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Tag Archives: golden rule

The Original Social Media

Do you remember hand turn signals? The cars my parents owned when I was a child didn’t have turn signals, which had been introduced by Buick in 1939, eight years before I was born, but didn’t really make it onto most vehicles until much later. Also, my family was not wealthy, and their cars were usually at least 10 years old. I’m not certain, but I don’t think electric, flashing turn signals were required until sometime in the late fifties or early sixties.

Nowadays, all vehicles are required to have turn signals, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it based on how often people don’t use them. Let me say here that I’m well aware there are lots of circumstances when a turn signal is functionally unnecessary, but in the last few years I’ve noticed lots of people just don’t use them at all, regardless of the situation.

I like to think of these simple devices as one of our earlier forms of social media. A method for people inside their vehicles to (you’d think) effortlessly announce their intentions. “Hey! Check it out. I’m slowing down for no apparent reason, so I’m letting you know I plan on turning off this road very soon.”

Or “I see you sitting there at the bottom of that tee intersection, expecting me to continue along the road, so I’m letting you know I’m actually going to turn onto the street you’re on and you can pull out now instead of waiting for me to pass.”

This type of signalling is, it seems to me, a simple, easy-to-do form of showing respect for others on the road — kinda like a “golden rule.” Unfortunately, as our society seems to be slipping deeper and deeper into the abyss of unprincipled narcissism, led by our erstwhile POTUS, the sociopathy inherent in ignoring simple, respectful customs is increasing and serving to further coarsen our driving (and all other, it would seem) discourse.

I’ve been noticing this for over a decade, and I’m a bit ashamed to say it didn’t fully occur to me how representative such a seemingly small thing could be of the direction our nation was heading in. I had a blog for a while I called “The Cranky Curmudgeon” and I wrote mostly about things that were pissing me off, like people who leave their shopping carts adjacent to, or in the middle of parking spaces, rather than taking a moment to return them to a collection area; or those who decided they really didn’t want that frozen meal they put in their cart, so decided to just leave it on an unrefrigerated shelf in some random place of the market; or the driver going much slower than you changing into your lane when there’s nobody behind you.

I noticed these things and used my blog to complain about them. Mostly it was personally cathartic, but I don’t believe any of my writing has captured much attention. Nevertheless, I enjoyed doing it and it really was a good method for getting things off my chest. I just wish I had made the conceptual leap from the everyday degradation of common decency, to the complete lack of responsibility toward the “general welfare” so evident in our national political leadership, especially the Republican Party and conservatism in general. I’m not sure it would have changed anything for me, but it does feel — in retrospect — like I missed some rather startling clues.

At any rate, since I drive my youngest daughter to school, as well as pick her up, every day of the week, I see this behavior (or lack of what I consider to be appropriate and legal – activity) constantly. As I noted earlier, clearly there are time when using one’s turn signals is not really necessary, but I think getting out of the habit ends up with lots of people just neglecting to ever use them. It’s an epidemic of disrespect for one’s fellow drivers. So, please, get in the habit of using those damn turn signals. They’re a social signal as well . . . and wouldn’t it be nice if we could all respect each other a bit more than is currently done?

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Can Men Be Feminists?

What a Feminist Looks Like

Hint: It Doesn’t Mean You’re Feminine 🙂

I hope this is a question many men have asked themselves. It’s important to understand and come to a useful resolution about this, as I think there are many men who support women’s equality but are somehow intimidated by the thought of being seen as a feminist. Let me say it right up front. I am not only a feminist; I have been one since the early 1970s. It’s important for men to understand what being a feminist means, because it has nothing to do with being feminine, which I think is why many men might cringe somewhat at the thought.

The Oxford English Dictionary, online edition, defines a feminist as “a person who supports feminism”, and Wikipedia defines feminism as follows: “. . . [A] collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment”. As a movement, feminism is complex and – for the most part – understanding its history isn’t important to the issue of whether or not men can (or should) be feminists. On the other hand, one of the reasons for this post is to share a short video that addresses one of the more egregious historical responses to the struggle of women for suffrage, i.e. to gain the right to vote.

One of the main reasons I have been so supportive of women’s rights almost as long as I’ve been able to vote is my belief, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Then there’s also this little thing called the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I like to think the meaning of these two maxims – and so many like them – is that inequality is not a good thing. Since the very essence of feminism is, as stated above, the goal of establishing “equal political, economic, and social rights for women”, it seems to logically follow it is something anyone – even men – of good conscience must support. Let’s take it a little further, though. Let’s ask ourselves who these women are who wish equality. We don’t have to look very far for they are our mothers and grandmothers; our sisters, nieces, and cousins; our girl friends and wives. In short, they are all women, everywhere. Why would we not support feminism and thereby be feminists?

This November 6th we are going to make a choice in the trajectory our nation will follow for the succeeding four years, almost certainly a lot longer since one or more Supreme Court Justices is likely to retire. The Republican Party, through its most important representatives and through its actions, has made it clear they wish to return to a level of patriarchy that makes women second-class citizens and, in some respects, returns them to the status of chattel. Although the party has tried to move the national conversation away from the highly-charged term “War on Women”, the reality is a victory for Mitt Romney would be a “Disaster for Women“. It is imperative for not only women to understand what’s at stake but, perhaps, even more important for men to understand because they have a tendency to be somewhat timid when it comes to supporting these basic rights of women (should read merely “people”).

Today I came across a wonderful short video that recounts the struggle of a group of women who protested for the simple right so many of us take for granted – the right to vote – and were severely punished for their temerity. This was less than a hundred years ago, when Woodrow Wilson was President. Less than 100 years ago! There are far too many of us who either haven’t registered to vote or, in our apathy or despair, won’t take the time to vote. This is not a good thing. As Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” The struggle for the right of women has come too far to now go backward. Here is the video I want you to see. I hope you’ll share it as well. It’s very powerful.

And get out there this November and VOTE! 

Photo from Douche, Bag and Shoes


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