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W.W.G.D.?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 by Jeff

Last night I watched, again, the 1982 film Gandhi. As perhaps the most recognizable social movement icon ever, you may be surprised to find so many parallels between Mohandas K. Gandhi and me. That's right, me.

Let's start with the obvious: we're both men with strong vegetarian convictions. We're attracted to Indian women but fighting temptation. Our fathers held socially prominant positions (his a local political leader, mine a nuclear engineer) and we are more educated than 99% of the world's population (he as a lawyer, me as a sociologist).

Gandhi and I both highly value minimal living - that is, not taking more than we need - when others are less priviledged. We agree on the virtues of democracy and the necessity of resisting unjust authority. Like Gandhi, I believe non-violent resistance can overcome violent oppression. We both take loving our fellow humans - friends and enemies alike - as a moral imperative that should not be sacrificed in our struggles against oppression. When others do not receive an equitable share of bread, water, dignity, or respect, we believe we have a moral duty to rectify that. We also share the belief that personal actions - such as the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the words we choose - can be important means for rectifying these injustices.

I could go on.

Sure, you could find differences if you look hard enough - we have vastly different senses of style, he's Indian and I'm American, he's a Hindu and I'm an atheist - but this would be nit-picking, wouldn't it? As Gandhi saw Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians as brothers under the same god, I see us all as passengers on the same great, yellow submarine.

I've got to admit, I admire Gandhi more than anyone, ever. He oozed humility, breathed compassion, and never stopped challenging himself to live up to his ideals. He made idealism a possibility - his had concrete effects on the world around him.

I'll also admit that on every organic, union-made, logo-less t-shirt I wear I have written, what would Gandhi do?

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Denied

Monday, January 23, 2006 by Jeff

The National Science Foundation turned down my grant proposal, thus leaving me in that well-traveled lurch. The thought of going into debt to fund my own dissertation research is, well, nausiating.

Chiricahua Mtns.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 by Jeff

Heather celebrated her 32nd birthday last weekend (all weekend, as she is wont to do) and in grand fashion she wisked Maxine and me away to the mountains she'd not seen since she was a child. The Chiricahuas are famous around here for two things: the national monument enveloping the Heart of Rocks area, and the last stand of the Chiricahua Apaches, led by Geronimo. We steered clear of the monument - a magnet for sightseers and motorhomes - and found our own campsite on the south side. After a slow first evening settling in to our campsite, a toasty fire, and good conversation, we hit the trails on day two. Heather transcended her usual slow rhythms and worked up a sweat (and eventually some sore muscles) on our uphill hike. It's not often that one is struck by lush green valleys in this area. A dirt road bisects these mountains and offers sweeping views of the cliffs and valleys south of the monument. Mental note: Maxine hates dirt roads. Before heading back to Tucson we had to check out the monument, so we drove the spotless, paved road that goes all the way to the top. The Heart of Rocks is reminiscent of the rock formations in southern Utah - tall spires, rounded by wind and rain. This is a truly spectacular sight and I swear I'll be back to explore it on foot. At the top... Although it looks like a telescope, this gizmo is more akin to a paper towel tube with crosshairs at the end. As it spins around and rests in the depressions you can look to the text beneath it for descriptions of what you are supposed to see in your crosshairs. See how marvelous! What I'll remember most about this trip is the 6" thick foam sleeping pad we borrowed from Heather's dad. It was more comfortable than my bed. Did I mention it was in the 70s during the day and couldn't have been below 45 at night?

U.S. gov't. to the rescue!

Friday, January 13, 2006 by Jeff

Although it played second fiddle to the earthquake in Pakistan last fall, the hurricane that bombarded Central America was absolutely devastating. In Guatemala, my recent C. American vacation resort country, entire villages were buried by mud and rockslides later to be declared mass graves. In that country alone:

it is believed that nearly 700 people were killed. Basic infrastructures and water supplies were severed, schools and homes destroyed, and roads and bridges that allow rural farmers access to central markets were entirely wiped out. (hurricaneaction.org)
Obviously shocked by the tragedy, President Bush announced three weeks later that the US government would not sit idly by. It would plead with rich folks here to donate money to help the affected countries. Today, President Bush announced (three months later) the launching of a new website where Americans of all stripes can kick in a few bucks.* I like to remind myself that if I have a few bucks to go out to eat, see a movie, or buy a beer, then I've got enough to share with those who don't: hurricaneaction.org * Its a shame that the Central Americans affected weren't wealthy corporate magnates - our government's propensity to offer corporate relief is much greater.

Che Guevara never had a blog

by Jeff

He's been called the new Che Guevara, figurehead of the world's first postmodern social movement, dashing, articulate, and charasmatic - and all this from behind a ski mask. He rose to international prominance when his poorly armed indigenous army took control of several towns in bloody battles across the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Since then he has more resembled a writer, philosopher (which he is presumed to be by the Mexican gov't.), humorist, organizer, and elegant spokesperson for the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional - the Zapatistas. Now, Subcomandante Marcos (AKA Subdelegate Zero) has his own blog. The struggle continues...

El año nuevo

Monday, January 02, 2006 by Jeff

Welcome to 2006, the year that fully automated dog-walking machines will be sold widely and hover technology will replace SUVs as the status marker of choice. The future is now.

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Jeff A. Larson
Sociologist, Arizona.


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