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January 9th, 2014

first sermon of the new year

Its really easy to (disagree) when all of your disagreements are theoretical - http://ashleighthelion.tumblr.com/post/58498008281/blacksentai-white-dudes-have-this-thing-where

This describes the problem with the idea of a friendly disagreement, where the issues involved are anything but friendly, very well.

To my mind, this also connects to a similar problematic concept: "agreeing to disagree", where both people are supposed to accept that they'll never be able to change the other's mind. Supposedly a model of temperance and fair-mindedness, I'd argue that this, too, is a luxury that many can't afford. I'd argue that agreeing to disagree, far from a virtue, is a reactionary and politically stifling concept that is counterproductive to social progress.

It's one thing if friends come from different places of origin, and bring their own perspective on topics. That's to be expected, even encouraged. Friends -- people in general -- should be able to have animated discussions and even arguments, and not always come to a perfect agreement. But the reason for that is because truth is a work in progress. It's not because people should be defending their mutually exclusive territory. Agreeing to disagree would have us start at different places... and never leave those points of origin. Yes, our personal issues need to be acknowledged. But from there, they need to be surpassed. Debate is a process of improvement, not a way to affirm atomism.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged" - Ayn Rand, in a rare lucid moment

"I'll call you on your shit, please call me on mine" - Propaghandi

Progress happens when we are respectful of our frequent need to have our presumptions disrespected.

It's easy to stereotype radical groups as closed-minded, unwelcoming, and only concerned with a single set of issues. Some groups that call themselves radical are indeed only radical in the most narrow sense of the word; it's all the patriarchy's fault, they say, or it's all capitalism's fault. But radicalism and multidimensional analysis are not exclusive. Radicalism, if it's worthy of the name, is willing to keep digging. It's receptive to new ideas, flexible in its thinking, and willing to debate, provided those debates are constructive.

In my experience, liberal circles have been the most silencing, and the least willing to work towards uncomfortable truths. On one hand, they've put things up for debate that really shouldn't be, in the name of fairness and inclusion; on the other, they've kept some subjects verboten, in the name of not pushing people out of their comfort zone. But growth and development has everything to do with being pushy. With limited time and limited resources, advocates can't afford to water themselves down, nor to bog themselves down in second-guessing based on how other people might react. Advocates should push in a smart, contextually aware way, yes. But they should push. As far as you push others, that's as far as they might come along with you. While, as far as you don't push, that's as far as they'll never move. You do them no harm by pushing, and though they might disappoint you, you do yourself no harm by being disappointed. For advocates -- and anyone who thinks along political lines should be an advocate of something -- a corollary to being prepared to be judged might be this: allow yourself to risk disappointment in others, as long as they might pleasantly surprise you.
Meanwhile, an example of how not to make a safe space: http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?t=230644&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30

If someone thinks the Genderbread Person isn't all that profound, I don't have a problem with that. I tend to agree, though for different reasons. And some of Fox's points are reasonable and worth debating. But they all could have been made without tacking on transphobia and cissexism.

I don't think Fox is exactly a bigot... from the broader slant of her comments, I think she has a problem with any concept of a group having a collective identity or expressing a collective voice. It'd be worth a bit of head-scratching over exactly why... extreme individualism, maybe? Buying too much into the idea of merit?

But whatever motivates her to dismiss the term "cisgender" with sneering contempt, it's troubling that 1. no moderator has stepped in, and 2. most of the thread supports her. That's crossing a really big line, and it wouldn't be tolerated anywhere where the existence of non-cis people was more than a theoretical matter of terminology. I'm not wading into this particular discussion... IMHO, Fox is a silly person who is best ignored... but I don't like what she represents, and I'm tempted to make an account on ESL Cafe in the future, just for the purpose of counterbalancing the "you people don't really exist" meme by one genderqueer person who really exists.

Goodbye to the year of the snake

I wonder if I'll get my FAFSA results by the end of the week? Or sometime in January, at least. That would be cool. :p

Whatever happens with my financial aid, I'm going to go ahead and sign up for Oxford Seminars' TEFL course. The next one will be given in March: it's about a month long, with three weeks of weekend classes and a 40-hour online component to be completed immediately after that. The classes will probably be taught at CSULA again.

I want to spend the next several years (after UCLA) in a semi-itinerant way... teach for a year, come back home for six months to work on music, then leave for another year of teaching. Repeat as necessary. If I go through gender confirmation in the future, this plan will change; right now, I want laser, and I plan on putting some money into a zappy fund. Strategic outness is my goal for the immediate future; whether that includes being out to family is something I'm still wrestling with.

(I want blue hair and bangs, too. ^..^ But that will probably have to wait)

I've warmed to the idea of teaching in South Korea, and I plan on making it my first destination. Yes, part of that is due to money, but there's an incredible diversity of people working there, and if I can get a job in Seoul or Busan -- large cosmopolitan cities with a big queer and vegan scene -- I think I'd find it a thrilling adventure, warts and all. I think SK's what I'm willing to make of it.

Listening to a big stack of rock/pop CDs from last year that I never got around to hearing. I'm also working on three different mixes for my site, and planning to re-record another mix. After all those are in the bag, I'll start the rare CD contest/call for submissions, and keep that going for a few months while I work on the next project. I want to write my 2013-14 annual letter sometime, too! Until then, more adventures figuring out what the hell to do with myself...



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