Monday, June 22, 2009

A thought or two on Iran

If you're at all familiar with "Star Trek: The Next Generation" then you know about the Prime Directive. For those who missed out, it basically expounds a theory and practice of noninterference in the internal affairs of other civilizations. Now, I don't want to make light of the current events in Iran, but I really do feel this is a good time to invoke the Prime Objective.

We don't have to like the results of the Iranian election, but that fact is, it was their election and not ours, so we need to just stay out of it. I don't care if "American interests" are at stake; this was not our election, it was Iran's. I don't care if the election was rigged because it wasn't my election, it was Iran's. I do care that the Iranian government is being too heavy-handed in their crackdown on protesters, but it doesn't matter whether or not I care because it was Iran's election and not ours. We, the United States, need to just let things unfold as they will, as unappealing and un-American as those "things" may be, and let Iran work this out itself. Obama's approach so far has been spot on, he sees the larger picture and knows that if we meddle now then we lose the hope of future ties with Iran. I just hope he doesn't break and succumb to GOP and popular rhetoric. During the whole Gore-Bush election debacle, I don't recall Iran trying to meddle in our affairs.

If we are so concerned with the democratic process, then where were we all those times Mugabe rigged and stole elections in Zimbabwe? Or how is that we can say we respect the democratic process when after Hamas won a few years ago, the US refused to accept the results? Is it that we only accept the results of elections when the person or party we want to win does in fact win? Certainly appears that way. You can't want other countries to have democracy and then turn your back on them when they use the democratic process to elect someone we don't like. It smacks of poor sportsmanship, of wanting that proverbial cake and eating it, too.

I've watched the uncensored video of the woman, Neda, dying several times, and it makes me mad that there are many places in this world where people can't protest without fear of physical violence and even death. But I also hate the idea of an Americanized world. I love knowing there are people in this world who don't think like me, who's values, moral and beliefs aren't mine, places where people live lives so unlike my own. I believe in a strong foreign policy and in engaging other countries; I just don't believe in trying to make those countries do things the way we do things in the U.S.

Hope for the Iranian opposition protesters, even pray for them if that's something you do. Hope that the Iranian government eases up and lets some of its people vent their frustrations. And hope that we don't f*ck everything up by getting involved in something that doesn't involve us.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Father's Day

There seems to be a lot of energy this year surrounding Father's Day. Maybe it's the recession and the "changing gender roles of America." Maybe dads have a lobby in DC now pushing for more recognition. Mothers are important and all but last I knew a woman can't become a mother without a man's contribution, so perhaps Mother's Day and Father's Day should get equal billing. I'm just saying.

A drunk driver saw to it that we wouldn't celebrate many Father's Days. I was four when it happened so I assume we had three celebrations, but, of course, I wouldn't remember them if we did so they don't really count. Ever since then Father's Day has been a non-day, it didn't exist except as a day on the calendar. I don't really even think about it, the notable exception being my wedding, which was on a Father's Day (but I'm told that it doesn't mean our anniversary is every Father's Day, so now I have to remember an actual date).

My mom clearly did an excellent job raising us on her own, but through no fault of her own there were things she couldn't teach me, namely how to do some of those things men are "supposed" to know how to do. I say "supposed" because they are those things stereotypically attributed to men and by which men are judged by a lot of other men and women. Fixing cars is one example. Men are "supposed" to know how to fix and maintain a car, and, well, that's not me. I have jumper cables but don't know how to use them; I know where the oil is but don't know how to change it; I've never replaced a fuse; and I only learned how to drive a standard in 1998 (thanks Darcy and Ashley). There was no one to teach me those things when I was growing up, and when I took auto mechanics in high school I think I eked out a B.

Using power tools and building things are also areas in which I am far behind my peers. When a windstorm recently blew down a tree in our yard, did I go and get my chainsaw and start sawing away? No, I called the second cousin of the husband of the niece of the best friend of the uncle of the sister of the husband who lives next door to us, and he came over and sawed up that tree and removed it for $500. I don't own a chainsaw and have never used one, but if I had, if someone along the way had taught me how, it might've saved us $500. Our outside motion detector hasn't worked for over a year, and it's because I can't figure out how to open and fix the damn thing. I once hauled out the 25 ft. ladder, climbed to the top and while bugs and bees zipped about my face I tried to open it but couldn't, so I gave up and we adopted a dog and bought a security system.

Here's what I do know how to do really well: clean. You might think you can clean but you can't touch me. I mow and rake lawns pretty well, too, but as my Peachtree City friend noted, I'm not all that handy with an edger. But let's be honest: as important as they are, neither cleaning or mowing or raking are going to impress the neighbors, most of whom drive trucks, speak Spanish, and can fix anything. Being a librarian doesn't help either. You might say I could've taught myself and there's some truth to that. Through trial and lots of error, I did learn how to fix my bicycle, so I'm not completely incompetent. Still, it's not like those other opportunities have presented themselves on a regular basis throughout my life: I didn't own a car until I was 30; there's not a great demand for chainsaws in the food service industry; and up until three years ago, I rented.

The point is, there are things a dad generally teaches a boy and I missed out on many of those things. I did a lot of learning in school, but college in general doesn't teach you those things. Power Tools 101 would have served me better than all my classes at CU and UT, save art history (seriously, art history was the most practical and worthwhile subject I studied). I don't feel sorry for myself, but I do get frustrated when I'm at Home Depot and have to call Ida and ask her what type of circular saw we need. Her dad taught her how to do a lot of those things I should've been taught, too.

Today's man, today's dad, obviously should be more than just someone who can fix and build things. He needs to be both dad and mom, just as mom needs to be both mom and dad. Those old gender roles are just that, old, old and useless. That being said, if you have a boy make sure he knows how to do a lot of those things a man is "supposed" to do. Trust me: he'll thank you for it some Father's Day.