Sunday, January 31, 2010

si vis amari ama

I don't know how to tell you this
so I guess I won't
I am sick to death with it
This confession...not mine to reveal
But to your conscience I appeal
Be a good girl, for once in your life
Don't give into weakness
See the love instead of the strife

My throat aches to say what it is
It is not my burden or my guilt to carry
Regardless, I feel it heavy
upon my shoulders
My feet sink deeper into the mud
My eyes dull with the thought

I judge, I am guilty of that
For all my morals and rants
For all my beliefs and ideals
I judge and will not stop
I am not your jury
and yet I've made the call
Lately, I've been thinking
I've made my decision and
Your reputation is sinking
Who will hang you when the day comes?
I already know the answer
You don't see it but
your hand is on the lever

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tolerance: Connotation and Denotation

The word tolerance has a beautiful message that great thinkers have written about and lived their life in accordance with such as Gandhi and Voltaire. The idea of respecting others and their beliefs while being secure that they will do the same with regard to ourselves and our beliefs is the very basis of The Golden Rule, an ethical idea that one has the right to be treated fairly and has the responsibility to ensure justice for others. And yet, the word tolerance has developed a connotation beyond this message that is much more negative in tone and practice. Does the connotation, in turn, effect our adherence to the denotation of tolerance?

As defined, tolerance is the ability to recognize and respect the beliefs and practices of others. This comes into effect in all facets of life. Law makers must decide what is legal and what is illegal. What can we, as a society, tolerate? Do we permit murder? Do we bear with mayhem? At what point do we draw the line and declare what is tolerable and what isn't? We vote or the courts come to law-altering decisions on such topics as abortion and gay marriage. Obviously our acceptance has limits, not only our individual acceptance but our communal ability to condone certain behaviors. We must define as a whole what is right and wrong absolutely and then come to terms with what is left in between the two (which is the majority of it). And how do those who have decided to live a tolerant lifestyle react to those who have decided otherwise? John Rawls, an American philosopher, argued that in order to remain true to the message of tolerance, one must tolerate the intolerant. Those who refuse to accept or understand others and their views must themselves be accepted and understood in order to maintain the creed of embracing those who are different from ourselves. There is no room for hypocrisy and special pleading in that society.

But the term seems to have gathered a more implied definition that sometimes overpowers it's actual definition. The underlying tone behind tolerance implies dealing with a trait one doesn't necessarily condone. In some ways, even being permissive of actions one only expresses patience for and lacks understanding or acceptance of. If asked to adjust to something, one might say, "I can tolerate it." and the tone implied leads us to believe that, although this person is condescending to be lenient, that they are not enthused with the idea or the situation. They are not celebrating or encouraging it but merely tolerating the situation. Therein lies the peril of connotation. When referring to campaigns for cultural tolerance, I find I cringe at the word usage. I dislike the possible interpretation that tolerating is simply enduring something that is not necessarily wanted.

"It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty." Mohandas Gandhi

Tolerating others religion, culture, beliefs or just their whole being is not simply about coping with their existence. It means to embrace, to accept willingly and to celebrate. One does not need to fully understand or comprehend another's beliefs to be supportive but the act of trying is far more encouraging than simply being permissive to their right to believe what they do. After looking further into the connotation and denotation of tolerance I feel it is better to live a defined life rather then an inferred one.

"The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people's differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience." Jerome Nathanson

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Something out of nothing

It has been a tight couple of weeks around the Lambert/Johnson household. Dave had all of December off and we are saving for a move in March, which has lead to some thrifty living.

But I find that although our disposable income has declined as an affect of having a month off and cutting back on entertainment and fun in order to save, our quality of life has suffered little.

I have to admit that Dave and I, with our hedonistic nature, are very much use to spending money whenever and however we want. We treat ourselves all the time. For us this means going out to movies, eating whatever we are craving (though, with me eating healthier the last 2 months, it's more eating whatever I am craving within the constraints of my lifestyle), going to concerts, going out for dinner, taking cabs everywhere, going shopping, buying for each other and our friends. When I write it out, it sounds very materialistic, but I can assure you it is not in that vein. More or less it is simply the D.I.N.K lifestyle (Double Income No Kids) we've become accustomed too. So, not necessarily materialistic so much as free of most financial burdens. Definitely selfish in some ways, as we have no kids or dependants to think of and truly just ourselves.

As Gwen Stefani once sang "Now all those simple things are simply too complicated for my life/How'd I get so faithful to my freedom?/A selfish kind of life"

With our current economical living, we are prone to lament to one another when we feel the pangs of living frugal. I have to admit we'd gotten very use to our financial freedom and, perhaps, even took it for granted.

But I grew up poor. Not the "we were poor and we didn't know it" kind of poor. More like the "we were poor and others didn't know it, but we felt it keenly" kind. Being raised by a single mother, who was in university and not getting any child support, while having three other siblings meant juice boxes, cereal and pudding packs just weren't in the cards. But looking back on this I have to admit I feel proud. We grew up with real food made from real ingredients with real effort. Without knowing it, our mom was raising us in the "slow food" movement.

As I cooked dinner today (my veggies bought from the cheapest produce market in town and making the most out of two chicken breasts for not only dinner but left overs for lunch for Dave and I tomorrow) I told Dave how I was raised to make, to quote my mom, "Something out of nothing." I revealed how we'd have a bare pantry, a bare fridge and mom was broke (rent, school fees, life in general). Somehow, as if conjuring wine from water and gold from coal, she'd figure out a delicious meal. She'd have a big smile on her face as we helped her cook while she'd say proudly to my sister and I how we pulled together a great meal out of nothing.

In those moment, necessity truly was the mother invention.

It's not just in the kitchen these skills she passed onto me come into play. Teaching us how to sew, how to cut hair, how to re-purpose furniture and so many other skills that a lot of my friends simply don't possess. She was not rearing us to be domestic housewives but instead to be capable in all domains. She was teaching us to be resourceful and not take the path of least resistance. I said to Dave this evening, "There are people who, no matter how much money they make, they will always eat Hamburger Helper because it's all they know."

I have fond memories of all the home made halloween costumes, haircuts in the kitchen and long nights sitting on the floor beside the sewing machine as she peiced together a new school wardrobe.

I feel great pride that no matter how much money is in my bank account, my quality of life does not diminish. I feel capable in the world and in my home. I smile and walk proudly with this knowledge. I love to take a no longer used item and turn it into something beautiful. Whenever I sew/reconstruct something I no longer wear or found in a thrift store and make it into something people love I feel the same pride I did when we made a meal out of nothing. I love that I know how to patch a hole in a wall, unclog my food disposal or refinish a desk.

Being poor, being resourceful and being independent, whether by choice or circumstance, gave me the tools to thrive while others only survive.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The taller one
The fatter one
The one who laughs the loudest
The round one
The shy one
The one who stands the proudest

Accept that you are two
Know that comparison is natural
You'll be known as The Girls
That's the favourite catch all

Your name is called
and I can't help it, I turn my head
I know they don't mean me
But you instead

Since I was first
Let me experience it all for you
Allow me the joy of heart break
So that I may turn to you and say
"I know what it feels like
When the one you love betrays".

Let me cry the tears for you
and tear at the emptiness
Let me prove that love is true
Even when the lover isn't

Know that I am always constant
There is no way to deceive
If you want to move past this
Let me be the one to grieve

I will pave a path for you
Wider then required
I will cry the tears for two
When all your world's
on fire

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Beliefs

What do we stand to when there is nothing left? What -ism are we? Is their a label that can truly encompass us or do we take our favorites and make our own new genre, sub-culture or label? Are the labels even necessary?

I'm not anything in particular when it comes to subculture. I love it, though. I love the work that goes into being goth and courage it takes to walk out merely to be looked at and regarded as strange. I love the Lolita girls in their layers of lace, petticoats and stockings. I even love the scenesters in their matching of the moment shirts (I believe grunge-esque plaid is the thing in now). I hate the smell of Patchouli oil but don't let that fool you, I like a lot of hippie ideals and looks. But I cannot commit to a sub culture.

Sure I own a pair of chucks, more then a few corsets, a alpaca purse made by hand in Panama and I've been to Harajuku but I do not identify with any subculture enough to say "This is it! That is me". I like to borrow from each one. Their style, their music and their beliefs even. I'd like to be a walking mosaic.

I am very liberal in many aspects. I often wonder if people think I am conservative though because I don't drink, smoke or do any drugs (and I never have). Perhaps this notion is soon wiped out when they find I don't look down on those who do drink or who do smoke.

One of my -isms that I feel most strongly about is pacifism. This is a particularly hard one as it constantly seems there is war going on and I feel very helpless to it. I also have a temper which rarely reflects itself with physical violence (unless it's me and my sister having a cat fight) but can be very passionate and raging. I think when people hear the term Pacifist, perhaps they picture some one who is passive, who is calm and rational or even picture the stereotypical hippie. I can't say I fit any of those descriptions. I am emotional, aggressive, extroverted and have my irrational moments where my feelings guide me more then my thoughts. But I feel that we as a society have progressed past the point where global bullying, loss of life, casualties and "friendly fire" are not acceptable any longer.

I have felt personally injured when accused of not supporting the troops. Perhaps my support is unconventional. I support them at a very humane and basic level. As individual people, I want each and everyone to come home alive. The idea that because I don't support war, violence or glorified murder doesn't infer that I have no respect for those who have voluntarily put their lives on the line. But I cannot support the cause. I cannot support any one dying so that one man, one country may gain the upper hand.

I also wonder to what limits my pacifism may be tested. There are those who will not even defend themselves if attacked. I cannot see myself standing idle while my body is inflicted with any kind of harm by another. I would feel inclined to defend myself. But would I also want to harm them in retaliation? Could I possess myself enough to only defend myself and prevent further harm or would my emotions guide me to a vindictive reaction? How strong is my resolve in my beliefs to guide my emotions to a more compassionate state? Ideally, I'd like to believe that I am strong enough to stand true to my beliefs and I hope that I am never in a situation that proves me wrong. But I like to consider the possibility of a crack in my resolve to ensure I am aware of the flaws in my beliefs and can possibly repair them.

I suppose, after all this ranting, I wonder what beliefs guide everyone and to what extent will they stand up for those beliefs?