Spent part of theory this morning mulling over issues raised by Monster. One of the more troubling parts for me personally were Aileen's parting lines, essentially mocking cliche sayings like everything happens for a reason. Ok, so other parts were tremendously more disturbing, but the parting lines were what I spent most of this morning thinking about, primarily because they are the sort of cliche sayings that I happen to believe in. Believing that everything happens for a reason is a very simplistic way to reduce stress in my life. Once something is out of my control, like an internship application, letting go is easier if I can tell myself that things will work out the way they're meant to. But this is the sort of luxury that someone like me, who's life is pretty damn good, can afford. When Aileen mocks these sorts of sayings while walking to death row, it's clear that none of these statements could ever apply to her life and it would be completely unreasonable to ask her to believe them. (no one could honestly defend getting raped at 13 as something that was "meant to be") So this brings me to an issue I've never been able to settle with myself - why bad things happen to good people. A character in Dan Brown's novel Angels and Demons suggests a parent/child analogy for this question - a parent may know that riding your bike too fast is likely to result in injury, but allowing your child to discover that for themselves will leave a stronger impression than simply telling them not to. Although this analogy might work for small individual examples, I don't find it to be a very satisfactory explanation. Particularly because it implies that the bad things that happen to good people are somehow a) punishment and/or b) a lesson to be learned. That's like saying, in the example of Monster, that Aileen's life sucked because she "chose" to be a hooker. Ok, perhaps she had some choices, but I think assuming that she had the full spectrum of choices that say, someone like I did, is a huge overstatement. (brought home by a particularly painful sequence during which she looks for "real" work) Applied on a larger scale, I suppose one could choose to view all of "mankind" as the child to which God is teaching a lesson, in which case I would agree, to a certain extent, since it's so obvious that society has failed people like Aileen...and we as a society should aspire to evolving in such a way that people like Aileen no longer fall through the cracks...but that's the very big picture/long term sort of idealistic view...and I still don't find this to be a satisfying answer...So, generalizing outside of christianity, not necessarily believing that god/gods/goddesses are looking out for us, but just that things will work out, in some zen/kharmic way, how does one reconcile that belief with all the contrary examples? I realize that perhaps the logical answer would be simply to let go of that belief, but I don't find that to be a very satisfactory solution either. Perhaps I'm just being too picky.
In other news, a group of scientists have published a report criticizing the Bush administration
for "'frequently suppressing or distorting' scientific analyses from federal agencies -- including information on condoms and abortion -- when the data disagree with administration policies."
article about Ashcroft getting sued brought a smile to my face yesterday. Pehaps that makes me a bad person, since I shouldn't really rejoice in other's misfortune, but, well...Ashcroft is a pompous asshole who should get precisely what he deserves. Nothing more, nothing less.
Continuing to work backwards chronologically, I had the opportunity to meet Gillian Sorenson, the former assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. I kind of want to be her when I grow up. She was so eloquent and passionate. She quit her job at the UN to, in her words, add her voice to the current discussion of the relationship between the US and the UN. After her round table discussion with a bunch of law students I introduced myself and said that I'm a public health student and she said that when I graduate I will have a skill that the UN will be interested in. Which is very cool. I never really thought about working for/with the UN before, and I'm not really saying that it's at the top of my list now, but she was inspiring enough that the suggestion felt a lot like a compliment.
Lastly, Bob Harris has a lovely post regarding Bush's recent comments about gay marriage over on this modern world
. I also want to link to a funny/cool list April sent on the same topic, but that link is bookmarked on my laptop at home and I'm at school. So that'll just have to wait. And on that note, I should be getting to work.