So this is the New Year and I feel tons different. TONS.

F irst things first, before I forget: there is an electric car in Grand Rapids that looks like a silver cylinder that drives around Easttown a lot and I have seen it on Plainfield at midnight one night this past fall. If you know anything about this or the owner please contact me! When I saw it, it was a very dark night and I thought it was an airplane without wings. Further sources have told me this is a bad description.

Sorry to contradict Ben Gibbard’s sentiments but I am feeling TONS different from my last post, which was written last year. Now I don’t know how to even phrase the ideas going around in my head.

A conversation I had the other day with a Taoist summed everything up: by playing part in this political game we are distracting and impeding ourselves and our kids from dreaming.

Good.is, and online magazine, features many solutions and rarely rants or fosters useless anger about problems. Another plus: it is not high on itself, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Their Ideas for Cities series makes you think outside the box, something we sorely need to do right now.

If you think about it, America is very young. We are a little over 250 years old. We were born yesterday. There is no reason to stick to anything that isn’t working for us.

I can translate the questions from my last post into ideas. For example: Why don’t we know our neighbors? I guess I meant this as a rhetorical question but it’s more effective if you try to answer it. What if instead of calling police about loud music, we confronted our neighbors politely?  Do we not think people will comply if we had even the shallowest of relationships with them? More rhetorical questions, but it’s more what I meant.

What if instead of waiting for crime to happen and then arresting and imprisoning people thus ruining their lives forever, we sent in interveners, who basically distract and dissipate a bad situation?  We do this with our kids all the time. All the time. When I cried/whined as a small child, my dad would hold me up to the mirror and I would see myself and start laughing. It’s not that hard to distract someone from what they’re doing, especially when they’re in a drunken rage.

(Side note on crime: the public eye is the best non-violent weapon against crime in a densely populated place. Rural areas don’t have a public eye. That is why guns are so valued out there, because if a girl is getting gas alone in the middle of nowhere, who is going to step in if no one sees some rapist approaching her? And how are we so sure crime won’t move to sprawling places as they become more and more dilapidated?)

If police officers walked the streets of a city again, they would be preventing more crime. Here’s why I think so: a police officer in a car has a literal barrier from the neighborhood around him; he becomes anonymous. When we see police cars, we think of their targets, which are usually speeding cars and drunk drivers, we don’t think of them as interveners in a house break-in.  A police car comes and goes in a neighborhood. A strolling officer lingers for ten to twenty minutes. And the citizens get to know him, too. He becomes a presence and everyone feels safer and more connected.

We don’t even need to leave intervening and patrolling to the police force. We can do a great deal of that on our own.  When I was in college, my boyfriend of the time told me that he heard a guy yelling at his girlfriend repeatedly in a very abusive manner. After some minutes of this, there was heard the voice of a very loud, very friendly sophomore who said “Hey! Whatcha doin’ out there?!” in a tone of loud curiosity without a hint of even threat. This dissipated the situation completely. When we intervene, we give people a self-awareness they didn’t have a moment before.

The crime issue is the issue with the most viable solution in my eyes right now.  Our issues with food, unemployment, homelessness, and the environment have livelittle solutions to them but will need huge reworking to deal with, and this change will happen beyond most of our lifetimes.

And it will happen, and change will happen in your life. Because at one point, we all decide to stop distracting ourselves and to live our tiny insignificant lives. Everything that happens to you in 2010 will be important in ways no one will ever recognize– not even you. The best you can do is live in your moment, appreciate the scope of your world and your mind, and to invite others into it.

If we start thinking like we’re going to be okay, maybe we’ll finally realize that we already are.

Kim's Wednesday Rant: Questions

hy do Presidents not write their own speeches anymore?

Why do we not vote for the people who are writing the speeches?

Why do we blame another political party for failing at things we already knew weren’t going to happen?

Why do our kids’ schools suffer when the economy goes bad? Why do taxes get cut from things we need most?

Remember that last scene in It’s a Wonderful Life? Can you picture that happening in your neighborhood?

Why don’t we know our neighbors?

That’s all for right now.

The Problems with Conservatives and Everyone Else

I’ve been experiencing random run-ins with conservatives under the guise of “truth-spreaders” lately. I have nothing against or for the conservative thought pool other than it’s a thought pool. I just wanted to make this clear. I just think that right now, the loud ones are making poor choices and the smart ones are nowhere to be found.

Firstly, when you assert the morality of something you are not spreading truth. Truth is a complex and elusive concept, and no writer or radio show host has grasped it enough that you can cite them carelessly when debating online over democracy and freedom.

Second, if you believe in your governmental system then you absolutely must stop tying in your Christian beliefs with your conservatism. There is no reason to try to make this country the way it was when it started, or to have it stand for what the early settlers believed. We cannot be a Christian nation, and if you love democracy you should realize that. Isn’t being Christian as a person enough?

Thirdly, I’d like to dismantle all of this by saying that the problems we face in America are too complex to be solved by this bipolarized national war between liberals and conservatives. To constantly attack the other side does nothing for anyone, and to assimilate yourself to one huge party of thought limits your mind because you are not questioning what you are being told. In this game we call politics, we are bred to jab each other with facts, Bible verses, examples, counter-examples, and insults to prove the other person wrong and feel better about ourselves. It is not about wanting solutions anymore. It is a colossal waste of time. To bring politics to our jobs, our childrens’ educations, and our churches is silly and immature, if not incredibly sinful. Don’t be conservative just because your dad is, or because you’re proud of your upbringing. If you really want to live individualistically in this nation, you better start thinking for yourself and be smarter about the media you subject yourself to. Figure out your opinions about something and vote likewise.

With each new president, half of the nation settles on being angry for the next four years, taking every new legislation as an attack on the opposing party, and trying to convince people of what they believe without any success. Liberals did it with Bush, conservatives do it with Obama. The last time we were united was for about an hour on September 11, 2001. Whoever created this political system we have has really succeeded at distracting the public from seeing what’s really going on.

Another point: We vote for political leaders who think like we do and promise to do what we want them to do. Political leaders make every decision based on what their constituents want and place value on. Therefore, each person in this system is serving a mass majority feeling and people are only really voting for themselves. This is truly a democratic success in some ways, but the problem is that general masses of people tend to make bad decisions. And political leaders become puppets who will never reveal how they really feel about something. One person’s brilliant idea will be snuffed by this system, and everyone is waiting for a solution to come from someone, but there is no one person anymore. We in Michigan are waiting for the economy to get better without thinking about what that will look like, what it will require of us, and what creative ideas we can think of to solve this. We are simply sitting here complaining about it while defending the government that causes these problems to continue.

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

I can’t think of a more relevant topic than Climate Change for Blog Action Day 2009. Last year, it was poverty. I think my post on that is still on here somewhere. If you search for October 15, 2008, maybe?

Many people have asked me if I think global warming is real. The question exhausts me. I have no idea if it’s real. I haven’t done the research, really, and there’s so much propaganda on both sides. BUT. It’s a genius strategy for getting people to comply with environmental regulations and lifestyle changes–not even the scare tactics but the tax incentives and green jobs. It’s a huge impetus for many changes, touching every industry in America. How do we drive less? How do we waste less? How do we be more sustainable? How do we do all this while still invigorating our economy?

The idea of Climate Change, as I said, is a genius way to get America back on its feet. After the Great Depression, we had WWII and also the mass production of the automobile and the idea of the nuclear family and private property to recharge the economy. Were those ideas false? Maybe. Does it matter? It can’t matter.

I have a feeling we are in some environmental danger, and action needs to be taken. But climate change is not the only motivation for these changes. I see it more as an excuse. For example, in the planning world, people are saying that better planned communities will allow people to walk and bike and use public transit more, which would reduce their carbon footprint. But there are so many other benefits to this lifestyle – health benefits, social benefits, economic benefits – and I don’t see why these are ignored. For the aging generation of legislators and county officials who believe in climate change like they believe in Santa Claus, what is the climate change incentive going to do for them?

Don’t play the silly game of political debate. What I mean is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s scientifically real, because the idea has become so big that it is real, and it’s affecting everything already. I just want everyone to look beyond the politics of climate change and see if the solutions have other benefits. If they do, why not support them? This nation is far too polarized and it’s really too bad, because a lot of exciting things are going on.