Thursday, April 18, 2013

The naming of things

Taking a study break to pull together some thoughts I've been having lately.

One of my aunts passed away suddenly, two summers ago.  At her funeral I realized that interest in languages and cultures is not uncommon on my dad's side of the family.  She was into those things too.  And American Sign Language, which I gather she studied as part of her work.

Even state-side, being a military Brat tends to encourage those thoughts of a bigger world, knowing people who were born in Germany, or were stationed in Japan, or other parts of the world.

I can remember reading articles in the 1980's, about the idea of the United States as a melting pot, versus a salad bowl. 

The problem with melting pot imagery is that it implies that we lose our individuality.  That everything mixes together, that everyone loses their previous identity, and we all become one homogeneous alloy.  In fact, Globalization of the 1980's often seemed that way, like the imposition of Western cultures upon the rest of the world.

Many people would prefer to keep their language, traditions, holidays, cultural foods.  Keep them, enjoy & share their own traditions, and sometimes pick up other traditions learned here.  That's the salad bowl, where lettuce and carrots and tomatoes do not lose themselves.  Each difference can add something new to the mix... but we don't have to eat everything.

Along with this idea, comes the idea that each person has a right to name themselves, to name their heritage, to name their culture, whatever blend of cultures their family has.  I don't have the right to impose my name for things on another person's reality.  It is their right to name themselves.

More recently, I see this in social justice work, applied to both gender and sexuality.  Each person has the right to name their own reality; their own gender, their own sexuality.  Trying to force someone into one of your label boxes is an act of violence.   By denying their name, one denies their reality.  Denying their reality is a step towards denying their very existence.  That is violence, and unacceptable.

I've tried to apply this to my understanding of languages and cultures over more than twenty years. 

As I became UU, I carried it over to my philosophy about spiritual practices. 

It is not my right to name another person's religion or spiritual path, only they can do that.  I can ask them if they think this name I know that seems to fit their beliefs is one they wish.  But it is their decision, to pick it up and wear it with pride, or to set it aside and say "No, thank you.  That label doesn't fit me right now." 

Just as I give that courtesy to others, I will insist on that courtesy for myself.  I am the only person who gets to name my spiritual path.  You may offer ideas and suggestions for what you think my path might be, but I choose whether to accept those ideas or not.  While my spiritual path is chosen, it is very deeply rooted in my being, and a very important part of my life.  To deny my name for this piece of me, is to deny my reality and my existence.  That is violence, and I will not accept it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A month, really?

Has it been that long since I posted?  It's been an incredibly busy month.  On the rare occasions last month that I got to tuck my son in to bed, I told him that March was probably going to be my worst month for a while, but April would be better and May even better.

My concert was last weekend, and went very well.  While I love the chorus, practicing & performing the music, it is a large commitment.  It's nice to have finished this season and have a bit of a break.

The Annual Budget Drive celebrated our results today.  We are still hoping to hear from several more people, but the end is in sight.

My spring short class starts its final week tomorrow, it will be nice to wrap that up.

Still a busy week, though.  My engineering class has homework 3 due in the morning, and Midterm 3 on Friday.  Then all that will be left (besides continuing to watch lectures & read the textbook) will be a final exam in May.  I got my presentation done a week or so ago, and have my grade back from that.

Of course, my summer short class will start before my long class is over, so I won't have a break from school until June.  Still, my schedule is lightening up, and that helps.

Lots of other things going on.  This week, I found myself grateful for all the reading and I had done about bullying two years ago, trying to understand what was happening with my son.  Well, I also learned more about myself in that process.

As the schedule lightens up, I'll try to get more of a weekly schedule going here.  Monday Music, Technology Tuesday, Follow Friday.  Maybe even a Wordless Wednesday here & there.  One of my friends has been holding Discussion Wednesday on his Facebook page, and I may re-post some of my comments to this page.