Category Archives: Philosophy on Wheels

Why I Marched

People keep asking me why I marched in the Women’s March in Oklahoma City on January 21, 2017. This question always takes me by surprise, as the answer is obvious to me.

I marched because Trump is wrong.  I marched because I wanted to stand up and be counted with the millions of others who also think he is wrong.

It’s that simple.

Sure, there are people who support Trump. They whine and complain about protesters as if people marching with signs are un-American, as if they don’t live in a country where the very first amendment to the Constitution was the right to free speech. They are fine with that right being taken away, fine with Trump calling free speech “foolish,” fine with protesters being arrested for the mere act of protesting.

Like I said: wrong.

Many of the people who have asked me why I marched asked it as if I should be ashamed. They think protesters should “just shut up and accept it”—as if doing so is a good thing, as if uncritical acceptance of the status quo isn’t the very thing that makes tyranny possible.

Not to mention that if women throughout history had simply shut up and accepted it, we’d still be stuck in the 1870s, when “ … women could not own property, could not sign contracts, could not vote, file law suits, nor have their own money. Under their father’s roof, he had control and that control was passed to her husband upon marriage. A woman running away from violent domestic abuse was hunted down by the law and returned to her husband as she was his property.

Maybe some women want to return to those days. Either that, or they are so ignorant of their own history that they do not know that the rights they enjoy today had to be fought for–and that women marched in the streets to win them. Then, as now, men—and some women—belittled those who dared to march. That sorry tradition continues: the worldwide marches on January 21st scared some men so badly that they resorted to the oldest tried-and-true method men use to diminish women: they called us fat.

Seriously? The supporters of Trump, who is himself a singularly unattractive individual, wrote off the concerns of millions of people united in protest by dismissing them as “fat.”

Pitiful.

Then there was this Facebook status posted by a city councilor in Carlsbad, New Mexico, who is obviously unable to stand the idea of women as anything other than slaves to men:

To which I say…

So I am proud to have marched. I’m proud to have stood up against sexist attitudes towards women–attitudes, I might add, the president shares. I’m proud to stand against state legislators who propose legislation based on the premises that pregnant women are nothing but “hosts” with no rights of their own, that doctors have the right to withhold the status of a fetus from pregnant women, and that rape and incest are “the will of God.

I have no desire to return to the legal status of women in the 1870s. Call me progressive: I want society to move forward, not backward. I want a world in which my nieces won’t have to  protest this same old shit.

That’s why I marched.

Real Tidying Starts at the Store

So there’s this book.

978-1-60774-730-7

It’s a bestseller, and the author, Marie Kondo, is–wow, she’s kind of crazy-passionate-insanely into organizing and tidying one’s personal space. Because I have some of that crazy-passionate organizing gene and have getting rid of things on my permanent to-do list, I read it.

And I have to say, it was very inspiring! I am ready to go Konmari on my surfeit of stuff and pare things down. I love Kondo’s emphasis on keeping only those things that still bring you joy, and I love how adamant she is about tossing those things which do not. And I do mean adamant. The woman is ruthless.

I also like the idea that getting your house in order will transform other parts of your life as well.

But one thing bothered me in all the talk of discarding and tidying. Tidying seems to be all about throwing things away–which means all our unwanted stuff ends up in landfills or incinerators or the ocean. Kondo warns people against leaving all their stuff with their parents because it just passes the problem to someone else, but never talks about passing the problem on to the entire planet.

Throwing things away just adds them to a planetary junk closet that no one ever cleans.

Tidying is wonderful, but it only deals with a symptom, not the root cause. So yes, tidy your personal space. Get rid of the stuff that no longer brings you joy. But instead of throwing everything into the trash, make an effort to get it to people who need it, to recycle what can be recycled, to make things available to others for reuse. Make the landfill the last resort.

Most of all, attack the problem of too much stuff at its root: over-consumption. One of the things Kondo points out is that no matter how much her clients discard (the average amount for a single person, she says, is 20-30 45-liter garbage bags), they don’t miss it.

So think twice–or three times–before buying something.

How long will it be before you discard that thing you had to have?