Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OK so I'm arrogant...

Do you ever catch yourself judging someone else? Assuming that they're an idiot because of a conversation they're having? Thinking you're better than them because of something they do or say? How much do you base your own actions on what the people around you will think of you? Do you care more about what your friends will think of you or what the general populace will think of you? Or does it matter?

I had an interesting conversation the other day about why humans act the ways that we do and what humanity really is. What shapes our values? Why do we think that it is wrong to take advantage of another person, or to kill a child, or anyone? Are there times when people really don't feel this way? Why has there been so much evil in this world if we do think it's wrong? Is it always wrong?

The answers, I think, are impossible to know. We all have our own moral codes that we live by, and I think these are largely shaped by our surroundings -a mixture of society, our parents, our family and our peers dictates for each of us what is right and what is wrong. Our moral codes are fluid and change as our surroundings change. This is why one day people are living at peace and another they are slitting each others' throats. Are there some values/morals/sense of right and wrong that we're simply born with? I'm not so sure.

I think that there are points where people do not view it as wrong to kill each other. They think that raping a woman to death is not evil, that pushing children into mine fields is part of the battle. On our pedestals, we look at these actions and condemn them and those that carry them out. We protest and send in troops and do whatever we can (or at least we talk about it) to stop them from carrying out what they believe to be right. We are acting in line with our moral code, which happens to be at odds with theirs. Is this right? Is placing our beliefs above theirs really something we should do?

Of course my instinctual response is, "No shit we should stop them! What they're doing is wrong!!" Just like my instinctual response in China is that the Chinese people that spit/blow their noses on the street are somehow less civilized than I am because their hygiene is different than my own. I judge the people who litter the streets with trash as well as those that sell their bodies for whatever it is they need. I judge the people that kill other people or molest children. I judge them and I think that, "I'm better than that. I'm better than them."

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in my superiority complex. I feel like this topic gets neglected a lot because it's somehow OK to have an inferiority complex (which I also have to some degree), but feeling superior to people is a huge no-no. Well I'm here to admit that I totally feel superior sometimes. I think my way is better and I think that my country does a lot of things better than other countries. I'm also pretty sure that everyone feels this way. We believe what we believe and of course we think we're right and they're wrong - or we wouldn't believe it! Of course I think I'm better than the person who has participated in a massacre - or I would participate too.

Having said that - I totally worry about what other people think of me and if they're looking at me and thinking that they're better than I am. Here comes my inferiority complex. I don't really know why - and I feel that I am somehow less susceptible to this impulse to look awesome in the eyes of others but it's definitely something I still struggle with. Why do I avoid asking stupid questions or doing something where I might look like a total ass in front of my friends? If I really didn't care what other people thought then I would have no problem with this.

In a lot of ways - caring what other people think of you is a positive thing. It keeps us in line and respectful of others - which I think makes everyone happier in the end. But I still can't help but wonder how much I've missed out on because I didn't want to look stupid. Or didn't want to wear a bathing suit in front of that person.

On a related note - I bought my first scale today. I feel really weird about it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New beginnings (again..)

I have now been in NYC for almost 4 months. Really not that long of a time, but I feel amazingly settled in. My transition to living here was definitely one of the easiest I have ever made. I won't pretend that I know all the ins and outs, or could tell you exactly where to go to get a good cupcake or anything (cupcakes are still really popular here), but I know my way around the subway lines pretty well at this point and feel really comfortable wandering the streets.

Living in America is definitely easier than living in a city overseas, but I still miss it sometimes! I'm extremely glad that I moved here and gave it a shot - because I definitely am much happier here than I ever could have been in Jacksonville, FL. I am a big city kind of girl. I miss the stars and the beach, but I love the hustle and bustle and walking down the city streets.

This is titled new beginnings because I have switched organizations. I now work at Planned Parenthood. My job at my previous organization quickly went to shit when my supervisor and I stopped getting along and we realized that our end goals weren't exactly meshing. I won't go into detail- but let's just say that it wasn't working out, so I was transferred here.

Today is day 6 and so far I really like it!! Everyone is extremely nice and welcoming and the sort of work they're doing here is much more my speed than the business services that were being carried out at my previous org. I'm working on a campaign to get comprehensive sex-ed into public schools in NYC by recruiting parents to push the principals to implement the available curriculum. As someone who grew up with probably too much sex-ed by my dear mother, I was never confused as to what sex was or what exactly a condom was and how to use it. However, I know most kids aren't blessed with parents as open as my own, and most schools don't offer much help (scary pictures of genital warts don't count). As such, I fully support this initiative and am excited about working on it!!

Something that's interesting about working here is figuring more out about what I believe. I've been reading up on feminism, the pro/anti-choice battle, sex-ed, and all sorts of other political and personal issues. I've always categorized myself as pro-choice because I truly believe that it is important for each of us to be in charge of our own bodies. For too long women were used as baby machines and it wasn't our choice whether or not we had children. For me, being forced to keep a child in my womb that I didn't want would be torture. Having a child that had been forced into me would be even worse. (I avoid saying that I only support abortion when it's a result of rape or because the mother is in danger because I don't believe that - but I do think it is especially important to support a woman's right to choose in those instances.) Having said that, I think it is an extremely difficult choice and I'm not sure that I would make that choice myself- but like many freedoms- I believe it's very important to allow each individual to make that decision for themselves. A woman's body doesn't suddenly belong to someone else just because she is pregnant.

Feminism is another issue that I keep running into here. Obviously, I am a feminist, as well as a humanist. I have been for ... a long time - but reading certain publications and peoples' opinions makes me realize that I haven't been the best one, and I have avoided categorizing myself as one before. There are many negative stereotypes associated with being a feminist, but the more feminists I meet (and love!) the more I realize that those stereotypes are completely ridiculous and I will never again refuse to label myself as such.

Also- I really kinda want a tattoo.