Saturday, August 13, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

This isn't typically a political blog, although I do stray into the occasional tinfoil-beanie rant.

Actually, I firmly believe that human beings want the same things, and hold the same things close to their hearts--whether right or left. I think we disagree deeply and painfully about the best way to go about protecting and preserving all that we hold near and dear.

Cindy Sheehan has a diary at Daily Kos. Please read it. Her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq. She's trying to get President Bush to actually talk to her. He won't. She opposes the war in Iraq with ferocity and tenacity.

Here is an account of her earlier meeting with President Bush, shortly after her son's death.

This lunacy HAS to stop.


Ms M said...

This raises an interesting question, is it in the binding of things we hold near and dear that there is an essence of human commonality or in the things themselves? For what seems to be at stake is the recognition that those things held near and dear to some are not to others and if this is recognised then we must ask why some things held near and dear are recognised and others are not and what ends and means are justified in sorting these things out in a way that recognises our common humanity?

Mac said...

I think the answer is "both" but it's even more complicated than that.

What I hold near and dear might also be what you hold near and dear, but if either of us perceives the other as disrespectful or threatening to those things, conflict arises.

In a political context, this plays out on a grand scale: individuals value the lives of their children; so does the government, but for different reasons, and with a contradictory agenda.

Even more basically, humans have the same basic needs, so when one group perceives another group as competition for those resources, again, conflict arises.

Isn't this what moral codes and systems of ethics are supposed to overcome, however? So that we can transcend a biological imperative; and instead of competing for resources, learn to cooperate?

Torgo said...

If resources come into it, if you're talking about a system of ethics that manages the interactions of societies in a mutually beneficial way, then there has to be some strain of utilitarianism in there. Utilitarian ethics can be awfully hard on the individual. (Not nearly so hard as lying bastard Texas plutocrats, but even so.)

Mac said...

Utilitarianism can indeed be hard on the individual.

Overall, I think I'd support a compassionate-but-fundamentally-utilitarian system over our current far-right-neocon-religious-zealot system, however.

Let's examine the current Iraq conflagration as an example--(blogger throwing caution utterly to the wind, here, did ya hear the tiny, muted screams?)--what "greater good" in anyone's wet dreams is this supposed to be serving?

While Utilitarianism is, I think, deeply flawed, there is at least some attempt to bring about generally beneficial conditions for the greatest number of individuals. Now, that can lead us into "tyranny of the majority" when coupled with democracy--but when tempered with the realization of the possibility of just that abuse, needn't necessarily do so.

Ms M said...

Though not in support of the war on Iraq (I protested against Australia's involvement in the war), I remain concerned about the call to withdraw allied forces without considering the effect of this on the people of Iraq. It is not possible (unfortunately) to undo the invasion. There are numerous groups, like Iraqi women for example, that stand to lose if armed fundamentalist forces gain political control over the country. Though I understand the reaction of those such as Cindy Sheehan, I suggest that her stance is not a responsible one. This is not just about the impact of the war on US troops.

Mac said...

*sigh* You're right, of course. I'm just questioning the wisdom of continuing military action. At this point, we've made an enormous mess--and you're absolutely right, there's no graceful way to withdraw.

However, our continued military involvement isn't helping matters, either. What's the Iraqi death toll? Something over 100,000, now?

Ms M said...

What is happening in the Gaza Strip at the moment demonstrates how difficult and painful it is to clean up one's own mess. All things worth doing are hard, hard, hard. Nothing simple about it...

Schroeder said...

Coincidentally, I came across this David Foster Wallace quote today which might answer the question in a roundabout manner:

TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.

Nice blog. I especially love the graphic you chose for your profile. There was a time when I used to drive an old rust bucket Honda wagon. It had so much rust on it, that a friend always joked it was a great pickup car, because you could pick up pieces of it all over town. Anyway, I always regret that the thing *literally* folded in half one day from rust before I could decorate it with paleolithic cave painting images.

I'm adding Stones to my blog roll at Serendipity Happens, although I might switch it to People Get Ready.

Schroeder said...

Torgo - you are right on the money!

Mac said...

Hi, Schroeder--Welcome, and thanks for the kind words! I always appreciate a link, too. :)

Ms M, damn! You mean we can't just throw another 200 billion dollars at it, and make it all go away?

I've been pondering your point about "is it in the binding of things we hold near and dear that there is an essence of human commonality or in the things themselves?"

In the case of our loved ones, I think it would seem to be both the--damn, don't know the right jargon, here--ideal, or the "name" of that loved one, perhaps as much or more than the individual.

That is, does "my friend" have more intrinsic power than "Mac-the-person"? If so, than is that power bestowed by the act of naming or possession, rather than by individuality of the being in question?

Natalia said...


I have been following this story and it makes me sick, sad and angry all at the same time. I know everyone needs a vacation, but he's not a friggin' cashier at JC Penney. He is the President. He ought to really stick it out and be there. But what do I know? I still think it is somewhat weird to think this man is OK with sending all of these people to die knowing it is all for naught. I can't get past I really cannot claim to understand any of it.


Ms M said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ms M said...

Oh that's odd. My comment removal has come up as an action on the list of comments. I wonder if it's now permanent...That's the first time I've seen that (haven't been blogging for very long - big display of newbie status!) Nothing meant by it except that I thought of something I wanted to add to my post which originally went:

"I think that is a good point Mac. I think the naming process is just as important. Michel DeCerteau describes nomination as potentiality, a type of colonization of space as language that makes future operations possible. You could apply this idea to your observation. But in terms of 'loved ones' I wonder if colonization really captures the duality of the relation. Mac-the-person must own the title 'my friend' for this act of nomination to be meaningful otherwise it remains hollow, or at the very least unreciprocated. Your point highlights how social the relation is rather than it being something that exists inherently in the individual."

I was going to add another thought that the process of negotiation over the name is also a process of validating or in some cases challenging the cultural associations/ideals that are attached to it.

Mac said...

Hiya, Natalia--great to see you here! Yeah--I saw an actual charting of how many days this president has spent on vacation...Wow. The job benefits in the White House are something else. *eyeroll*

Ms M, "...the process of negotiation over the name is also a process of validating or in some cases challenging the cultural associations/ideals that are attached to it."

Ah, definitely. Hence the struggle over "what do I call my partner when I introduce her at this function; a label which must both be socially acceptable to some degree, and also must not negate or disempower the nature of our relationship."

Even more illustrative, the emphasis we sometimes put on honorifics can be telling. "Dr." comes to mind-- :)

Interesting that we have names that we receive by default, alongside those names that denote specific status or achievement.

It seem to me that the intrinsic importance of those various names varies wildly from situation to situation.

"...nomination as potentiality, a type of colonization of space as language that makes future operations possible." Nice! Elegant, in fact.

Anonymous said...

Not to minimize the original topic, which is very important - but the last comment Mac made about introducing her partner struck a chord with me. And the comment from Ms M on nomination has me dusting off my brain cells with much appreciation.

The issue of norms and acceptance and labels is worth exploring, thanks to all of you who have given me great food for thought.

I've had a long term monogamous relationship with my significant other. My family doesn't understand why we're not married and frankly I think they're embarassed about it. My father doesn't get it due to a generational thing and my sibs have issues because they're religious. It was during our recent family trip to Ireland that some of this came out and may have caused irreparable damage to my relationship with my father and my sibs depending on whether I want get over it before I die or not.

Why isn't the fact that we're a stable couple for *14* years mean anything to them? One of my sibs said "we just don't understand what you two are" Uh, how about loving committed adults? I have my reasons for not getting married again but I shouldn't have to explain them to family, they should just accept me.

Of course as someone who understands being on the outside because they have always been the 'black sheep'I shouldn't expect any better. Yet I'm hurt and disappointed anyway. go figure. I guess I missed out on some kind of summer camp too.

I know that it's not as bad as being denied the right to marry -- again, I don't want to come off as minimizing that, but we're talking about struggling against norms, social, political, and ethical. I'm pretty conservative in a lot of areas but when it comes to fundamental social rights I'm right there with the left -- get the heck out of my bedroom, my library, my place of worship or lack thereof.

Mac said...

Dawno, I always fondly imagined myself as the black sheep, too.

Then my parents asked me to be the executor of their will because, they said, I'm the "responsible" one.