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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Which I Unveil Both my Potluck and Cereal Metaphors

In my high school yearbook I was voted third runner-up for “Most Casual.” I never figured out if that meant most casual in dress or in overall manner. In any case, I didn’t come in first. I guess the two ahead of me wanted it less. - Amy Poehler, Yes Please
There's a line in Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me where she says "Everyone has a moment when they discover they love Amy Poehler." I immediately thought of her performance as G.O.B. Bluth's accidental wife where she is billed simply as "Wife of G.O.B." since he doesn't remember her name.

I definitely liked her then. When did I realize I loved her, though? Oh, that's easy. I love Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. And if you're friends with me on Facebook you already know that. Folks. I know that I'm annoying on social media. I know, because if someone I disagreed with was as vocal as I am, I would be annoyed by said hypothetical person (these people are not hypothetical), and I know that many of you disagree with me.

Also, I imagine I come across as some crazy liberal. And it's true that at the moment I find my philosophies coinciding more with Democrats than Republicans. But I'm not registered as anything, neither will I be, because politics are a very fluid thing and parties change. Also, the idea that as complex an individual as I am (you guys, I am a very complex individual) that with two choices one of them would fit me (complex) perfectly is hilarious.

It's like if there were only two options of cereal in the whole world: Cap'n Crunch and Oops! All Berries. It would be insane if we were all required to pick one or the other when Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries exists. Or what if I wanted a different ratio? What if I bought a box each of regular Cap'n Crunch and Oops! All Berries and mixed it 3:1 berries. I can do that, I can pick and choose my Crunch Berry quantities because I am a complex individual and this is America.

Ideally, the entire panoply of breakfast cereal options would be available to each of us. We could choose from hundreds of options. My favorite cereal when I was a kid is now discontinued. This is a general trend for me, actually. I often embraced things that went out of style so that I would never be relevant ever. For example, I embraced roller blades when many of my friends were into skateboards.

Every once in a while a kid will have a skateboard and someone my age will be like, "hey can I try that?" and then they pull of some sick moves or whatever. Me, on the other hand, would never be able to stop a kid on roller blades (in the unlikely event they would be wearing them) and say, hey, are those my size and if so can I put my feet in them? Want to play street hockey?

You know what I was into? Frickin' Bigg Mixx.

Isn't that most of us, politically? We pick and choose our philosophies because we come from very different places. We should all be Bigg Mixx. Instead, we often pick our party and start to align ourselves with it based on some kind of massive machine of fundraising and bumper stickers.

It makes sense, I guess, because there's too much out there to learn about and have a strong opinion about. So we pick the party that fits our 2-3 BIG issues and sort of let them decide the rest.

Me? I'm interested in equality and the environment. Those are my big ones. I like Amy Poehler and Amy Poehler's Smart Girls because in a relentlessly positive way, it shows that there's potentially a lot of world out there for girls and women. Just as much, ideally, as there is for men. And if you think we're already there I'm very interested in some evidence beyond your own or a small handful of others who are like you's experiences.

But Democrats certainly do not have the market cornered on equality. Let's take George Romney, for example, who was chastised by high ranking members of his own church on official Council of the Twelve letterhead for his civil rights work.
In 1964, the year King won the Nobel Peace Prize, George Romney was the most powerful Mormon in American politics and was gearing up for a presidential run in 1968. The LDS hierarchy took note and worried about his positions on civil rights. Delbert L. Stapley, a high-ranking member of the LDS (who was born the year the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was constitutional and died the year the LDS lifted its ban on African Americans in the priesthood), wrote to Romney deeply troubled. "After listening to your talk on Civil Rights, I am very much concerned. Several others have expressed the same concern to me." The letter was "personal" and not an "official Church position" but it still came on letterhead that read, "The Council of the Twelve."
Romney (yeah, Mitt's dad) fought so hard for housing equality that Richard Nixon had him removed from his cabinet. Romney was, unsurprisingly, Republican.

But what about Nixon? Apparently he wasn't much of a champion for civil rights. But it's argued that no president of the United States since Teddy Roosevelt has had more far-reaching positive impact on the environment than Richard Nixon. Well. He created the Environmental Protection Agency (an organization that is essentially viewed as a terrorist organization by modern republicans), extended the Clean Air Act indefinitely, signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Safe Water Drinking Act, the goldanged Endangered Species Act. That's not to mention the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, also known as the "Environmental Magna Carta".

Sure. Nixon was under a lot of pressure from a growing environmental movement, and these moves could be seen as political, but does that make this any less true?
"What we really confront here is that in the highly industrialized, richest countries, we have the greatest danger. Because of our wealth we can afford the automobiles, we can afford all the things that pollute the air, pollute the water, and make this really a poisonous world in which to live."
Incidentally, he also said this:
"Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do."
Interesting, isn't it? I firmly believe that you can be a member of any party and still make the world a better place. If that's what you're doing, you have my blessing. We might disagree on what "better" means, but people have been doing that for a million years (checking to see how long humans have been on earth...) and most of us can agree than we're doing better in every measurable way than we were a million years ago.

You know what's interesting? Having someone describe their politics. This is a joke but actually you know what, it really is. We have different backgrounds and experiences with the world and trying to see it the same is like trying to figure out if the color we each call "blue" is the same blue.

I approach environmentalism from my one area of expertise in this whole world, and that is wildlife biology. I approach equality from my experiences as an LDS missionary in Mexico. I love Mexicans. I freaking love them. I want more of them in my neighborhood, city, state, and country. I don't care how we get them, honestly. Our country is a big potluck dinner, as far as I'm concerned, and everyone who comes in brings something yummy. It doesn't mean there's less stuff to go around because everyone is bringing stuff. Living in Mexico made me realize that everyone, everywhere, of every race and religion or non-religion or vehemently anti-religion has something awesome to bring to the potluck. And when it comes to potlucks, I want a little bit of everything
.

"Mexico"
I approach feminism from the standpoint that I know a lot of very strong, very smart, very capable women. And I trust them. I trust them to make decisions about their reproductive system, about their dating life, about what they decide to wear that morning, about how their homes and businesses and just overall stuff should be handled. When a woman tells me that the way men behave toward them is aggressive, I listen, because I have no idea what it's like to be a woman. If she says "hey, are you holding the door open for me because I'm a woman, or because I'm a human being?" and I have no answer, I should probably think about that.

Poehler:
“Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how “bossy” can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader.”
 According to some Goodreads reviews, Poehler's Yes Please is a disappointment. "It's not funny enough," one says. "I wanted to hear about her divorce, how dare she deprive me of a glimpse into a very personal and painful time in her life which I deserve for no reason whatsoever." (I'm paraphrasing here) "My mommy said my internet time is over," says another.

It's not an autobiography, I guess. It's not even really a memoir. It's more like a manifesto.
Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.
Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready. This is America and I am allowed to have healthy self-esteem.
Also, there's something in it for the fellas, too if you know what I mean.
And attention, men! Don’t despair! There is plenty of stuff in here for you too. Since I have spent the majority of my life in rooms filled with men I feel like I know you well. I love you. I love the shit out of you. I think this book will speak to men in a bunch of different ways. I should also point out that there is a secret code in each chapter and if you figure it out it unlocks the next level and you get better weapons to fight the zombie quarterbacks on the Pegasus Bridge. So get cracking, you task-oriented monkey brains.