My favorite TED talk of all time was delivered by the brilliant Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s entitled “The Danger of a Single Story,” and Adichie, a Nigerian writer, thoughtfully and humorously describes the human tendency to project a single, simplistic story onto groups of people who we perceive to be different than ourselves.
She uses several examples—the story that all Africans are helpless and in need of white saviors, the story that all Mexicans are sneaking across the American border to steal jobs, the story that all writers must have difficult childhoods to write well, the story that people in poverty are to be only pitied, etc. One of the funniest examples is when Adichie’s American roommate asked to listen to some of her “tribal music” and was disappointed when Adichie produced her favorite Mariah Carey album!
“But you have to pray. You have to listen to the voice who calls you the beloved, because otherwise you will run around begging for affirmation, for praise, for success. And then you’re not free.”—Henri Nouwen
“While the members of the various Tea Party organizations and the activists of Occupy Wall Street might be focused on the different parts of the problem….they have at their root a common genesis: important problems that go unaddressed because our political system has devolved into a ceaseless [re-election] campaign…”—Frmr. Rep. Mickey Edwards, “Parties vs. the People,” pg. 10.
With Presidents Day last week, some conservative pundits deemed it prudent to reevaluate the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. As you might expect, this resulted in the spewing of a lot of truly asinine ideas.
If you’re using a credit card issued by Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, or another mega-bank, with each charge you could be supporting mountaintop-removal coal mining, fraudulent foreclosure practices, predatory lending, or worse.
Ukraine has issued an arrest warrant for fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych, announcing that he is wanted for mass murder. Yanukovych is on the run after bloody street protests in which police snipers killed dozens of opposition demonstrators captured international attention.
If you think a small shareholder can’t get the attention of the multibillion-dollar palm oil industry, think again. Lucia von Reusner lives half a world away from the palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia that have become notorious for environmental, labor and human rights abuses.
Clothing retailer Gap, Inc. announced Wednesday that it will raise its hourly minimum wage to $10, a change that will affect 65,000 U.S. employees. GAP employees who are now earning the minimum wage will make $9.00 in June of 2014 and $10 in June of 2015. GAP, which also owns Banana Republic, Old Navy, Priperlime, Athleta, and Intermix, operates in more than 50 countries and employees 135,000 people around the world.
“To us, this is not a political issue,” GAP Chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said. “Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.” In a release, the company argues that increasing the minimum wage will help retain “attract and retain great talent” and improve customers’ experience.
Forget affluenza. The rich’s real “disease” is failing to get that their privileges come at a price: our contempt
More than half a century ago, “West Side Story” satirized the idea that what was then known as juvenile delinquency was a product of poverty and the psychological maladjustments it produced, and that therefore “this boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care.”
Since then, America has been busy transforming itself into an unabashed plutocracy: while median household income has barely budged since the mid-1960s, the annual income of the top 1 percent has increased by an average of approximately 200 percent in real terms.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that the belief that economic deprivation leads to psychological hardship, which in turn inspires youthful crimes, has not merely been discarded but, in some cases, actually inverted.
Consider the case of a Texas teenager who killed four people and severely injured two otherswhile drunk-driving in his father’s pickup truck. Prosecutors wanted to send him to prison for 20 years, but a judge decided to give him no jail time at all after an expert witness for the defense testified that the defendant was suffering from “affluenza.”
This affliction, the psychologist testified, was a product of the defendant having spent his life in the lap of luxury. Having his parents’ cash between himself and reality had left the killer of four of his neighbors unable to make the connection between his decisions – such as his decision to drive a two-ton truck down a residential street at 70 miles per hour while drunk out of his mind – and the potential consequences of those decisions.
In short, the defense team argued, their client was depraved because he wasn’t deprived.
This argument seems to have worked on the judge, who sentenced the defendant to 10 years of probation after his wealthy family offered to pay for their son’s confinement in a $450,000-per-year in-patient facility, where apparently young scions are therapeutically guided toward the insight that randomly slaughtering your fellow citizens as a predictable consequence of your own selfishness and stupidity is a bad thing to do.
Understandably, the judge’s decision has outraged many people, including the families of the victims. Eric Broyles, whose wife and daughter were killed by the defendant, argued that “had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different.”
That’s probably true. The rich can to a significant extent buy their way out of suffering the full consequences of their crimes and those of their children – not primarily through crude (and, and in the American justice system, fairly rare) mechanisms such as bribing judges and prosecutors, but because to be rich means that you will have almost limitless opportunities to manipulate the system toward working in your favor.
All this brings to mind the recent controversy over Tom Perkins’ remarks, comparing animosity toward the rich to the kind of hatred that eventually culminated in the genocidal persecution of the Jews by the Nazis. Perkins’ absurd exaggeration elicited a storm of condemnation, and rightly so.
Perkins’ remarks (which have been echoed by various other 1 percenters) point to the real affluenza, rather than the fake syndrome conjured up by an expert witness to help get a rich kid off the hook for four homicides. The real affluenza is the failure of the rich to appreciate that their special privileges – such as the privilege of operating under what is, from a practical perspective, a substantially different justice system than everyone else – must come at a price.
That price is paid in the form of the growing contempt of their fellow citizens, a contempt that grows in proportion to the ever-increasing gap in America between the children of privilege and everyone else.
“Simply put, women’s emancipation is also key to our own happiness because the ways that we men have collectively constructed and individually internalised men’s power is not only devastating to the women we love but, in a different and paradoxical way, is devastating to men ourselves.”—"There’s no such thing as a ‘real man’" (http://buzz.mw/b5w4g_n)
The Trayvon Martin case has sparked a national debate about so-called Stand Your Ground laws. The idea behind these laws is simple: if you feel your life is being threatened by someone you don’t have to back down. You can even use deadly force, if you feel it is necessary.
“This is a tradition in this country when people are able to go ahead and kill Black people because they got sassed, because we were inconvenienced, and we become a victim of a fantasy,” Williams said. “It is not a Black problem. It is a white problem. This is an American problem. This is a societal problem where people should be outraged when a man is able to instigate an interaction with kids and then shoot them when it doesn’t go well,” he continued. “It should be an outrage for everybody.”—Jesse Williams on Michael Dunn Case: ‘This is Not a Black Problem, This is a White Problem’ - Atlanta Black Star (via dendroica)
There is probably a good life lesson in this… Like how good bread takes many hours to rise, good/healthy relationships (of all kinds) takes a large time investment. There’s no “microwaving” it. Microwaving bread turns out some soggy results…My favorite bakery lets their breads rise for at least 24 hours before it hits the fire.
In 25 states, Stand Your Ground laws make it possible for regular citizens to shoot and kill others if they feel threatened. These “Shoot First” laws have led to an outcry from communities who no longer feel safe.
Recently, these laws were used in a court case for a man who killed an unarmed teenager over loud rap music. Stand Your Ground laws meant that the killer could be innocent if he could prove that he felt threatened. The jury was unable to issue a verdict.