Friday, October 13, 2017

RIP Edgar

You came to us in Joplin on Halloween night, 2011. I've never been superstitious, but of course I joked about how it was a bad omen seeing a black cat on Halloween. Casey thought you were cute, and started talking to you. I told her to leave you alone, but then you started walking up our stairs. I looked at Casey and said something like, "Look what you did now." You stood at our door, and when I unlocked the door, you walked right in, as if you belonged there. I was annoyed, and wanted you gone. Casey said we could take you to the vet to have you scanned for a chip. I decided to be proactive and start posting your picture on Facebook and Craigslist, trying to see if anyone had lost you. 

I insisted that I wanted you gone, holding to being a lifelong dog person. Well, as soon as you climbed in my lap and purred, pressing against me, I knew I was done for. I was no longer a dog person. In fact, I'm not sure I ever truly was. Sure, I took you to the vet, both to have you scanned and to have you checked out. There was no chip, and nobody seemed to be looking for you. They estimated you were at least three years old. It seemed based on some scars you either had been in some fights, or as we suspected, you had been injured in the tornado earlier that year. We decided to call you Mr. Darcy, but that kept getting shortened to Darcy, and we found ourselves calling you she/her instead of he/him. Due to this, we changed your name to Edgar. 

While we lived in Joplin, we let you stay as an outdoor cat. This resulted in our neighbors yelling at us about you leaving dead birds on their doorsteps (which, considering that one called me a creepy ass neighbor for bringing her brownies, I thought was hilarious.) It also unfortunately resulted in the side effect of you getting worms which I am certain were not pleasant to have removed. One of the cutest things that happened was when we brought home Dante. That night, you came back to the apartment with a baby rabbit. I thought you had killed it, but nope. You had gently carried it as if to say "you have a baby, so do I!" The bunny was shaking, but not injured. 

You made it known that you were our family's protector. When Dante was sick or having a bad dream, you would stay near him. When Casey was going through the miscarriage, you lay on her belly. When I was having anxiety and stress problems, you pressed against me, purring. Even we brought home Darcy and Vega, outwardly you showed your scorn for us adding more pets, but inwardly we could see you watching out for them. This especially showed when we made our thousands of miles of moves across country, and you showed Darcy it was going to be okay. 

I wish I hadn't pushed against having you. I wish we had done more than yearly checkups and shots. I wish I had noticed and done something sooner about your teeth hurting, because maybe then they could have found the cancer and actually done something. I'm sorry if you were in pain. You never really cried about anything, so we don't know, but your eyes seemed to show it. They seemed to be dilated, possibly from pain, or maybe you knew the surgery was coming. However, I'm glad that the last time I held you, the dilation had lowered, and I could see the color of your eyes (I being more colorblind than you don't know if they were yellow or green or both). You looked at me, and I felt like you were telling me it'd be okay. I chose to believe you were letting us know you'd fight it and make it through. Even though you didn't, I'm glad that's going to be one of my last memories with you. 

Thank you for everything Edgar. We love you and will miss you forever.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Survival of the Fittest

I don't have definitive numbers, but I'd say the vast majority of Marxists and the like are evolutionists (regardless if they're atheist, Christian, or other.) As one of the laws of evolution is survival of the fittest, this may draw some questioning as a contradiction. Indeed, it many propose that capitalism embodies survival of the fittest, with the CEO and board of directors being the fittest. They fought (and/or (il)legally exploited) their way to the top of the pyramid. Thus, they deserve to survive, or get their profit. But what if that's wrong?

Indeed, if only the CEOs survive they will have nobody to work for them or to buy their products and services. Therefore instead of capitalism being the embodiment of evolutionary thought, I'd posit that socialism is much more in line. The fittest is actually the masses, the working class upon whose back society rests. When the masses thrive, society itself does. Seeing the world disconnected and individualistically (or even broader as nuclear) leads to it's demise. However if we recognize we are all in this together, then we become the fittest.

To elaborate, with our current system the CEO and/or board of directors (or whoever heads the business, henceforth CEO, regardless actual title) make the majority of decisions. The workers do not determine their pay, how to use profits, tool upgrades, or most importantly, job security. This goes for entry level on up, until you get to the CEO. While management and others have a hand in raises or other parts of the business, if the CEO decides to axe one department or freeze wages, there is little recourse. For the CEO, the bottom line is profit and doing whatever is “necessary” to obtain it. This includes producing cheaper quality products for the same price, paying workers less (or stagnant wages), outsourcing, to name a few. The point is simple, profit over people, even if that means those people cannot survive. While the CEO may survive, it is temporary.

If we were to shift to the Worker's Self-Directing Enterprises, the workers take the place of the CEO. As such, they all, whether as a small business of 10 or large corporation of thousands, democratically determine the direction of the business. Is there a more efficient production process? Discuss, vote, and implement. Do wages need to increase? Discuss, vote, and implement. While I am simplifying the process for brevity, the list can go on. The method, which is meant to involve the whole workforce, has another fundamental difference: it has an almost guaranteed focus of people over profit. Rather than decisions being made regardless of the impact on the proletariat or planet, WSDEs make choices to benefit the worker and allow their communities to thrive. As we see ghost towns of former economic centers left crumbling in the aftermath of capitalism, we can see thriving and even simple surviving is not something that is possible in the long term for the current economic structure.

Friday, October 28, 2016

All in this Together (or, Teach Them to Be Socialists)

As early as I can remember from schooling, there was a widely known rule. If you're going to bring a treat, then you have to have enough for everyone. This included everything from gum to cupcakes to birthday invitations. Now, I'm not sure the validity of the birthday invitations requirement, but the others were a good life lesson. Share. Share your threats. Share your toys. Share your swing set. Anyone who didn't encourage their child to share, whether parent or teacher, was viewed as a terrible influence.

So what happened? The teaching instilled in us as children (which, based on kids sharing, works) transforms into the selfishness of adulthood. "It's my money! It's my success! I'm not sharing!" Sentiments such as these are vilified in childhood and glorified in adulthood. The worst part is it's believed. We really think it's our money and success. Yet, just like our parents most likely provided the gum, cupcakes, and birthday invitations, so too did our money and success (or at least the opportunity to obtain them) come from our parents or at least our sitz im leben.

Have you ever heard a leader in front of his people (sports team, army, whatever) saying "Every man for himself! If one man falls leave him behind! Keep going, you can do it be yourself!" No, not at all. There is always the plural. "All for one and one for all!" and variations of it are what is shouted as they rush into battle. Even for myself with my low emotional response to many things, I cannot help but be roused by such speeches. Yet there are so any who demand we go through life alone, at least in the western individualized society. What we need to remember is we are all in this together. Whether it is the butterfly effect or something much more direct, our six degrees of separation show that we all affect each other. We are all on this floating blue marble together. As Brian Zahnd reflected on his pilgrimmage on the Camino de Santiago, "the pilgrims seem to understand we're all in this journey together and kindness goes a long way." As I replied, that's one of the biggest lessons I'm trying to instill in my son. We're all in this together. It's not every man for himself. This education will continue past elementary, middle, and high school. I will attempt to remind him long into the future.