Friday, March 23, 2007

Difficult Question Time II

Are racial prejudices bad?

I know that they are part of human nature but it is also indisputable that some parts of human nature are bad. I think the initial response of most would be, "Yes. They are bad." But what if for someone who does not know the difference between discrimination, discernment, and prejudice, it is used for survival?

At the moment, I am thinking of an anecdote from James Brady's book Flyboys. A Japanese officer tells of their ground invasion of China during WWII. He relates the story of a rural Chinese woman who stayed at her family's house when the Japanese forces were approaching.

Since the direction given to him was to use "local provisioning," he went out on his own looking for food for his platoon. When he met the Chinese woman, she relayed the story of how her family had run off because they were afraid the Japanese were hideous monsters that would kill them all. She told him that her family had been prejudiced but she knew the Japanese were not really like that.

He then raped her, killed her, and cut her up for food.

I cannot speak to the veracity of the story, however such stories were not uncommon for then.

The woman lacked her family's discernment or even the general prejudice of Chinese people against the Japanese and she paid with her life.

What if the question were posed with the following circumstances? (mix and match the colors - or religeon or whatever - to suit)

A white couple decide not to go into a roadside diner because it looks all black. There only reason for doing it is because they do not like blacks. The next white couple that go into the diner get raped and murdered because they are white.

Was it bad the first couple was racially prejudiced?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Thousand Promises

I am reminded of Marv's line in the movie Sin City, "My muscles make me a thousand promises of pain to come." While this title may be appropriate to a Hillary or Obama presidential administration, I am actually referring to the literal physical pain here.

I went skiing for the first time in my life the night before last. I did not have an instructor. A guy from the rental shop gave me a few pointers: "Do this to turn left and do this to stop." After a few runs on the training slope I hit the beginner slope.

The training slope is about 200 feet, is gentle, and has a "magic carpet," i.e. a moving walk similar to those found at airports to bring folks back to the start.

The beginner slope has a lift is hundreds of yards long with some steep descents and some gradual ones. My first fall could not even wait for the slope. I did a full face plant getting off of the lift at the top.

I picked myself up and made my way slowly - I was still learning how to inch along - to the edge. I slid forward a few feet then took off like a shot. I careened into the side near the edge of the run, both skis off, and rolled sideways and lengthwise. For some reason, I was laughing. I was not hurt much. The guy from the rental shop helped me back into my skis, and I went all the way down to the site of my next crash.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I did this for three more hours. On one of my more successful runs, one of the other skiers told me I had rooster tails behind me. I guess that means I was going pretty fast, although I am not sure. I think gravity was helping me a bit too. I was a bit larger than most everyone else on that particular hill (the fact that they were also about 20 years younger than me had a bit to do with that too).

I was not wearing goggles since they were not included in the rental and I had brought my shooting glasses. I was not wearing my shooting glasses since they are tinted and it was night. On one of my last falls, I was reminded that I had my glasses in a zipper pouch on my jacket. These glasses are designed to take a shotgun blast so they did not think much about it when I landed on top of them. Today I have a huge, big, black and blue bruise on my belly.

The worst falls were ones where my shoulders were wrenched. My left is prone to popping out of socket and then back but I think both popped out of socket at least a few times. Last night on the plane back home I tried taking off one of my boots. Everything turned yellow and I saw stars. I decided that I'd just wear them for the flight.

Yesterday I only thought I was sore. Today I feel the pain that has come.

I can't wait to do it again though.