Home > politics, Reflections > I care about Americans

I care about Americans

“Why do you care so much what happens to some people in Yemen?” several people have asked me. “Don’t you care about Americans?!”

“All injustice is interrelated,” I’ve fumbled in reply. “The injustice Yemeni people experience is symptomatic of the same illness many Americans endure. To care about one is to care about all.”

I haven’t satisfied a single person–myself included–with this vague answer, so I’ve kept searching for a better one. As a former negotiator, I know I won’t receive any concession I can’t describe.

I sought and found a story, something that might breathe real life into the abstraction that “all injustice is interrelated.”

Imagine the earth is a single enormous iceberg, and all who live upon it are penguins. Some penguins live nearer the center, and others nearer its edges.

Penguins in the center are doing very, very well. In fact, 1% of the penguin population has managed to hoard for itself almost half of the iceberg.

[ please click here to continue reading ]

kids outside 792

Once you’ve lived near the edge, you know it’s never very far

  1. December 14, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Great analogy.

    • December 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

      Thanks. I expanded an analogy my brother-in-law once shared.

      The first draft of the piece included this explanation (about which I think about as I forget things near daily):

      My brother-in-law studied neuropsychology before starting medical school. When I once complained how often I forget things compared to when I was, say, in college, he told me this was natural.

      “Think of your memory capacity as an iceberg,” he told me. “It starts out pretty big, but it gets smaller as you get older. At peak, your iceberg could maybe hold fifty penguins. As it gets smaller, it can hold fewer and fewer penguins. Maybe you’re at forty penguins now. Every so often, you’ll lose space for another penguin–one more thing you need to write down instead of carrying it in your head.”

      • December 14, 2016 at 4:53 am

        The neuro-psych analogy is scarier than the economic one 😉
        One thing I thought of after reading your article is those people who say it is their right to kill others to protect their property, as if a few dollars is worth more than a life. The insurance company will pay you back for being robbed, but will they pay back that life? But we, as a society, value things and money more than people.

  2. December 14, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Interesting post, as should be read by very many, Deborah 🙂

  3. BloggableFeed
    December 14, 2016 at 6:57 am

    This one is really interesting.

  4. December 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Beautifully written! I agree completely! Money and the aquireing of it and the insularity of people has devalued the lives of our fellow human family.

    • December 14, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thank you, for reading, commenting, and sharing! Your comment’s got me contemplating whole new sets of questions, for which I’m grateful. 🙂

      • December 14, 2016 at 10:12 am

        My pleasure. I appreciate your eloquent, clear writing regarding the seriousness of the challenges facing our Human Family.

  5. December 14, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Reblogged this on The Happy Traveler and commented:
    Please enjoy this thought provoking Blog from Deborah.

  6. December 14, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Nice analogy.

  7. December 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Nobody operates as if all lives hold the same value. If we did then poverty would not exist, but that is a utopia and it will never ever ever happen. We can say we genuinely care for the Yemen people but if you had to chose whether to live in a tent on a commune so you could send all your non-needed money to Yemen I just do not see that happening. We all make value choices every day like whether to get a fast food meal or to eat bread, rice, and water. I have never heard of someone subjecting themselves to a rudimentary standard of living in order to share their resources.

    And I do believe that the inside circle knows what is happening in the outer circle, but they are not emotionally invested in humanity. The outside circle is definitely a resource to be used and manipulated in order to gain more iceberg. But, I am not a 1%er so I honestly don’t know what they think or feel or how they reason through their life philosophies. Nor do I believe I should be taking what they earned. They saw and see how the different economies work. I should do the same to get what I can to take care of those I love, right? When we get the idea that the utopia that we desire should be imposed on others against their will then that scares me. Reasoning with folks in the hopes that they will adopt your worldview is perfectly legitimate though.

    • December 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      I understand your position, having recently shared it, but contend it’s based on the faulty premise that forced redistribution hasn’t already occurred.

      When you say you’re concerned with us taking what the 1% has earned, you assume they’ve earned it. You assume–as many politically engaged 1%’ers work hard to ensure you do–that they have simply reaped what they have rightfully sown by hard work. This is incorrect. They have taken very specific legislative and lobbying actions to ensure more and more wealth is diverted from others to themselves. They have already used their power to work redistribution. That is how we’ve come to be where we are today. Now, we need to pull back their untoward redistribution and ensure all people are protected from the environmental and civic dstruction that flows from their push to redistribute ever more of the wealth to themselves.

      Some great books that address pieces of the intentionality of this are:
      * Throw Them All Out–on how politicians and billionaires (of both parties) manipulate the system for political gain
      * With Liberty and Justice for Some–on how U.S. justice has intentionally been skewed to favor the extremely wealthy while crushing the impoverished
      * The Shock Doctrine–on how corporations have used the USG (for more than 100 years!) to destroy other countries for their corporate gain

      This is a lot of reading, so I’d also recommend two articles:
      * George Monbiot on neoliberalism, the economic system used by politicians and corporations to redistibute wealth: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
      * Bill Moyers in a more expansive, poetic piece about how wealth inequality was cultivated (and at what cost):

      It isn’t utopia to expect everyone to be safe and fed. It’s dystopia to permit the opposite and call it acceptable.

  8. December 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Please remember, I’m old, a WASP, and an ex-Republican — exactly the type of person we need to convince… I see that most of your friends like the analogy, but it simply didn’t work for me. To begin with, 2/3 of an iceberg is already under water – so my mind automatically knew to discard your “facts” And I “see” penguins as cute cartoon characters that have no relationship to myself… To convince someone like me, you’ve got to grab my heartstrings and force me to see what you see, to hear what you hear — what I feel with my senses can sometimes change my world view.

    • December 14, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Let me be crystal clear about my purpose. I am not trying to create the perfect analogy. I am not trying to persuade you individually, nor anyone in particular. It’s not up to me what others choose to believe.

      What is up to me is doing the best I can with what I have, that I might encourage people to explore in new directions. All signs point toward that climate change is accelerating toward potentially extinction level catastrophe. The ONLY chance I see of circumventing that is getting other people to give a fuck about how their actions and inactions hurt others past and present, however I can. I must and will try many different means toward that end.

      It is funny that you focus on the part about what’s above and below the water. Would you have liked my analogy more had I specifically addressed every little bit of scientific knowledge of what an iceberg is? No. You’d have missed the point of analogy and gone on to critique some other aspect of that alternate universe post.

      Critique as you like. While you’re busy critiquing what other people are saying, I’ll be busy trying to find new ways to encourage people to explore alternative perspectives necessary for them to explore if my children are to have any iceberg left to live on.

      • December 15, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        Please don’t forget we both want very similar things — IE, a world changed for the better, a world that cares.. It took reading your article several times and a far amount of soul searching and yes, even some acute embarrassment for me to realize and admit I was dismissing your analogy over something as silly as the way an iceberg floats. That’s why I prefaced it by pointing out that I’m old, classically trained and a WASP — statistically, I’m part of the group that *doesn’t* care, the group that *must* learn to care if change is going to happen fast enough to matter..

        You say, “What’s up to (you) is doing the best (you) can with what (you) have, that (you) might encourage people to explore in new directions.”

        To *me* I care enough about you and what you write to take the time to do the reading and rereading, to do the soul searching, and to take the risk of giving you honest feedback, even when it makes me look like an ass.

        Obviously you don’t want me to care enough about you to do that much work, to take the risk that might help you become better at reaching a group of people that generally doesn’t care — about you, about the earth, about the inequality in America or the world.

        • December 16, 2016 at 7:03 am

          I have only a moment, so here’s the short form:

          1. I appreciate your further reflection.

          2. I’ve actually been thinking about writing a post related to the demand for persusasion. I didn’t know how to frame it. Yesterday got me a little bit closer to addressing te core, but I wasn’t sure how to find or articulate the rest. I’m sorry for the targeted nature of a frustration that’s about a pattern, not a single exchange.

          3. Thinking about a convo with an HRC supporting friend yesterday as well as this one, I found that thing I couldn’t quite articulate. Thank you for your openness–and helping me figure it out! Now if only I could type it up telepathically …

  9. December 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    1. There was no “further reflection” — I merely explained what I went through BEFORE I posted the original comment.

    2. Before you post anything at all about “persuasive writing” you need to know what it is. May I recommend you study closely two very different methods of “persuasive” writing, both by John Donne, who is considered by many to be the most skillful “persuasive” author in the English Language — even though he wrote in the late 1500’s to early 1600’s. When he wrote “The Flea” he was an infamous playboy.


    When he wrote “Meditation XVII” he was a religious fanatic and one of the leaders of the Church.


    3. If I have helped you “figure out” how to articulate anything at all, you are welcome. You might remember that the next time I offer something other than, “Oh how wonderful you are!” You have helped me figure out precisely why most people my age dispise all “millennials” – you want your opinions to be heard, but have no desire to learn what has come before your own existence. You have a “mob mentality” and would rather attack than learn. At the same time you think you are terminally unique.

    • December 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I debated not approving this, but I think I’ll let it stand for others as an example of the “civility” you’re preaching.

      If you’re going to grade someone on their non-schoolwork as a non-teacher instead of engage in the substance of the work (as you did), you should be prepared for like commentary in turn. It won’t necessarily be what you desire, which seems an odd thing to have to remind someone older speaking of “horrid” younger people.

      I don’t regret my initial comment re: your first response at all. I apologized for a very particular portion of it, and stand by its content otherwise.

      Best wishes to you.

  10. December 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I like the iceberg analogy. It rings true in many ways, and is literally true due to climate change (which is not a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese). The Republic of the Marshall Islands, for instance, is in danger of disappearing into the Pacific within 50 years. Several other island nations are in the same situation. And with the incoming U.S. administration, filled with 1% “penguins,” there won’t be any protections for the people on the edges of the iceberg.

  11. February 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I am from yemen I like penguins anecdotes .

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