warnings.
Though in modern-day we now have probably a new #9: our opinions on social media act as ‘fact’. I see it often. We tend to not take the time to research good information. How many of us read information from Wikipedia and assume it is correct information? How many times have we passed a shocking piece of information around Facebook, only to find out from Snopes that it is an urban legend and never happened? I have actually done the very deed in this post. Can you find it?
Now, consistent with good investigation, I seek out deflation of a concept. I went looking for an understanding of the term and potential merits of fascism. In all honesty to myself and to you the reader, families have a tendency to be run in a one-party dictatorial fashion, merging the corporate and government functions into one entity. If children are raised well, they are probably subjected to a large dose of fascist regime in the guise of good parenting.
Let us be honest with ourselves then and honor the yin and yang of the concept. Check out “What Fascism Is Not: Thoughts on the Deflation of a Concept” by Gilbert Allardyce, published in the American Historical Review, vol. 84, No. 2 (April 1979) pp. 367-388. Now, in this article, Allardyce parses meanings and tells us that we probably associated an evil intent into the very definition of the word by associating it with a bad example of how it is implemented. “As long as the fascism problem is the Nazism problem we cannot separate it from visions of the Final Solution; for this reason discourse on the subject will remain charged, moralistic, and pulpitarian.” I had to look up that word: noun -preacher; an advocate of preaching as essential to worship.”
Hitler’s regime is a strikingly good example of a bad implementation example. I used to have a law professor who would tell us something like, “hard cases make bad law” because it was the unique and bizarre cases that actually made it to court to set case precedent, rather than the normal everyday cases and situations. Citing Stuart Woolf’s 1968 European Fascism (you can purchase on Amazon), Woolf begins:
Although some scholars attempted from the start to restrict the use of the term fascism to Mussolini’s movement in Italy, most have joined in a process of proliferation that began as early as the 1920s. After Mussolini’s success, observers thought they recognized men and organizations of the same type arising in other nations. From this beginning emerged a popular image of fascism as an international movement, a phenomenon that found purest expression in Italy and Germany, but also appeared in a wide number of other countries. When stripped of national trappings, it is commonly believed, all of these movements had a common characteristic that was the essence of fascism itself. Although that essence is difficult to define, the prevailing hope is that continuing research will eventually reveal the nature of facism more clearly. Thus, while the thing itself continues to elude us, the name goes on as before….
It appears to me then that there is a fascist under every bush. My mom was a fascist by that definition. Probably very many people are “fascist” on some level, and therefore no one is because it loses any meaning if everyone fits the definition. And therein lies the frustration with the academic and intellectual community. I have just spent 1000+ words trying to define a word so that I have something usable for my upcoming piece, forgetting completely that the term doesn’t matter nearly as much as the process I am describing. Fair enough.
Nonetheless, I find the process something to consider when we the people find ourselves cast into the cauldron of fear about global issues threatening our personal security and the mysterious shift in authority that results.
Today, Facebook and Katrina have given me a valuable lesson. The context of the lesson comes from Facebook, but the value comes from Katrina.
Apologies in advance that none of my cool graphics will show here today. The uploader clearly is taking Sunday as a day of rest for some reason.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary on “Perspective” tells us it is “the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed”, or “ the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” There are also definitions relating to how the eye ‘sees’ things in terms of parallel lines. My architect dad talked about perspective to my genius artist sister all the time back in her early years. He would describe how to draw railroad tracks as they move away from you towards the distant horizon, or a focal point of an enclosed room.
I prefer a mix of the mental and physical spacial concept – something like “the appearance to the mind of objects and ideas in respect to their relative distance and positions.”
I used to tell my writing students that they had to learn the rules first before they could learn to break them. I never knew Pablo Picasso was credited with that concept until today. I just broke a rule, and in doing so made a new rule – Cynthia’s perspective on perspective.
This is why Facebook and Katrina taught me something today.
In the days when I taught teens (Katrina was one for a very short time), I should have gone with my gut rather than the inside of the box. Sorry Katrina and all you others. There were so many cool things I wanted those chowder-head teenagers to see and experience, but because those things didn’t fit squarely in our contextual box of the day, I kept this whole secret intellectual and spiritual life to my self.
Now I live on the outside as I live on the inside, and it is the responses from others, often spontaneous, that tell me other people are getting the same jazz out of it that I am. Katrina loves this perspective as do I, so “we” share it here:
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
~The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho.
I suppose you all can guess that I am putting my glass down….
…and all of that to say thanks Facebook for putting up an Alchemist story, and Katrina for seeing the jazz in it that makes me realize how much more important the perspective is than the weight of the glass.
“In the know vitreous. That was supposed to be Latin for ‘in wine there is truth’ but iPhone does not pick that up well.” ~LJK
My mentor and I have these Socratic conversations as we navigate life, responding to each others quest for knowledge, and so I responded, and will share with everyone because I have not the energy to do this another time:
I found her and sent a friend request on Facebook. She looks awesome by the way. I use Facebook a lot so that people know we are ok even when I get too overwhelmed to respond via email. I also posted your iphone-created Latin quote about wine on Facebook. I figure everyone out there should know that one! ha. That made me laugh out loud in Kenya.
Guled and school went from potential difficulty to probably great success. You know, all those issues he kept facing there in Greeley never happened here. He is just another guy in school. He has conquered personal demons of his childhood, if one can call them demons, to become a 6 ft tall, very handsome man. The girls find him particularly attractive because of his coloring. One day he will realize that when they laugh, they are not laughing at the vestige of a once corpulent tummy, but instead are giggling to get him to look at them with those piercing hazel eyes. The problem comes into play when grown women start following us around the mall! Good grief.
He adjusted to the British curriculum in term III and brought his grades up from 17% and 45% to A’s (Chem, Bio, English, swimming) and B’s (physics, music, ICT, geography) and a couple of C’s (math and something else). I think he got a D in Art though and we will address that next week. Who the hell gets a D in art when you do the work? Nonetheless, we have discussed about life and what we want to do, and he thinks that while he wants very much to visit everyone in the U.S., another year in school here would be a good thing. For the shorter summer break they have here (British curriculum spaces out time off better than in American systems), Guled has done some work with me, gone to a teens camp for a week, taken some short trips around the area, gone places with some friends from school, enjoyed some quiet time, and worked on a project with one of his friends here to make some money. They are disgusted at the low wages though. It’s pretty funny if you ask me.
We have learned so many valuable lessons, grown to appreciate things in our world over there that had never occurred to us, and come to value living amongst diverse people who have a purity because they haven’t been “westernized” into mediocrity or complacency. I am not certain which word has the better meaning to fit my idea. There is something simple and pure about how the villagers live here. Nairobi is fast becoming western in their thought and view, with new college graduates demanding state-of-the-art technology, the newest automobiles and homes beyond their means. They are incurring rampant rates of debt just like we do there in the U.S. to support their thirst for “more and better”. One day the piper will come. Currently, loan rates here hover in the 23%-25% compounded annually. Remember in the early 70′s when we had that in the U.S.? I don’t even think it was that high except on credit cards. The system will not be able to support that much longer. They are 2 trillion in debt in Kenya with the recent acquisition of a loan from the Chinese for infrastructure. So much fraud in the ranks here makes me wonder how the people of Kenya allow this nonsense. Therein enters one of the cultural elements I do not understand – the attitude, “what can we do about it? We just have to accept and move on.” Hum.
A new “excise tax” has been levied on financial services, insurance services….some other whacky things in my opinion, to help fill the coffers and probably to support the devolution process (from centralized government to 47 devolved counties… like our states). The drafters of the 2010 Constitution, many western educated at the ivy league degrees from the US and UK, expertly sought to spread governmental power into all areas of Kenya so that Nairobi didn’t hold 100% power of the purse strings, but they did not expertly figure out how to pay for the process. So be it. On a lighter note, one piece of trivia I recently learned is that a young and brilliant American civil rights attorney helped Kenya draft its first constitution as the British were leaving in 1960. The name,Thurgood Marshall, later was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Way cool.
I am in a place of having to decide my next step here. It is not an easy time and I am in a state of exhaustion currently, I cannot lie. But while my body is suffering, seriously, my mind is still alive and not in some black place. I am thankful that I got this job so swiftly and if the time has come for me to learn a tough lesson about being an expat, then so be it. I try to keep my life here fairly simple so that I can take the next wave without encumbrance. Guled and I have discussed our thoughts and feelings about Hakim and where we are at with that. I think both of us would like an explanation for why he continues to be so conspicuously absent yet pays child support religiously. No matter. That money got me through the last 2 surprise months at having no salary. A girl can’t complain. I am free in this area of my life. I’ve done all I know to do and because of this choice, this whole “dad” nonsense will not be something Guled has to spend thousands of dollars in therapy on to understand. Better spent this way than on a couch!
Much to think about, even as I type and clean the kitchen this morning. I need to talk this out in my head. You just got lucky enough to draw the short straw today!
Red or white, why not have a glass of truth today. Cheers.
A stagnant cell sometimes just needs to be woken up, and then the entire organism begins to heal.
Don’t be afraid…click on it! May your inner cell awaken and your organism be healed!
I have far too much to do on any given day and my blog suffers continually, but I miss my therapeutic writing.
I am this very morning struck yet again by the similarity in visage between Mark Twain and Albert Einstein…their golden years anyway. Take a peek:
One of our young attorneys has a very international base in her thinking and posted one of my favorite Mark Twain comments. As our country turned from the 1800s to the 1900s, he was very involved in exposing the idiocy of things. At the time, there was a school board problem in his town reportedly, and so he let them know:
“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” ~American author Mark Twain in a speech 23 November 1900.
Kenya has some of its own idiocy, preparing this very day to build more jails. They may not realize they are budgeting for prisons, but they are. So welcome to the grand illusion; come on in and see what’s happnin’.
Perhaps it is time to write formally on the matter for the scholarly journal here.
And a public service announcement for the public: I have a number of pending articles in various stages of completion, including our One Year Anniversary piece.
I hope to jump out of the spin cycle shortly and have some down time to reflect. In the mean time, remember your dreams. They often have a purpose beyond taking up brain cells.
(written some days ago but simmering for editing purposes)
“They aren’t rights if they only apply when we’re safe.” ~Marissa Reichert
I don’t really know her, but this more-than-articulate friend-of-a-son-of-a-cousin said it as right as a person could articulate …in a conversation related to Miranda rights and the young, alive suspect caught in the boat after the Boston marathon bombings.
It got me seriously thinking about what it means to be free and how we balance that with the duty and responsibility to protect ourselves. How far do we go in the hunt to identify and catch people who will hurt us in the future if we don’t stop them, and how do we treat them when we think we have found them?
Well, this morning’s news answered that question a bit. A young suburbian from Chicago, an 18 year old, has apparently been “arraigned on terrorism charges” and I’m wondering what that means….terrorism charges exactly? Must be federal and patriot-related. They have their purpose. Laws, and thus charges, have to be very specific and give us notice as to what we did wrong.
The flavor of news I’m reading and its headline read: ”US teenager snared in FBI ‘terror’ sting.” That’s probably because I am not getting the CNN effect but the Al Jazeera effect, which I personally find a little more tolerable (only because I need a refreshing viewpoint), but not always fair.
So I move to CNN just for balance…oh wow, look at that….the story is not even evident on the front page. A search is not revealing any related story anywhere.
I am left to wonder why that is I suppose. After all, we are the people…..
Constitutional Law back in the late 1980′s was a very different beast. While there could be unique situations where bypassing Miranda was warranted (the now-famous “public safety exception”), by no means would it qualify in a situation where there is no imminent threat of loss of life, like when an 18 year old is bleeding out in a boat some 24+ hours after the alleged incident causing a search for him and is unable to speak.
See, we want to preserve the admissibility of their statements in a court of law. We also want our system to preserve its honor and humanity even when our human emotions would lead us to potentially strike out and make a mistake ourselves. If we strike out and screw up, that suspect person might walk away (recall they are “innocent” at this point regardless of CNN and FBI reports) because that smoking-gun kind of evidence will not be allowed into the trial (fruit of the poisonous tree stuff-left for another day).
While the public’s emotions are inflamed by fear and news reports (possibly designed to inflame further under the guise of asking the public for help), all we’ve done is become that which we claim we hate. Did you know a news report out of New York ran shortly after the Boston bombs went off, depicting a young man on the front page….. the wrong young man apparently? Can you even imagine the damage done to that guy because of our attempts at helping the FBI? This is probably why the police try to limit the public’s help in the first place.
If the ONLY time we get to have rights, like Miranda, is during peaceful situations in books and pieces of paper called court rulings, then me thinks Marissa is right…. they aren’t Rights at all.
We were tested in the crucible of life on our theoretical stance …. and we kind of failed a little bit. I wonder if it will help us have some tolerance for others around the world enduring that same crucible.
THE MIRACULOUS MARA
OUR FIRST HAND ENCOUNTER WITH THE WORLD
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated,often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.
“The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it.
‘Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind –
“and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”
I am uncertain which is greater, the travel itself, or perhaps the traveler. Whenever I go to a new place, I think the greatest change is inside myself. It is the experience I seek, not the mere accumulation of images. But the mere 2-D accumulation of images is all I really have in physical form to share… that and a few quotes written by those more artistically verbal than I.
“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence (English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist 1885-1930)
So goes our trip to the Massai Mara with our friend Monique and her family. Her husband, Agostino, is a well-seasoned safari guide and now operates his own company, Lokenjen. Click on that word and check them out, particularly Monique’s photography! Yannick, her very charming 3 year-old son, is also a seasoned safari expert.
You will get a much more personalized and real experience with Agostino than with the big companies operating out of the Serena hotel with their shiny new Land Rovers and clean, well-appointed people sitting upright, donning tourist safari hats, slathered with imported bug sprays and sun screens, gently cradling their expensive Nikon & Fuji cameras.
“If seeing sights is your kind of travel, then you, my good sir, are no traveler.”
This is the “off-season” in the Mara, and Agostino quips that the animals are never off-season, but only the tourists. This “off-season” weekend brings us amazing off-road things. While Agostino tells me, “honestly we were just ‘lucky,’” I am amusingly reminded of Oprah’s version of Seneca’s (ancient Roman philosopher dude) sentiment along the lines: “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.”
Agostino provided the skill & opportunity….and Marco, a Maasai, provided the years of eagle-eye preparation.
Marco is a traditional Maasai and a trained guide, thanks to a visionary who realized a kind of inequity in this land of the Maasai where the people were losing the capacity to sustain a livelihood on their own land. Marco accompanied us as we took game drives to seek out the things you see below so that Agostino could concentrate on the task of driving rather than capsizing. Monique’s skill and camera are so much better than mine, and I hope to provide a link to her photos at some point, but these are my humble offerings of our truly breathtaking experience in the wilds of East Africa. My elephant and ostrich photos apparently did not make it.
We had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Olly, kind of newly weds (2010) and fellow adventurists on a year-long road trip from Australia to the UK.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber (Austrian-born Jewish philosopher 1878-1965).
I experienced the most inexplicable sense of being safe amongst these raw and uncivilized animals. The baboons visiting in the early morning hours to steal our stuff didn’t even concern me. The torrential rains at our Aruba Mara Bush Camp did not disturb me. It was a peace and calm that I cannot describe, but that every human, especially city dwellers, must experience.
SEASONS IN NAIROBI
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus
The flowers of Nairobi can only be understood by photography. I’m not any kind of purist, but the flowers here need only the opportunity to be seen. They grace trees, bushes, sidewalks, car windows, porches, balconies, hair weaves…. they are spectacularly brilliant. They make me think of things expressed better by others:
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” ~Jim Rohn
“A weed is but an unloved flower.”
― Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” ― Iris Murdoch
“Feathers blowing in the wind is no more a bird than a pile of crumpled up receipts from champagne, chocolate, and flower purchases is a true indication that a man loves a woman. ” ― Jarod Kintz, The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They’re Over.
“You’re frustrated because you keep waiting for the blooming of flowers of which you have yet to sow the seeds.” ― Steve Maraboli
“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little stratagems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
“I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.” ― Heinrich Heine
“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower—suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.” ― Katharine Hepburn
“Flowers don’t tell, they show. That’s the way good books should be too.” –Stephanie Skeem, Author of Flotsam
Occasionally I like to delve back into politics, mostly just to see if I still can. I touch on money, sex and religion sometimes for the same reasons.
There will be no photos today. You have to read my words…every one of them, or go to the previous story for photos (and an awe inspiring story about a woman I admire here).
So, imagine today as I play around on Facebook for the first time in many weeks, I find the Israel-Palestine story of my youth again in headlines.
I spent an inordinate amount of time reading up on this Middle East conflict thing beginning in high school and extending into my university years. I learned some facts, which usually flew in the face of people’s opinions to me. I wanted to know what the story was, what spawned the Hatfield/McCoy argument, and why my Jewish friends and Arab friends neither one could tell me the genesis of the whole thing. Nope, just that “Israel did ‘x’ first”, and “No, Palestine did ‘x’ first” yada yada.
Israel feels kinda like this:
Thanks to all the artists whose cartooning is on the net to help us understand. Had my mother been their mom, that nonsense would have been jettisoned long ago after the first strike. She had this way of not giving a rip who started what when or how when she came home from work after a long day as a single working parent of four kids. Good parenting is hard to come by these days. Thanks, mom.
You know, it occurs to me with my experience in Africa where people are scrounging harder just to feed themselves that these arguments happen MUCH less. Well, sort of, but I digress…
So, in reading headlines today, I see two headlines almost instantaneously…
- Al Jazeera English
”In light of today’s announcement, let me reiterate that this administration – like previous administrations – has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said on Friday.
2. (CNN) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is receiving bids to build a five-story complex for the Israeli Air Force, or IAF, near Tel Aviv.
The facility, mysteriously dubbed “site 911,” will be built under the auspices of the Foreign Military Sales program and is expected to cost the U.S. between $25 million and $100 million, according to a solicitation for bids posted on a U.S. government website.
Only U.S. construction firms are able to bid on this contract, and the deadline for proposals is December 3, according to the notice. The notice, first reported on by The Washington Post, includes structural plans that show the first three underground floors are roughly 41,000 square feet and will include classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3 and shock-resistant doors throughout.
…… And as I finish my makeup and prepare to go find Christmas in a box for a summertime Nairobi celebration, I realize the battle isn’t about either of these countries. It is in fact about my country and what we do and think about those countries.
I’m fairly sure the purpose to resurrecting this story is to keep us (U.S. get it?) in fear …….and paying our tax dollars to a “cause.”
Doesn’t matter which side of the cause you place your gauntlet, nor which story you believe first, just so long as you feel the passion of the cause and place that gauntlet somewhere in a battle you have no business entering.
Tough talk from a white chick in Nairobi I guess. My cause is different these days.
Ok, I need a picture….