Sunday, September 01, 2013

do the right thing

An important moment in the history of race relations in our country was the last scene of Spike Lee's 1989 movie Do the Right Thing.
The key moment is when the character that Spike Lee plays -- Mookie -- decides to hell with it and throws a garbage can through the window of Danny Aiello's pizza stand. Danny Aiello's pizza stand was one of the few functioning businesses in Mookie's neighborhood. And Danny hired Mookie to deliver the pizzas.
But Mookie couldn't stand it. He erupted in violence -- he threw the can, broke the window, burned down the building, a riot broke out, everybody got arrested, and Danny and his two sons left the neighborhood and there was no pizza for anyone and no more work for Mookie.
My reaction, reviewing the film last year, was that Danny Aiello liked black people, he just didn't like them very much. And Mookie was insane to start a riot over this.

Martin Luther King had a dream and Mookie set it on fire.
It's an incredibly good movie.

Family Planning

"Family planning" is quite a contradiction. Not to say plans are wrong, no, plans are very good. But children are much more important than any plan. How many and when you have them -- subject to a certain amount of planning and that's good -- but there is ample evidence of children showing up unbidden and children longed for but not appearing. And that's just the start. Once you have them, despite all the work you do, and more planning of course, you don't have much control over how your children turn out. A family is, in essence, not a plan.

Over and Under Population -- family planning on a much larger scale

Alan Archibald writes to me:

We humans have actually fulfilled a biblical command and are now in full compliance with Yahweh's command to "multiply and fill the earth."

I respond:

It is the only biblical command we have fulfilled -- the earth seems pretty full at this point, but there is limited value in purely theoretical discussions, as you point out, especially when it comes to children. Children are incredibly messy. They poop on theories and make scribbles out of your most careful plans.

When it comes to having children, how many is always a wrong question. Have as many as you want.

Think of a party, a room full of people, everyone having a good time -- who would bother to count how many people are in the room? Introduce disharmony and the room is instantly over-crowded

The goal is harmony. To fear or even consider over-population or under-population is more than a waste of time, it is actually a harm. Such thinking about numbers impairs the judgment of young people who are about to become (or not become) parents.

When parents make their best choices about having children we will have the best possible population --- the actual number is less important.

Seriously, we need to retire this word "passion" when used to describe our daily struggle to make a living. "What is your passion?" -- Ugh! Please, not at work.

At work, we have dedication and ambition. We strive. We are enthusiastic, energetic and determined. We pursue goals.

But we are not passionate -- I visualize someone panting heavily at a meeting of the board of trustees -- that doesn't work.

Social Science proves what we already know


"The study relied on five experiments involving roughly 900 men and women on college campuses and websites."

I don't dispute the conclusion of this study. What amazes me is that people actually waste their time and money proving what the average idiot ( me, perhaps ) already knows.

As for the conclusion of this study, of course it's true -- I have yet to hear a man brag about the status or income of his female partner. I don't spend too much time with younger men however, so my sample is not age-balanced.

Social science is bogus. It impedes the natural flow of human progress. The behavior of men and women, in how they treat each other, is evolving --- we don't need social science to prove that.

I save griping for the end of this essay. I am such a crank. I should just get over it.

Here's my gripe:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am a foe of inclusive grammar and the way it butchers the majesty and cadence of language like this. Should I point out the errors in Dr. King's sentence and suggest the correct terminology according to current standards?

Sons must be changed to children, of course, but that changes the rhythm of this phrase. English speech is full of strong one-syllable words, like "sons" and "red hills." Words like these are one of the glories of our language, but sons must be changed to children.

And brotherhood. I'm afraid there is no easy substitution. Personhood? Brotherhood and sisterhood? You might more broadly alter the text and say "at a table of harmony and good will." That doesn't sound too bad.

But I do miss brotherhood most of all. If only we had achieved it!

This whole essay is one long gripe.

I'm sorry about that. I will leave you with a poignant song -- about what might have been, about the dreams just beyond our reach.

Old Stewball was a race horse,
And I wish he were mine.
He never drank water,
He always drank wine.

No comments: