Monday, November 8, 2010

Groverous Chilvalry.

11:00 PM Posted by Patrick 1 comment
In the course of pretending to not read, there were a great many little gems I read, one of which I will share with you today.

When I was rather young--think five here--I had a book that revolved around Grover, you know, the blue fellow from Sesame Street. Part of the reason I think I was five, was because Grover was going to school for the first time, and I imagine that is the reason that I, who had just turned five and was entering kindergarten, received this book in the first place.

The great conflict of this work revolves around lunch in the cafeteria. The girl sitting with Grover wants to trade her Bologna sandwich for his PB&J. Grover does not really want to trade sandwiches, and he really hates Bologna, but he sees how much she really wants to trade. Ultimately, Grover decides that he will trade his own beloved PB&J for her Bologna, just to make her happy. And even though he went out later and shed some solitary tears of hunger and frustration, he did the right thing and built on a new friendship.

From a young age I was--remarkably enough--moved by this sacrifice.

It was with still powerful childhood memories of Grover in mind that I agreed to take a co-workers shift for this coming Friday. It will be her birthday, and they were not going to let her take the day off, no matter how early she asked, and no-one else would take the shift.

I really did not want to take that shift, and the fact that I took that shift means that I get to be a stress puppy for the next week, but I knew that it would make her happy, and I know that it is good.

It sounds funny, but this is one of the standards against which I hold myself. It is simplistic, innocent, over-simplified, and totally brilliant. This chivalry is not just pretty words and kind gestures; it is the will to sacrifice his own comfort and peace for the happiness of others.

Now, I have to work on the other part of chivalry shown to us by Grover; that is, not making my loved ones suffer with me...but that is going to take some practice.

Anyway. Yeah. No. My basic ideas of chivalry did not come from extensive study or the words of great men, just the story of a little monster trying to do the right thing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Learning to Chill

12:13 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
Last night, while in an advanced state of tired, I failed to set my alarm properly. This morning I woke up at 8:15. I decided to forgo any chance of making it to my first class and just prepared for the second, which was, as I later found, impossible.

Have you ever seen me draw? It is perhaps the only thing in this world that is more painfully twisted than my handwriting. Today we were tasked with drawing a character we could play for a children's show. We are supposed to teach the chillun' something, through the doings of this character. As expected, the drawing of this character was a horrifying process, and not in the least successful. I have, however, made great strides in another area.

When it came time to show around my abysmal little pièce de résistance, I felt no real qualms. This is in contrast to a couple years ago, when it would have resulted in a massive coronary...or at least a bright red blush. I am not so embarrassed by little trifles like that anymore, and I haven't the fuzziest why.


It was odd how every person in that class appeared to have gone through a pretty cruddy morning. Lot's of stressed people, two who were rear-ended, one who had his identity stolen, and my comrade who sits next to me, Abdul, who hat a flat tire and pulled out his spare to find that it was also flat, which explained the fact that he was half-an-hour late.

Our dear professor was working with a tough audience, but he did a fantastic job of adjusting the atmosphere, mostly through a reading of the Times art section...complete with commentary. The more I go through this class, the more I appreciate how much an actor he really is. He has an incredibly commanding presence, and many of the weird things he does are calculated to some effect or other. I think the class is going to get a lot more out of him than just an average lecture-style class. He does not have us just taking down terms by wrote; he has us messing around with them, and he manages to make all of it funny and lively. We will be going through the textbook and it all becomes a production.

Moving along.

I've been researching the Partition of India, and I've been surprised by a lot of what I've seen. The vast majority of Muslims around the time did not want independence, nor did they desire the end of British intervention. The Muslims knew they were the minority party, and all the majority of them really wanted was the end of legal discrimination against Muslims. The extreme sect was small. Religious violence became much worse as the idea of a Muslim state gained credence.

I cannot understand where this European idea of "It's having trouble? Chop it up!" came from. They see that the Sikhs and Hindus have issues with the Muslims, so they decide to segregate them. Imagine some well meaning third party, seeing racism in the US during the last gasp of the Klan, and--instead of trying to reconcile the issue--deciding to chop off Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi as the United States of Black Folk. Do you think that this would have stopped violence against black people??? No! There would have been a massive upwelling of violence. Take a part of the US of A and give it to a minority, just because there are some people abusing them? The streets would have run with blood.

This is what happened in India.

Instead of continuing to try and reconcile, they had the land segregated, and in doing so, took land that many in India begrudged. It became a matter of Muslims against everyone else. You took a population with a pittance of Muslim extremists and put them through massacres and displacement. Muslims belong on the other side of the mountains. You go there, everyone else can stay here. They created a whole state, humiliated, poor, laden with refugees, and thirsty for revenge, no longer welcome in the land they once called home.

Perhaps it would have gone this way whatever happened, but I have my doubts. It might have taken a hundred years; they might have had their Klans, Bloods, Aryans, and Black Panthers, but they would have gone through it and come out together. Instead we have the state of Pakistan, which never really got to its feet. The vast majority of the population is dirt poor, the government is corrupt, and the whole country has a chip on its shoulder. It was not a country forged by a willing revolution, but by a blood soaked expulsion.

The fact is that the Muslims, in general, looked to the Brits to hold down the violence and--at least among the rich Muslims--the plan was to bribe the British into putting pressure on the Indian Congress to obtain toleration for Muslims. A loud minority of Muslims won out and got their own state; a proper Muslim state with a marginally religious, marginally representative, military governance. The people who were expelled from Dehli, who left the bodies of loved ones behind, blamed the British for this abortion of a Partition. They called them independent and did not do a damn thing when the massacres started; it was no longer a British interest, and they gave them self determination; they should have thanked the British.

Disaster. A nuclear nation of 170 million wronged zealots; this is what the partition of India means. There is an attitude in a small part of the literature that I have read that views the partition of India was all for the best, but I am not buying it. The only way to fight prejudice is for those who hold the prejudice to understand those they despise; to truly know something is to love it. What confirmed racist would come out of a year spent in a black community as a racist? Even if he maintained his dislike of the culture; it would be tempered by understanding. He might still feel contempt, but I doubt that he would be capable of hating his neighbors after that time. No matter how twisted you are, the experience changes you, whether you want it to or not.

I'm in no mood for proof reading, so I'll hope some of that was moderately coherent. ;-p