Celebrate With Pakistan. Go On. Just Once.

The Pakistani judiciary just removed from power a man that has held a tremendous amount of power in the country for years.


No, seriously, years. And a tremendous amount of power. You don’t understand. This is Nawaz Sharif. This is no joke in Pakistan.

The underdog is rarely celebrated for any of her achievements. A comparable event of comparable complexity can be celebrated with outpourings of optimism and fist-pumping in a Western nation or a regional superpower. In the case of Pakistan, the complexity (military involvement and political shenanigans) which would be pushed to the background to discuss a different country, take over any optimism.

In a single-clause sentence, try to acknowledge that Pakistan’s judiciary did what few countries in the world have achieved.




We’ll all write essays about complexity and political baggage afterward. But give us that one moment. That one moment that we never, ever get, because every pundit in the world stylishly adopts the “basket case” discourse as soon as the word “Pakistan” comes up.

And if you don’t want to give Pakistan that one moment, show me what you’ve got.

Show me your comparable stuff.


Who’s your hero?

ross.jpg“What’s wrong with this guy?” he said over a plate of expensive pasta. “Here’s this beautiful woman, and you won’t commit to her? What’s wrong with him?”

The woman was Rachel in Friends, and the person talking was a high-level manager at an IT company. A grown man who could not separate the fictional personae on the screen from reality.

It never fails to blow my mind how regular folks who should know better buy into the PR of mass-consumed celebrities.

There are people who would like John McCain to be their grandpa, Obama to be their neighbor, and Justin Bieber to be their buddy.

These people will probably slam me for my cynicism. People will say that they have lurve to give, and they believe in the goodness of these celluloid personae.

But for all the people who weep about John McCain’s “heroism,” how many of them recognize the thousands of disability rights activists who put their bodies and their wheelchairs on the line?


mazie.jpgIf folks really have so much love to give, how about recognizing Mazie Hirono, who traveled despite stage 4 cancer to cast her vote for healthcare? Why focus so much on the last-minute move by McCain – who didn’t even take a stand during his speech about getting to “regular order”?


A Hollywood cliffhanger that tells you the story of the gruff heart-of-gold who had a last-minute change of heart draws out people’s emotions because it plays on emotions more effectively than the unsensational, persistent, steadfast work of healthcare activists.

For smooth sensational screen-friendly celebrity personae, people ignore any number of facts about how their political heroes in the 1% have killed thousands in a war (but those are brown people, far away from us, so it doesn’t really matter).

People ignore how these celebrity politicians lack a consistent record of policy friendly to obama-mic-drop.jpgthe 99%, simply because oh, they talk so good, and the narrative around their personae is enthralling. It’s like we watch politics and life with glazed eyes and a big tub of popcorn.

How about this:

Is your emotional vulnerability selective? Perhaps you are vulnerable to the powerful, the wealthy, and the famous.

This is not love. This is a love of power.

Antonio Gramsci has some things to say about how hegemony is perpetuated by your consent and mine.


“Are you okay? Is the cancer gone?”

Maxine Noel
‘The Conversation’ by Maxine Noel (Ioyan Mani) – needlepoint

Someone asked me last week, “How are you doing?”

It’s hard work answering that question.
I know it’s hard work asking the question too.
I ask myself: What is she asking? Is she asking if I am okay, or if the Disease is still active?
Which symptoms is she talking about? Emotional or physical? Or is her question about imaging and tests? Because if the Disease is inactive, this does not mean I am okay. It just means the conversation is easier, and we can move on to the next topic.
Is she asking because she wants to know? Or does she want me to end the conversation quickly and painlessly?
“I mean -” I begin haltingly. It’s like preparing a discourse, and each one is individualized.
She helps by adding: “Is it gone? Please say it’s gone. I want it to be gone.”
[Ah. Now I know what to say. She’s asking if she needs to prepare for me to lose hair, get surgery, do the Big Things of Disease, – OR if I am suffering but not leaning precariously over into mortality.]
“OH. Yeah. I’m clear.” But am I? There is no magic silver bullet imaging, no Cancer-Pregnancy Test that you can pee on and see POSITIVE or NEGATIVE for Any-Cancer-In-Your-Body.
But is this a moment where I can explain the science of cancer? Does she want to know?
Sometimes I skip the explanation. But when I’m talking to someone who I know cares 39102deeply, I explain the ambiguity of how cancer hides. It’s not a matter of a Strep test; you just have to monitor for symptoms.
And you don’t catch symptoms sometimes. In time.
And then they ask, “But you don’t have symptoms, right?” And sometimes you hear the hopefulness in the voice, which is in part a hopefulness that says, “Oh please be okay, please don’t be sick.” In part it’s a hopefulness that says, “Please say you are okay, because I don’t know how to have this conversation, and I just want THIS thing to be over. This cancer, yes, but more importantly, this conversation. It hurts so bad because it could be anything. It could be normalcy, and it could be death.”
I get it. Disease and mortality are not easy conversations to have. I am no expert myself.
So when I reflect on these difficult conversations in this blog, I’m not contemptuous. God, no.
I’m not resentful either. I’m just reflecting.
I’m thinking:
You know how HARD this conversation, this exchange is between you and me? It’s even harder WITHIN me, between me and me.
Am I okay? Is it gone?
No. Not for a long time. And I don’t know.


The Sick Child 1907 by Edvard Munch 1863-1944
Edvard Munch, The Sick Child