Friday, January 15, 2010

Relative Worth of Beliefs

Beliefs are just that. They are not right and they are not wrong. They change. They evolve. Sometimes. They remain rigid and unchanging. Most of the time. And in this world, the worth of beliefs is simply relative. My beliefs are worth more to me than yours and vice versa. That doesn't mean yours are worthless (or bad for that matter) at least it shouldn't mean that. But to some people, it does.

I'm not a Christian now even though I was raised as one. I was raised to believe that anything outside of the Protestant Christian way of believing was a lie. That included Catholicism. Islam was especially despised given the history of Nigeria and my parents being Igbo. Indigenous belief systems were purely devil worship--originated by and in worship of the devil.

I do not see the world that way. I think everyone can believe whatever they want to so long as it doesn't infringe on my right to believe what I want. But humans have not evolved to that point yet. Will we ever? I don't know.

It seems for many the most disturbing part of voodoo is the animal sacrifice. Yet animal sacrifice was what was required in the Old Testament before Christ became the ultimate and final sacrifice. Abraham was quite ready to sacrifice his own son because God said so. It's always been disturbing to me that a loving God would sacrifice his only child for anyone or anything but hey, it's a Christian belief so according to some misguided folks, we should all take it for granted, no questions asked. Nothing too terrible about that. It's all mystical and historical and God-ordained so it's all good. For the Bible tells me so.

I don't mean to knock anyone's faith at all but it takes a special kind of hubris to think that you have a direct line to God Almighty to know His mind and know the reason behind all that happens in this world. Little you. Who doesn't even really know what's going on in your own subconscious.

Too much of what voodoo and other indigenous faith systems are about are unknown. As a consequence, there's too much misinformation and fear. Add to that the fact that these systems of belief come from people of color: dark people from a dark place and it's easy to see how people can callously talk about pacts with the devil and then turn around and try to do relief efforts--all in the same breath.

I think I've read it all today: that Haiti got it's independence "too soon" is another bit of foolishness floating around. That if it had waited till the 1950s or 60s it would have been so much better off.
I'm waiting to read a really good article about this by someone with more time and more energy to research it and write it. Me? I've been up since 5:20AM. Z2 woke up around the same time and never went back down. Exercising is a no go today--I've got pain in the tendon of my ankle and I've had it for two days. I also have a headache and I put on one pound. It's cold outside and this tragedy in Haiti is weighing me down tremendously. I feel powerless to effect change in the world. (((Sigh)))

Haiti's Earthquake and Some Perspective for Me

Things are relatively peaceful right now at least in this corner of the world. This recession/depression wears on and things are pretty bad but it all still feels surreal. In my household, income is still coming in although overtime is no longer worked for extras like vacations and large ticket items but rather to keep our heads comfortably above water. But thank goodness there's that overtime and I'm super grateful for my Saturday job which pays for Weight Watchers and other little things.

I know the world is changing all around and I know I should be saving saving saving. So when I buy things and do things that are not absolutely necessary such as Weight Watchers, my yoga classes (which I bought on sale in December), that cordless hand-held vacuum that will help keep this place cleaner, I sometimes feel guilty and irresponsible.

In all this preparation for the unknown, though, I realize that too much is unknown and really the single best way to prepare doesn't have to do with storing food or saving money but getting my mind in the right place to handle anything. Including the very real possibility that I may not survive. I'm just looking at the pictures of Haiti and all that and wondering what any amount of money or food stores could have done to keep a building from collapsing on top of you. It makes me cynical but also gives me a little of my freedom to be back.

You see, I am right here in this present moment. This is the circumstance. I live where I do. This is the time I live in. And as much as we like to think we're the master of our own destiny, I'm pretty sure we're not running shit the way we think we are. None of this emergency prep business is a guarantee of anything. The shit may hit the fan in a way that would completely blow our minds and render all our preparations and all our savings a nice little fantasy.

So in whatever way I can, I'm going to try to enjoy my life right here. I've food to eat. A place to live. And a very little wiggle room in terms of finances because of my Saturday job. In the next few months, I can't say what the landscape will look like, if internet will still be widely available, if we'll have access to consistent electricity, if the government will declare martial law or if we'll be invaded by aliens. Shit, it could happen later on today. But right now, none of that is going on.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy and start acting recklessly. But I'm already smart about my money. I don't buy things without thinking. I save as much as I can. I reduce, reuse and recycle. I'm frugal. I'm resourceful. If the ship holds together even somewhat, these are some of the things that will keep me going. And the memory of how much I enjoyed that yoga class that I felt unsure about taking when times weren't as hard. I keep on reading my survival/peak oil type blogs because there's a lot of information but it's with a certain levelheadedness and appreciation of what works for me because along with all the info I'm getting is a whole lot of opinion and speculation. And while no one can predict the future, it's good to be aware of the varying versions of the future that are out there--even if so many of them are bleak and sad and involve a great deal of suffering.

So as I think about my brothers and sisters in Haiti, it brings a lot into perspective. I've been chanting for them non-stop and thinking of some ways I could help. I've already donate but that feels kind of impotent. I don't know--it's such a massive destruction. I also keep wishing people like that fool Pat Robertson would go away and it makes me so sad and angry that there a people who actually agree with him. I have heard White people say time and time again that they should not be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors. Even if Haitian slaves "made a pact with devil," what the hell does that have to do with their descendants? And if I hear one more thinly veiled attempt to blame Haitians for their current sorrow because of voodoo . . . Agh . . . I didn't mean to get off topic. Farai Chideya gives the real history here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I first began to think about how libraries would fare in this depressed economy when I read this blog post by Sharon Astyk. I had already begun to notice some libraries holding fewer hours, opening later and closing earlier but for some reason, and also some really disgruntled workers. It didn't quite hit me as much then. though. I mean, it's obvious that many of us own our own computers (or internet-ready devices) and get our information from the internet. Libraries are much more underutilized these days I remember as a child I used to go to the library with my class to learn how to use the card catalog and how to find things in the library. In college, even, as a freshman, we were required to have a few sessions at the library to familiarize ourselves with how things work there and how to use the library to do research. My nieces and nephews who are in college and high school now have never taken these kinds of classes and almost all research is done on the computer using online databases. So it's very easy for local governments to cut funding to our public libraries and I can't say I don't understand.

But while I, like most people, use the internet for a lot of things (including using the online library card catalog), as someone on a tight budget, the library is an invaluable tool. I know that I cannot afford to lose the library. I currently have almost 30 items out and this includes books for the children, media (DVDs, tapes, CDs, CD-Roms), books on tape, magazines, etc. The library adds a richness to our lives that I want to hold on to. And like Sharon, I wonder, if the internet is no longer available and we have not been keeping up with our libraries, what will we do?

Oh, gadgets like the Kindle are very exciting and convenient but without technology to back them up, they're pretty much useless. So what happens if the technology isn't there or isn't widely available? Not to mention (from a thrifty point of view), I don't always want to buy every book I read. It would be wonderful if someone could perhaps find a way to make things like Kindle work with our existing library systems and it looks like there are some attempts to get Kindle and public libraries together. Instead, it just feels like one more technological advance that may render libraries obsolete. So while folks are giddy about their Kindles, I just can't quite work up the same excitement even though I'm blown away by how the I-pod revolutionized the way I listen to music. I don't know . . . maybe as time goes on I'll be able to jump on the bandwagon. But for now, I'm going to go put some things on hold at the library.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

WW Update

I weighed in today and did not lose weight last week. This is after experiencing a dramatic loss (over 10 pounds) the first three weeks. I've been very strict and this week used only about 10 of my allotted 35 weekly points. I have some things I'm going to try: 1) use no weekly points at all (this week) and then 2) use all my weekly points and then 3) use half my weekly points and see where that lands me at the end of each week in terms of weight loss.

I realize that I exercise a lot--each and every day and may actually require more calories. As everyone losing weight should realize, not getting enough calories actually hinders weight loss.

Anyway, I'm loving the program and realizing so many things about how I was eating and about myself. I'll be very happy to get to my goal weight but I'm enjoying the journey to getting there.
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