…all the good things, and the bad things, that may be…
Photo by Bruce Tracy
It finally happened! I set a goal. I worked toward it. And, over a month ago, I found myself standing on that infamous red-circle-of-a-rug on a TEDx stage. But I’m still struggling to understand what to make of my experience.
It’s been said too many times that social media is changing our relationships and degrading our ability to genuinely connect with others, but all those “superficial” interactions take on a unique significance when social media meets death. In a totally bizarre way, social media enables us to be friends with dead people.
Rich, lively conversations can be fun, energizing, and illuminating, but sometimes they can also get quite uncomfortable. This is especially evident when our conversations become more than a place for us to merely vent and get things off of our chests by “reporting the facts” (“Oh, he’s really nice;” “The lasagna I had last night was totally banging;” “I’m going to file for a divorce”). Conversations push our comfort zones when they invite, or rather challenge, us to actually think beyond the so-called “facts.” To understand the kind of shift that can happen in one’s experience of a conversation, simply imagine the anxiety and defensiveness that can arise when someone asks a very simple and seemingly standard follow-up question. “Why?” At some point, discomfort and anxiety might surpass the threshold of conversational irritation and leave one ready to lash out: “All you ask is, ‘Why? Why? WHY?!?’ You’re no better than my three-year old!” (By the way, we should probably be less dismissive of the wisdom in our children’s inquisitiveness.) After teaching undergraduate classes in philosophy, the discipline that asks questions, I’ve learned a few fail-safe phrases from my students that can stop the discomfort and the conversation even faster than one can utter the words, “I don’t know.” Continue reading →
In addition to the quick little video below that I posted earlier today on YouTube about the Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, it may be helpful to clarify a few more points that are worth keeping in mind this week (and hopefully beyond that).
The more radical progressives hesitate to give support to marriage equality because “marriage” – as a historical institution – has a pretty shady past wrapped up in the exchange of property, or more accurately, the exchange of people as property, or even more accurately, the exchange of women as property. In such relationships, there is a clear and problematic difference in power between a husband and a wife. But don’t be fooled. History and its influence on marriage hasn’t changed all that much. When marriage is defended these days as being between “one man and one woman,” such words are often still colored by rigidly prescribed gender roles that imply other “marriage-y” things like “what he says goes,” or that determine “who wears the pants” and who “belongs in the kitchen.”So let’s be clear about at least one thing, gay and lesbian couples who want marriage equality aren’t really looking for those kinds of marriages anyway.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with some really wonderful people last weekend at the Advancing Public Philosophy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This happy little Think for a Change video is one of my favorite things that came out of my experience there. Danielle La Susa, Avram (Oz) Blaker, and José Muñiz join me as we discuss philosophy and how one can experience the so-called crisis of not having any answers with playfulness, humility, and strength.
Yesterday was Daylight Savings and by springing forward we “lost” an hour. Perhaps your witty Facebook friends also updated their statuses by asking: “Where did the time go?!” I’ll roll along with serendipity because, as of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about time, how it shapes our lives, and how conventional wisdom on the matter can be a little misleading. The saying goes: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why they call it the ‘Present.'” Sure. But there’s more to it than that. Continue reading →
You know that great feeling when you are able to vent and finally get things off of your chest? Well I wrote a number of emails this week that were intended to be “strictly business,” but before I knew it that whole personal-professional line was blurred again and I ended up telling a few of my higher-ups what I really thought of them. Continue reading →