Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Privilege.

Coming to terms with my Privilege. 

I have a lot of privileges.

I have privileges that come from things that I worked really hard to accomplish, often specifically to get those privileges.
  •         I have privileges that come from being a (nearly) tenured faculty member.
  •         I have privileges that come from having a PhD.
  •         I have privileges that come from being a state employee.
  •         I have privileges that come from being a licensed driver.
  •         I have privileges that come from my lack of felonies.
  •         I have privileges that come from practicing my faith.
  •         I have privileges that come from having a salaried position.
  •         Etc

I have earned these privileges and I don’t feel guilty about them, but I do have to admit that earning these privileges was easier for me than for some people because there are other privileges that other people worked really hard FOR me
  • I have privileges that come my parents reading to me.
  • I have privileges that come from having been raised in a two-parent household.
  •  I have privileges that come being raised in a faith-system.
  • I have privileges that come from American soldiers fighting and dying.
  • I have privileges that come from good people investing in me.
  • I have privileges that come from growing up among animals (pets AND food).
  • Etc.

I can feel a sense of thankfulness for these privileges, especially being proud of the people who earned them for me. I can be honored by their sacrifice and hard work to give me a better life. I also have to admit, however, that some of these privileges were easier for them to give me because of privileges that no one had any real control over.
  • I have privileges that come from having north-western European ancestry.
  • I have privileges that come from having male genitalia.
  • I have privileges that come from being attracted to the opposite sex.
  • I have privileges that come from natural physical and mental abilities.
  • I have privileges that come from talents and inclinations that I’ve never worked to develop; they’re just there.
  • I have privileges that come from being born in America.
  •  Etc.

These are the hard ones for me to deal with. One of the first things that I might deal with when confronting these privileges is to first of all deny them.
  • Far more white people are unemployed or struggling than any other group.
  •  Men are also constrained by gender roles that limit our options and behavior.
  •  Gay people don’t have to deal with the pressures of pregnancy or fertility straight people do.
  • I don’t have some of the talents or inclinations of some other people.
  • My natural and physical abilities mean that people won’t help me out.
  •  Lots of other countries/cultures aren’t that fond of Americans
  •  Etc.
That doesn’t work very well because while I have to admit, that those things really are, actually, to my advantage in the vast majority of situations and I can probably avoid those areas where they are to my disadvantage fairly easily. So, my next inclination is to point out areas where I, also, do not have privileges that some other groups have so that I don’t feel bad about the privileges I do have.
  • I was raised in a household below the poverty line.
  • I am overweight.
  • I have a curved spine.
  • I am introverted.
  • I am hamstrung by debt.
  • My particular sect of my faith is not the most mainstream.
  •  My marriage has fertility struggles.
  • I have really wide feet.
  •  Etc.

All that stuff is true, and my struggles are and have been real, but the fact that there are areas where I am not privileged doesn’t mean that there aren’t areas where I am. This kind of balancing act just seems kind of silly. That leads to my third inclination to react to my unearned privileges, and that is guilt. Because of this guilt I’ve done some pretty stupid things like.
  • Place less-than-qualified people in positions where they will fail because they haven’t had my privileges.
  • Tell people their differences don’t matter to me, cutting off an important part of who they are.
  • Talk a lot for these people, advocate, and thereby silencing their own voices.
  • Don’t take or use my privileges: refuse to do the things I can do because others can’t.
  • Completely ignore those outside my privilege zone so I am not bothered by it.
  • Bully other people into recognizing their privilege.
  •  Etc.

That kind of guilt is pretty messed up too and leads to some pretty horrible things. So, what can I do? Well, to start with, don’t feel guilty. Instead, just be honest.
  • Recognize that my privilege probably protects me and probably blinds me, so I need to listen carefully to other points of view.
  • Try to pay attention when I am acting from within my privilege. A lot of things that we who are privileged can do, everyone should be able to do. We shouldn’t stop doing them, but we should pay attention.
  • Try not to judge. This is true both of people who are not as privileged and those who seem to be just as privileged. A lot of this stuff is invisible until it works itself out and I might just be seeing the product, not the process.
  • While I can’t necessarily always use my privilege to build others up, sometimes I can, with their permission, and I should.
  • At the very least I shouldn’t use my privilege to tear other people down.
  • Etc.

I don’t have this all figured out. I’m still messing up. I’m still trying to navigate the whole thing. Still, I really think that recognizing my privilege and trying to live a life where I don’t feel guilty for its existence, or use it to hurt people, and where I use it to help when I can is the best I’ve got right now. Maybe someday I’ll have something better. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Who I would vote for in order and what I imagine as their D&D Alignments and Classes

Coming to terms with this election.

Increasingly I see American politics as just a game. Specifically, I think it is Dungeons and Dragons.

Marco Rubio (Rep. Neutral/Good, Bard): 

He has a clear, coherent philosophy in the tradition of John Locke, the federalist papers, and Adam Smith all informed by a Roman Catholicism informed by Reformed theology from Tarkio. People’s objections to his Gang of Eight bill show me that he is thinking about serious immigration reform, even if it’s not what you want. Critiques of his conservatism because of this are silly. Conservative political philosophy has never been for heavily restricted immigration.

John Kasich (Rep. Neutral/Good, Wizard): 

By far the most rational candidate running today, it is a rationality only informed situationally rather than by principle. Still, I strongly believe in careful, rational thought.

Ben Carson (Rep. Chaotic/Good, Cleric): 

He is brilliant and guided by principle, but not ignores facts that contradict those principles. Those principles are good ones though.

Bernie Sanders (Dem. Lawful/Good, Monk): 

What? Really? Before so much of the field? Yes. While I disagree with Bernie’s view of economics, I understand it. I know where it comes from. It is coherent. I really believe it is better to be guided by a strong philosophy, carefully thought through than by polls. Therefore, I’d vote for someone who is guided that way.

Ted Cruz (Rep. Lawful/Good, Paladin): 

Hegelian statism is my biggest objection to Cruz, as it is against Sanders (To me, Hegel is Lawful Neutral). The reason it is worse in Cruz is that somehow he tries to make it fit with Constitutionalism, which it doesn’t, except where he disagrees with it in terms of education. This kind of philosophical inconsistency makes me uncomfortable with a candidate. It makes me wonder if he adopts core beliefs in keeping with something other than coherence.

Gary Johnson (Lib. Neutral, Ranger): 

I voted for him in 2012 because he was the best choice. I still believe he was the best choice in that race. He’d be a pretty good choice here. Other than Johnson and McAffee, I haven’t ranked the rest of the Libertarian field here because I don’t know too much about them.  He probably has the philosophy I agree with more than anyone else here, but it is not informed by faith and has some tendencies toward inconsistency.

Hillary Clinton (Dem. Neutral/Evil, Sorcerer): 

Not quite America’s worst possible choice. She has no principles and no rationality beyond Machiavellian self-interest. She would, however, aim that self-interest at “legacy” and changes that will make it possible for her family to continue selling their product after the term ends. That means she won’t do intentional damage unless she thinks it would be popular to do so.

John McAfee (Lib. Chaotic/Neutral, Rogue): 

I totally admit the man is insane. My biggest fear is that he’d just do the whole executive branch himself and he’d fire everyone else. It would run like clockwork for a while then he’d get interested in some project besides the whole “President of the United States” thing and just go do that and let the country crumble. I am not joking. He is the typical brilliant programmer with extreme ADD. If he can stay focused on being President, he would make it stream-lined, efficient, and even mathematically elegant. Everyone here or below is not okay. Still, I would vote for this guy with the gun to his head before I voted for the next guy.

Trump (Rep. Chaotic/Evil, Barbarian): 

I would not vote for Trump if a trained monkey were running against him. The man has no coherent rational views: not even, really, self-interest in the classical sense. Self-promotion is not the same thing. He’d completely destroy even himself to garner more fame. He would completely use a nuclear bomb just to get his name out there. The man is awful. CNN just reported that “America's most unpredictable candidate could turn into America's most unpredictable commander-in-chief.” At least Hillary Clinton could be counted on not to do anything that would make her look bad to more than 55% of the population and McAfee really could do things well if he remembered to. Trump is Chaotic Evil.