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Commentary

Shame

By Winslow Myers

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough. Adding to the mix are pervasive early experiences of humiliation. An art teacher once told my father there was no hope that he could ever learn to draw. This casual comment stayed with him all his life. School experiences of this sort are legion.

Notwithstanding Brown’s essential research, the roots of shame are even more existential than the superficial criteria of our materialist and appearance-obsessed culture; for proof we need only look to the primordial mythology of Adam and Eve covering their privates after eating the forbidden fruit. The meaning of the myth is still debated; in one interpretation, their shame represented not a disobedient fall into original sin, but a fall upward into consciousness and conscience—into the healthy vulnerability indicated by our capacity for shame.

Having earned my undergraduate degree, I was troubled for decades by a repetitive dream in which I needed to go back to my college as an adult and take one more year of courses in order to authenticate my diploma. It was only in middle age, as I began to fulfill my professional potential, by which time I had acquired enough experience to forgive myself for some serious mistakes of work and love, that the dream ceased to recur. The dream was a manifestation of shame, a deep sense of not living up to the birthright of what it was possible for me to be. Shame and its complement, empathy, are built-in software that helps weave people together in the web of interdependence we call culture—the culture that is and the culture that might be.

Our present culture shames selectively. Monica Lewinsky, whose moment of youthful complicity with a powerful man threatened only herself and one family, albeit a very public family, must carefully eat crow in order to move on. Richard Bruce Cheney, the proximate cause not only of the lies that engendered the ongoing deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq and surroundings but also of the environmental catastrophe of fracking, remains comfortably unashamed of the agony he has brought to whole peoples and landscapes.  Let’s not hold our breath waiting for him to do a repentant TED talk any time soon.

The shame of our planetary condition is even deeper than an oligarchic culture where those insulated by power get to pick who gets a pass and who does not.  After millennia of wars, the human family still accepts the shameless notion that killing each other will resolve our many conflicts.  Not a day goes by that we don’t hear from denizens of this or that prestigious Washington think-tank, often not speaking truth to power but beating the drums of power, lending a veneer of legitimacy to activities for which we should be thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed—secret arms sales to all sides in a conflict, hypocrisy around nuclear weapons, drones decimating wedding parties, military cost overruns in the billions that take food from the mouths of the poor.

When pundits encourage violent alternatives as logically inevitable, violence is rationalized, brought into civilized discourse, made credible and fit for daily consumption. At a delicate moment in complex diplomatic negotiations, the bullying and simplistic John Bolton was irresponsibly given a forum in the New York Times to argue that we have no other option but to bomb Iran, a country where ordinary people by the thousands went into the streets in sympathy with the U.S. after 9-11.

A piece of video footage available last year on the net reminds us of the shameful reality of the horror Bolton would plunge Iran into so casually. Much too raw for network TV, it showed a wide-eyed six-year-old child lying on rags somewhere in Syria awaiting medical attention with her intestines exposed in a tangled mound. The editors of this tape had partially blurred this slick protruding pile of guts, but it was still not an easy image to erase from one’s mind. It shouldn’t have been, because it exemplified something truly shameful, the civilian cost of war.

It is possible to imagine a world where violence and killing are universally agreed to be the most shameful, unmanly ways to resolve conflicts—because in fact they never really resolve anything, as tragically demonstrated by the chaos of today’s Middle East and the U.S. role in it. While unhealthy shame can feel as bad to children as getting their guts blown apart—“forget it, you’ll never be an artist”—we live in a world where healthy shame is still in very short supply.

Winslow Myers, syndicated by Peacevoice http://www.peacevoice.info/, is author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.

Local

Seed Mail

Editor’s note: Due to last-minute nursery deliveries, the Adopt-a-Pot workday has been rescheduled to next Friday, Feb. 27.

Adopt-a-Pot
Outside of the Community Enterprise Center on the sidewalk in Downtown Las Cruces
Friday, February 20
10am-2pm
4pm-6pm

Last fall, La Semilla, the food policy council, and the City of Las Cruces partnered to launch Adopt-a-Pot. We’re putting urban agriculture into practice and planting edibles in the large planters along downtown Main Street. Now’s your chance to help create an edible landscape downtown!
The city will provide flowers for a pop of color and possibly some herbs. La Semilla will be providing seeds. If you are able, please bring vegetable and herb transplants. Any donations are greatly appreciated – you can hang around and plant your own planter or you can just drop off transplants. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Gardening Classes
Casa de Mi Alma Wellness Center at 920 N. Alameda Ave
Each Saturday at 3 p.m.

Jackye Meinecke (former owner of Enchanted Gardens) will be conducting gardening classes. The cost for each class is $7.50 cash per person. Reservations preferred; e-mail gardens@zianet.com to sign up.

Feb. 21 — Pruning — Learn the tools and techniques to prun everything in your garden from trees and shrubs to perennials and grasses.
Feb. 28 — Composting in the Desert — Creating compost in our dry environment has its own challenges. Learn the details of making and maintaining compost.
March 7 — Organic Vegetable Gardening — Grow your own produce with skills adapted to southwest gardening. From soils to plants, learn what you need for a successful vegetable garden

PlantShare
Mesquite Community Garden
at Spruce and San Pedro
March 15th
12:00 – 3:00
Please start some seeds in pots now to share at the 6th Annual PlantShare.
Seedlings – Cuttings – Xeriscape Plants – Seeds

Free community event. You are not required to bring anything, but if you have some extra seedlings, seeds, bulbs, or cuttings, please bring them to share. Bring a dish to share for a potluck lunch.

SeedShare
Downtown Farmer’s Market
April TBA

Border

Environment

Join La Semilla’s Farm Team

 

Gadsden ISD 9th to 12th graders Apply Today-Deadline to Apply April 8, 2015

La Semilla’s Community Farm is accepting applications for the fun and exciting second session of Raices that takes place April 14 through May 23, 2015. Participants learn to grow food along with the story of food. They also participate in fun games and activities including art and small building projects.  Graduates are eligible to apply to the advanced program Alma Food and Farms Youth Apprenticeship which offers in depth immersion and training in food production, marketing and food justice education.     
Apply at www.lasemillafoodcenter.org or pick up an application at our office.

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    Commentary

    Shame

    By Winslow Myers Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival... Read more »

    April 1, 2015 | Leave a Comment


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    Local/Area

    Seed Mail

    Editor’s note: Due to last-minute nursery deliveries, the Adopt-a-Pot workday has been rescheduled to next Friday, Feb. 27. Adopt-a-Pot Outside of the Community... Read more »

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    Join La Semilla’s Farm Team

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    Links

  • The Light of New Mexico
  • Green Fire Times
  • Transition Times--Colorado
  • Heath Haussamen: NM Politics
  • Thomas Wark
  • Carolyn Baker: “Speaking truth to power”
  • James Howard Kunstler: The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle
  • Dada's Dally: defies description
  • Desert Journal: NM online newspaper
  • Bruce Gagnon: Organizing Notes
  • Sally Erickson: The end of empire
  • Steve Klinger’s music and blogs: Songs for change; music blog
  • Progressive Democratic activist site
  • Gordon Solberg
  • Brenda Norrell: Censored and under-reported news
  • Rio Grande Digital: Las Cruce/El Paso/Juarez news and culture
  • JourneySantaFe—Water: Who Controls It?

  • Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.