Tibet... Again.

First there was the post on Making Chutney, talking about the feudal and oppressive governance in pre-communist occupied Tibet.  I was very happy to see a UU presenting the other perspective and recognizing an "anti-Chinese" sentiment in the Western response. But during the discussion within the comments, I became a little uncomfortable.  Understanding that Tibet was a theocracy ruled by the lamas should not then automatically become, "Tibetans are better off now under the communists."  That runs the danger of us not responding to oppression that continues to exist.

Pesach & Liberation from Oppression

Yesterday evening marked the first night of Passover or Pesach.  It's kind of a blessing when my UU church's annual observance of Pesach actually takes place at the right time.  (All Souls does a wonderful Seder dinner but it plays a little loose with the rules... which is very UU.)

Since this is a UU Seder, our Haggadah (the order of service for the Seder) emphasizes the social justice aspects of the Exodus story.  We talk not only of God delivering the Jews from the oppression of the Egyptians but also our recognition that others in the world are still oppressed and our hopes for their liberation too.  We link the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt with the enslavement of African Americans in the U.S.  (Indeed, the Exodus story is a key part of black liberation theology.)  To be fair, I know a lot of Jewish Seders also broaden the focus towards all people who are oppressed, and teach that their own experiences show them that they must not be complacent to injustice.

Free Will, Meaning and Morality

An interesting discussion came up on one of the online discussion forums. Someone posted the results of an fMRI study where researchers found patterns of brain activity that predict people's decisions up to 10 seconds before they're aware they've made a choice. The poster then asked the question whether this was the end of the belief in free will.

The study itself does prove there's no free will. But it does highlight how disassociated our "consciousnesses" are. We perceive ourselves as an integrated whole when in reality, different parts of the brain attend to different things. We are, as Buddhism teaches us, collections of aggregates.

Don't Forget to Save the World

I used to have in my email signature:

P.S. Don't forget to save the world.

followed by a link to some form of online activism. For example, the Hunger Site, where the click of a mouse can donate a cup of grain.

Occasionally I would get comments from people about my signature. Perhaps they thought it was too glib. Or they thought that donating a cup of rice was not going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they thought the challenge of "saving the world" was just too daunting a task to ponder, let alone as an afterthought in an email.

March for Women’s Lives Remembered

Four years ago, when I was still relatively new to DC and All Souls Church Unitarian, an amazing thing happened. UUs from all over the country converged on Washington DC to participate in the March for Women’s Lives, a demonstration in support of women’s rights. I mean literally – almost every state was represented. Many important events have happened in DC and at All Souls since then, but still nothing like that. After a Sunday worship service with Dr. Rebecca Parker giving the sermon, we spilled out on to the streets and made our way to the National Mall to join other demonstrators.

Boo, Burger King

Well this ought to make the company look really good PR-wise.

Burger King VP Stephen Grover used his daughters email address from behind which to slander the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group trying to gain fairer wages for migrant farm workers.

Miley Cyrus

The first I heard of the controversy over 15 year old Miley Cyrus posing topless in Vanity Fair was when a colleague blogged about it.  I thought Grace's piece was well written and kinda took it for granted that most people would agree that the picture was indicative of our culture, which sexualizes our youth in order to sell products.  So I was rather surprised when later, I came across a slew of comments in blogs and online news articles where people thought that the picture was "no big deal."  Mothers of daughters wrote in to say that they found nothing wrong with the photo, that girls expose more with their daily fashions, and that those of us who thought the photo was sexually suggestive were either prudes or had sex on the brain. 

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