Complicated Restrooms

In North Carolina, bathrooms have gotten a bit…complicated, we might say. A law has recently been passed requiring all restrooms have a gender-specific label (NPR) and also “requires people to use the restroom matching the gender designation on their birth certificate” (Huffington Post). I read a few articles and I am going to summarize the for and against and see if I can get somewhere.

Those arguing for gender-specific bathrooms are convinced of their position mainly by fear – which is regrettable and true. One of the common arguments is that sexual-assault numbers will rise because men and women will be in the same bathrooms at the same time. One such article says,

“As a simple example, ask yourself, if a female student passes out at 3 a.m. in a bathroom stall, would you prefer another female find her, or have it be a coin flip whether the next person coming through that door is a male or female? Personally, I would prefer another female student find her, as opposed to a potentially intoxicated male.” (SoCawlege) (Disclaimer: This is a sketchy website but the example they provide represents much of the fear people feel.)

While I could analyze the shaky assumptions happening here, I can also recognize the possibility of the above situation and the fear that it inspires. Sexual harassment and assault are not things we like – for good reason.

Arguments for gender-neutral washrooms center mostly around the belief that those who don’t feel comfortable using the restroom that matches their birth certificate should still be able to use a restroom. Should an individual feel androgynous or female with male genitalia or vice versa, must they rebuke their gender identity in order to use the washroom?

While both sides can defend their argument amazingly well, we begin to move away from the logistics after a bit. What really begins to matter is one question: is our fear more significant than others’ self-identification?

I would venture to say no, but that is what we are facing. So, sorry – no solutions, only a question. Good luck.


Assigning the Blame

I read Othello for AP Language and these are just a few observations:

  1. I am of the camp – because there are such literary camps that all your English teachers will deny being a part of, while averting their eyes – that feels pity for ‘the bad guy.’ I am that kid who raises one hand slowly as the other hand half covers her eyes to fend off the scowls when she slowly says, “I bet [the evil villainous person] had a rough childhood – surely no one loved him – how else could he be so mean?”
  2. It is possible to feel pity for such a villain, while also wanting – just a little itty bit – to inflict massive damage on him/her.
  3. It is also possible, combined with 1 & 2, to blame someone else besides the aforementioned villain for the impending doom and the overall destruction of the ending.

Therefore, keeping in mind the previous observations, it is with much trepidation that I assign blame. However, in Othello, it is inevitable. Iago, a villain from the get-go, weaves a spidery web — like a well-connected politician, he rises in the ranks of ‘Trusted’ very quickly. He sets his traps carefully, hidden in the dark so the poor creatures below step unknowingly into them. With his advice, they close the trap on themselves – surprised, when the cuffs rattle at their feet. That’s how, in the end, Othello has killed his own wife; Roderigo has been quite literally stabbed in the back; and Emilia has been punished for being kind.

Our instinct is to blame Iago. We must, however, consider the other possibility.

Not to get too up-close-and-personal, we will always, as human beings residing on Earth, face foes. These foes are out there to get you. They go by different names – greed, pride, jealousy. Their one job is to ensnare you. Therefore, when Greed comes knocking on your unlocked door, you must tell him, “No, I do not need that – I do not need you.” When Pride shoves you into a corner and says, “You are better, smarter, cooler, bigger than them,” you must stare back at Pride with humility in your eyes, only to disagree. And as it is applicable in Othello, Jealousy will sneak up to you, kick you to your knees, and say, “O beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” When Jealousy does this, you should not say, “Oh yes, jealousy; I will fix this jealousy by killing people!” No, you calmly look Jealousy in the eye and say, “I will go fix this problem by discovering the truth.”

All personification aside, I do believe that the unhappily-ever-after of Othello is largely on the shoulders of Othello. He falls victim to a falseness that is in his power to fix. However evil the foe is, truth will win out – if you find the truth before you kill someone, that is.

The Day and Age of Chronic Fallacies

In case you live under a rock, you will have noticed that there is some hefty debating going on in the United States. While I am glad I am not on the continent, the news and rumors of Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and others is slightly unsettling. I do not hear much good of it – I only hear the bad news: “They had this argument and Trump insulted some female for having a menstrual cycle. If he keeps this up, we may as well have a third World War.” Consequently, I freak out and bam, the apocalypse. All that to say, we live in an age of political debates gone array and logical fallacies galore (like the ones above). In order to fuel my thoughts, I watched a couple recent debates and I will attempt to communicate my exasperation. Enjoy.

Marco Rubio was asked, “You have said that you do not do personal attacks. However, in past debates, you mocked Trump for…” (a lot of things that aren’t worth typing) “So, what happened?”

His answer was this: “Let me say something, this campaign for the past year, Trump has mocked everybody with personal attacks…” (a list of people Trump has insulted) “so if anyone has ever deserved it, it is Donald Trump, for the way he’s treated people. That said, I would much prefer to have a policy debate.”

Now, it may just be me, but did he answer the question? No. What he really did was retaliate with more criticism. Using the “you too” strategy is appealing, especially in such cases as these. In order to move the blame from yourself, you shift it to another guilty person. In this case, to avoid owning up to his bashing, Rubio instead talks about how Trump has done it and how he deserves it. While initially this works, it doesn’t sound very convincing. If you wanted to sound responsible, you might want to admit your faults or the faults in you argument.

I could give you countless more examples – one of the most common ones I found in this lovely Fox News interview was the skewing of statistics – but just so you know, we may not be getting a very intelligent president this year, but we are getting a president with some sassy teenage boy humor. So.

Being Worthy

In my pursuit(s) of excellence, this is what I try to remember.

we have failed to notice

that we must put effort

into living a life

worthy of our

magnificently mysterious creation.

Let me define my terms here.

“We have failed to notice”

We forget. That is the simple answer. We forget about ourselves. We forget what it means for our life. We go about our lives, not seeing our legs move when we tell them too, not really noticing that our fingers type the letters we want them to type, our eyes adjust depending on the light level, the insanity of breathing – I mean, just for a second, imagine this: breath comes into our body, follows its path, enters our heart (we could talk about the heart too), pushes around in the heart, chemistry inserts the oxygen into our blood stream, it floats through our body, flowing from the top of our skull to the end of our toes (all of them), and then more breath comes in, and you don’t even have to tell your body to do that; from the second you are born, your body knows what to do with air. All this and more, we forget about. Until we stop for a second and feel the air in our nose – in breath, out breath.

“that we must put effort / into living a life”

Once we remember our breath and our fingers and our eyes, we must put effort into using it well. Your fingers were not made to curl into a fist and hurt another soul, no. Your fingers were made to curl into a fist around your mom’s finger when your brain was too little to know what you needed, but your fingers knew on their own so they curled around your mom’s finger, and she sighed. So when we finally remember what it feels like to be alive, we have to put our life to good use. We must live a life:

“worthy of our / magnificently mysterious creation.”

When you can grab a hold of your life, in your clenched fingers, remember your beginnings, because they are what will teach you to be worthy. The creation of humankind is a miracle. The work of a loving god, we were created out the ashes and the dust, with compassion ingrained in our DNA from our maker’s hands. Remember that you were magnificently and mysteriously created, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 13:14) and through that we need to praise and do good work.

To conclude, because of our miraculous creation by a loving God, not pursuing excellence and not doing our best is denying our God due praise and denying ourselves a life of living out our astounding existence.