succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, December 19, 2003

Perhaps because it's the season and all, but coincidentally some friends and I were having a (less than sober) conversation last night about religion and that happens to be partially the topic over on Amelia's blog. My favorite part:

"i am worried about all of us who, at one time or another, have been religious in an easy, self-serving way, a way that allows us to ignore the wisdom of people who know better or to turn our eyes from the consequences of our actions."

Of course, I lump myself into the "us" to whom she refers, and I know I'm not the best example of Christian love and that I certainly don't do all that I am capable of doing to help my fellow man/woman...anyway, I just thought it was interesting that we were talking about the same thing last night. Lamenting how what we see as the crux of virtually any religious teaching is so easily lost - love your neighbor, share your coat (Amelia's entry references luke 3:11 - "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."), hate the sin, love the sinner, i.e. be kind to each other. It's such a simple notion that gets all messed up when religion becomes politics and people start using the bible as a weapon.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Perhaps I should actually start reading my new city's paper (from an editorial by Jay Bookman):

Rumsfeld's 1983 visit came mere weeks after Iraq had used chemical weapons against Iran, a crime against humanity that Rumsfeld was polite enough not to mention to Saddam. In 1984, after Saddam used nerve gas against the Iranians, the United States punished Iraq by restoring full diplomatic relations. In 1988, when Saddam used poison gas against his own people, U.S. officials at first tried to shift public blame to Iran, then squashed a Senate resolution condemning Saddam. A little while later, we gave Saddam $1 billion in agricultural credits.

That history is unfamiliar to most Americans, but the rest of the world knows it all too well. They know that when we finally moved against Saddam, it was not to advance democracy or human rights, but because it suited our national interests, just as today it suits us to back a dictator such as Aliyev. They know, because they watch what we do with the same intensity that you would watch a 600-pound tiger locked in the same room with you. They watch every move, and they remember.

That explains, I think, why Americans are so often surprised when other countries express resentment, distrust and even anger at U.S. policies. We look at ourselves in the mirror and see a decent citizen of the world, strong but fair and devoted to the cause of democracy. But increasingly, even our friends look at us in dismay at our capacity for self-delusion.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Just finished The Hours and am wondering if it won any awards for cinematography? It is so exquisitely filmed. Also, there's something so impeccably...female about it that I can't believe it was written by a man. And no, I don't mean because the leads are all female. That moment in the kitchen when Meryl Streep says she feels like she's unravelling...and then does, right there in front of Jeff Daniels...well, it was a sort of hysteria that I really believe only happens to women. Not that men don't lose it too...just in a different way. And every single thing about Julianne Moore's character...I've never known of a man going quietly insane in the house all did this male author capture these things? I'm afraid I sound sexist, and I don't mean to...but really, there is this specific sort of hysteria that seems to be strictly female, and yet Michael Cunningham just nails it, in every did he know?