Friday, 10 September 2010

"The Other Woman"

To put it briefly, the other woman is routinely cast as the villain in instances of marital break up, and I think this is neither fair nor reasonable.

It has been suggested to me that a woman, especially a self-proclaimed feminist, has a duty of care towards her married sisters, which should oblige her to keep her nose - or anything else - out of their marriages. As a male, it is tempting to be offered a way of avoiding some of the responsibility for one's own actions, but it really won't wash. Even if a man is a stereotypically spineless creep, driven by his own poorly understood sexual urges, nobody except him is compelling him to act in this way. He cannot hide behind Eve like Adam and say "She made me do it".

I am not a student of Feminism, but from my understanding of it, on a point of ideology, feminists believe that men exercise disproportionate patriarchal power. This surely doesn't sit well with a view of women which would ascribe to them the power to act as the guardians of other people's marriages.

No, I'm afraid, men or women, those of us who have been instrumental in breaking up our marriages must take responsibility for having done it. I cannot hide behind the skirts of the other woman.

The impulse to blame a third party is understandable and touching; the refuge of love for those who cannot easily hate us. We are shielded from the full force of our former partner's rage by the luckless third party who gets it, in my view, undeservedly, or certainly disproportionately.

Now nobody would advocate the deliberate undermining of another's marriage. To deliberately disrupt a relationship by stirring things up, or to put pressure on someone to go beyond their own inclinations, would constitute unacceptable interference. Simply to find oneself in a relationship with someone, leaving them to decide what the consequences of that might be, is not interference at all. Undue interference is engaged in by other men as well as other women, and it is an issue completely separate from some imagined female duty to safeguard the sanctity of marriage.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Personal and national responsibility

Confused as ever, this is triggered by me, us, and Mr Fahrenheit451 Jones in Florida burning Korans.

The confusion in this case is not I think limited to me. If individuals or societies think it right to regulate the behaviour of others, it doesn't follow that they are therefore responsible for behaviour which they might condemn or declare illegal.

Societies which regard themselves as democratic often place limits on free speech. There are both ethical and practical arguments for this. We take action to foster a political discourse not based on ethnic, religious, or sexual hatred on principle; and/or we see the impossibility of living in communities while they burn down around us.

So Pastor Jones Et Al decide to burn some Korans as if every follower of Islam were implicated in the 9/11 attrocities. We can voice our disapproval, or someone can stop it if it's illegal. So far so good. Then I just heard on the news that the Indonesian government are saying that if this act takes place, it will damage relations between Islam and The West. But this is not The West, this is Pastor Jones Et Al doing their bit to exacerbate conflict, hastening the final battle when they get raptured up into heaven, while the rest of us provide them with some divinely approved mayhem and torment to enjoy from their celestial vantage point.

It seems to me that the Indonesian government is being as irrationally hysterical as Mr Jones. I can't be held responsible for the actions of a few loonies burning books just because some Moslims want to feel globally persecuted. Members of all religions have had, and continue to have, enough suffering on a personal and local basis, without others trying to capitalise on it by turning the action of every bigot into a harbinger of global catastrophe.

Friday, 3 September 2010

"There's none so blind as those who won't see"

Without descending into self pity, it's fair to say that, in spite of technical advances, there are many frustrations in using the Internet for screen reader users like me, particularly in Blog Land.

It is MOI who provided me with the spur to take these on for my own greater good. To illustrate what this means, and to get to the point of this post, she likes this article, as do I, and as I hope will you when you've read it. She also likes "Get Over It" by The Eagles.

The article and the song are both critiques of different kinds of miopia. One seeks to legitimise a sense of superiority and special righteousness, while the other seeks to blame someone else for everything that's wrong with our world.

It staggers me that the proponents of Mr beck's view don't seem to pause for one moment and ask, "isn't this just a bit too convenient for me personally?" I'd love to be one of a chosen people, and to have a special place in the scheme of things.. There's even a form of verse named after the man who wrote:
How odd of God
To choose the Jews".
I don't know if it still exists, but there used to be a group here in the UK called The League Of British Israelites. The idea is that "The English" are descended from the 12 lost tribes and therefore, guess what, we're the chosen people.

Glenn Beck's thesis implies to me that the God of the old testament temporarily chose the Jews while he was waiting for a random bunch of merchant adventurers and religious fugitives to colonise the land mass which later became the USA. And because it later grew to be a rich and powerful nation, the rest of us have good cause to be grateful that many of its original founders were not selfishly miopic, being people of faith and good conscience. If a version of Hitler had come "Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born" with the USA as his power base, who knows what might have become of humanity.

The fact that we'd all like to be special is totally unsurprising. It's the fact that so many seem to forget that in the very act of proclaiming their specialness that astounds me.

We have what we have, and we are born where we're born purely by accident. Everything we have can be taken away by a Hurricane Catrina, a river Indus in flood, or a bunch of Goths coming over the hill, who have finally lost patience with those whom they think have more than their "fair share".

We deserve nothing; certainly nothing we haven't personally earned. If we're tempted to believe that we do, we should "Get Over It", and just be grateful for what (and whom) we have in our lives.