Friday, December 18, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015...

will occur at about 10:49pm on December the 21st here in Oklahoma. The internet makes it easy to find out the precise time of this event in your local area.

Were you aware that some human cultures divide the year into 6 seasons instead of the usual 4 that we colonized folks are used to? I bet most of you weren't...I wasn't. Now we can all begin this new time of more lengthy daylight (if you're in the northern hemisphere) with a bit of new knowledge.

I know the human calendar doesn't identify this transition from shorter hours of sunshine to longer hours of sunshine as the beginning of a new year...but it actually is...at least it is to me. So...this will be my last post before solstice and I'll share a couple of graphics that I really like.

This first one has a statement from Maya Angelou...a wise human. She was a delightful being and a treasure.


She was a wise woman.

This next graphic took me a while to fully appreciate...and I still discover new thoughts whenever I view it. I had to look at it for some time before some of the complexity of it became apparent to me. It is rich in meaning and one that is worth revisiting repeatedly because...like the statement by Dr. Angelou...it offers both wisdom and guidance.



I'm often lousy at implementing the wisdom so well presented in this bit of visual and verbal information. What we can comprehend or understand or see as being true is profoundly influenced by the position from which we are observing a truth. One of the big impacts I've noticed in how I behave (in part because of the veracity of the information in this graphic) is that I'm much slower to react to a number of things I encounter because I attempt to dig deeper into my perspective...and...to make a concentrated effort at trying to grasp what might be true from a differing perspective. I am clumsy and inept at this but I try much harder to do this than I might have earlier in my life.

There's a difference between my comprehending something from my perspective (or location) and my trying to imagine how something might appear from a different perspective. In other words...I can only fantasize/imagine what might appear to be "true" from a perspective (or location) that I don't occupy. Someone who actually occupies that location (or perspective) that I am imagining/fantasizing is going to have a much more concise and precise grasp of what things are true from there than I do (or can) simply because they actually are in that position whereas I can only be there in an imaginary sense. They are the authority about what is true from that position...not me...because I am not located there...and they are.

Please note that it generally is the case that power strongly influences how skilled/practiced folks are at being able to shift their comprehension from one perspective/location to another. It's pretty much the case that folks with less power tend to have greater understanding/comprehension. 

For instance...my position, partially anyway, is that of a white, elderly, male, English speaking, well-educated, relatively able-bodied, cisgendered, and so on. What that means is that my lived experience is from those positions/locations and any comprehensions or understandings I have of what life feels like to someone occupying different positions/locations will be a function of my imagination...not a function of my lived experience. Hence...their grasp on what is true from those positions/locations will be more authoritative than mine.

This is a very simple truth that has eluded me at various times and it is a truth that many of us humans...especially those of us with white skin...seem to be oblivious to way way too often. I deplore my obliviousness and spend effort every day trying to decrease it. Sometimes more successfully than others. I will endeavor to be less oblivious as this new year unfolds.

What's really snazzy (well...one thing that's snazzy...there are many) about these two graphics is that both of them are saying the much same thing...they're just expressing it differently. Consider these two images my solstice gift to you.

I will likely write more about them and the lessons in them in 2016...because they are rich in meaning and usefulness.

Enjoy...and happy New Year to you and to mother Earth and all her beings. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A New Online Vegan Resource

is scheduled to appear in January and that's exciting.

Read about this in more detail over on the APHRO-ISM site. This graphic offers a brief summary.


I'm really eager to see this effort get underway and am looking forward to the content that will be presented. Excellent!!

Context is necessary for understanding why works like this are absolutely critical and for that some reading will be required. First you should read the piece called "#BlackVegansRock: 100 Black Vegans to Check Out" written by Aph Ko. It is a tremendous resource and one that I will be continuing to reference and learn from for a long time. It is an amazing piece of work. The comments located on the page include additional useful information and references to more black vegans and their efforts. 

Once you've spent some time with that article you should read a follow up piece that was written by Aph Ko regarding some of the reactions that followed the sharing of her article by The Vegan Society on their facebook page. While Aph Ko references this bit of writing in her follow up...I'm linking to it specifically because I think it is an important bit of elaboration about some aspects of these sorts of efforts...especially if you struggle with the mystification engendered by memes like "post-racial".

I'm really looking forward to the launching of this new website and I'm grateful for the efforts of all who are contributing to it.


 

Friday, December 4, 2015

A big thank you

is way overdue. It is my suspicion that the U.S. is approaching a tumping point in terms of making some positive changes about a number of things but most especially in the direction of decreasing injustice and oppression for mother Earth and all her beings. Something is coming...and it is big...and I think it will be a good thing.

The thank you is for the internet. It is questionable whether I would have become aware enough to start living vegan without it. The horror depicted in a little video called Meet Your Meat that I watched...via the internet...smacked me hard enough to make me vow to avoid and/all "animal food" forever more. Would I ever have seen it without the internet? I don't know. Maybe...but it might have been years until I did...or maybe never.

There's a phrase that has been used in the past, information revolution, which somewhat describes what I'm attempting to specify in this post. The internet offers ease of access to viewpoints, knowledges, thinking, perspectives and ways of comprehending mother Earth and all her Earthlings that simply were almost impossible to have prior to the advent of the internet. This is such a profound thing that words are inadequate to describe it.

One of the more useful skills I learned in the latter part of my undergraduate education and that I honed during my graduate education was how to access and to evaluate sources of information.Then...that meant going to the library and spending lots and lots of time tracking down references and cross-checking those references with other sources. It was tedious and tiresome and exhilarating. It took a lot of time and it was a pain in the butt and it meant wading through much un-useful material to find occasional gems that were worthwhile.

The internet has made that so much much easier and so much information easily accessible that it is indescribable. I've been thinking about this off and on for a few months now. What brought me to realize how revolutionary this internet thing is was my efforts to dive deeply into comprehending oppression of our sister/brother Earthlings.

At first much of that effort was focused on learning more about how we behaved toward those Earthlings we call animals. A couple of years ago I started trying to piece together how that oppressing of them related to how we human beings interacted with one another. The internet made that doable...without having to devote incredible amounts of time and effort to the task.

I think it was somewhat legitimate oftentimes to simply be ignorant about things prior to the internet. Access to information was harder. It still is hard for many...don't think that it isn't. But...access to information is infinitely easier for many more now than it was back then.

The various ways we have available now (if we're fortunate enough to be able to access the internet) to be exposed to the writing and thinking and perspectives of others is stupendous when compared to twenty or thirty years ago. One of my favorite sources for academic papers is a site called Academia. Signing up there offers access to papers written by dedicated researchers and thinkers from across planet Earth. It's a treasure trove. Most local libraries offer access to subscriptions to journals and databases that would have been almost unheard of earlier. For people who don't have internet access at home...many libraries also offer computer stations which can be used by the general public.

Because of the internet I've discovered concepts and ways of apprehending like the white racial frame...which is an attempt to specify how we white people distort and skew our perceptions and understandings of human beings. I've encountered the notion of Racism Without Racists...which again was made possible by having the internet. Because of the internet I can easily link to writings about those notions that allows readers of this blog to go and read the material themselves. Think of how difficult, if not impossible, such open access to information would have been without computers and the internet.

And...it's not just computers and the internet...it's a confluence of various technologies like cell phones and their ability to capture video of events and then the ease with which those recordings can be shared that has and is creating this phenomenal ability for access to information. Want to know what happens inside a factory farm or a slaughter house or or or. All of that can be easily found on the internet...I'm not linking to such atrocities here simply because it is too painful but you can go find videos of such dismal scenes...if you want.

Anyone with internet access can find interviews with such intellectuals as James Baldwin or they can find lectures by professors like Robin DiAngelo or Joy DeGruy. A full blown world university education is accessible because of the internet...and it is available to anyone who has a computer hooked up to the internet...or to anyone who can visit a library.

It has taken some time for the information base to build. Twenty years ago there wasn't nearly as much that had been converted to electronic format...the ease of recording wasn't available...and on and on. What's accessible has changed, it has grown and matured and the internet now is not the internet even of five years ago.

Along with information that can help us grow and access the efforts of the best of us, the internet also provides the opportunity for exposure to the efforts of the worst of us. You can find videos and writings by people who defend and support horror and oppression. It's all there...the best and the worst. It's exhilarating and stunningly awful simultaneously.

Charles Dickens wrote in the beginning of his book A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,....".

He wrote these words in 1859. I would suggest to you that the internet offers us the opportunity to be exposed to much of the best of humans and to the worst of humans on a scale that is unprecedented in the history of human beings.

Most especially it is unprecedented in terms of the ease with which anyone can access the viewpoints and comprehensions of those who are not considered to be members of the dominant human groups. These are the sources that offer profound opportunities for consciousness raising. If you aren't delving into their writing and thinking I fear you are likely continuing to be trapped in viewpoints limited by comprehending human society and behavior through the white racial lens, through the constrictions of the colonized mind.

The internet offers opportunities to expand and deepen your understanding...use it...and consider how very remarkable and potentially transforming this is. Be grateful...never before have so many humans had such a widespread chance to learn and grow. And...remember...while growing and learning can be exhilarating...it is often also uncomfortable and painful. That's all part of growth. Be grateful for your discomfort...and your pain...and enjoy the exhilaration. Be thankful for the internet.