You see it everywhere. "Made in China". This summer, eating lunch at the park with my children, I took a glance at the "R.W. Knudsen 100% Organic Apple Juice" boxes I'd gotten to go with my kid's grilled cheeses from Panera. Guess what I saw? China. I even see it imprinted, in reverse, on the bottom of my transparent plastic drinking cup right this minute. China.
I'd love to pledge that I'm going to go 100% green. All natural, all local. I try a little more every day - more things go in the recycle bin, more local shops are visited, more farmer's markets worshiped. But - you knew there was a but - it's tough to resist the siren song of Target. I can't help it. I like Target. And it's hard to beat back a lifetime of processed food and additives and imports and the local supermarket where, it turns out, nothing is local at all. But really, that's a tangent for another time.
No, I'm here to talk about toys. And Big Corporation vs. Little Guy. And choice. And what that means for you, and for me.
We've all heard the news about lead, BPA, phthalates and any number of chemicals now found to be (with varying degrees of certainty) harmful in our plastic food containers, our cosmetics and lotions and bath products, our food itself, and the toys our children play with and frequently put in their mouths. The good news is that Congress recently passed legislation tightening safety standards. The bad news is that, well-meaning though the law may be, it could essentially shut down independent (read: small business or artisan) makers of nearly all children's products, including toys, bedding, clothing, cloth diapers, hair accessories, jewelry, and bath products. Which, unfortunately, are the folks who've pretty much been trying to get it right all along.
To the person who left an Obama/Biden car magnet on our car yesterday/last night:
I'm peeved at you. I'm also maybe feeling really sorry for you. More on that in a minute.
First, I must say that my objection to the magnet has nothing to do with what's on it. I've said before I like Obama, and I would be equally peeved to find a McCain magnet, or an Oprah magnet, or even a damn Brad Pitt magnet on my rear bumper. Why? Because it's a magnet. That I didn't put on my car myself.
Also. Have you seen the news? Obama won. It's done. Many people are happy about it. Certainly his supporters are overjoyed, and yet I suspect you are sad it's all over. No more yard signs to kick over. No more door knocking. No more guerrilla campaigning. It's very disappointing, I realize. His campaign did a very good job, but you have to wonder, what are those folks who lived and breathed only to convince others to vote for Obama supposed to do with their time and their leftover car magnets now? I suggest you get a hobby. And stick your magnets on your own car.
Finally, I must ask you to be considerate. If you are going to put unsolicited symbolic items on my car, the least you can do is let me know where your car is, so I can return the favor.
You won't mind, right?
(Warning: I am still talking politics. If you are over it, feel free to move on. I'll probably be posting about some dream houses later on, so perhaps come back for that.)
Despite my vote
yesterday two days ago, I am happy that Barack Obama was elected President. I feel he deserved it over John McCain. (Indeed, if I suspected that voting third party would have helped McCain over Obama, I probably wouldn't have done it. Of course, that was not remotely the case.) I like Obama. I like his words, and I like most of his ideas. I think he will make a difference in how the world views America, and there is no way that can be a bad thing. I like his book, which yes, I did read. (Actually, I haven't finished - I'm a busy girl - so don't quiz me or anything.) Believe it or not, I DO have hope. Hope, and fear. Fear that he won't be able to live up to the hype, the pressure put upon him to save the world. But mostly, hope.
No, the reason I didn't vote for Obama
yesterday two days ago was not because I don't like Obama. Frankly, it's the rest of the Democratic party I'm unhappy with. And I guess the main reason I'm unhappy with them is because they don't seem to like me. And I don't like not being liked. I take it personal. I can't help it.
I don't like being told that, despite handing over a little more than one third of our hard earned income, my family is not giving enough. I'm happy to give the one third - to pay for roads, schools, public services, national defense. I'm also happy for some of my money to go to social programs - welfare is important, and necessary. I am a person who is where I am today because of the welfare system. Health coverage for children - you bet. Sign me up. But for anyone out there to imply that we are not doing our share is insulting. No, we're not poor. We're not needy. But we're not rich, and I don't like being told that we are. And I especially don't like being called greedy or selfish.
Perhaps my super-secret boyfriend Sam Seaborn (which, oops, not so secret anymore?) said it best:
"Henry, last fall, every time your boss got on the stump and said, "It's time for the rich to pay their fair share," I hid under a couch and changed my name. I left Gage Whitney making $400,000 a year. Which means I paid twenty-seven times the national average in income tax. I paid my fair share. And the fair share of twenty-six other people. And I'm happy to 'cause that's the only way it's gonna work. And it's in my best interest that everybody be able to go to schools and drive on roads. But I don't get twenty-seven votes on Election Day. The fire department doesn't come to my house twenty-seven times faster, and the water doesn't come out of my faucet twenty-seven times hotter. The top one percent of wage earners in this country pay for twenty-two percent of this country. Let's not call them names while they're doing it is all I'm saying." (The West Wing, Season 2, Episode "The Fall's Gonna Kill You")
P.S. I dug all around YouTube and even tried to create my own clip of the above speech from my DVD set, to no avail, which is why this post is up one day later than I originally intended.
P.P.S. That Sam Seaborn site? Not mine. I swear. I like the character and the show and all, but, someone's got too much time on their hands. And thank God they do.
P.P.P.S We do not make $400,000, nor are we in the top one percent of wage earners. Which - bummer. Still, the sentiment of the words ring true.
As did (or will) pretty much everybody else in the country, I voted today. And I feel really *good* about it.
The only reason that's significant is because I didn't feel good about it two days ago, a week ago, three months ago. As I explained before, I've called myself a Republican in the past, but no longer. The Republican Party has left me, and the Democratic Party is so, SO far from finding me.
Sure, I said I was voting for Obama. At the time, I believed myself. Then I realized I was doing so in resignation, and that's no way to feel about voting. The thing is, it's pretty disheartening to live in a place where, unless you are a hardcore Democrat, your vote doesn't matter. The common thing you hear is, "Don't vote for the third parties. It's a wasted vote, and it will only help the guy you don't want to win."
Well. Since my vote in the State of Maryland is wasted anyway, I happily went and voted Libertarian. I guess I just feel like if we ever want more choices, we'd better go out and demand them.
Plus, it felt really good to give the finger, in my tiny little way, to the Red and the Blue.
Two fantastic, brave souls have responded to me so far. Heidi and Kate, thank you sincerely for saying things I disagree with (and for disagreeing with me!) in such kind, respectful ways. But of course, I have a few things to say about your arguments. Remember, nothin' but love for y'all, nothin' but love.
Um, did I mention that I am sincere? Ok, then. (See what I mean about wanting everyone to be happy? It's an illness, people. SEND HELP.)
An excerpt from Heidi's response:
"Here's what I think about abortion. I think it's murder. I can't imagine ever choosing to have one. I don't think anyone has the right to take anyone else's life (which also means I'm against the death penalty). BUT. I'm pro-choice. My reasoning is that although I can SAY I'd never want/have one, I really can't understand the choices that other women make until I have walked in their shoes. I think abortion is most often a choice made out of desperation. I think it is and should be a last resort."
Your response is the one I hear most frequently. I hear people say, "Abortion is terrible. It's a choice I'd never make for myself." It seems to me, from my inexact count of my nonexistent show-of-hands, that most people agree that abortion is terrible. My question, then, is why should we condone it? Respectfully, you contradict yourself here, as I feel all who make this argument do. You "don't think anyone has the right to take anyone else's life", but... you obviously do think a subset of our population has that right. But who? Should I have to show up at the abortion clinic with track marks in my arm or leaves in my hair from sleeping on the sidewalk to prove that I am desperate? What exactly is desperate enough? And who gets to decide?
I wish I could agree with you that "abortion is most often a choice made out of desperation" and that it "is... a last resort". Unfortunately, I don't.
Some excerpts from Kate:
"You asked if you are "missing a logical link" in the pro-choice argument. Here is the most logical link I can think of: abortion MUST remain legal because making it illegal isn't going to end abortion, it's just going to make it more dangerous and costly for the women who WILL get them."
I'm just going to take a deep breath and put this out there. I understand that it will make it more dangerous and costly for the women who will still get them. And I don't think that's reason enough to condone genocide.
Wait, what? Yes. I said genocide. According to the CDC, 839,226 abortions occurred in 2004 (the last year of collected data). More than 45 million abortions have taken place in the US since 1973 (citation here). Hey, turns out the Nazis have nothing on us. If they wanted to eliminate a lot of people, they should have gone in utero. Lot less messy that way, don't you think?
"If we want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, birth control should be FREE and available in every grocery store, mall, high school and probably jr. high in this country. (Oh yes I did just say that.) You should be able to get condoms on every street corner, in a box right next to the New York Times. For FREE. And a woman (or girl) should be able to go to a clinic and get birth-control pills for FREE."
I agree with this. All of it.
"Can any loving, compassionate person really tell me that a 12 year old girl who has been raped by her father should be required to carry to term a baby that resulted from that abuse?? To have to hang her head in shame, drop out of 7th grade and have her life ruined forever? Of course not. Is the life of that unborn baby (I'll refrain from using the word fetus) more important than hers??"
No, I'm not going to tell you that. I will ask, however, why the life of the unborn baby is LESS important than hers? Truthfully, though, I'm not completely in favor of making abortion illegal for rape/incest victims. I'm uncomfortable with this, as I feel two wrongs do not make a right, but I do have compassion and I feel that rape victims are just that - victims. If anybody should have the right to control what's going on in their bodies, it's them.
"In a perfect world there would be no need for abortion; no rape, no incest, no 16 year old who couldn't afford birth control or who couldn't ask for her parent's permission to get on the pill. Until we address the real issues, abortion will be, unfortunately, way too common."
Yes, let's talk about the real issues, as I see them. Let's talk about our culture's reverence for convenience, for instant gratification. For lawsuits - the more, the better. Nothing is anybody's fault anymore, and it pisses me off.
Who is really desperate, and who is uncomfortable with the idea of their life changing, becoming harder, because of a choice they've made? Who is so desperate that they coudn't resist a little down-and-dirty time?
Let's stop and look at what we're teaching our teens, our children. By condoning abortion, we are teaching irresponsibility. We're teaching them that do-overs are their right. And if we teach them that not all lives are valuable, how are we going to have any success teaching them that their life IS?
Look, I'm not preaching abstinence, nor am I in favor of teaching abstinence in schools. What I AM for is teaching that sex, even protected sex, has consequences. Real, life-changing consequences. It's a natural law that, try as we might with our science and our "enlightened" thinking, the human race cannot completely nullify. I'm for teaching kids (and adults) that life is not disposable, and that life doesn't always offer a mulligan when you mess up. Every one of us, and every one of our children, needs to know that no life is any less, or more, valuable or precious than their own.
Wait. I think that's so important, I'm going to say it again. Every one of us, and every one of our children, needs to know that no life is any less, or more, valuable or precious than their own.
Sounds like something somebody might have said about slavery once, doesn't it?
I've started a post on my current conundrums regarding the upcoming election, and then deleted it, and started again, and still it sits in my draftbox, unposted, mostly because I start wondering who really cares to read my political opinions (which I answer myself with, "Hey, it's my blog.") but also because I don't enjoy the idea of offending anybody. It's been a lifelong flaw of mine that I care entirely too much of what others think. I like the people around me to be comfortable. I do not like fights - at least, I don't like fights that I am a part of. So really, I said to myself, shouldn't I just leave this alone?
But I can't help it. I want to have the discussion.
I want to talk about abortion.
Let me back up a bit, and give you some brief background. First, I am not religious. In fact, I'm pretty anti-religion. That being said, I'm not anti-faith. And I'm not an atheist. Second, I have, in the past, typically considered myself a Republican. Sure, the Religious Right irritated me, but I was down with what I saw the main tenets of the party's platform to be: fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, less government. Work hard, and deserve what you earn. Help others when they need it. Live a good life, and leave others to do the same. I didn't like the party's attitude toward gay rights or all that school prayer bullshit, but the bigger issues were enough to solidify it for me.
In a few weeks, I'm voting for Barack Obama. Not because I'm now a Democrat - I'm not. I'm not sure I can stress enough how much I'M NOT. But I can't really call myself a Republican anymore, either. Not because I think Obama is going to save us all from our DOOOOOMED future - he's not, partly because he's just a dude, and mostly because we're not doomed. I don't know who's right on the economy - I figure all of our taxes are going to be raised for a while no matter who's in the Oval Office. I finally swung to Obama because I think McCain's wrong on health care and foreign policy. Also, McCain never told the Religious Right to get the hell out of policy and lawmaking, which disappointed me, because I really thought he might be the guy to do it. Then again, Obama never did it either.
But I digress. There have been two main reasons I have been reluctant to vote for Barack Obama. The first is the attitude of many of his supporters. The second is that I'm not interested in siding with the pro-choice movement.
Here's the part where I get kicked out of the slumber party, and dammit, I've never been good at braiding my own hair.
Let me be clear. I'm not ok with the subjugation of women. I don't think we should all be back in the kitchen (though I DO think the feminist movement did a bit too much to give pregnant women in the kitchen a bad rap). I'm all for women - no, EVERYONE, because we want to be seen as equal, don't we? - being able to do whatever the fuck they want to do with their lives, with their bodies, with their minds and spirits. With their hair, and cars, and iPods.
But, wait. Aren't we forgetting something important? Ohhh, that's right. We're not supposed to harm others. Or is it what we're not supposed to harm others, unless those others are ours to harm? Is that how it works? I mean, we passed laws against stealing, and even fucking insider trading, and I'm pretty sure it's illegal to kill others. Except in the case of unborn children, who have the gall to require some support for their first nine months.
Ok. Before I wander too far down the path of sarcastic anger, I really do wish to open this discussion. To present a question to the pro-choicers out there, I know, rampant in the blogiverse. I have been around this and around this in my head. Sometimes I'm ready to throw in the towel and say, "What do I care if other people have abortions? I'm a live-and-let-live girl. Can't I just let it go?". In response, I ask myself two more questions:
"What do I care if you beat your kid?" My response: Hey, now. Of course I care. Everyone cares.
My point is this: I can't let it go because it's wrong. From all the angles I look at it, it's wrong. And I have to wonder if I'm missing something, some logical link in the argument that all the sisterhood out there understands yet I have not been privy to.
Am I? I truly hope to get some honest and open discussion of this in the comments, if only from one or two people. Or maybe nobody will wish to touch this, and I will be left to alternately rant and flounder all by my lonesome. Either way, this is easily the most serious I've ever gotten on my blog, and I guess that's worth something.
Disclaimer #1: If I get comments that I am planning to respond to, I will probably post those comments and my responses in a new post - unless you ask me not to.
Disclaimer #2: I am not talking about medically necessary abortions. Just so we're clear.