Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Of Which I Speak

Playing on the iPod: "Clubbing on Sunshine" by Svenson, from the Trance Box set
Meters swum today: 1900

"Winter solitude. In a world of one color, the sound of wind." --Basho

There's been a minor kerfuffle at work because the city school district has just announced all students will be required to learn Spanish. I'm the only one who seems to think this is a fine idea, and indeed a little surprised that they had to make it mandatory. I went to elementary school in Utah, fergodsake, about as far from any border as one can hope to get, and we had to take a foreign language--though there were several options, not just Spanish. Anyway, some people are very upset that kids are being required to take a foreign language at all, some that it's Spanish instead of a language spoken by a much cooler class of people (like, I dunno, Latin?) and some just have a problem with the whole "mandatory" business.

Yes, folks, some of my colleagues were born middle finger first. Well, so was I. So was Natalie Maines, for that matter--"Time" magazine even said so--but I don't think she'd object to learning Spanish. Anyway, discussing this over dinner with my common-law Significant Sweetie (12 years in April!) it suddenly occurred to me that all these various viewpoints about learning a language have nothing to do with the actual situation. As in, Colleague X can dislike the policy because Colleague X doesn't like Spanish; Colleague Y doesn't like the idea of kids learning any language other than English (yes, colleague Y is a xenophobic clod, but we'll deal with that in another post) and Colleague Z just hates being told what to do. Floating around by itself, unattached to any of these things, is the policy itself. It simply is what it is. People bring their emotions, angst, "issues," heat, etc. of their own choice. How somebody feels about a given item doesn't change the essential reality of that item.

I think most things are like that. Here's a cup of coffee. I love coffee. Some people hate coffee. Does the cup of coffee, itself, care whether you like it or hate it? Does your like or dislike for this cup of coffee change it substantially? I think not. A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee, until it's drunk (preferably with cream and sugar). This would apply to practically everything, from microorganisms to Hillary Clinton. I wonder what amazing things we'd see in the world if we could simply look at something, just the way it is, without heaping all these preconceived notions on top of it. Half the time we can't see the coffee for the color of the mug, the forest for the trees, the person underneath the thick layers of "I don't like you because you're different." Seems like we make things a lot more unpleasant than they have to be, deciding we dislike things that aren't even there.

That said, I'm going to get another cup of coffee.

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