Archive for May, 2009


Waterboarding Paperdolls

Words are tricky. We live in a sound bite culture, only 22 seconds to make a difference, so every utterance must be full of impactful drama and intrigue. Our knowledge is unprecedented and anything we don’t know is just a search engine away. I love this. It is fantastic to be caught up in the midst of every crisis, educated in every debate, and a trivia whiz. But as we take in all this knowledge like a Dyson on steroids, it is easy to trade education for thinking. We casually throw buzzwords and useful statistics around without real thought for the implications of such statements.

I got an up close look at such implications today when my niece and my daughter were waterboarding their paper dolls. They wanted to get the dolls soaking wet to destroy them slowly and watch them fall apart. It was very harmless; they were just looking at the effect water had on the paper, but it opened my eyes to something. Well, it further illustrated the point I began to argue in my last post about my Barbie bags. As a society, we have become so entrenched in a right vs. left argument that right vs. wrong is no longer the fight.

We right-wingers have been in the unfortunate position of defending waterboarding. I stand by the fact that waterboarding is an effective method of getting information without inflicting long-term damage, but this isn’t a fight I want to have. This is why we have a military and a CIA and the FBI. They understand the threat, they understand the options, and they understand the stakes. I want to know that these officials are people I can trust and then I want to refrain from defending any interrogation methods within earshot of my children. I want those trained to keep me safe to be able to do their jobs. War is not for the faint-hearted, which is why the average civilian should not dictate how it is conducted.

This is why our words are important. We call waterboarding torture, but it is not. It pales in comparison. But because the label is out there, we are unwittingly involved in a debate over torture. I never want to be the person who says yes to treating a human being that way. Because of this mislabeling, though, that is exactly what I am.

Against the automatic weaponry of the media’s exaggerated vocabulary, I have defended torture, turned my back on genocide, and scoffed at fascism. If we are to have any unity as a nation, we need to define horror as it really is. There are horrible things happening, things we should see as a universal threat. George Bush was many things, but fascist is not one of them. It undermines true fascism to label a conservative war-time president as such. The Iraq war was controversial, but it was not genocide. Sudan suffered from genocide. That is evil. In this modern day of information, the soundbite has distracted our humanity.


All Barbie’s Wisdom

I got reusable shopping bags that have Barbie on them and are complimented by a zebra pattern and hot pink trim. They are SO cute. AND they have pushed me into green territory, a side of the map I have carefully avoided along with all the blue states. Surprisingly, the Barbie bags (that bravely sport the message “When you look this good, who cares if you’re plastic”) have changed my life. I feel really great about walking out of the ultra capitalist and exploitive mega-mart knowing that my bags are not impacting the world around me, aside from the zebra print which seems to stop people in their tracks. These bags save the store money so they can use it more efficiently. They will never end up embedded in my back fence, and they aren’t going to choke any bunnies or trap any fish. This is change I can feel good about.

So I wondered why I resisted for so long. Why did it take Barbie to make me do the right thing? Because we’re stuck. The entire nation has picked sides and pledged such allegiance to our teams that common sense has ceased being a priority. I realize that some people are enlightened enough to avoid this trap and I applaud them. However, I would be willing to bet that it is a smaller group than we want to admit. In my efforts to avoid government-mandated green living, I have missed out. The Prius, reusable shopping bags, organic foods, and comfortable footwear have become symbolic of a movement that solicits our government for very intrusive policy. I want nothing to do with that so I have opted for a gas-guzzler, plastic bags, pesticide-ridden produce, and, most sadly, VERY uncomfortable shoes. All to ensure that nobody mistakes me for one of THEM.

But one of my core values is responsibility. I firmly believe that if we cannot be responsible for ourselves, rules have to be made and enforced. Then the government grows. Being good stewards of the earth is a God-given mandate. It is a shame that it has been politicized to the extent that “will you recycle this?” has become a loaded question. It is part of the battle we are in. It has become increasingly easy to lose sight of what is good and right to feed our agendas. As it gets easier, it gets harder to detect, too. That’s what makes it dangerous.

Do we have to fight? I think we do. I think the stakes are high. But the fight shouldn’t be over what is common sense. If we could get past the bags, we could dialog about the issues that matter, the ones that we can’t fix on our own. We just may find that if we stop fighting over bags, the big issues are not so big.Barbie

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