Monday, 26 November 2012

Karma for postmodernists

I often think about the popular saying 'What goes around comes around'. Take the supernatural elements of Karma away, and you're left with a very basic principle: The kind of energy you send out into the world affects the kind of energy you will receive from the others around you. If you smile at a stranger on the street, you're likely to get a smile back. If you glower and shake your first, people will mimic you as a way of relating. Your kindness/anger inspires their kindness/anger.

When you seek to hurt someone, you are operating from a place of hurt. The negativity which you wish to transfer onto someone else is already festering inside, wreaking all sorts of havoc on your system. You think it'll be better once you're done hurting your target, but you actually make it worse. Others' happiness, or lack of it, impacts our own. It's a vicious cycle.

What's better than two people who reinforce each others' hurt? People who reinforce each other's feel-good tendencies. To love and care for another person is to love and care for yourself. Altruism is a most 'selfish' act. If you receive hurt, try not to pass it on. Draw upon your reserve of good feelings instead. Tell someone how much you appreciate them. You're likely to get the sentiment back and more, thereby ensuring that the chain of hurt ends with you, and you've begun something entirely new to counteract it (either directly or indirectly). The lucky person who was treated nicely by you will go out into the world with renewed purpose to pay it forward.

A win-win situation is always around the corner.

There has been a lot of research on how societies with a comparatively low level of income inequality make for happier, closely-knit communities where there is a high level of trust between the citizens. It turns out that, even if you're part of the 1% (of people who own the highest degree of wealth) in, say, Chicago, you are still as affected by the same high level of crime and low level of community spirit as a homeless person. You can't insulate yourself from the rest of the city, because we're all interconnected. Your extremely high level of economic privilege is the result of someone else's extreme disempowerment. But what if you are both on the same socio-economic level, on even footing, sharing the resources as equals? The walls collapse and you become free to connect, knowing that you share the same values: a dedication to the collective well-being. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

O happy day!

There's nothing like the prospect of the name 'Mitt Romney' rapidly fading from public discourse to turn a girl's frown upside down! :oD I know that just because the Democrats have emerged victorious doesn't mean that I've heard the last of the Republicans, but it's very consoling to know that Obama and his administration will be the dominant voices coming out of the States. I am imagining an US Politics Word Cloud where the size of the Romney tag is ever-decreasing... soon it won't even be visible to the naked eye.

My dad and I watched Obama's victory speech live on CNN, and were both moved to tears, even though neither of us buy into American exceptionalism. The kind of soaring rhetoric which would be dismissed as overly idealistic in Australia touched on some resonant notes for us, and I was left to wonder what might have been if Obama's race wasn't demonised by a large section of the American population... what kind of policy and personality development he would have been allowed to develop if he were viewed as white. But it doesn't do much good to get lost in a hypothetical universe. No amount of wishful thinking can change the current realities I perceive. Envisioning an Obama leadership free of constant stigmatisation from racist hysterics does however allow me to imagine that Obama could have been a more effective, charismatic and powerful progressive force, and puts things into perspective. We all do the best we can with the circumstances we find ourselves in. Obama has managed to stay in the white house, keeping the politics, if not left-of-centre, then not as right-wing as they would invariably become under Republican governance.

So let's hear it for four more years of America's first third culture kid president! *clink*

Friday, 2 November 2012

Girls, get your misogynist today!

Hey girls, feeling alright at just this particular moment? Tsk tsk. What you need is a man to subtly undermine your self-esteem and subconsciously manipulate you into submitting to his gaslighting and demands. Make haste and become attractive to these people - they can only be nabbed if you sufficiently hate yourself. Remember the rule: Look good on the outside, let society corrode your self-esteem on the inside. If you're appropriately insecure you stand a good chance of catching their attention. The more you hate on other women, the better. Slut-shame with the best of the men to earn extra points. Regularly identify women as ugly or homosexual and that previously aloof misogynist will regard you with a vaguely vindictive glow in his eyes.

The good news is that the world is on your side. Contrary to popular belief, misogynists are not in short supply. Ubiquitous, they are. You're conditioned to hang on their every demeaning word and offer up the remains of your self-confidence for merciless slaughter.

Isn't heteronormativity brilliant? Conform, conform now. Good girl. For god's sake, don't become a feminist. You might do things such as not regard your body hair as hideous, speak your mind and be labelled a bitch for your refusal to be constantly considerate to male concerns. You will develop a distaste for the misogynists, and other female misogyny connoisseurs will shun you. No longer will your sense of self-worth be regularly depleted. Your rejection of mainstream male behaviour will effortlessly alienate the grand majority of the populace. Why do this when you could be just like everyone else and submit to being physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abused?

Everybody loves a bit of humiliation in day-to-day life. Being female means you'll be on the receiving end of it. Clearly you need to accept that reality. To do otherwise means misogynists who would've happily dismissed you previously might reconsider the efficacy of their woman-hating ways. It's not for the weak-hearted. You might pick up things like courage, self-assurance and a healthy self-love along the way. Once again I must stress that you can't survive without becoming a victim to misogynists. Conformity may not be empowering, but it's instrumental to retaining the status quo. Don't abandon it now...