BOYCOTTS AND SELF-DENIAL: Yesterday was free scoop day at Ben & Jerry's. I went twice. The second time, the man guiding us through the line told the crowd that they were celebrating twenty-five years of business, Earth Day and giving back to the community. While I wasn't there in support of Earth Day, I also wasn't about to jump out of line -- free ice cream is free ice cream, after all.
I just don't do boycotts. I might joke about not buying French products, but if I saw something I wanted that came from France, I'd buy it, and the same goes for Ben & Jerry's or Newman's Own. I may hate the causes they give my money to when I buy their products, but I'm not going to deny myself excellent ice cream, salad dressing or spaghetti sauce because of it. I hate that Stonyfield Farm has a "Strong Women's Conference," but that doesn't change the fact that they have the tastiest yogurt. I don't like it that Nestle pushes formula on Third Worlders, but I'll still eat their chocolate.
The French will always be French, leftists will always be leftists, which is to say, obnoxious, but their one redeeming quality is the creation of foods full of tasty goodness, and I, for one, will not use that against them.
GUNS: Minnesota passed a conceal-carry law and a friend of mine is "disgusted with [her] state." She seems to think that rampant violence will begin any day now and that shootouts will happen in every parking lot. Many states, of course, already have conceal-carry laws without an increase in gun violence. Somehow people like my friend fail to realize that, in general, the people seeking permits are the law-abiding ones. Criminals don't apply for permits, just like they find ways to circumvent background checks when they want guns. An irrational fear of guns makes no more sense than a fear of knives, chainsaws, or broken glass bottles. All them can injure or kill if used improperly, but as John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute noted after two law students with their own guns subdued the shooter at the Appalachian School of Law last year, "Research consistently shows that having a gun is the safest way to respond to any type of criminal attack, especially these multiple victim shootings." So the only people who should be quaking in their boots at the thought of an armed citizenry are criminals.
MMMM...BEEF: The president of PETA is asking in her will that she be barbecued and her skin turned into leather as a protest against the mistreatment of animals. Somehow, she expects this to make us stop and think about the horror that she believes is done to animals, but actually all this will show is that skinny vegetarians make stringier, less tasty steaks than a good steer.
ALWAYS WHINING: When the French aren't complaining about and actively trying to thwart Americans protecting their national interests, they like to whine about other things -- like the fact that the lights put on the Eiffel Tower for the Millennium were taken down. But since the French love appeasing people (as long as they aren't Americans) they are busy stringing 25 miles of cable and 20,000 light bulbs to make the tower twinkle once more. It is nice to know that the French have things to occupy their time when they aren't surrendering to the Germans, winking at synagogue burnings or sucking up to totalitarian brutes.
DID YOU HEAR THAT? We here in the Adams' family are breathing a collective sigh of relief and screaming in delight (or we would be if we weren't too staid and boring for that) because Justin found out today that he passed the Bar. Just what the world needs, more lawyers -- right? Right? Guys?
REASON #512 NOT TO BE A SINGLE PARENT: The other night the baby woke up screaming around 3:45. As I was crawling out of bed to check on her, I heard my husband say, "Why aren't you wearing any clothes, son?" It turns out the three year old had stripped off and climbed into bed with us. Now why had he stripped off? Well, the answer became readily apparent when his dad picked him up to return him to his room and clothe him -- Daddy got poop all over himself. The little angel had had diarrhea in the night and decided to share. So, while I was calming the baby and getting her back to sleep, Justin was hosing off the boy. Then I stripped sheets on both the three year old's bed and ours (he'd spread the joy around most effectively). Justin put new sheets on George's bed and then read him stories and got him back to sleep, while I replaced our sheets and started a load of laundry. As we collapsed back into nice clean sheets, the baby woke up protesting the inhumanity of her lot in life. Daddy brought her back to our bed and I nursed her and snuggled her and we all got a few more hours of shut-eye. Yawn.
SOMETHING I THOUGHT I'D NEVER HEAR: Yesterday afternoon I was out drinking tea with two other moms while our three year olds were at music class. Though I know that both of my friends are far more liberal than I am, I never thought I'd hear, "Have you seen Bowling For Columbine? It was made by Michael Moore, who is so wonderful. I just love him!" come out of anyone's mouth. Yikes! Where do the Republican moms hang out?
NEIGHBORHOODS: Do liberals tend to live in old in-town neighborhoods while conservatives head out to the suburbs? Judging by the political signs, it certainly seems like it. We live close to downtown in an old neighborhood. Back during election season there were plenty of signs for the Democratic candidates for Governor and Senator and several for the left-of-the-Democrat Independent for Governor, but signs supporting Republicans were few and far between. Now there are tons of "Why War? Wage Peace!" signs in my neighborhood, but the "Support our President and our Troops" signs are very sparse. Not so in the suburbs. I took the kids out to the 'burbs for playgroup yesterday. We saw three or four houses with peacenik signs, but almost every house was adorned with yellow ribbons, American flags and signs saying "Another Family Supporting our President and our Troops".
I really don't know why this is so. I see no reason why politics should draw people to one housing area or another. Preferences for old houses and small yards close to downtown versus new homes, large yards and a place to get away from the world of work seem apolitical. Perhaps there is more to it. I confess that though we've fantasized about the signs we could put in our yard and are pleased to see them in other peoples' yards, we've never put anything there. Justin and I just aren't sign-wavers generally. It seems like conservatives tend not to demonstrate as much as liberals and when we are on the winning side, why should we? Still, the disparity between the lawn signs ornamenting the Nashville suburbs versus those in Belmont and Hillsboro Village is striking and worth pondering.
I WANT TO BLOG! But what with turning another year older this week, having practically every relative within 500 miles descend upon us for Easter and keeping up with a very fast crawler in a not yet baby-proofed house, I'm beat. I have no idea what's happening in the world, because I sleep through Morning Edition, don't have time to read the news, and am cooking dinner and keeping up with general house maintenance during All Things Considered. I promise I'll try to be back next week.
THE PATH OF DEATH: No, nothing to do with the war -- I just want to sing the praises of Roundup. I'm always loathe to use poisons, since I like to sit on the grass and my kids play on the grass and eat the grass, and besides I'm a compulsive weed puller, so I might as well put my neurosis to good use. We have a brick front walk that is always covered in weeds no matter how frequently I pull them out though. So, I finally gave up and sprayed it with Roundup and everything was dead within 24 hours. What a wonderful sight. Now I just hope it lasts for a while, so that I can get back to yanking the violets and dandelions out of the yard, which is much more pleasant than constantly pulling them from between bricks.
GERMANS DECLARE WAR! On English words, that is. To punish the US-led coalition for waging such a mean, nasty war of liberation against Iraq, a group of German university professors propose replacing English words used by Germans with French terms. Used to be the French who were always on the verge of (involuntarily) learning German; now Germans will voluntarily start speaking French? How's that for a turnaround in world events?
COUNTING THE COSTS: When this war began, a friend of mine pitied the Iraqi children who would have to live through it, as did I, but unlike me, her solution to that horror was "peace," by which she meant stasis, doing nothing. But when the world keeps moving around you, just standing still isn't an option without danger or moral consequences. What do those who advocated "peace" -- doing nothing -- say to the 150 children the Marines freed from a Baghdad prison, who "had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party ... Some of these kids had been in there for five years"? (Link via Common Sense and Wonder) Stasis would have meant their rotting away a few more years of childhood; action has meant their liberation. Of course our primary reason for this war is to destroy an openly hostile, terrorist-supporting state, not freeing children from Saddam's prisons. But it's a nice benefit, don't you think -- or is the horror of living through a war so great that these children would have been better off spending the rest of their lives in prison?
Not that the moral calculus is that simple, between living through war and rotting prison. The cost of freeing those particular children has been the deaths of many other children, from babies to adolescents, some killed quickly, some killed slowly, some horribly maimed for the rest of their lives. We can't ever forget that. And it's worth wondering how we would react if we saw one of our little ones torn apart by shrapnel or, worse, horribly burned and left to linger in agony for days or weeks. Maybe I would go mad, and maybe would become fervently antiwar, because I don't see how what little capacity for objective reasoning I have could survive that shock of subjective experience. Those who have suffered so much can be forgiven for their inability to see the world through the eyes of reason.
But those of us who haven't suffered that much don't have that excuse. If we are capable of reason, we have to use it, and if we use it, we have to conclude that the blame for most human suffering, however horrible, lays with evil men, not with the good men who try to stop them. "But that kid wouldn't be dead if we hadn't gone to war." No, that kid wouldn't be dead if Saddam hadn't created a terrorist regime that threatened death and destruction to millions. If we're capable of reason, we have to do what those who shout "peace" in the face of any threat to our way of life never do: count the costs of action and inaction, weigh them, and make a reasoned moral judgment about what to do. And then pray that we've made a wise choice.
MINISTER OF DISINFORMATION: These days my son is taking a page from Saddam's Information Minister, i.e. that if he repeats something enough, it will be true. For example, we have a rule that he can only watch one video a day and only after lunch. All last week, when he finished his breakfast of Cheerios or scrambled eggs, he'd push back his chair and say, with a brilliant grin, "What a great lunch. May I watch a video now, please?" When he senses that I was unconvinced by this ploy, he made a slight adjustment. Now, he requests grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, on the apparent theory that if he eats lunch food at eight o'clock in the morning, it will be lunch and thus video time. Similarly, when caught in the act of toy theft from his baby sister, and knowing the rule that the penalty for toy theft is confiscation of one of his toys, he has taken to explaining that he was in fact only "showing her how it works" or that he was afraid the toy might be "too dangerous for her."
And when this innocent, beautiful, three-foot tall human being shamelessly lies to my face, it's all I can do just to bite bite my tongue and hold back my tears -- of gut-busting laughter -- long enough to chastise the little blighter and try to teach him the value of truth.
REMEMBERING MICHAEL KELLY: When I was a reference librarian, I generally spent three or four hours at the reference desk each day. I rarely got asked difficult research or reference questions, so I spent a lot of time reading. One of the columnists I looked forward to the most was Michael Kelly. I enjoyed almost every column that he wrote and almost always sent them to my husband as part of his daily "reading assignment." Since I left the library world to stay home with my kids, I haven't kept up reading his columns coming across them only on those rare occasions when someone sent one to me to read and I was only vaguely aware that he'd left the National Journal for the Atlantic Monthly. Nonetheless, this morning, reading of his death in a Humvee accident in Iraq, I feel a real sense of loss and sadness. He was a writer and journalist worth more than Geraldo and Peter Arnett many times over.
IT JUST ISN'T FAIR: Tonight we went to watch the Nashville Predator's last home game for the hockey season. The national anthem, as it does these days, left me teary-eyed (despite the annoying tendency of pop singers -- this time Shedaisy -- to over-sing it). Most of the game I spent watching CNN (we go to sporting events to give our son a thrill, not for the love of the game). The images of hungry, frightened Iraqi children contrasted sharply with that of my son, happily stuffing his mouth full of M&Ms watching all the hoopla, and of my daughter, fat, round, and utterly without want. Then the news of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's rescue flashed on the screen, and I thought of her parents, who must have been caught in a horrible limbo for more than a week, knowing their daughter was probably dead, but clinging to the hope that she lived -- that, in contrast with my life during the past week, when the spring days have been sunny and warm, our dogwoods are blooming, and I've spent the days weeding and planting flowers.
It's unfair that I should be so happy while most of the rest of humanity should suffer so much, that my life should be so completely different from the lives of millions of other people. But it's the life I have, and I'd be dishonest and foolish if I said I would want to give it up, so that I could share in the misery of others. Besides, I'm not guaranteed to avoid suffering; I've had my share already and will probably get more in the future. Instead, I hope and pray that this war will improve the lives of those who survive it and that, when it's my turn to suffer, I make it through whatever lies ahead with grace, diginity and faith.