Thursday, July 12, 2007

Liz Rants

I don't do this very often but this morning at some silly hour I awoke, and, after getting up and going to the bathroom I found that I had reached some clarity of thought in many things that had been bothering me. So, before I forget my important thoughts, I am going to share them and write them down for posterity. I don't pontificate very often, so just skip by this. There are no images, no funny things in this so be aware. i promise that I will post something more appropriate later in the day.

On the Quilt Art list, which is evidently a private list as you need to subscribe, there has been much discussion about what can be discussed and what should not be discussed.

What has our world come to? Someone brought up the fact that she had made an art piece that dealt with the reality of the cruelty of Darfur. There are many places in this world were there is wholesale violence against another group of people but I don't think anything has reached the savagery of Darfur. But, we don't pay much attention to it.

America has become a very opinionated, self-centered country with many people who have no idea of what is going on in their own country and many more who have no clue as to what is happening in the world. Everything is viewed from how it affects them. This is sad. Because we close ourselves off to learning about the world, our country, our state, our region, and stick only with what is comfortable and self-serving, we are ignorant, biased, bigoted, self-serving and not a very nice group of people. And we wonder why there are so many people in other countries who don't like us. We don't address our country's issues with honesty but with political self-serving. Politicians are more likely to go with the opinion polls rather than to stand up for what they really feel is right and to fight for it, even if it is not the most popular stand. We must be very careful in what we say as it might offend someone and yet our school children are able to tell others that they don't like someone else just because, and seriously hurt another child's feelings. As long as the talker does not mention race, sexual orientation, religion or any of the other taboos in our culture.

So, in order to be politically correct, we don't have discussions...not arguments...but discussions. An argument is a situation when one person is trying to convince another that they are wrong and the first person is right. If not taken seriously, this develops in to a name-calling, hurtful event. A discussion is a discourse between two people and they may have very differing opinions but they listen to each other, acknowledge where that person is coming from and then respond. One makes "I" statements rather that "you" statements It does not mean that one responds by putting the other down, telling them they don't know what they are talking about, or that they have no clue, etc.

Discussions in public always run the risk of "bothering" someone for some reason or other. So that brings me back to the Quilt Art list. There was mention of various people feeling upset, as, without having seen the work in question, they felt that the topic should not be discussed as they had been victims of abuse, etc and did not want to bring up painful memories. Then others jumped on the band wagon and started telling those people that they need to deal with their feelings, and, you get the idea, it just went on and on. Which then led to several people telling the rest of the group that these subjects should not be discussed as it might "bother" someone else. The issue of censorship and an argument ensued over what is censorship. Finally, some people intervened to discuss the fact that artists have a responsibility to hold up society for us to take a look at, the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Whether we chose to look and see is really up to us.

As a part of my career I worked at understanding the thought processes of those who felt justified in taking someone else's life just because they wanted their shoes. Or that adults had the right to "sexually educate" children by forcing them in to sexual acts. Or that adults feel they have the right to belittle,and abuse their children and others. Or that bullies walk our school grounds, or that men rape women to assert their power and to make themselves feel more power. Or that children can be slapped, punched, thrown against a wall, stomped on, etc all because they are making too much noise. Or that we can shoot someone we disagree with. Or, that it is okay to medicate one's self with alcohol and drugs in order to avoid the feelings that have been brought up by all of the things that have happened such as the above.

And many of us who have never gone through any of these things, seriously lack empathy, as we have become a nation who wants immediate gratification and pleasure, and to hell with everyone else.

So, we don't talk seriously about sexual issues with children because it might cause they to "have sex". We don't discuss someone's hurts because we don't want to take the time to feel the hurt with them. We shut things away because it is unpleasant. We pretend we don't see abuse happening because we don't think we should intervene.

Why? because we don't want to offend someone else? No, because we don't know how to have healthy discussions about something. I was once at my sister-in-laws home and a friend of theirs was there and we got into a lively discussion about the death penalty. We had differing views but we had quite a lively discussion. The others started getting uncomfortable, not because we were being unpleasant or rude or offending to each other, but because we had strongly voiced differences opinion and were willing to voice those, but most importantly, listen to the other side of the argument.

When I was in high school many years ago, we studied the fine art of debating and I was on the high school debating team. One had to always be ready to take either side of an issue in a matter, whether one believed in it or not and how well one presented their arguments and countered the other's arguments were how one was rated. Not whether one was right or wrong, but how well one presented the argument.

We listened carefully to what the other person had to say, and carefully considered it before responding. We responded with respect and did not lash out personally at the other side. This allowed for differing views with respect for the other side. In the end, one chose for themselves how they personally felt.

What is right for one of us is not always the right way for another. Some of us can become very active in working towards righting the wrongs of the world, others of us feel we need to start at home in our very own families. But, either way, it is a start.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your ranting. I hope others read your comments. There was so much truth in them, and I felt you were so open and compassionate in your statements.

Elanda

Jeannie said...

Thank you Liz.You have voiced my concerns to a tee.I think people have lost the art of listening, really hearing what others are saying.I hope a lot of people hear this.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LoieJ said...

Nice essay. I had a high school class which taught us to figure out the possible biases in news articles, etc. It was really helpful. I enjoy reading or hearing a well written opinion piece even when, or perhaps, especially when, the opinions are different from my own.

I do not like the name calling and shouting and over generalizing, etc. that goes on when some people try to "make their points." Some of the talking heads on TV do this. Some are guests and some so-called journalists. Louder isn't "right-er"

We need more schooling regarding better ways to make points and ways to listen.

RE: QA. I often wonder why some of them get their undies in a bundle about some of the postings. Sometimes people don't read carefully but react anyway. Some people can't seem to separate the way another states a personal opinion, which is fine, from being personally attacked, which, IMHO, rarely happens.

Gerrie said...

This is eloquent, my dear. It needed to be siad and you said it so well.

The Enchanted Bride said...

Hi,

I stumbled upon your site by way of many detours, road closures & getting lost on my way. For some reason, I ended up here, maybe I was guided here?

I'm at the computer very late, or very early, whichever way you look at it. Unable to sleep because my only child has banned me from his life, & my little grandson's life. I am heartbroken about this, with emotions so raw that it's difficult to go through every day.

Why am I banned? Because I wrote my son a long e-mail that I put a lot of thought into. The e-mail was written to help him understand how hurt I had been & how much I loved him. Things leading up to my writing the e-mail would be another VERY long story, so I'll not include them here. There was nothing angry, no negatives, just a wish from a mother for a hug once in a while.

The e-mail was taken so badly, because my son's wife and her mother ridiculed & judged it, telling my son that my feelings were "wrong", and that I had no right to share those kinds of words with him. They said that it was rude to e-mail using words that they didn't understand?

For the last 8 months, I've tried to put my finger on what really happened. Your story just hit me like a ton of bricks!! You just explained to me, through your blog, why there were so many problems with that e-mail? It wasn't the words, it was the way they were interpreted. It was the way that two other people read my private words to my son, and judged my feelings. These are the same kinds of people who complain about things they have no right to complain about. They are like the people you describe in your blog.

Thank you Liz, for helping me put some of the pieces together. Maybe now, I can start to look at it from a different angle? I hope so, it's not pleasant to have such an empty, sad life. All because of words I sent that were meant to open up a discussion. Discussion, you are right, is becoming a lost art. Soon it will be extinct.

Sorry..such a long comment. I felt completely compelled to write you. Thank you for writing your blog. You may not have meant to, but you really helped me tremendously & I thank you for that.

Warmest Regards,
Robin Hall
altered.artworks@gmail.com
Please feel free to e-mail me at any time. I need all the support I can get.

Mary C-D said...

Liz...

One of the reasons I always enjoy reading your blog is that I feel I am getting to know you as a whole person - not just the part with the "quilt" label. Youve touched on some very powerful themes, ones that I am sure many others share. We are becoming such a divided country, so wrapped up in our own dramas that we fail to see the larger picture, even the larger pictures in our own communities. Creativity should be a way to break down those walls, not set up new ones. You do that in your work and in your writing. Bravo!
Mary C-D in San Diego

English Rose said...

Hallelujah and Amen Liz. I'm so glad you felt the need to put these thoughts down once they had filtered through your mind. It is an extremely powerful piece and should be widely circulated, read and DISCUSSED!

Sonji Hunt said...

Well "ranted" Liz. I was stunned when I read a synopsis of the happening on Gwen Magee's blog along with comments that were left by "anonymous". Good old brave "anonymous" needs to wake up along with a lot of other people. Living in a vacuum isn't going to cut it. In my previous career, I also dealt with many issues of ignorance and intolerance. It amazes me how individuals are able to rationalize their obvious moral crimes. And then all that silliness about an art quilt? Puleeaze! Get over it. Thanks again for you heartfelt commentary.

Alison Schwabe said...

I too was rather stunned by how the discussion developed on QA list. You're right about the fate of 'Discussion' - it's not just USA it's a phenomenon in my own country, too, Australia. Probably really the affluent Western World if the truth be known. I know the USA well, we lived in Denver 6 plus years back in the 80s and , and a sister, both our kids and all our grandchildren live there, we visit at least anually - it has been so refreshing to read such strong well reasoned and totally reasonable views written by an American (well of course, up and down the two continents all people are 'americans' a point often lost, sadly, on US citizens) We're talking about the apparent disappearance from public discourse of Respect and Tolerance. I was brought up in a house where we felt free to take opposing views and express them, and at times this niceness on lists seems carried to ridiculously wimpy lengths. Thanks for your rant - let me know when you feel another coming on?