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Daily Writing Challenge: 05/29/08

May 29, 2008

In which I peruse the news before needling Sharon Stone.

On Google News right now:

Analysis from the New York Times regarding the Governor of New York’s memorandum reaffirming that all marriages performed elsewhere are to be recognized in New York, including marriages of same-sex partners.

That legal balancing act, according to a unanimous decision in the Martinez case by the Rochester court, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, means that the state must follow the usual rule and recognize out-of-state marriages.

“The Legislature may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad,” Justice Erin M. Peradotto wrote for the court. “Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York.”

Violence in Nepal following what was supposed to be a peaceful transition of power, a sort of formality resulting from the declining influence of the monarchy-supporting party in favor of the Maoist rebels-turned-opposition. This transition has been ten years in the making, but no one has been fooled into thinking it will be easy or swift from here on out.

Senator Obama again apologizing for comments by a pastor who is not employed by him, for the fiftieth time, which is fifty more times than Senator McCain has apologized for anything to do with Rev. Hagee.

And in the “Top Stories”? Olathe girl makes it to the national spelling bee semifinals. Congratulations, Kavya, on embarking on a life of fame. Who’s your pastor?

Incidentally, if you are Sharon Stone or someone as irritated at her as I am, you might investigate Half the Sky, a charity doing excellent work caring for children orphaned in the earthquakes in China. The Half the Sky Foundation, from correspondences with a friend who knows their work, not only helps to home orphaned children, or return separated children to their parents, but also treats them with warmth and dignity, so if you’ve been looking for a way to help, this is probably a good choice. Unless, of course, you think perhaps these children have been not very nice to the Dalai Lama.

When people reduce ‘exotic’ religions and philosophies which they don’t fully understand to “bad things happen to bad people” or “the Secret to life is believing that your thoughts create reality,” it leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of the world. It doesn’t stop at stupid gaffes that offend 1.3 billion people.

Through this haze one can’t relate to others’ essential humanity. There’s an alarming inconsistency as well: When bad things happen to the people of Tibet, it’s because of the bad Chinese people. When bad things happen to Chinese people, it’s their own fault. This oppositional thinking is a hallmark of a certain stage of development, and it isn’t supposed to prevail much past 13 or 14 years of age. It is, however, rather common in adults diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as in very socially privileged people with the incentive to believe that they earned their position in society, and all of us can resort to it from time to time out of stress. And yet whenever someone whips out a seriously distorted version of the notion of karma to justify their oppositional thinking—an interpretation that reflects an extremely privileged position in society—it’s likely to do someone else harm.

Further, it’s kindergarten-level ethics to realize that if someone isn’t “nice” to you (and how it turns my stomach to hear a grown woman call China’s continuing occupation of Tibet being “not nice”) and they suffer a disaster, their insufficient niceness is not itself sufficient reason to deny them care. It doesn’t take Tibetan Buddhism or a martyr complex to decide to help.

Sharon Stone, unfortunately, probably isn’t alone in this sentiment. There are plenty of people with an overly-simplistic understanding of the word karma and the belief that it only applies to people they don’t like. So while roundly condemning her for falling prey to an unfortunately too-common flaw: Whose misery did I last rejoice in?

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