Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Ideas in Review

Facebook bombarded me with everyone's highlights of 2013 this morning, and I was struck with the urge people have to track the value of time spent by listing stuff they did.  It's all trips and big events.  When I consider all I had done this year, what came to mind first is a whole lot of sitting around.  I'm really good at that, and it's my favourite thing to do.

I sit around reading a writing and watching movies, but the highlight of my time sitting is always the kitchen table talks I have with whomever's at my table.  It's mainly the kids and I, and we often comment that we should set up a hidden camera and try to forget about it, because we are seriously funny people!  If we could capture our conversations for YouTube, we'd be rich!  But I also have friends that come and sit and drink and play music and tolerate my singing.

Like cutting Samson's hair, if you clean it, it loses its magic!
But in my time sitting, I also did a whole lot of fretting about the world (social justice and environmental erosion mainly), and about my work.  I'm going to consider a different approach to the world crap because what I've been doing is neither particularly useful nor enjoyable. Maybe tomorrow.

As for work, we started the year in strike action, and we ended it with some questionable micro-managing from the province. I'll say no more on that for the same reason I deleted most of my work posts:  apparently being perceived to be publicly complaining about the policies of my board or school can be grounds for termination, but I can complain about the Ministry of Ed documents all I like.  I understand this idea in principle - if I owned a small business and an employee tweeted negatively about it, I'd definitely call them out on it.  But, somehow this feels a little different.  And who's to say when my complains about ministry mandates are a bit too close to being about board mandates?  Nuff said.

Sitting around doesn't look like anything, but it's a lot.  When I was in university, writing essays at the kitchen table all day, my partner at the time, a tinner, would come home from work to find me in the exact same place as he left me.  As he peeled off his dirty work clothes, he'd often question how I could just do nothing all day long.  That I finished a 20-page essay didn't count.  And, 25 years later, that I wrote my thoughts on books and philosophers and political thinkers all year isn't fodder for facebook lists.  Thinking, talking, and writing about things just isn't share-worthy.

Which is a shame.

Is it because it's too commonplace or too uncommon?  Or because the ideas come and go without making it on snapchat?  Instead of listing the trips and events, wouldn't it be cool if people spent New Years Day considering all the new ideas they deduced or considered or solidified over the year?  I think it would make for a far more interesting bunch of facebook statuses to wake-up to at the very least.

Here's what I thought about mostly:

* It's amazing what we can do when we go for it balls-out even though we don't know what we're doing (I built a studio!).  But we all have limits. It's not the case that you can be or do anything you set your mind to do.  But, without trying you'll never know where your limits are.
* Bureaucracies suck the intelligence out of everything.
* Mainstream media is eroding body image and self-esteem, but we don't have to play with them.
* The planet's ability to continue to maintain life is so far gone, and so few care, it's likely unfixable.  As much as I abhor government intrusion in personal choices, I can't imagine what else could possibly turn this all around.
* Maybe we're screwed not because we're too greedy, but because we're also too compassionate.  Or maybe it's just greed as a species that we want every human in the world to live well (well enough that we don't have to see them suffer at least).
* Rape isn't going away nearly fast enough.  In fact, it feels like it's getting so much worse.  We still have a good, long fight on our hands on this one.
* Stoicism and Taoism are two of the best philosophies for coping with tragedies beyond our control.
* I still haven't been swayed from my agreement with Marxist economic strategies.  It's not about paying everyone the same, but ensuring nobody's being exploited.
* Art and music and dance and film (and cats) are phenomenal means of celebrating the world and distracting ourselves from its devastation.  I have unbridled enthusiasm for it all that won't be contained.  Even if someone points and laughs.
* Teaching is the best means to develop ideas (mainly by stealing them from the brilliant kids I teach).
* Cycling has to be safer if we actually want people to ditch the car at home, and working with the city sometimes actually gets us somewhere!
* We need some good role models - and fast.  Chomsky and Hedges and Monbiot and Suzuki are awesome, but they don't have the style or charm or something enough to sway the masses.  We need activists that can affect the people the way Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr did, because people will blindly follow someone who can sell them what seems like a good idea.  We have people in droves who do that for the oil industry, etc., but far too few on the other side.

As an exercise, it clarifies how mundane bare-bone ideas are!  And, unfortunately, as a facebook status or a tweet it would likely look something like this:

2013 was AWESOME!  I thought about the world and stuff!!  Going to be a hard one to top!  Happy New Years everybody!  


Lorne said...

Marie, you said the following: Chomsky and Hedges and Monbiot and Suzuki are awesome, but they don't have the style or charm or something enough to sway the masses.

I too have wondered what it takes to capture not only the minds but the hearts of large numbers of people. Why are King and Mandela, for example, so revered and iconic? Part of the answer likely lies in the fact that they were involved in a very real and physical sense with the struggles of the people, King with his many marches and speeches, Mandela with his protracted suffering which was, symbolically, the suffering of the black masses in South Africa. Talking the talk and walking the walk gave them a legitimacy that few seldom achieve.

Looking at Chris Hedges, I think the fact that he is virtually shut out of the MSM has a lot to do with his being a name many don't recognize.

I've been thinking that much potential lies in Pope Francis being able to motivate and galvanize people to get in touch with their better selves. While I realize that actions speak louder than words, his refreshing departure from the rigidity of Church doctrine and his willingness to address our common humanity marks him as someone to take note of.

Marie Snyder said...

Yes, I'm hoping people can but aside any hatred they may harbour for the Catholic church just long enough to see what Pope Francis is doing. It's similar to Hedges working in with prisoners and always with the dispossessed. The OWS movement was a bit of a start, but again there wasn't a visonary to lead the way. I think the problem is the complexity of our issue compared to civil rights. We've got a heap of problems, and we need one clear path to get us out.