Monday, January 22, 2007


Isaiah Washington is a flawed man who happens to be an actor. After calling his collegue, T.R. Knight a "faggot", twice, Mr. Washington has pulled a "Mel Gibson" and apologized publicly asking for help. He wants to meet with leaders of the Gay and Lesbian Community to get forgiven.

Washington doesn't have the excuse of being drunk. His prejudices are right on the surface, right there to be seen and heard by anyone in range. His hateful comment about a person he works with are dispicable. And, as one who has been on the receiving end of racist remarks, really all the more shocking. Washington doesn't have Mel Gibson's excuse of being Hutton Gibson's son. He's just a pretty good actor who happens to be a jerk.

Why do we care so deeply about what these people say and do? Does it matter, really, whether or not Paula Abdul is drunk during interviews? I ask this in all seriousness because when I go to work today, all anyone will talk about is celebrity gossip and American Idol. Nobody will even think about the MSC Napoli, a container ship carrying 3500 tons of diesel and fuel oil, and other hazardous materials, as she threatens to break in half just off the English coast. Nobody will talk about The Baghdad bombing this weekend that killed around 70 people.

In general, our nation accepts and practices mediocrity and sameness. We fear change, and we fear anything that is different from us, and we fear the unknown. We fear. And fear is a lie - I've heard it described as false evidence appearing real. The only real truth is in a loving heart. Trust comes from love. Peace comes from love. It was Mother Teresa who never went to an anti-war rally. She said if someone would have a peace rally, she'd be there.

So, what do we do now? I know I practice hate and fear when I focus on the problem; how do I change that to focus on the solution? I do that by changing my language, and what I talk about; I do that by my actions. Such a tall order, because it is easiest to focus on what is wrong.


Anonymous said...

Fortunately with yesterday's win over New Orleans, our office has a different "something trivial" to blather on about.

I have learned over the years that there are only 3 people in my office that I DARE to discuss anything of political or environmental impact with - Chris, Ted and Tom. The others are just wayyyy too apolitical, or too right-of-center for me to communicate with.

So for the sake of peace and harmony in the office environment, I limit my political angst to the blogisphere and engage in the usual small-talk that pervades the office (although I know not of this "American Idol" of which you speak - I'm the office geek who watches no TV).

Go Bears

annie said...

the worst thing about my (tormer) job is that i often felt i was the oly person paying attention to the mess in washington, etc. the things that count for knowledge i don't understand, to quote steely dan.
our collective apathy put us here.

as for the "famous" homophobe...they are everywhere. we are a nation of haters.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty lucky when I worked at the university. I worked with the students who produced the campus newspapers and journals, a very bright and political bunch. We always talked politics. OTOH, my sister works in a real estate office in southern California and is surrounded by people who talk TV and pop culture all the time. Everyone is narcotized by this mind-goo.

Peacechick Mary said...

Sometimes it reminds me of attending a horribly sad funeral and at the wake, people make small talk because they just can't make sense of the death. I'm wondering if we are not in the grieving process for our country and what could have been.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily think that work is the proper environment to discuss politics and other world events. Aren't jobs stressful enough without creating situations that can lead to fighting over differing opinions?
People talk about sports and television because it's safe, they talk about more important issues with their family and friends.
I work in a conservative environment and I've been made fun of for being non-religious and a vegetarian but I'm comfortable enough with myself that I don't need to talk about this stuff with people at work, even though there are a couple of people there who I can discuss some heavier issues with and it's not uncomfortable to do so.
I can't help but wonder if an issue here is the need to have others reaffirm our own beliefs so we feel good about ourselves and our world view?
I know I wouldn't agree with many people at work over many issues, but here's the thing; every day, I see kindness and a sense of responsibility towards others that I haven't seen in a long time in other places. There are people at my office who have worked there for many years and who look out for one another in many ways. Isn't that just as important as discussing the Iraq war?

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I'm lucky to work in a library in which many patrons volunteer their dismay with the current goings on. But it is a rarified environment.

Yes, fear seems to dominate a lot of discourse. The current administration counts on fear as a means of manipulating the people. In addition to that, I think that many people fear confronting the privilege that our country's behavior has brought us. After all, it's very difficult for us to think of surrendering some of our advantages in order to make a more balanced world.

Such thoughts are overwhelming... while Paula's drunkenness, Brad and Jen's divorce are more finite, at least to our two-dimension views of them.

Anonymous said...

We all do the Sisyphus shuffle, just gotta do right the best we now how.

Tina said...

So much to say:
1) I LOVE the Mother Teresa quote. That is a woman who truly deserves sainthood.
2) I wonder how the actor Washington would react (and the black community would react) if the actor Knight called Washington "boy" or "n***er"?
3) Sadly, in my experience, work is seldom the place to find "like-minded" folks when it comes to politics. I remember when the 2000 trainwreck happened, there was a group of hardcore Bush loving pre-school teachers (yes... they also beat you over the head in their claims of how pro-life they are) were ready to jump anybody who didn't agree with them that Gore should back out and just hand the win to Bush. I said very little, except that all reports indicate that Gore did indeed win, so why should he back out, but I have to say that in the past year that I have enjoyed watching this group shut their nasty little mouths when folks at work have openly called Bush an evil warmonger and his stance on being pro-life laughable when he kills countless Iraqis and US soldiers. As my Sicilian ancestors say: Revenge is often a dish best served cold.

DivaJood said...

Wonderful comments everyone - and in no particular order:

Tree, excellent points - and yes, work is stressful enough without bringing hot issues to it. I work in an industry - travel - which has a wide range of personalities but there are many lovely people. I've become quite close with a group of agents, all from other agencies and parts of the country, primarily because of their good kind souls. And I think many of us (I include myself) tend to forget that even people who we disagree with in many areas are also quite decent people.

Tina, what I'm coming to believe is that revenge is a dish that poisons everyone who tastes it. The late Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirkson, always said "Don't get mad, get even" - but what does that solve? And I think what has gone wrong in this nation at the highest level is a retreat from debate, real debate where people listen to each other and exchange ideas. People are so vested in being "right", in getting their point across, that nothing can get accomplished.

Sewmouse, there is NOTHING TRIVIAL about the Bears going to the Superbowl. I'm just saying. Besides, there is the reality that Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are the first African American head coaches to take teams to the Superbowl, which is amazing on so many counts. Why has it taken so long? Anyway, GO BEARS.

Annie, what creates the collective apathy?

Robin Andrea, a university environment is rarified air. I loved my time as a graduate student in fine art. It was a total immersion into thinking, and seeing. But out in the rest of the world, not so much.

Peacechick, that's an incredibly apt analogy. It is a little bit of a funeral atmosphere, isn't it? Last night on Inside the Actor's Studio, Robert Downey Jr said he thinks we're on the brink of an internal revolution, one from the inside, a period of great internal change. I hope.

Frederick, we do all have our own rocks to push, don't we?

Lulu Maude, I agree completely. What am I willing to give up to effect real change? Creature comfort and priviledge are amazing pacifiers, and I am as guilty of liking my "stuff" as the next person. And I struggle with this because I sometimes feel completely out of kilter. I am seeking solutions.

Comandante Agí said...

I ask this in all seriousness because when I go to work today, all anyone will talk about is celebrity gossip and American Idol.

Are you sure we don't work at the same company? Sounds like my co-workers exactly.

Re: giving up creature comforts - our enlightened president wants us to reduce our gasoline consumption. I doubt he'll be lambasted like Jimmy Carter was when he suggested the same thing.

Letting go of fear is difficult. Life is filled with uncertainty - so far I've done a reasonable job not worrying too much.

Anonymous said...

This is such an important topic! That fear and love continuum....
We are constantly fed a diet of dumbed down everything...from TV, newspapers to it any wonder that many of us default to a fear response. We do not have the resources to know how to respond in an informed and creative way.
I believe we need a more soul centred education system that encourages thinking,curiosity and courage..especially courage.

Peacechick Mary said...

My daughter says the word faggot in UK can also mean a cigarette. I'll have to check this out as it would be terribly confusing to have someone yell that there's a burning faggot in the road. Do you know if this is slang for cigarette in UK?