Pressing Your Advantage

Years ago, when a coworker kept talking to me about the importance of not sacrificing one’s children to public school, my mentor suggested to me that men who do things like this do them for a reason.

Let me offer a little background, so you can see where I’m going. I was married at the time, and my husband worked in the same division. Our children were 6 and 8 years old. My coworker was a single man and a recent immigrant from Uzbekistan. We talked about faith as we were each discovering our own.

In a very real way, his faith had set him free. Christian missions from the United States lobbied his government to allow Jews to emigrate. Through 2 generations of communist rule, his family only knew they were Jewish because it was considered an ethnicity and it was documented on his papers. When he arrived in the United States, he began an earnest exploration of what it means to be Jewish.

His concern about public education was grounded in his own public education. For him, school was chiefly about political indoctrination and he was not allowed to talk about questions of faith. I agree with him at some level, and we both agree with Marx, at some level. Marx suggested that public schools are a tool to shape workers. But I don’t think my coworker was actually interested in my children or their education.

I think he was interested in having less competition in the workplace. I say this because he never had this conversation with my husband, who was also a collegue. Also, when I asked him to stop he did not. When other male colleagues pointed out to him that I felt hurt by his attack on my place at work, he did not stop. I think my mentor was right. When people in positions of social advantage talk about that advantage or press the point they do so to enhance their advantage.

Silence is the Voice of Complicity

I’m a huge fan of free speech. It doesn’t mean I like everything that other people say. It doesn’t mean I’ll stand around and listen. But it is important enough to me that I gave seven years of my youth in military service to support free speech. It’s important enough to me that I continue to try to encourage people to speak.

Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Silence is the Voice of Complicity”? I think it’s true. I also think it is often easier to ignore a problem than to confront it. It sometimes works with children and with puppies. When they don’t get the response they are hoping for they often stop the behavior. You probably know this doesn’t work with teenagers. If your new driver borrows your car without asking and you say nothing your new driver learns they don’t have to ask for the car.

When your coworker makes an offensive remark and you ignore it, they learn, and the people around you learn, it’s okay to make those kinds of remarks. It’s not easy to make an appropriate response to an inappropriate comment. It makes everyone uncomfortable. But inappropriate comments also make people uncomfortable. If you’re going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not venture an appropriate response?

What is so terrifying about openly gay relationships?

“Nigeria is pushing forward a law that would make it a punishable offense – of up to 14-years in prison – for anybody to go to a gay bar,  to work for or be involved with LGBT organizations, or to be in an openly gay relationship.”

Is this not a form of thought control? Would this not make it illegal to talk about  human rights with regard to sexual orientation?

I have to wonder what is so terrifying about openly gay relationships.

Here in the United States, I think the political noise around homosexuality is a distraction from the real issues of governance. A smokescreen. It’s like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

I have read, but don’t have sources for, articles suggesting the religious right here in the United States is supporting movements like this in Nigeria. I just don’t understand why.

What’s at stake?

If you agree that the proposed law will do more harm than good, please click on the link above and sign the petition. If you disagree, or can help me understand what this is about, please comment.