Contemplations #1

Welcome to a new series of posts for 2021

A Universal Human Condition?

I have a new group of online friends. I found them when I was searching for Trump voters who might speak to me about their view of the world. During our weekly Zoom chat, I learned that one of them is beginning some new ventures, a website, a Substack offering, and some other explorations. I was especially interested in her description of her intent to offer on Substack links to music, drama, and art that illustrate the universal human condition. 

What is that, you might ask? Oddly enough, it’s a concept that used to be understood. It was the notion that, as humans, we share certain qualities that could draw us together if we were to let them. We have some basic needs, some common experiences, and beyond that aspirations. My friend’s desire is to share art that might illustrate our common attributes rather than focus on our differences. 

I’m curious: Do you think you are more like others or distinct from others? Which group identities are important to you? How important are they? Do they outweigh your individual identity?

Old Black Men Are Getting Vaccinated

One neighborhood walk we take with some regularity goes past an apartment building that houses old, single, poor black men. There’s a small outdoor sitting area, and often residents are sitting outside when we pass. We chat for a moment when they’re out. A couple of weeks ago, I walked past them the day after I’d gotten my first dose of Covid vaccine. I’d been showing off my “Vaccinated” sticker to other people along my route, but I hesitated to show it off to these men. What if they haven’t been offered the vaccine yet? That would feel awkward. 

A week later, I was walking that way again, and this time I asked if they were getting vaccinated. Yes, they had just gotten their first shots. Whew. I was relieved. One man insisted he wasn’t going to get the vaccine because he didn’t trust it. But others had been happy to get it. So, yes, I did get it before they did, but the old black men weren’t waiting long. 

On that same walk, on our way home, we walked a ways with one of the newer residents. He was so excited about having his own room with a key to the door. He held up the key to show it to us. He’d lived in a tent before coming to this residence, so he was seriously happy to be there. He said he’d invite us to live there, but we couldn’t because we were married, and I was female, neither trait being allowed in his building.

We are so wealthy by comparison, but we enjoy chatting with these men when they’re outside (they’re often playing blues we enjoy). The fact that they are friendly to us is something I really appreciate. Remember the old days when that’s what we wanted for our future, to be able to just chat with anyone and find something in common? 

Are Sex-Based Rights a Thing?

Last week, I learned that many of my retirement home neighbors do not want to be bothered talking about women’s sex-based rights. I was not surprised to find that many didn’t know that these rights are under attack, but I was surprised to find out that they don’t care. My awareness stems from my immersion in woke culture for the past year. I’m not worried so much about bathrooms, but I’d like to see women’s sports preserved for women.

Washington state is a Self-ID state. That means that any man who wants to claim the status of “woman,” can do so by simply stating that he is a woman. In years past, a handful of people pursued the option of medical treatment to become trans-men or trans-women. Rarely were we even aware of them because they were serious about this and assumed the attire and manners of their desired gender. Most simply wanted to live their lives without a lot of drama. 

Things have changed, though, and trans activists today are likely to be very public about their pursuit of fully equal status with their new gender. In so many ways, this is just not a problem. But there are a few areas that make women nervous, or at least women who’ve had any bad experiences with men. So some feminists, often self-described as radical feminists or gender critical feminists, assert that males and females are forever thus even when surgeries and hormones enable them to appear convincingly as the opposite sex. These women want trans-women barred from women’s sports and certain single sex facilities such as locker rooms, women’s shelters, and women’s prisons. 

I’ve written about this before, but President Biden recently signed an executive order granting safeguards based on gender identity. This is a good example of one problem with executive orders: there’s no debate! There are no hearings. There’s no bill to track; no opportunities for amendments; nothing to support or oppose. Done deal. 

The executive order is vague enough that it will likely result in waffling and court challenges. Eventually this will get sorted because these are big changes, especially if Self-ID persists. People will weigh in however they can, so this story isn’t finished yet.

Counterweight

There’s a new kid on the block: Counterweight! It was brought into existence by Helen Pluckrose and a team of people who want to counter wokeness with a viable alternative. Please review their website, watch some videos, read some essays, and look at their links. 

It’s one thing to worry about the impact of wokeness on our future as human beings. It’s quite another thing to clearly articulate concerns about wokeness and offer constructive alternatives to organizations who want to address concerns about inequalities, but don’t want to divide people more than we already are. 

Congratulations, Counterweight!

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