Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #181 (March 11th, 2007)


Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.


Mike Kitchen Writes:

The Sunday Jan. 21 edition of the Blog and Mail really hit home for me. Starting with the prayer bit, followed by Steve Peters' story about the car and commuting, and God's will. I've been suffering a GO Train commute every day from Burlington to Toronto, for the past 2.5 years. Which has been a time killer for my personal work. The Spy Guy webcomic has been an attempt to make use of that time to hone my comic-book skills. Drawn primarily on the GO Train, the webcomic I am working on is being done in the spirit of getting faster, and more productive, and in an attempt to get some more bad drawings out of my system. I am beginning to notice a positive effect on my current Spud & Harry pages.

In addition to that, earlier this week I had the "one" "two" punch of being scolded by the women of the production management for having a "bad work ethic" (translates into "not communicating with them, and feeling like I'm not sensitive to their needs" – huh?), and at the same time having an old friend from Montreal contacting me, and offering me a $10K pay increase to work from home (on a temporary project). The switch would save me 4 hours a day. A lot of comic can be drawn in 4 hours a day.

Which results in the trade-off: Security+slavery for independence+insecurity. And idea that ironically happens to be the key them of Spy Guy #1. Coincidence?

My last experience with regular prayer was back in my teens. Ultimately I abandoned it, because I found myself falling into the trap of "God, I'll be really good if you do this for me." Which, even at the time, I found to be a dangerous and self-destructive habit. Prayer is a practice I've been meaning to pick up ever since, though haven't managed to find a system that works for me, that is intellectually sound and doesn't fall into the above trap. How did you come up with your prayer? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Basically, it seemed to me that all prayer breaks down into two categories: "Thank you, God" and "I'm sorry, God". Under those two umbrella classifications there is a lot of territory to cover. Until you get sick or have a series of things go wrong in your life in a major way, it's very, very difficult to appreciate everything that you have. The miracle of hot water is one that gets to me all the time. "Thank you, God. Every time I turn this tap on steaming hot water comes out of it. I know it's basically a human invention and not that complicated, but when I think how difficult it would be to get myself clean if I had to come up with my own way to get hot water, well, Thank You, God for making it possible." Refrigeration, central heating, insulation, fresh food, blood that coagulates properly (not everyone's does, you know). Just make up a list of all the things that you take for granted and that SHOULD be on any list where you thank God every day and you would have on very, very, very long prayer. So whether you thank God for specific things, you should always be bearing them in mind when you are praying. I tend to think in terms of Large Scale – what really made all of this possible and in that case I tend to think that thanking God for His Scriptures makes the most sense. These are the writings which, until very recently in historical terms, guided men in their lives and in their thinking. They aligned themselves with the thinking of Prophets by being familiar with the words of the Prophets, by studying those words and holding them in the highest level of esteem in their own lives. Consequently, they were blessed with the insight to come up with things that would benefit mankind. So it makes more sense to me to thank God for the Book of Isaiah than to thank God for the steam engine or the pop-up toaster. There's a large distinction between Divine Revelation and the blessings which result. Billy Beach gives me a hard time about the fact that my prayer is by rote since he opts for prayer that is specific to the moment and usually expressed differently each time out depending on what he has to say before the family eats lunch or dinner. Again, to me, prayer is a large scale thing. I want to make sure that I've got all of the Largest Things of which I'm aware covered and that I reinforce that five times a day. That's just a difference in people, I think. My prayer is my Contract with God and I think myself obliged to live my life in such a way that each time I kneel down and recite it what I'm doing is confirming that nothing has changed since my last prayer time, these are still the truths that I hold to be self-evident and the commitments that guide the way I live.

I think the problem with "I'll be really good if you do this for me," is that it constitutes bargaining with God, as if you have something to bargain with that He needs. As it says in the Koran, God is the Self Sufficient and the All-Knowing. You can't benefit God and you can't injure God. Everything in the heaven and the earth is His already. You only have what you have – or what you think you have – by His beneficence. If you do good, it's to your own benefit and if you do bad it's to your own detriment. So, what you're saying to God is "God, I'll improve my situation if you do this for me." Well, that doesn't follow logically. You should try to improve your own situation because an improved situation is better than a worsened situation, right? And it depends on what it is that you're asking him to do for you. As it also says in the Koran we want a lot of things that are bad for us and we shun a lot of things that are good for us. If you're not perceiving accurately and what you're asking God to do is to give you something that you really want but that is actually bad for you, then what you're saying to God is, "God, I'll improve my situation if you give me this thing I want that's bad for me." Read that a few times and see why it's more than a little screwy and a very strange thing to say to your Creator. That's why, for me, everything leads back to the definition of Islam: submission to the will of God. "God, please guide me to those things that will improve me and improve my situation." And then start throwing anything overboard that you either know or suspect is bad for you. The effect is pretty much instantaneous. But prayer has to be a confirmation of behaviour, as far as I can see. "God, here's my commitment to you. Here's what I believe and here's what I intend to live by." And then you have to live by it. If I recite my prayer to God five times a day and then go out to a strip club on Friday night and get wasted then the prayer doesn't mean anything or, at the very least, it erodes from a statement of fact into wishful thinking: from "this is who I am" to "this is who I want to be". Another easy trap to fall into is "God, help me to…" whatever: quit drinking, stop womanizing. The problem with that one is that you go out and find yourself drinking and think "I guess God decided not to help me" or "I guess I'm beyond God's help". No, personally, I think it's more important to realize that you have all the resources that you need to improve exponentially whoever you are. In my experience, God will "fill in the cracks" a lot of the time. You don't have to get everything 100% right if you keep everything moving in the right direction. But, that's definitely God's call: what cracks get filled in and when as a pleasant surprise for you and a "thumbs up, hey, you're doing okay". That's very different from "God, can you fill in this crack for me?" which is what I see in "God, help me to…" God made you as he made all of us. To me, asking Him to fix something for you or in you is, in a real way, insulting His handiwork, like He made you wrong for some reason and you don't have what you need to improve and make The Big Climb up to Judgement Day.

And then, "I'm sorry, God" and asking forgiveness. In my own experience, it's a very good way to identify for yourself the stuff that has to go overboard. I used to ask forgiveness of my drinking and smoking and masturbation until finally it just started sounding really stupid to me. If I transgressed I would ask forgiveness for the next day, five prayers. Jeez, I was just asking forgiveness for masturbation two days ago. Am I really that weak? Is my nature really that divided that I can surrender with whole-hearted enthusiasm to whacking off, be disgusted with myself afterwards and then ask forgiveness for it for the next day and 48 hours later I'm right back in the same loop? It helps to realize that God is omniscient. That isn't hype. He's watching you while you pray and he's watching you while you masturbate and he's watching you while you talk yourself into masturbating. I mean it is a proactive process. Your dick doesn't get hard and go spooey all by itself. It takes some doing mentally – and he knows exactly what you're thinking to get yourself there -- and physically. And you're doing all that in front of God. The divided nature is the key element because that's really the source of erosion from Good into Evil and the source of most anxiety: you attempt to sequester your thoughts and behaviour as if you can go from arousing yourself with illicit fantasies and then, later, pray to God as if you haven't really done anything or that what you did and what you were thinking about while you were doing it doesn't have any relevance or importance. And then you wonder why you just have this uncomfortable feeling about your life, a sense of futility, a sense of meaningless and why am I here and what's the meaning of life, anyway and you WONDER where that psychic discomfort is coming from.

Yeah, gosh, I wonder. Couldn't be that you're trying to play both sides of the street, could it?

It sounds harsh to modern ears which are raised to believe that everything is okay, none of us is perfect, blah blah blah but a good rule to live by is: "Don't apologize, improve." Apologizing to God out loud every day for the things you think you should be apologizing to Him for is a good way to ensure that that dividedness becomes untenable because you're addressing your vice out in the open, out in that other area of your life, addressing it to God and to yourself. No, it wasn't your evil twin that did it. And, no, it doesn't mean you didn't do it if no one saw you. You saw you. God saw you. You thought that and pictured that and God heard you think that and saw what you were picturing. If you think it's wrong, stop doing it and (here's a good one) if you can't do it while thinking of God then it's probably wrong.

More than anything else, recognize that you have to dig deep inside yourself to even come close to perceiving yourself accurately and as deep as you can go isn't a fraction of the depth to which God knows you. Prayer isn't like therapy where you can keep parts of yourself hidden from the therapist. You can go as far back into your past as you want and dredge up as many esoteric areas as you want, all of the stuff that you try to hide from yourself, the stuff you would never dream of telling ANYONE. God knows. God remembers. Say it out loud. Apologize for it. Get it off your chest. And then improve yourself.

Those are personal guidelines. A lot of people would disagree with what I'm saying, but I think if you make a mental list of the top 10 items on your "Thank you, God" list and your "I'm sorry, God" list (from the home office in Scottsdale, Arizona) and compose a prayer combining the two you'll find that it leads you in positive directions and makes self-improvement a lot less difficult than it can be.

Tomorrow (and probably Tuesday as well): The Rest of Mike Kitchen: Who is He? Where Does He Come From? What Are His Powers?


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