How tolerant are you? I think I’m very tolerant, but I’m pretty sure I would be viewed by most Americans as being very intolerant. Here’s a litmus test for tolerance that I think is worth considering.
Last week we explored Islam and Allah. The biggest take away was that Allah is not the personal name of Islam’s god. Allah is merely the Arabic word for God.
In the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, there is a line that declares, “One Nation, Under God”.
My tolerance test for you is the following question. Are you tolerant enough to show the refugees that we love and welcome them by changing the pledge to declare, “One Nation, Under Allah”? After all, Allah is just the Arabic word for God.
Or how about when the president closes his national addresses with the phrase, “God Bless America.” Are you tolerant enough to not voice an objection if he were to say, “Allah Bless America”?
My main man when it comes to movie reviews is Bill Gibron. Back around the time that the internet first came to be there was a website called filmcritic.com. I discovered him there, I think. Anyhow, I have always appreciated his reviews and found them to be helpful in deciding whether or not to shell out the big bucks for a movie ticket. Over time I have noticed that he has had a particular love affair with Darren Aronofsky. Because of my esteem of Mr. Gibron, I have desperately sought the same love affair, but never quite saw the “genius” that Mr. Gibron did. I really enjoyed Mr. Aronofsky’s films, I just didn’t fall in love with the man like Mr. Gibron seemed to. All that has changed.
H- just began to learn Peter Tchaikovsky’s epic Swan Lake theme on the piano. It is a force of nature even when played with just one note at a time. In any case, this event taken together with a real desire to give Mr. Gibron’s passion one more go led to me viewing Black Swan for a second time. This time around I finally see the genius. Black Swan is the story of a ballet dancer who is trying to be the best as would be indicated by her dancing the role of the swan queen in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in some hot shot’s revision of Swan Lake. So it’s a movie about a revision of a very famous ballet that includes themes of sacrifice and pressure to perform etc. But it’s not! It, Black Swan itself, is the revision of Swan Lake for movie-going audiences! And that’s why Mr. Aronofsky is a genius and deserves our attention. He cuts through all our defenses and serves up Tchaikovsky’s timeless story in a new way that forces us to reckon with all of our notions of love and happiness and truth and sacrifice. It’s an amazing film. Watch it. Watch it again.
Perhaps some of you think I am too hard on public school teachers. Here’s something to consider. A public school teacher with an amazing (if any divorce blog can attain such a title) blog mentioned that she finds herself teaching “frustration management” to her students. At this point, I would like to call my roughneck friends to the discussion. You see, when I was working in the oil fields, there was work to be done. Manly work. And yes, I mean that in the gender specific way. Work that men and only men can accomplish. For instance, every time we finished drilling a well, we had to move the rig to a new well. One of the things that this move required was the tightening of nuts onto bolts. The nuts were about the size of a woman’s fist, and the bolts were just over a foot long. The way we tightened these nuts was by swinging a sledge hammer as hard as we possibly could against a hammer wrench which was placed around the nut. Out of a twelve hour shift, how many minutes do you think we were given to not swinging the sledge hammer in favor of discussing how to deal with how frustrating the task was?
Do not hear me say that learning is not frustrating. And remember that I am the one who quit being a “teacher” because I refused to buy into the “be the change” mantra that schools with poor performing students chant. Instead, hear me calling public school teachers to realize that they are making the weather that they are complaining about. No other group–no other group–who controls their destiny does it in such a poor fashion as public school teachers. That’s what frustrates me (and I think most non-public educators).
By way of example, guess which specialty runs the Air Force? Pilots. Guess what pilots do for each other in the Air Force? Take care of each other. They ensure the flying is safe and smart and everyone is compensated well. Public school teachers, on the other hand, cite chapter and verse about all the limitations and massive time requirements etc. that they have to operate within and never once consider that just like Air Force pilots they are the one’s who write the book. Spending time teaching kids how to deal with the fact that learning takes effort? That cannot but be a disservice to the child–and I think teachers know that. So stop doing it. Kids need to learn to hit the hammer wrench as hard as they can and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after the task is completed and completed well. And the only way to learn this is for teachers to tell the kids that the nuts must be tightened by a sledge hammer. As it stands, the only thing kids are learning is that the nuts don’t need to be tightened. Maybe teachers agree.
A text from my brother last weekend informed me both that Europe had recently been terrorized and that three (point seven) million people demonstrated unity in and around Paris. My thoughts were “no surprise” and “that’s seems pretty remarkable” in that order. Honestly, as you can tell by there being no post released this morning, the show of unity has actually rendered me speechless. (Mon and Tues were kinda already developed over the weekend). I’d love to comment on such a big event. But there didn’t seem to be anything to say. It seemed awesome that that many people gathered together. When was the last time that many people got together? I want to say the million man march way back when claimed a million, but it’s always hard to count. Several other marches here have attempted to gather a million people, but they never succeed. One million people is a lot of people in the same place.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think any relatives of terrorists were in that show of unity. Were any parents of terrorists there? Or sibilngs? Or first cousins? Second cousins? How about their children or wives, did any of them show up?
I want to talk about America. There are three hundred sixty million Americans. Subtract the approximately seventeen million college students and their professors who believe the terrorists may have a point, and that leaves three hundred forty million Americans walking the streets in unity against terrorism daily. Does anyone really doubt our resolve? Where’s that headline? Where’s that photo op?
Moreover, the United States’ active duty military numbers over one million men and women. And these people are serious. They don’t march down streets of peaceful cities lined with world-renowned architecture. They walk down dirt roads lined with IEDs. It’s easy to let piecemeal news stories about a couple fuck-ups ruin the larger organization’s image, but honestly the only image that counts is the one that includes American men and women serving this country today, American men and women who put their family through hell and risk their own lives near daily, American men and women who volunteer to do this because they were born (or fought their way) into a country that knows its way of life is better and worth sacrifices, American men and women who are constantly setting higher standards of honor, respect, service, integrity, excellence, decency, dignity, and a whole host of other virtues unlike any of their armed predecessors, American men and women who travel away from their neck of the woods to yours because you can’t get your shit together.
So yeah. It was neat that over three million Europeans went to the park. But when are you going to impress me?