Fire with fire

Strike on Gaza School kills 30. They attacked a school. Not just an Islamist/fundamentalist school, but a UN run school at that—not that the former would make it any better. How in heaven or hell does Israel justify bombing, murdering children? I have been watching the development of this war with increasing disgust and frustration that I can do nothing to stop it. Why this continued pandering to Israel? The facts are clear: the Palestinians were removed from their homes, shoved into refugee camps that they’re still living in 50 years later. Yeah, Israel says it has the right to protect itself, but the Palestinians have an equal right to be angry. And when they’re unable to obtain the education and work that is their right, they’re more likely to respond with violence. This is horrific beyond words.

Meanwhile, I’m also praying for Danielle’s safety. What a time to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Skin Colored

A plug for a friend-of-a-friend’s blog:

Skin Coloured is intended to be a collaborative, visual exploration of what it is to be non-white in a white culture. Make-up, plasters and tights – even when they’re marked “flesh-coloured” – are not the colour of skin that isn’t white. And whilst white women may have trouble matching these items to their skin, for women who don’t class themselves as white, this inconvenience is symptomatic of a wider problem.

To help illustrate this problem, therefore, Skin Coloured is looking for submissions. Send us photographs that illustrate the inadequacy of provisions for non-white people, and we’ll post them on the blog, and hopefully both those submitting, and those who’re here to learn, will gain something from it.

Further information can be found here.

(I’d appreciate it if this were passed along to anyone who might find it interesting; the great difficulty here is finding other women (and, people of any gender) who deal with this issue. Many thanks.)

To a Candid world

Happy Signing Day, everyone. You [presuming you are American] should read–I dare to hope, reread–the Declaration of Independence today. You really have no excuse not to: I have provided a link for you here, and it is short and quick to read. Instead of [or in addition to] eating hot dogs, getting drunk because we can, and watching fireworks, we should be reading the Declaration in public places today. I say this not because I am a patriotic person [as I am not, really, as evidenced by an earlier post regarding patriotic music], but as an historian and as a citizen. Perhaps if we read the Declaration more often we would remember the purpose of government, of the contract we have made as the governed with the governing, and the rights and duties we have as the governed

Instead of America the Beautiful, I listened to America by Bree Sharp. Instead of going to a cook-out, I’m going to go feed the homeless. Instead of making any big plans for today, I have been rereading Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Rousseau, and Jefferson. I am reminded yet again of my love for political philosophy and how it stirs in me the purpose of the individual in a larger social organism, of the duties and obligations that individual has to his neighbors and the world. [I had written a rather long post expounding upon these thoughts inspired by Locke, Kant, et al, but I’ve transferred it to my journal instead. If you are interested, I’ll still share.]

I think I would be one of those unconventional Englishwomen who lived in Paris before the French Revolution, going to salons every night and mingling with Voltaire and Montaigne, supporting the Revolution as it began and then being absolutely horrified at the monster it turned into.

On a similar, side-tracked note: I heard on The World today that Iran is considering a bill that could charge bloggers as being an enemy of the state and of God on earth [full story here]. I am incredibly thankful to have the right of free speech and intellectual copyright.

This is our summer of freedom and civil disobedience.

A drop in the ocean

UN classifies rape as a ‘war tactic’

Huzzah! It’s a step in the right direction. I don’t even know how many petitions and letters over the past… well over a year, I’ve signed to get that passed.

A difference in perspective: on our way home from dinner, I was driving so we were listening to NPR, and the announcer was highlighting various news stories. After one about gas prices and the current state of the U.S. economy, my mom said, “Well that’s annoying.” Meanwhile, I was inwardly seething that the present administration, which has so verbally committed itself to the promotion of democracy, seemed to be doing little to promote democracy in Zimbabwe, when Mugabe is clearly going against the democratic process by vowing that the opposition would not win the run-off, charging the opposition with treason, and already announcing that there would be “war” if the opposition did win. I held my tongue, for a variety of reasons. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

My copy of Utopia by Thomas More has a sunflower on it. I took it out to read a quote from it to Brittn and now it’s on my desk. I want to reread it… Such a good book.

More than ‘just semantics’

Words have worlds of meaning behind them, and often it seems that words are thrown around too easily without any consideration for their connotations as well as their denotations. I am advocate of precise language: use the best word possible for what you mean, do not settle for synonyms that are left grasping at your intended meaning. For instance, “compassion” may be a synonym of “mercy,” but mercy connotes action, compassion feeling. Another synonym is “pity,” but that connotes condescension.

To some, this is splitting hairs over words that have more or less the same meaning. “Just semantics,” they would say.

It was brought to my attention yesterday that C.S. Lewis insisted upon the archaic spelling of “abhominable” in Prince Caspian, when Edmund brings the challenge of mortal combat to King Miraz. I wouldn’t be surprised if most readers thought Lewis was just keeping up the chivalric atmosphere, or was using a quirky British spelling, and that what he really meant was “abominable.” Yes… and no.

abominable (adj.) – repugnantly hateful; detestable.

abhominable (adj.) – obsolete, from ab homine, or inhuman.

“Ab,” out from, or to be cast out, and “homine,” man/mankind. When High King Peter and King Edmund describe King Miraz’s actions — regicide, usurpation, oppression of the Narnians as well as his own people — they are not merely saying that he has done something detestable. No, his actions have been so counter to the accepted chivalric code that he has effectively made himself an enemy against humanity. He has rejected what it means to be human; he has cast himself out from humankind.

In an increasingly postmodern and “anything goes” Western world, do we have the ability to make such judgements anymore? Do we have a clear sense of what it means to be human, to be a part of the fellowship of humankind? With growing awareness of human rights and social justice (another example of similar things, but with differing shades of meaning), should we not reclaim this word, lest we lose the ability to define certain acts as being truly abhominable?