Sunday, April 3, 2011

We're Not Going Back. . .

Two of the greatest technological revolutions in the history of the world go largely unheralded, the flour mill powered by electricity and the washing machine also powered by electricity. No other inventions have done more to liberate women, with the possible exception of the birth control pill. And I might add, we’re not going back, no woman I know yearns to get back on her hands and knees and grind corn for five hours a day to feed just five other people, and no woman I know wants to stand over a washtub with a washboard ever again.
Nicola in Edible Geography talks about this liberation, after a lengthy description of the process of grinding the wet maize to make tortillas.

“Mexican women that I have talked to are very explicit about this trade-off. They know it doesn’t taste as good; they don’t care. Because if they want to have time, if they want to work, if they want to send their kids to school, then taste is less important than having that bit of extra money, and moving into the middle class. They have very self-consciously made this decision. In the last ten years, the number of women working in Mexico has gone up from about thirty-three percent to nearly fifty percent. One reason for that—it’s not the only reason, but it is a very important reason—is that we’ve had a revolution in the processing of maize for tortillas.”

Similarly Hans Rosling in a video lecture discusses how the washing machine saves so much time and womanly labor that women can now read.

As I've said, we're not going back.

Art Has Power...

[caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Judy Taylor, Maine Mural"]Judy Taylor, Maine Mural[/caption]

From Visual Art Source, Weekly Newsletter, April 1, 2011, comments by Editor Bill Lasarow, "We have to go back to the early 1930s for comparable acts taken with similar reasoning.

The whitewashing of David Alfaro Siqueros' "America Tropical" in Los Angeles was prompted by his symbolic representation of a hovering American eagle poised to peck the life out of a crucified Mexican laborer. Diego Rivera clashed with his patrons John D. and Nelson Rockefeller over the content of "Man at the Crossroads," which included a portrait of Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. The mural was removed from their Rockefeller Center building in New York. After recent controversies over the painting out of a partially completed mural by Blu's in Los Angeles and the removal of a video by the late David Wojnorowicz from an exhibition in Washington, D.C., perhaps it was just a matter of time before elected politicians would begin to interpret their mandates in the spirit of a conquering medieval army. Destroy all signs and symbols of the previous regime, permit only images that proclaim the power and glory of the new ruler.

As Mount Holyoke College (Maine) President Lynn Pasquarella wrote, "... The act of removing images commemorating Maine's history itself conjures thoughts of rewriting history prevalent in totalitarian regimes." The grand historical spirit of barbarism is on the loose in America."

Compassion is a Verb

My thoughtful brother sent me this as we have been engaged in an on-going conversation about the condition of the world.

“As I was reading the article the author James Baraz references two of my night stand authors Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Watts. For those of you who need a little background Nhat Hanh writes an excellent book (amongst others) entitled Peace in Every Step where he reminds us to be "mindful" of our moments and our experiences and to create positive experiences for our selves and others. Watts (the true ex-hippie philosopher) came to my attention in the sixties in a now defunct publication entitled Earth. In an editorial that sticks in my mind to this day he elaborated on the theme that "everyman is an artist" that the ability to "throw paint" or play music was comparable to a lawyer presenting his case in court, or a social worker focusing a families therapy towards enlightenment. His book entitled the Wisdom of Insecurity tackles the issue (and I truly paraphrase) of what tools and philosophies do we go through life with when we know "no one gets out alive".

My brother references James Baraz’s post in the Huffington Post, in which Baraz says:

“Accepting that anything can happen at any time helps us understand that life is out of our control. As much as we want to feel secure, events will unfold as they will. And in this physical plane, events do not happen in a vacuum. They affect everything around them. Buddhists call this interconnectedness. One metaphor describing how a small change in one location can have a major influence in another is the famous "butterfly effect" of chaos theory: A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can alter the path of a tornado in Texas. In a complex system a change in one condition can produce a result in another part of the system. As we're seeing now, what happens to those far away can ultimately affect those near and dear to us.”


“You may want to do something and don't know quite where to start. As one of my teachers says, "Action absorbs anxiety." If you let yourself feel the caring and connection that comes from your heart, you may find ways to put that compassion into action. Meditation master and social activist Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that compassion is a verb. Whether it's sending support or prayers to the victims in Japan or working to raise consciousness to the nuclear issue here, what you do in response to this situation can lessen feelings of helplessness. What you do matters and affects us all.” (ITALICS MINE FOR EMPHASIS)