And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

September 26, 2003

Perhaps Not

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 11:57 am

I just read an article on One of my very favorite sites on the internet. They have such interesting stuff. This one was about sex. The author is a psychotherapist who works in New York. She was talking about a seminar she attended in New York. She is from Europe originally. There was a couple talking about their sex life. She reported that the couple who were being discussed had been married for about 10 years and had 2 children. The husband was not feeling excited by his wife, and the wife reported that she did not feel like having sex with him. The author of the article was talking about how Americans are goal oriented and too involved in having “open” and “honest” communication. She said that in talking with other non-American therapists at the conference they all decided that we are too inhibited. We need more mystery in our sex lives and that this will make eveything alright. We women need to understand that it is important to be more sexual with our men. That because we have been repressed in our upbringing, we are not sexual enough. Further that men have more of a need for sex, they need to be able to have their needs met, and that it is our job to see to that. What a bunch of hooey!!!

As a psychotherapist myself I have heard all of this as being the right way to counsel people. For that matter as a women I have heard this from men as a way to take care of them.

Let me begin with a simple statement. Sex is good. Sex can be a wonderful part of life. Sex is normal and appropriate. Sex carries on the species and this is important. I gave all of these disclaimers so that I could say some other things and not leave any impression that I am anti-sex or anything close to that. But I will say that we have been far too wrapped up in sex (and by this I mean intercourse) as being the most important thing there is. Because we think that intercourse is the only expression of sexuality it becomes the most important thing.

From my prespective a more important thing is intimacy and sensuality. I have been married for 6 years and what I am learning is that there is no right way to do anything. If we can let things happen naturally it will work. Now this does not mean just mean drifting along and not paying attention to the relationship, it means being very connected and doing work of being human. I think the hardest part of being in a relationship is building the intimacy. There are many components of this. Each person, or couple, has to decide what this looks like. We bring with us so much from our childhood and from the societal norms. We tend to want the other person to be what we want so that we can be alright. This does not work. No one can be what we want them to be. In my case I am in this relationship with someone who can give me a safe place to grow. If I become bored or unhappy whose issue is that? It is mine. I am the only one who can decide what is going on with me. My partner is not responsible for what I feel or do not feel. We have discovered that our relationship does not look like what we saw portrayed on television or the movies. The point of being together is to help each other grow and learn and discover who we are.

Perhaps when people began to come together as couples they did so in order to have families so as to help the species continue. But today we are not truly in need of more people so this reason is not quite as pressing. Marriage is about many things. Having children is perhaps one for many, but not all. Today marriage is more about two people coming together and creating an atmosphere wherein each can find what they need so as to discover who they are.

I think that when we discovered the need for formal marriage it was about children. It was very important to have them, they were important for many reasons. Helping on the farm or the family business, carrying on the family name, etc. We also died about the time they grew up. So marriage was about children. Today we live much longer. The children are grown and gone long before we die and so marriage is not just about children. There is no right way to be married. I am not trying to say people should do anything in particular to have a good marriage. I think marriage is an opportunity to discover who we are. This can be accomplished in many different ways. One example of this is that the traditional roles may fit you, or perhaps they do not. Perhaps some men are better at childcare or cooking. Perhaps some women are better wage earners. I think marriage can be a wonderful situation when everyone gets to find out what is important to them. When we struggle to fit into the traditional, when it is not truly you, perhaps it actually restricts us. The point I am trying to make here is that marriage is not about sex or children or doing what is expected. It is about finding out who you actually are. Letting this happen is not easy. We are rather goal-oriented and perhaps that puts unrealistic expectations on the marriage and our partner. What is the goal? The only one who can truly say is you. Your marriage is your own. Whether you are the “perfect couple” as defined by society, and we have all seen how well this works by looking at the divorce rate, or your marriage is between the person who will help you grow is up to you. It would be helpful to look at marriage as something vibrant and alive as opposed to some amorphous “thing” that is driven by arcane and outdated ideas. In so doing this would be an opportunity to be with the person who helps us grow and discover the truth of ourselves as opposed to the one that “looks” like our mate.

September 25, 2003

I Don’t Get It

Filed under: her words,philosophy — mark @ 11:09 am

I just read an article on AlterNet, one of my favorite sites. This one was by Professor George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkely. He was talking about the various frames used by politicians and how the Republicans have learned to frame their rhetoric in ways that help to make their points. For instance he talked about how in their various think tanks the republicans have formulated frames that help them present their agendas. One of them is about how giving tax breaks to the rich is done by calling it “tax relief”—-as Professor Lakoff says “Think for a minute about the word relief. In order for there to be relief, there has to be a blameless, afflicted person with whom we identify and whose affliction has been imposed by some external cause. Relief is the taking away of the pain or harm, thanks to some reliever.” The Republicans then present themselves as the hero of the day by providing the “relief”. How noble. The problem, according to Professor Lakoff, is that “The term tax relief evokes all of this and more. It presupposes a conceptual metaphor: Taxes are an affliction, proponents of taxes are the causes of affliction (the villains), the taxpayer is the afflicted (the victim) and the proponents of tax relief are the heroes who deserve the taxpayers’ gratitude. Those who oppose tax relief are bad guys who want to keep relief from the victim of the affliction, the taxpayer.” His assertion is that the Republicans have been saying this for years so as to make themselves look like heros to the American public when they give hugh tax breaks to their friends and financial backers. This degenerates the system and gives us situations such as the financial problems we have today. Taxes are actually the price we all pay to live in such a wonderful system. His article is very good and I would recommend it to everyone.

As a result of reading it I thought I would love to read something else by him. So I went to Amazon and put in his name. I found several books by him and began to look through them to see if I wanted to buy one. But I was immediately struck with how completely dry and uninteresting they were. I had just read his article and was captivated by his explanations. I then began to feel as I did in college when I would try to read a text book. I would be able to read every word, I would know the meaning of them and yet I did not understand them. I just felt stupid. I would be able to get what the professor said about them, I just could not understand the books. So I got through college and graduate school by: having someone smart around that I could talk to about what the book said, by attending class and trying to get what the professor was going to test on, and by taping the books and then reading them again as I listened to the tapes. As a result of all of this extra effort I managed to get through college. But just now I was sitting here and thinking. I could read his article and understand it completely. Why then do I not understand his book. Then it struck me. His article had some emotional content. His book was an academic model. Ergo all of the emotion was gone. What I need in order to understand something is balance between emotional content, intellectual content, and sprititual content. I have worked for years at being balanced. At one point I worked for a police department as a crime scene investigator. Part of my job was to report what I had discovered at the crime scene and to do it without emotional content. The thinking is that if you display any emotion on the stand that people will think you are trying to get them to agree with you or that you have a hidden agenda. So I learned about not letting people see my agenda. I hid my emotions, or tried not to have them. The price I paid for that was that I distanced myself from my emotions and it took years to start having true access to them after I quit that job. So being unemotional about something may give the appearance that it is rational and therefore more acceptable, but I think the actual reason we have accepted this model is that we then do not have to deal with any emotion. But I have just realized that I need there to be a balance between the emotion and the intellect before I can make sense of it. The reason I could understand Professor Lakoff’s article was that he had not worked at getting the emotion out of it. I could connect with it on various levels. I do not understand his academic work because it lacks that emotional content. I like that I know this now. I do not have to feel stupid because I do not understand something. For me it is about the balance of the intellect and the emotion. Thank you Professor Lakoff, you taught a good lesson.

September 23, 2003

Can Capitalism Catch on in Iraq?

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 9:04 am

Well here we are four months after Dubya declared the end of the war in Iraq still knee deep in it. We are losing troops everyday. Our brave soldiers are dying and being maimed for what? To bring Democracy to Iraq? I don’t think so. What we are truly trying to bring to Iraq is our own state sponsored religion. This is Capitalism. We worship the Almighty Dollar here. We are sold on the concept that the only thing worth having is money. We work our entire lives, and for more and more Americans this means that they have to work two or three jobs each to make it at all. But we must work, must have money, must have things. We have been brain-washed into thinking that the person with the most money is the best person. But can we “make” another culture believe in Money as the most important thing there is? Perhaps the people of Iraq believe something else is important. Perhaps they pray five times a day because they believe in something beyond this world. But that does not seem to stop Bush and Company from trying to privatize their country in the name of our religion. L. Paul Bremer is trying to give their country to the highest bidder. I wonder how many Americans would feel good about some other country coming over here and selling off our assets? At any rate Paul, good luck with turning their country into America of the Middle East. Perhaps he should start with commercials, we all know how much they keep us buying and in line. They he could bring some of the neo-cons like Rush, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity over to demoralize any opposition. Keep up the good work Paul. Always working for the rich has its rewards$$$$$$$.

September 22, 2003

How Are We Doing?

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 11:36 am

I am sitting here reading a news story about the devastation in Iraq. I am saddened and angry about what has happened to a sovereign nation as a result of this ridiculous war. The fact that we are there at all is stupid. We have no right to march into another country, who posed no threat to us, and start telling them what to do with their country. I read about the groups of men maurading through the streets raping women and girls who are then put back on the streets to be killed by their male relatives in honor killings. I read about soliders who are being killed daily by the angry people of the country. I read about 60% unemployment and people starving to death. The water, electricity, and food is not getting to people. The infrastructure is in ruins. I then read about Paul Bremer and company working on ways to privatize all of the essential needs of the people of this devastated country. They want to help American companies make a lot of money. Then I start to think about what is happening in this country. I see how our jobs being outsourced to other countries. I see our state’s cutting back services. I see millions of jobs having been lost over the past two years. I see hugh tax breaks for the top 1% of wage earners being given, which further erodes the ability of government to do what they are here to do. I see our evironment being attacked by big business. So I begin to put this together and what do I see. I see that the Bush administration is has no desire to be fair and to help. If you want to see the truth of how much human suffering matters to them just look at what they are doing in Iraq. Our soldiers are being put in harm’s way just to make money for Halliburton and Bechtel, et al. They could not defeat a country that had been significantly weaken by 10 years of sanctions. Now they are treating those poor people as non-indentities for their own selfish purposes. The rich are getting richer and the poor are being ignored in the name of Capitialism. How awful. I am ashamed of our country’s elected officals. I think it is important to look at how they are treating Iraq. They are treating us the same way. For just one example of this look at the way the police here are being treated. They have to spend most of their budget on homeland security measures, for what????? Nothing that has been done will stop a terrorist. We are not engaged in a traditional war. This is about fighting poverty and injustice, not people. But the cowheads in Washington have their own agenda. They are not sharing the truth of that agenda with us, but they have their own. We need campaign finance reform, because they just cannot say no to big business. They just keep giving them what they want because they get money to do it and big business has more people on the elected officials than we do. So we need to start paying attention and doing more. I am doing this, and voting. You can do what makes you feel connected and involved. But get connected and involved. We can make the difference.