Standing Up

Bonfire outside. Do you think warfare is inevitable between people when there is a difference in power?

I think warfare is possibly a lot like the concept of gender– beginning from a bit of biological fact, but then taken out of context to be used as a means to gain power over others. The idea has become so warped by culture we cannot tell anymore how much of it is a part of us, or a part of our socialization.

There are about 20+ people in the living room in the dark, holding hands, strumming guitars, singing shambala and close to weeping.

It is official. I live in a cult.

I do not understand guns.

More precisely, I do not understand why anyone would want objects like them within the personal world they create for themselves.

I do not understand the excitement surrounding them.

I realize I do not understand the excitement surrounding a lot of things, but most other things do not have the express potential to end lives.

I do not feel safe being in close contact with someone who owns guns.

I understand that guns have a culture, a sense of belonging to a group, especially in America, and this sense of belonging is not inherently violent.

But accidents are.

Seeing as my ocd mind automatically assumes accident as fact, a gun is something that can never be a postive thing in my world.

Not even a neutral thing.

I do not care what you do with your free time, or what is hidden in lock boxes in your closets.

But do not tell me about it. Because I don’t want to know.

I could never live with the idea that I knew where an efficient killing machine was hidden, and accessible.

I know this is partially my ocd brain talking, and my pacifistic upbringing, but I also know that it is possible to live without guns, and they are a risk I do not believe in.

This fear is much different than a fear of driving, in that driving has actual positive uses, whereas a gun does not have any use at all, just potential for accident.

Some of my friends were talking about guns the other day- and how it is not something to be scared of, it’s something that needs to be embraced. And I said, no, I don’t believe in anything much, but the one thing I really do believe in is the absence of guns.

And they asked WHY?? And I couldn’t really give a good answer. They were actively trying to win me over with promises: “We’re safe,” “We’ve grown up using them.”

I realized I didn’t really have a good argument for my opinion, just a strong feeling.

Today, my friend who committed suicide two years ago, his mom put words to my feeling.

She had shared an article expressing that every human being on the planet is at risk for suicide, but there are certain factors which increase this risk. And one of them was accessibility to guns.

I have known at least two people in my life who have died at their own hand with a gun. And those people, I’m sure, knew how to properly handle a gun as well. They were safe, they had grown up using them. And they knew exactly what the gun was capable of.

It’s not the maintenance of a gun and the social inclusion that it provides that is the problem. It’s the possibility it gives people who own them or know where to get one the decision for a fast death.

So, yes. Guns scare me because accidents can happen, and you might shoot your best friend while you are out hunting. But that is not the type of accident that haunts me.

The type of accident I am talking about is the accident that we all make at some points during our lives, when we have a bad day, week, month, year or decade. When we think our life is not worth it anymore, and we feel like we want to be done.

That is the accident I am terrified of.

And so, I choose not to have materials around me that would make the possibility for that type of accident easier.

Stood up to the two house bullies last night. And I survived.

Realize that anytime these uncomfortable situations come up, they are not in vain. Contact with these types of people should not be pursued, but occasional unavoidable interaction toughens my skin up just a little more every time.

Brian Sultana was there with me the whole way– what a lovely friend.

Brian, Erin and Paulette all drifted into my room last night and stayed up late talking about books, sex and rabies into the wee hours of the night.

Today in Anthropology worked with my group– we are doing our semester fieldwork project on women in engineering. Going to interview engineering professors, women’s studies professors and male and female engineering students. Doing a lot of research first. Should be interesting!

Deb’s group is doing fieldwork with Fred Phelp’s community. They interviewed him and his family a bit last night and are going to church with him this Sunday.

That has to be the ULTIMATE test of empathy and perspective. I don’t know if I could do it without letting my emotions get into it…

Last night sat down eating lunch with Brian, talking about house dynamics, then two of the quietest people in the house, Tristan and Marie, filtered over on their own and joined us. It was a really interesting conversation. I love having a group of open minds, to be able to throw out questions and get honest, unguarded responses. Can get really far in those types of conversations. Much more experimental. I realize that’s what I value in conversation– the right ingredients and people, so that this conversation could take you anywhere. And not being scared of it, but everyone embracing it. Very cool.

Great snow day.

Studied all afternoon, then walked with Carlos to Chipotle in the foot+ of snow on the ground.

Chipotle OPEN. Got burritos, and then everyone in the restaurant started screaming. Checked our phones— school cancelled for tomorrow as well! Four day weekend! :)

Out on the streets everyone super friendly and talking to everyone they came in contact with. Snow days change human social interaction. Weird. But cool.

Walked to Dillons and liquor store with Deb after, then came home and fell asleep for a few hours. :P

Ate a wonderful dinner of lentils and rice and then read more loac, now going to bed.

Today I realized what positive impact other people can be.

Everyone knows that sharing smiles with others brightens the day, but I never realized to what extent it can actually change a day.

Having a pretty shit morning at work, a bit of a cold, and didn’t have time to change out of my pajamas before running up the hill.

Debating skipping class after work, because I was so unhappy and pissed off at everything and everyone, most especially myself.

Pushed myself to go to class though, and when I stepped in the room Cooper was holding a seat and the sign in sheet for me.

Then we laughed about a shitton of things during class, and I started to feel SO MUCH BETTER. Like I was a different PERSON from 20 minutes previous.

Self esteem up, interest and curiosity up, passion for life.

Just goes to show, even the most introverted of the introverted can benefit MAGNIFICENTLY from human interaction.

Because, really, society is great. I just had to figure out how much was right for me.

Syria was an Ottoman province 16th C up to World War I, then was under French control until 1946. In 1961 it became the Syrian Arab Republic. 1967 Golan Heights conflict with Israel. In 1970 al-Assad assumed power in a bloodless coupe, adding political stability to the country. In July 2000 his son took power, and was reelected in the 2007 election: a 25% minority Alawite in a 75% Sunni majority country.

Traditionally, during the Ottoman empire, only Sunni leaders were elected to political power. The Alawites were discriminated against up until the rise of Assad.

Assad is secular, and thus favored by Western states.

Syria is a young country, with 35% of its population aged 0-14 years of age. This gives the potential for a lot of mobilization toward conflict and protest.

There are 1.3 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and 400,000 Palestinian refugees.

Syria was a part of the 2011 Arab Spring.

There are 850,000 refugees, 2.5 million Syrians displaced internally, and the current death toll in Syria is 70,000.

Other Arab Spring revolutions, such as Tunisia and Egypt, have a more institutionalized security structure, while countries like Libya and Syria have a much more patrimonial security structure.

Regimes within an institutionalized security structure are much more likely to surrender the longer and bloodier the conflict becomes. Patrimonial structures, however, are built on lineage and pride, and usually hold on tighter as time goes on and blood is spilled.

The facebook/social networking trend is highlighting a new type of leader. Instead of the outgoing, unilateral charismatic leader, the new revolutionary is the behind the scenes activists sharing ideas with one another, instead of one single figurehead.

Robbie made spinach, apple, tomato, strawberry, carrot, pecan, onion, sunflower seed salad with avocado dressing last night.

Ridiculously good.

Brunch on Sunday helped Erin fix quinoa with sauteed onions and kale stuffed inside beautiful baked sweet potatoes. Scrambled eggs with fresh rosemary, plus muffins with green tea inside.

International law is like math with a political flavor. I have fallen in love.

It’s 10:30 at night, and I literally forgot to eat all day.

Luckily, there was food in our fridge.

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