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a passionate repentance

Hot and sour soup sucks when it's cold. And so does fried rice. It's…

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may God stand
Hot and sour soup sucks when it's cold. And so does fried rice. It's one of those good-while-it's-hot-and-fresh things. Cold it makes me wonder what the hell I was thinking, to order it.

But that's perspective, isn't it? Someone who loves Chinese food in all it's forms and permutations will most likely think me braindamaged at worst and at best hopelessly picky. Or look at the idea of a soy-milk and toast breakfast and swallow queasily.

It's true that truth is relative, but I think that relativism is a trap, a way to flounder until you've found yourself in water so deep and so confusing that you can argue *anything* is true.

I know..or rather I believe that I know..that relativism was meant to inspire tolerance. I think though that it has largely failed in that respect. If you attempt to eliminate the boundaries you know..then don't more boundaries appear in other areas? I think that differences are natural, it's when those differences become the scapegoat for the anger and disappointment of other people, then things get ugly.

Yes, I hear you say..this is all very obvious. And not very entertaining. I agree. It's all those things and more. I grew up believing that people are all the same 'inside'. That divisions of race and culture and caste don't matter. Yes, it's true that a wife in Ghana and a wife in America may turn over in her sleep and dig her elbow in her husband's ribs for snoring..same action, same reaction. But the thoughts that shaped that reaction, the beliefs that preceded and followed it, are they the same? Isn't it a certain amount of refusal to face facts, to deny that we *are* different?

How do I avoid racism then? I believe it's in facing those differences squarely and being aware of my responses, being aware of where my own biases lie. Reacting honestly to the differences in cultures, and embracing the things that interest me sincerely

I honestly don't know *how* to react. I want to be genuine, because nothing rings falser than false tolerance. But I also don't want to repeat the biases of the past. Surely there has to be a way to accept, and embrace difference, without feeling threatened by it?
  • I read some time back that the big challenge for children when they are learning language is to make generalizations. When they're first learning words, every thing is unique -- each tree, each dog, each person -- and the challenge is to find the similarities, to make a set of Trees or of Dogs, for instance. I think perhaps the challenge as a rational moral adult is to learn how to balance the individual with the universal.

    Small story about generalizations. I had only sons, so when the boys were learning to talk, the household was all male (kids and their dad), except for me. Each one of them went through a phase in learning to talk in which he used "She" (feminine pronouns) for me alone, and the masculine pronouns for the rest of the world. There weren't enough females around to make a generalization from. That stage didn't last long, but it had an impact.
  • I think you could look at anthropology and say "Okay, this is inherited behavior." After all, it's an infant's safety system that says people-like-us = my tribe = safe. Safe because even though they can be good or bad, nice or nasty, they are acting from the same background, same roots, etc.

    At first, the tribe is just the immediate family, then expands to the neighborhood, then to the city, state, country... As one's awareness expands, so does the ability to include a wider and wider range of thoughts and concepts under the generalization of "Normal."

    But it's the understanding of those thoughts and concepts that makes it work. Tolerance doesn't mean excusing bad behavior because somebody was not brought up correctly. It means at least making an effort to understand whether the behavior was actually bad in the first place, according to the set of rules that the stranger believes are "safe." And it means making an effort to exchange views.

    Unless they're snoring. Then go ahead and use the elbow.
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