Friday Reading

For love of domination we must substitute equality; for love of victory we must substitute justice; for brutality we must substitute intelligence; for competition we must substitute cooperation. We must learn to think of the human race as one family.  —Bertrand Russell

As is my way, I have been reading a lot of pieces and articles in various publications to try to make sense of what is going on. Reading is no substitution for acting, but for me, anyway, it is an important first step. I might never succeed, but I at least want to attempt to figure out why things are happening the way they are. And what might be done to make our society a better, fairer place.

Below are some samples of what I have been reading.

From Vox, here is Terry Nguyen’s  nuanced take on looting: There Isn’t a Simple Story about Looting.

Civil disobedience is frenzied and chaotic by nature. People who take to the streets might not all share the same beliefs: Some protesters are looting out of the same anger that drives the protests, and other looters are not protesters at all. But because it’s impossible to untangle every person’s motivations and intent, it’s much easier to lump them all into a group to create a narrative of the event that fits our understanding.

Not surprisingly, President Obama writes clearly and beautifully about protest and change.  From Medium here is an excerpt from his piece How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change.

The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Finally, from my blogging friend, the inimitable Cynthia Reyes, who has put together an excellent list of suggestions and reading for those who want to go beyond expressing sorrow over all that has happened. (Full disclosure: One of my blog posts is featured.) The title of her post is 8 Specific Actions We Can Take. I’ve been making  my way through her suggestions and links.

I started this piece with a quotation by Bertrand Russell.  On the face of it, his words seem a little woo-woo, nice to read but not exactly a stern call to action. If it had a flavor, you might call it vanilla.

But think, for a moment, what kind of world we would have if leaders all over followed Russell’s advice.

Not perfect, which is impossible, but oh so much better than what we have now.

And despite the  seemingly bland flavor, very, very difficult to achieve.


43 thoughts on “Friday Reading”

  1. There’s a reason why vanilla is the favorite ice cream flavor! Thanks for the food for thought.

  2. One of the best quotes I’ve heard during this time, and it sort of plays off the Russell quote, is that (I’m paraphrasing) police need to be trained as, and thought of, as guardians, not warriors. In recent years policing in this country as become more and more militarized. I too will work my way through the Cynthia Reyes suggestions. Thank you, as always, for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

  3. VOTING MATTERS. This is one thing EVERY REGISTERED VOTER can do. Paying attention to whom is on the ballot in any given election, and holding our elected officials accountable for what transpires on their watch is a good start. Votes cast based on single issues are a real problem, all the way from local to national elections. The candidate must be considered as a whole, for potential good as well as potential harm they can do our society.

    1. Absolutely. For example, single issue voting led to some Christians voting for your current president despite the fact that he continues to act in opposition to the gospel of Christ. (That’s why I made sure to say ‘included’ in point 8.)

      1. Typically I hear people say they voted a particular way based on taxes and/or womens issues, and don’t seem to care or notice whether the whole equals the sum of the parts. Many of these folks are closed to discussion. Rationality and logic have left the building, voting is done with blinders; it is an emotional issue.

  4. Although there were lots of primary elections Tuesday, turnout was low, which is discouraging in these times but hardly surprising. Primary turnout is always low, and when the presidential candidates have been decided and one might get a fatal disease at the polls … But now we need to start voting in much bigger numbers.

  5. Laurie – I am with you. My biggest resource right now, as I tackle my issues, is reading. That’s how I learn best. And I have to tell you, I am so saddened and ashamed by what I am realizing. The things I have been unable or unwilling to admit to myself about my country and myself are finally breaking through to me. Thank you for the links.

  6. Thanks Laurie, there is so much to think about in your quotes (I always love Obama’s quiet intelligence and hopeful messages) and thought provoking ideas that have been put forward in the blogs you suggested reading. I agree that we should not vote for a single issue but ask ourselves if the person we are voting for has the integrity and emotional intelligence to lead. Other important leaders are needed in our community too, the police force, the army, the schools, the churches. Young people (well, all people!) need good role models. Great post Laurie, it got us all thinking!

  7. Thank you for another very interesting and thought provoking post Laurie. Thanks too for the link to Cynthia’s post with its helpful ideas of things to do. Reading the comments above I think there are 2 things to be wary of. First feeling helpless (on this and other issues such as climate change or indigenous rights) – the ‘what difference will me refusing a plastic bag make?’ attitude. The British supermarket Tesco has a slogan ‘every little helps’ and there is an element of truth in it! Secondly Derrick’s point that we can get locked into talking to our own ‘tribe’ when we need to be engaging with, and listening to, the other tribes out there. In all probability they have their reasons for thinking as they do, often to do with similarly feeling hurt or threatened in some way.

    1. Good points. We do need to expand our circle. They have their reasons for feeling and behaving the way they do. Nevertheless, I felt as though I had to take a stand, even though I am a senior, a white woman, who lives in the woods far from where the protests are happening.

      1. I understand your need to speak out Laurie. It isn’t either stand up for what you believe is right OR reach out to those who see the world differently. Ideally we do both. As older women we are well placed I think to be both determined and sure of our ground and at the same time calm and compassionate. Well that’s how I like to think of myself! Others may differ! 😉

  8. Read Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” for a perspective on mob action (versus any specific individual who might influence or be influenced by the mob). I am into the 2nd book in the trilogy, “Foundation and Empire”. Chapter 13 starts: (Kalgan is a planet that has just surrendered to a war-lord)

    “If, from a distance of seven thousand parsecs, the fall of Kalgan to the armies of the Mule had produced reverberations that had excited the curiosity of an old Trader, the apprehension of a dogged captain, and the annoyance of a meticulous mayor — to those on Kalgan itself, it produced nothing and excited no one. It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and space as well, lends focus. It is not recorded, incidentally, that the lesson has ever been permanently learned.”

    We have had an eruption of protests over the past week, I suspect because we have lots of bored, un- or under employed people who are frustrated on various levels. Yet, we have seen such many times over the past 100 years. Multiple government reports have analyzed the situations and often come up with the same recommendations, some of which have been slowly implements (e.g. fair housing, voting rights…) often reluctantly by those in power with the usual excuses about in the imbalance of power if… (read loss of their power). Thus we have a lot of peaceful marches.

    But, violence, often at night, comes from many corners. Pent up frustration and fear on marchers and security sides. Opportunistic people/groups using the rallies as screens for their own, often unrelated plans (e.g. looting, attacking authority, getting their due, etc.). And, as you have written into some of your political rally scenes in your second book, unrelated people/groups infiltrating the marches and social media to get others to act up (e.g. several reports of white supremesist groups putting up fake Twittees calling for looting white communities, staging rocks along march routes etc.).

    These are dangerous time.

  9. Wouldn’t it be nice if our politicians followed the BF quote as their manifesto? I won’t be holding my breath on that, but I really do hope that come November, the collective makes a better choice in leadership.

  10. That was such a good idea to save quotations. Now I wish I had been putting one at the end of every one of my posts recently. Because I personally feel at a loss for words, or like my words are not eloquent enough. I have shared a lot of meaningful articles to Fb so maybe I can go back and find some for posts coming up.

    1. I know just what you mean. We have had three and a half years of utter BS to be followed by a plague, economic collapse, and then capped with the murder of George Floyd. Is it any wonder the lid has flown off the pot?

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