Deserve Part Three: A Warning Against Premature Worthiness

​In my last post, I talked about how I never stepped up and earned any writing skill and success,  never really took chances or dedicated myself back when I was younger and it was easier. 

Ironically, this may be for the best, because everything I wrote before about 2012 I find embarrassing, even negative. And I don’t mean in the open “oh well, I wasn’t writing very good prose back then was I?” way. I mean in the “wow, I’m I’m a different person and I disagree with most of the presuppositions and general underlying themes of those pieces of writing” way.

I was still caught up in the myth of redemptive violence, like most Americans. I operated under assumptions that seem harmful and unChristlike to me now. 

I still wrote without any real diversity of casts,  and worse, without any real understanding. 

So, I’m rather glad  in a twisted way that I never really pulled the trigger before, because my past works (especially if they were successful) would feel like enemies to me. 

Now since they just live on the corners of my hard drive, they’re little more than remembrances of where I was. But if they were out there on Amazon and in bookstores, I would be at war written the works of my own hands.

So that’s where I stand and it’s not so bad as I thought. But it’s not a good place to end up. I have to write more and I have to write more things that I’m proud of and that I think are good – not just “well done” but good in the greater sense.

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Ripples (Words and Actions Have Consequences)

​https://youtu.be/1VR3Av9qfZc

Sometimes we aim to misbehave

Most often, we don’t aim at all

In an intricately interconnected world

Our actions and inactions have meaning

Beyond our circle of friends
Beyond our monkeysphere 

Beyond our field of vision

We dance on spider’s silk

Intricately interwoven

Each step sets the strings vibrating

For good or for ill

For ourselves and for those a world away

Myths of violence prime our minds for war

Spinning up from children’s cartoons

To novels and political speeches

Desensitizing, Dehumanizing

One American life is worth

How many Pakistanis? 
How many Afghans?

How many?

Chocolate grown by slaves tastes sweet,  but not to them 

Clothes, Coffee, Rice, Diamonds, Gold

Products of foced labor, by children

So many things it’s hard to know where to start

None of us is pure.

I doubt we can be in a world like this.

Where powerful interests throw their rocks and hide their hands 

What can we do?

I’m no expert, but I have a few ideas.

Ironically, the first comes from Ayn Rand: Call evil “evil.”

Don’t give your silent sanction to things you oppose

Don’t give unspoken approval to things that appall you.

The second is simpler, but requires some self discipline

Pick a few things that are products of slavery,

And stop buying them.

Buy more clothes second-hand, if you can.

If you’re 6’7″ like me, that may not be possible.

Find something you can do, even if it’s small.

Only buy chocolate that’s ethically sourced.

Change where your money goes.

The third is simpler yet: spread the word

Sign petitions. Write your congress people

Post to social media. 

Get the word out, to people who matter.

Praise President Obama and the responsible legislators of both parties for tightening restrictions

For keeping dozens of slavery products out of the US  

Even if you don’t like their other policies

Fourth, if you are a writer or content creator

Be sure that what you create reflects your heart

Every work has a message

Every work shows and tells how it’s world works, 

How things get better or worse, 

What brings happiness and justice

Money? “Winning” the sexy love interest?  

Outwitting a nagging wife? 

Killing or beating up the right bad guys? 

Every story tells a story… or it wouldn’t be a story. 

Pure entertainment doesn’t exist

Old Friends with New Faces. Updating White Male “Franchises,” Part 2

A lot of people are floating the idea of Idris Elba being offered the job as the new James Bond (including current James Bond, Daniel Craig), though it appears at this moment that Tom Hiddleston is the first pick.

I think it could be a good idea. Sure, James Bond is a white guy, so far. A lot of the legacy characters, the franchise characters, are white men because when they were created 50+ years ago, that’s who the heroes/protagonists were.

These franchises have formed the bedrock of our popular culture for three generations. Nothing created today will have that kind of reach anytime soon. That takes time to build.

We get into the same thing with Doctor Who and most of the superhero franchises. Heck, even most of the Transformers are “male” (male voices and male-ish builds).

I think there’s a lot of room for adjusting some of the ongoing franchises so they don’t blindly stick to the mores of our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ generations.

I’m not saying you have to make Superman black, but when you decide to make a Green Lantern movie, think about John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan (it couldn’t be worse than the Green Lantern movie we got a few years back).

It means building a Justice League movie franchise that includes Wonder Woman, Cyborg (a black man), and Aquaman as portrayed by Jason Momoa (who is of Native Hawaiian descent). DC is getting that right, and doing it earlier than Marvel.

When Robert Downey Junior leaves the Marvel movies, put more focus on Rhodes (Iron Patriot/War Machine), or better yet, Riri Williams.

Why not cast Idris Elba as James Bond? He can still be native-born Scottish. He can still do all the Bond things. Let’s face it, the previous guys who’ve played Bond are all radically different from each other. Nobody would think of Connery and Dalton and Brosnan as the same person. And besides, Idris Elba is an outstanding actor with more than enough gravitas, charisma, and intensity for the role.

And if you don’t want to cast him as Bond, how about making him a future regeneration of the Doctor? I know, Stephen Moffatt has said he wants a female Doctor, but I personally think he write female characters poorly, especially compared to Russell T. Davies (previous Doctor Who showrunner). I’d rather wait for a Doctor Who showrunner who’s proven he can handle female characters well before we have a female Doctor.

There’s a lot that can be done, and is being done. But there are a lot of missed opportunities, as well.

 

Four Types of Violence, Part Five: Some Parting Thoughts

Peace Sign made of garlic, photo by David Goehring, Creative Commons

Good for the World, Good on Spaghetti
Photo by David Goehring, Creative Commons

I’ve been talking about violence a lot lately, and I think it’s time to bring it to a close now.  Kurt Willems has a great series here outlining a powerful argument for total pacifism among Christians.  Needless to say, there are other interpretations.  MT at Biblical Self Defense  discusses several OT and NT passages that relate to self defense, including armed self-defense, as not just a necessary evil, but a positive good.

Though I have not yet been swayed to the point of actual pacifism, I have to say that Kurt Willems’ arguments have profoundly affected me. He’s helped me to reassess my overall attitude towards violence done in my name as an American, the violence in the media that I consume, and the violence in the culture that I create.

And let’s face it, our American culture is awash in violence. We glorify revenge at every turn. Even as Christians, if you look at the time we spend watching violent films and TV, we probably glorify “good guys killing bad guys” more than we glorify God.

So what is the answer? I’m afraid I don’t have the whole answer. I may never have it. But I’ll keep wrestling with it. I know this much for sure:

Even without being convinced of true pacifism, the kind that would not use force to resist a home invader who threatens my pregnant wife, the kind that would not use force to resist the Nazis in World War II – even without taking that (admittedly radical) step … I can commit to pursuing peace today, through:

  • Questioning the violent actions my government takes, whether declared wars or unilateral (even unmanned) actions
  • Questioning the level of violence used in our justice system, especially against peaceful protesters and nonviolent offenders
  • Questioning the violence that is allowed to happen by authorities turning a blind eye or simply being overwhelmed: bullying in schools, beatings and rape in prisons.
  • Turning the other cheek in personal disputes, refusing to use even verbal ‘violence’
  • Protesting verbal violence, especially misogynist and racist bullying
  • Valuing the lives of foreigners in distant nations as much as I do my own, especially if they are civilians
  • Examining the culture I consume and create, and expunging anything that glorifies violence as a positive good.