The New “Normal” or What is Normal?

I just read a comment on another blog that made me think about language again, and this time I want to discuss the concept of “Normal”.

The comment was this:

What annoys me deeply in many cases is the effort of (some members of) the LGBT group to convince the world that theirs is the “normal” way. What do I mean with this? Male + Male = No Procreation. Female + Female = No Procreation. No Procreation = No Life Renewed. And I don’t speak of modern artificial means — I’m talking about human nature, which has not changed.

I don’t want my child or other people’s chidren get brainwashed into thinking that homosexual is “right.” Homosexual just exists in this world and we have no reason to be mean and dictate to others how they should live their lives.

I get what she is saying in the idea that the laws of nature require a male and a female for procreation. However, in this abundant natural world variations occur, naturally.  I’m not a scientist. But, just my basic high school biology taught me that there is variation depending on genetics. Using the fun and completely nerdy website Wordnik, I found this definition of normal in terms of biology:

. In biology, a species or race considered as a fixed standard which individual organisms may approach by heredity and from which they may recede by variation. The conception of a normal is statistical rather than biological, for there is no evidence that an exceptional specimen of a species differs, as such, from an average specimen in any essential or qualitative way. The notion of a species as a fixed standard belongs to the pre-Darwinian period in the history of biology.

(Click on this link for the many definitions of Normal)

So, if I am reading this correctly, variation is normal.

Yet, there are many people in our world who seem to want to define the NORM as one thing and one thing only. In those minds Normal=Right, and Different=Wrong.

The terms are not synonymous. Right and wrong are moral terms, based off of our individual interpretations of the world. Yes, we can probably agree on some basic tenets of right vs. wrong, but we break those every day. That’s evident.

Normal and different are not related to morals. The are just ways by which we can communicate how we perceive the world, which again relates to our individual interpretations of the world.

There is no truth. There is no norm. There is just perception.

I am the first to admit that I don’t have a”normal” life, whatever that might be. My life, at the moment, seems more like a confusing mess– a carnival ride gone out of control. But, despite my ups and downs, the craziness is part of my normal.

My norm lies in difference.

Perhaps we need to get rid of the term “normal” and use something else. I don’t know what term can replace it, but there has to be a way to celebrate diversity rather than try to make everyone and everything the same.

I would love diversity to be the face of the Norm.

Technologically Violated

Monumento alla difesa di Casale, bronze sculpt...

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It’s not funny anymore. In fact it is downright creepy.

When the person who hacked into my husband’s e-mail account started communicating with a wonderful long time friend and using my name, my daughter’s name, and my sister’s name he (or she) crossed a line. Now I am mad, but I’m also scared.

Have we become too reliant on technology? I know, it is kind of strange question to ask while I am typing on a computer into the blogiverse; my writing fix fulfilled by reaching out through technology to unknown readers. While I am fearful of technology, I am addicted to it.

I guess the real problem isn’t technology but humans. Humans are the ones who corrupt technology in the name of greed or improvement. Humans are the ones that relish the victory over others that comes with more power, or in our case with the ability to take over a simple e-mail account and disrupt lives.

So while I have been violated technologically, it was ultimately done with human hands.

Is this just more evidence of the overall corrupt nature of humans?

I hate that I am thinking like this. I know it is an over-generalization that all humans are corrupt figures that will leap on a tiny glimmer of advantage. But everything I read lately reflects on this mindless evil of people with power over people with less power. Why can’t we just accept each other and leave each other alone?

Right now, the anger is rising in me. But, I refuse to become one of the corrupt. I choose to pursue kindness and caring. However, this does not me I will like down without a fight and let the world walk all over me.

Whoever this creep is, he/she has taken something valuable from us. No not money. Not friends. But a feeling of safety.

I do not want to feel afraid every time I turn on my computer, just as I don’t want to feel afraid walking out the door.

So here’s a message to all the creeps in the world.; whether you are a master at hacking into technology or someone who intimidates physically or spiritually. STAY AWAY FROM ME!!! I’m angry. I’m not going to take it anymore. I am only going to welcome positive people in my life, and you have NO POWER over me.

Got it?

I will fight to make this world a better place. I will not let creeps like this take me down.

Anyone care to join me?

The Culture of Bullying

 

Bullying on IRFE as of March 5, 2007 (the firs...

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Bullying!

The word echoes through the air these days.  Every day you hear a new story or of a new death. For me, recently, each day brings a new awareness about the  pervasiveness of this issue.

I want to do something about it.

This week I conducted a workshop at a nearby high school on Performance Art. While Performance Art is not exactly my favorite type of theater, I think it is an interesting thing to introduce to high school students as it provides them an outlet to explore issues using art, theater, music, and other things to express themselves. I introduce the techniques by using a piece of literature or poetry (for this workshop I used “Ozymandias”). I also brought an extra poem to help out, this time one on bullying that I found on a WordPress blog http://bullypoems.wordpress.com/ (thank you to that blog writer).

The students were then given an assignment to create their own piece of performance art, with the only restrictions being that they respect each other and respect school rules. The results were interesting, with topics ranging from family relationships to feeling stressed about choices they needed to make in life. The majority of them, however, were about bullying.

Now, maybe that was a reaction to the poem I read them, but I think it goes deeper than that. In our discussions afterwards most of the students acknowledged that there is bullying at their school. Some of them hesitantly acknowledged to being victims.

More disturbing to me, however, were the number of people who acknowledged being witnesses to bullying, but who simply walked away.

Coincidentally, last night I was asked to adjudicate a performance at another area high school. The play they put on was Bang Bang Your Dead! by William Mastrosimone which explores the issue of bullying from the perspective of a boy who shoots 7 people (5 students and his parents). Not a light evening of theater, that’s for sure. There were two talk-backs after the performance, one for the audience and one between the adjudicators and the cast. Both were revealing.

The first showed that the parents and community are aware of the problem but feeling at a loss as to what can be done.

The second revealed what the kids had learned from this process. Many of them researched and became aware of the amount of bullying that exists in the world, and in their more immediate world. BUT, and this is a disturbing but, their understanding and new knowledge did not promote action. They shared a story that, after a school viewing of the show, some freshman started teasing and throwing food at the lead (the person who played the killer). Rather than saying something, he walked away!

How do we fix this? I know it is scary to confront bullies. I recognize that sometimes it is easier to hide our eyes and pretend we don’t see what is in front of us. But that way lies Columbine. That way lies 9/11. That way lies the Holocaust.

Now, I’m sure somebody will object to me connecting bullying with 9/11 or with the Holocaust, but what is bullying if not a form of intolerance? It is about someone showing power over weakness, or trying to pretend to have power by making others feel weak. In a way, bullying is human nature, in the sense of survival of the fittest. The strong win and the weak are destroyed. Bullying is not something that occurs just between children in school, it is just that in some ways adult bullying is more subtle. That doesn’t make it any less dangerous however.

If bullying is human nature, does that mean there is no hope of change? It has become crucial for us, as a society, to break free of this negative quality of human nature. We need to learn to respect and value diversity, otherwise there will never be an end to violence, hatred, death (by violence) and bullying.

I hope we can do it.

With more people like this hero, Joel Burns tells gay teens \”it gets better\”, we can.

Another important link about this: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/15/it-will-get-better/

And in a few short words, this person hits the nail on the head http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/they-taped-their-roommate-and-outed-him-on-the-internet-now-hes-dead/

“Playful Kiss”

 

WED/THURS - MBC - PLAYFUL KISS  장난스런 키스 (2010)

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The other day as I was browsing through Hulu I stumbled on the Korean show Playful Kiss and I got hooked. I found it to be a sweet, fun, quirky romantic comedy about a less-than-smart high school girl (Oh Ha Ni) who has feelings for a genius boy (Baek Seung Jo) who thinks he is superior and shows it.An earthquake destroys Oh Ha Ni’s home and she and her father move into Baek Seung Jo’s home (because the two fathers were close as children).  The show, based on a Japanese manga, reveals those roots (at least in the first 2 episodes) with some moments of pure fantasy.

After watching episodes 3 and 4 last night, I thought about the cultural differences that are reflected in the show. Doing research this morning, I recognized those differences are even greater than I thought. Insight into what others are thinking really made me see that we all perceive things differently. In those differences lies the complexity of our world.

I saw Playful Kiss as a comedy. I’ve even experienced the ever so rare laugh-out-loud moments watching this show. BUT, it is billed as a drama (and I believe that is how it was billed in Korea). If it is a drama, then some of the objections to the show might be legit, but if it is a comedy it looks at the world through quirky rose-colored glasses.

Some of the complaints I read this morning surrounded the idea that the 4th episode showed the Oh Ha Ni as drunk, and because Baek Seong Jo made a sexist (or harassing) comment about her small breasts. This is where culture comes to play. Yes, she was drinking, but under the supervision of the adults. They were celebrating her grades and offered her one drink which, of course, went straight to her head. Now, I’m not saying that parents should hand drinks to all there children. But, how often have American audiences watched as the parent figure on-screen (and in real life) turned a blind eye as their  perfect child throws a wild party that included enough alcohol to poison half the town?

As for the comment about small breasts, it seemed natural given the circumstances (Baek Seong Jo was carrying the drunk girl home by piggy back) especially as girls at that age worry about breasts and boys are fascinated by them. What I found more interesting (and reflective of culture) were the clear expectations that females should clean up and take care of males. Evidence of this appears throughout the show. Of course I notice these things, as I still reflect on remnant sexism that exists in American culture today, but I recognize it for what it is–different cultural values.

I think the show is interesting for the contrast it makes to American values in that the hero is the smartest kid in school (in addition to being cute and talented in every way). Yes, he is wealthy as well, but he is the heart-throb at school because he scores 100% on every exam. Wouldn’t it be nice if that happened in American high school dramas more often?

It seems to me that, in this time of technology providing so much access to other cultures, we should really spend time evaluating the things that make us different as well as the things that make us human. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching Playful Kiss and enjoying ever sweet moment.

Passing the Buck: Human Nature, Society’s Destroyer

 

Some Words to Live by - Street Sign, Capital H...

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Listening to NPR this morning, I had an epiphany. The world is completely screwed up because nobody wants to take responsibility for their own actions.

This started when I heard the story about BP putting the blame on its subcontractors (Transocean and Halliburton) for the oil spill. Come on, people! Yes, I’m sure both those companies hold some responsibility. I mean after all, they are all greedy corporations. But who holds ultimate responsibility when something goes wrong? Shouldn’t it be the supervising agent for not properly supervising? I mean, when an accident happens to a worker, that worker does share responsibility for that accident, but so do the people who didn’t set up proper safety precautions.

When something goes wrong, nobody wants to take the blame; but ultimately it will fall on the person or group with the fewest resources. In the BP case, money has the potential to win as it usually does. In other situations, the one who will get the blame will be the one who has the weakest support system

That’s a sad state of being.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do the same thing. I think it is human nature to want to push the blame for life’s challenges and failures on someone or something else. Even in religions, when something goes wrong it is often easy to say well that’s God’s will. If it is God’s will, then we are again passing the buck, not taking the blame. My own daughter, will blame inanimate objects for her own clumsiness or lack of attention. Again, not taking responsibility.

What if we all took responsibility for everything we do? What if we truly lived by the Golden Rule, and respected others as well as the earth? What would happen if a big company like BP would actually take full responsibility for the disaster it caused? I know that BP faces criminal action, law suits, and huge fines. But, if they don’t take responsibility, will they survive anyway? I’ll never buy gas there again. Of course, I’m a tiny molecule in the giant picture; but if they would just try to make amends and take responsibility it would be a whole different picture.

What it comes down to is this–each of us, as individuals needs to stop passing the buck and take responsibility for ourselves. Only by doing that, can we hope to truly change the world. Of course, all I can do, is try to live this concept myself, as well as instill it into my daughter.

I wish I had more to offer.

On Selfishness and Stupidity

It amazes me how stupid, selfish, and disrespectful people seem to be in this world. I don’t know if that is a new thing or simply part of human nature, but I have a hard time comprehending it. I know I can be selfish about some things, but it is very rare that I do something that disregards the needs of others. I mean, my own selfishness is about taking time off, letting myself sleep in, reading a decadent book all day–things like that. I have never gone and trashed someone else’s space in drunken debauchery. I rarely even experience drunken debauchery (although I admit to drinking more this summer than I have in a long time). I never could comprehend how people allowed themselves to lose control like that, to the point of completely disregarding the people around them. Maybe I’m missing out because I’ve never let myself be that free, but you know what . . . I’d rather be myself than someone who may know how to have a good time but doesn’t know how to be a good person.

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