Feb 26 2006
I am doing War and Hate all in one, baby. You think I’m cheating? SUE ME. Besides, I vomit up enough words that it will be way way way more than necessary to cover both. If I were a better writer, I would be able to tie it all in with half as many, and make all coherent, but oh well, this is me and my rambling brain and I just have to work with what I’ve got, yo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this post is all about my friend Chris’ Word Challenge. Perhaps you’d like to read the other entries, or even join in! (Chris would be so ecstatic, you should totally do it.)
Have you read Harry Potter?
If you ask someone that question, you get various responses. A lot of people have read them and love them. Some folks have tried and gotten bored. A majority of folks who have not read Harry Potter will answer vehemently, along the lines of, “Yeah, like I’d be caught dead reading Harry Potter.”
There is a better example of this mind set, in fact, I remember there was a movie or a book or SOMETHING a few years ago that I was totally into (along with the rest of the known universe) and James scoffed at it, and at me for loving it. Just about everyone who wasn’t all into it followed the whole, “Ew, everyone and their dog is going on about that, I’m way too cool for school to be into THAT.” James was giving me the business about it every time it came up, and finally I got sick of a) hanging my head in shame or b) defending my “guilty pleasure” which always ended in hanging my head in shame (DAMN I wish I could remember what it was.) Finally, I spoke up and said, “You know why EVERYONE in the country likes XYZ? Because XYZ is actually GOOD, DAMMIT!”
(Now that I think about it, I think it was the first season of American Idol, and I think I said, “Because these folks can actually SING, dammit!!”)
Whatever it is, the things that we like, read, watch, wear, attend, what-have-you.. these things define who we are, which I think is why we get so adamant about separating ourselves from things which we don’t want to be seen as. As teenagers we rebel against our parents with the need to define ourselves as separate entities from them. And yet then we band together with our friends and “non-conform” in our own group-conforming way. Years out of high school, we all still have our cliques and ways of conforming and non-conforming to show ourselves to the world in the light in which we wish to be seen.
Jon on Blurbomat recently posted thoughts on this same sort of subject in his post, “Going Big” which I read and nodded my head along the entire thing. I’m also reading (OK, i’m re-reading it for the umpteenth time, you caught me) Chocolat, by Joanne Harris. I own the movie, and also love it, but the book has a lot of different aspects which aren’t really pinpointed in the movie. One of the characters in the book, Guillaume, owns a small dog whom he loves dearly, but is very sick. He seeks comfort from the priest and the book’s antagonist, Francis Reynaud, who informs him that dogs have no souls and he’s wasting his time and feelings on a pet. The sad day comes when he has to allow the vet to put the dog to sleep because he is in too much pain. The morning after, he comes into Vianne’s shop. Vianne and Armande let him grieve in his own way, and in discussing the “advice/ comfort” that Reynaud had given, Guilliame asks Vianne what exactly she believes in. She thinks for a moment, and answers, “I believe in whatever makes you happy.”
At Bunko a few weeks ago I sat down to a new table to a discussion in progress about staying at home with one’s kids. It was decidedly pro-staying at home, which is fine, but I thought it needed another point of view, which would be mine, which would be hello, some people HAVE to go back to work in order to pay their mortgage and buy, oh you know, FOOD AND ELECTRICITY.. I really wasn’t riled up as I dove into the conversation, just matter of fact, but as one lady pressed me about what exactly the cost of daycare, and gas, and eating out while at work, and didn’t I think, if I REALLY added everything up, the cost of working would balance out and make the entire situation not be worth working? The fact is, I make more money than daycare, gas, etc. (which came out great, btw: “Actually no, I make more money than all those things. I make a boatload of money!”) and if I didn’t go back to work last fall, we would be in pretty dire straits. Like, defaulting on our mortgage kind of suckiness.
I really don’t mind people feeling strongly about staying at home, or going back to work, these parenting issues are important and it’s important to think them over and decide which side of the fence you are on. For example, I believe that breast feeding is best. However, I’m not going to go hand out pamphlets to the formula-feeding moms, that is THEIR decision, and one I’m sure they came to after a lot of thought. I will however, give a momma breast-feeding in public a grin and a thumbs up, and if I’m really feeling cocky, a “YOU GO GIRL!” But I digress. The point is, it’s a damn good thing that I actually feel good about being back at work at this point in my life, because IF I had really felt miserable about my needing to work and being away from my kids all day long, this woman GRINDING it into me that I really “could stay home, if I weighed all the costs” (except that no, I COULDN’T AND I THINK I KNOW MY CHECKBOOK BETTER THAN YOU) would really have made my misery make me want to cry myself to sleep that night. As it was, I just got a little pissed, and then forgot about it until now. I’m not really mad at this woman either, btw, I think she just got a little too into the discussion to hear my side, and was so positive that her choice was the right choice for everyone, that it got a little carried away.
We all make choices for the good of our families and ourselves. I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to make that decision FOR them, or make someone feel bad about that. Just as in Chocolat, Vianne’s response to Guillame, “I believe in whatever makes you happy,” is entire message of the book. Not only living your life in a way that makes you happy, but NOT pressuring others to live THEIR lives according to your beliefs. The “battle” between Vianne and Reynaud really is about letting people be happy with their own choices, which also means allowing people to do/ read/ watch/ love the things that they want to love and makes them happy regardless of whether it is cool and exclusive or if it is totally mainstream and gauche and, you know, American Idol and Britney Spears. Or choosing to stay at home with your kids. Or choosing to have an abortion.
So how does War tie in to all this? I believe that a lot of the wars we’ve seen lately revolve around this issue. If religious groups (or zealots, I guess I should say) could just allow others to make choices and not try to force their own choices and beliefs on them, would there be terrorist attacks? It makes me a little frightened of events in our country. When we try to remove other peoples’ choices from them and foist our own beliefs on others, I think it spells trouble. We already have domestic terrorism with church burnings, abortion clinic bombings that sane people frown on, regardless of their beliefs, but we also have the more subtle things, pharmacists refusing to give out birth control/ morning after pills because of their beliefs. I believe with every fiber of my being, that abortion is wrong. This means, that I won’t be having any. That’s my choice, for me. I would never, ever deign to make that decision for someone else. Just like I won’t make the decision for other mommies to breast feed exclusively, or stay home or go back to work, or any number of things.
Free choice, people. Living a life that will make you happy. That’s what it’s all about. That, and not deeming yourself worthy of making those choices for others. Not belittling others because their choices are different. Not throwing bombs because their choices are different. Not flying planes into buildings because their choices are different. It starts out small, but we are all warring in our own way, battling over choices, and trying to impose our personal choice on others.
Hate and War
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