the haircut!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s already been three weeks since I got my hair chopped off.  Though I still have the pony tail sitting in a plastic bag in my house, I will soon be sending it off to be used for the creation of a FREE wig for someone with a medical condition that causes them to lose their hair.  I still haven’t decided between the more well-known Locks of Love or the similarly altruistic Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  Either way, I’m confident it will go to benefit someone well deserving — with some strands, I’m sure, sold to help with the various overhead costs.  (I found a nice NY Times article — Lather, Rinse, Donate — about hair donation you could check out, too.)

It was quite the journey to a +10-inch pony tail, and I’ve had various thoughts along the way about growing my hair out, including this blog from January 2008 that is a good synopsis of various thoughts through the process.  The process of getting my hair cut was in no way traumatic or anything like that, but it did take some adjustment.  From going over two years gradually adjusting to longer hair as the hair grows a little more each day and then suddenly looking into the mirror and seeing the stark contrast to what you knew just an hour ago — it’s quite the shock, if you’ve never experienced it.  Even though who cut off a significant portion of their hair but still keep it “long” afterward probably don’t understand exactly how I felt going from this:

longhair1 longhair2

to this:

shorthair1 shorthair2

(Notice that while it may just be poor posture, it appears that with long hair, it’s pulling my head back by its weight while without the hair, my head if further forward.  Interesting…)

It took me about 2 weeks before I felt completely comfortable again with my hair length and style.  I remember back when my hair was a standard short length and I got it cut every 6 weeks or so, it usually took about a day or two to adjust to my new cut, so I figure that 2-3 weeks would be a similar rate of adjustment.

There are definitely people in my life (no names/relations will be named here…) who are trying to “guide” me to continue to cut my hair and keep it short, but I really don’t see much of a reason to, at least this early in the game.  And as I said to the hairdresser who chopped off my hair, “See you in 2 or 3 years?” — I’ll let you know how what choice makes the cut!

my protest

Wednesday 19 March 2008

As we mark today the 5th anniversary of the start of the current US war in/occupation of Iraq, (hopefully) a million or more will take to the streets around the country and the world as a protest to this war many call a quagmire. I’m all for taking it to the streets, and I think it’s a very valuable and necessary thing to do, but right now I wanted to take a portion of my lunch break to offer up my protest.

Did you hear of the “Winter Soldier” event held this past weekend? It brought together Iraq War veterans to speak about their experiences. The stories I listened to were heartbreaking, and I know the brought tears to many eyes. This story by Jon Michael Turner was perhaps the worst for me:

“On April 18, 2006, I had my first confirmed killed. This man was innocent. I don’t know his name. I called him ‘the fat man.’ He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and his father. The first round didn’t kill him, after I had hit him up here in his neck area. And afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend, who I was on post with, and I said, ‘Well, I can’t let that happen.’ So I took another shot and took him out. He was then carried away by the rest of his family. It took seven people to carry his body away. We were all congratulated after we had our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me, as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq.” (More of his stories can be found here.)

Democracy Now! has been covering this story all this week (including Tuesday and Today), but as DN noted “Although Winter Soldier was held just outside the nation’s capital, it was almost entirely ignored by the American corporate media. A search on the Lexis database found that no major television network or cable news network even mentioned Winter Soldier over the weekend, neither did the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times or most other major newspapers in the country. The editors of the Washington Post chose to cover Winter Soldier but placed the article in the local section.” If we ever come to prosecute for war crimes in relation to this war, will we hold these sources as accomplices? And as John Michael Turner said, “… any time we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the books.”

And while we’re talking about the media, what about Lynndie England chastising the media for their role in uncovering the Abu Ghraib prison scandal? In her words: “If the media hadn’t exposed the pictures to that extent then thousands of lives would have been saved.” There was definitely retaliation by insurgents after the photos were revealed, but does that mean they should have been hidden instead? That’s almost like blaming the fire department for the water damage they left in your house as they attempted to put out the fire instead of looking at the arsonist who actually set the blaze. Why do we so easily fail to look at the root causes of situations and instead blame intermediaries (i.e. we blame the homeless war veteran instead of the one who sent her or him to war in the first place)?

We must open our eyes to the world around us. We must examine the motives of all people — those we despise and those we hold dear. We must work to put people in leadership positions who will truly work for the betterment of ALL people, not just “the rich,” and not even just Americans. As H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama said, we are to contribute to others’ happiness, and he gives no distinction to nationality or other barriers. If we want a revolution — as another great peacemaker said — “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” (Ghandi) Let’s actually be that change.

Iraq in perspective

Monday 4 February 2008

U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 Iraqi Civilians

Usually articles like these just make me shake my head, sigh, and think, “Should I really be surprised?” But this time I let the headline sit with me a little longer, and it got me thinking about things a little differently.

What would the reaction of Americans be if the title said instead, “Iran Says it Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians,” or even better, “U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians.” If they were American civilians — just normal people, trying to live their lives — that were mistakenly killed by the government of another country (or its own), wouldn’t there be complete and utter outrage? But why do we not have the same outrage for the killing of innocents in other countries around the world? A recent study suggested that over one million Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion began in 2003. That is equivalent to about 833 Holgate — the town I grew up in — sized towns. Or think about it another way: how many people do you know? Do you know one million people? Probably not. And what if every single person you know was killed? How would you react to that? And that still wouldn’t be enough…

I think a large part of the problem is that we remove ourselves so far from what’s happening that it becomes little more than numbers and statistics, lacking any kind of human context (I’ve written about this before). I recently saw Charlie Wilson’s War, and in it, the politicians don’t sympathize with the plight of the Afghan refugees during their conflict with Russia until they actually went to visit their refugee camps. I have heard of similar experiences from those who’ve traveled to places like Palestine, Columbia, and Iraq (to name a few). If it’s not right in front of us, it’s easy to ignore. But that surely doesn’t mean we should ignore it!

When people get interested and concerned about a topic, they pour energy into it and get other people riled up about it, too. We can truly create change if we actually see the horrors our country is committing and speak out that we want change. Are you willing to spend a little less time on the Internet or watching TV and use that time to let your voice be heard? I challenge you to speak out for the change you desire, no matter how far away it may seem now. Without our voices, what will ever change?

happy new year!

Monday 31 December 2007

So here on the east coast, it’s only a few short hours until the new year.

“New Year’s Eve and it’s hard to believe another Zodiac’s gone around.” — Semisonic, ‘This Will Be My Year”

2008 already. I could get all nostalgic on you, I guess, but I’ll try to refrain. To me, it’s sometimes just amazing to look back on a year and realize all that I’ve packed into 12 months, the places I’ve been geographically, mentally, and spiritually, and just how different of a person I am than I was this time last year. But really, when you look back no matter how far, isn’t life in itself pretty amazing? To think how much we all really do in the short time we’re on this earth is pretty crazy. What differences do you see in yourself, and what accomplishments or memories would you not trade for anything?

The new year is a great time for “resolutions” of change, and I think that’s great, though it’s usually just something that we already wanted to change about ourselves and the start of a new year gives us just a good enough excuse to do it. I rarely make them, at least not seriously, as I constantly try to be refining myself and hope to not be dictated by something as insignificant (in the scheme of things) as a new calendar year.

In any case, I do hope 2007 was for you a magnificent year, and I wish for all of you a great 2008, whatever it may bring and wherever it may take you. Peace —

peace on earth

Tuesday 25 December 2007

You hear about it a lot this time of year, be it on the news or just around the office, but especially if you are or around Christian(s). Some examples:
The book of Isiah — “His name shall be called … Prince of Peace.”
It Came Upon The Midnight Clear — “The days are hast’ning on … when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling.”
O Holy Night — His law is love and His gospel is peace.”
And of course the song Let There Be Peace On Earth

We hear about it, but how much are we living it? We speak of peace, but then what? On my travels in October, I picked up this amazing book called The Peace Book, which gives “108 simple ways to create a more peaceful world.” I’m not quite done the book, but it’s been an amazing resource for me already. The book contains great suggestions, like: exercise your opportunities for democracy; celebrate the heroes and heroines of nonviolence; travel on a peace mission; empower the children; broadcast from the peace frequency (you’ll have to get the book to find out about that one). I highly suggest you purchase or find this book, and maybe even request that your local library purchase it. Find out how you can start living in peace every day.

We live in a world full of hatred, oppression, and violence seemingly around every corner. How can I, as one person, combat this? The Peace Book give what it called the Four Principles of Peace as a basis for transforming your life and the world.
1. Community (we are all connected and deserve mutual respect, appreciation of differences, and equal dignity and worth)
2. Cooperation (we are co-creating our shared reality as partners, whether we like it or not)
3. Nonviolence (love is the power that connects us and heals what violence destroys)
4. Witness (we must become living witnesses to the power and promise of peace)

We all are at a different starting point, but if we actively strive to living a life of peace and nonviolence and witness that reality in our daily lives, we can start to make the waves that will change the world.