Four things at once
1. I am deeply sad about Syria.
I don’t think I can help. I don’t think that my sitting here with two coffees and a chipotle sweet potato soup procrastinating on my master’s and feeling sad is an appropriate offering, but I don’t have another one. I’m sad about many other things too, but I’m especially by Syria. It’s unimportant why. Syria is great human suffering and great human helplessness, and maybe in my post-god years, it seems unfathomably worse to accept that. Syria is the inherent contradiction between numbers and faces, between fathoming and empathizing. I’m a journalist but I don’t think journalism is a contribution.
2. everyone is wrong about diversity
Privilege and identity and minority and political correctness. I’m choking on them all.
Because all of it is moralistic. It places too high a value on what should be and not what is. I say that as an idealist. We should want the world to be better but we should know and accept our own puniness.
Because it’s a language of division. It closes dialogue, it dampens curiosity. If I am genuinely interest in your practice or tradition or roots or music tastes, I am reaching across what divides every human being from another. I am not judging, moralizing, suggesting you’re an outsider, an insider, a good, bad, beautiful, angry person. I want to know why you wear what you wear, what you think of human dignity, the places you’ve seen, the lies you tell yourself, and do you like orange soda,.
Because it is external.
I’m in a radio class and we are encouraged to put diverse voices on our show. Last week the student ep sent out an email, “I’m so proud we have no straight white male voices on our show until 20 minutes in”. At drinks after the show, a week later, our legendary professor said, “Yes, but what about class and income diversity? Is everyone on our show professional, educated, urban?” Even that suggests the only struggle worth describing is upward mobility.
If I told you all my demographics – age, race, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, religion, education, profession, income, political party, where I grew up – would you know me?
What about if you knew the last thing I splurged on, the way orange Advil tablets taste in my mouth, how I grimace when I drink coffee, the shoes I refuse to throw out, that I eat microwaved potatoes for dinner, the only time I danced, what makes me laugh, what scares me most about love, would you know me more?
Change and equality and tolerance are great. The absurd obsession with victimhood and guilt and the god complex of thinking we can erase all of life’s injustices would be admirable if it wasn’t harmful.
3. related to above, journalism is reductionist
reductionism is the new evil. just like reducing human diversity to skin color and income brackets is a criminal enterprise against the hugeness of life, so is journalism’s relentless quest to present sides. there aren’t two sides to anything. there aren’t seven sides to anything. that suggests something flat, linear, two dimensional. nothing can save or destroy our planet. nothing is dead. and if King Solomon is right, there is nothing new under the sun.
In Hebrew the word for definition shares a root with fence. something defined is something limited. gone the possibilities. gone the infinite inputs and caveats and blinking arrows. this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t define, only we should know what we lose when we do.
4. I can’t make sense of myself
Never have. Today it’s between learning Arabic and knowing more and accepting that Israel is a part of my story, and getting as far as I can. I am not a party to this particular conflict. I’m not a party at all. I can write about immigration policy and privacy violations and never have to say anything about Jews, Judaism, Israel, the holocaust, promises, Yiddish accents, identity, that my name means mother of all. Kabbalisticaly, it means to speak, to reveal. You can tell because of it’s numerical value.