Family is....

...the people who accept your faults with a wisecrack.

...the people who share your love of graph paper and packing tape.

...the people who have gone before, stretching out in a line of unknown names and untold love.

I give thanks.

Privilege and hostility

Hats off to Jeph Jacques, writer of webcomic Questionable Content. In this strip featuring two AI characters, he calls out a critical underlying influence in our current cultural explosions. Says one AI to another: "I suspect this is the first time you have been confronted with hostility due to your privilege. It is a painful and confusing event."

Confronted with this particular kind of emotional discomfort, some turn inward, and some turn outward. Either direction can have positive or negative outcomes. Turning inward can result in honest self-reflection, or desperate self-justification. Turning outward can result in reflexive aggression against whatever sparked the discomfort, or honest inquiry and evaluation of the larger situation. In either case, prioritizing defense of the personal status quo is the equivalent of digging a hole deeper.

Dear anybody with any kind of privilege: if somebody gets mad at you because of what you have, take a deep breath and have a cup of tea and get past the emotional discomfort of somebody being mad at you because of factors that were not conscious choices on your part. Or go beat up a literal punching bag, whatever works for you. Tell yourself you can cope with somebody being mad at you, even if you think it's for "no reason." Repeat it in your head as many times as you have to until it's true. Remind yourself that you are capable of making a choice that is distinct from your gut reaction. Ever read Dune? This is a way more mild version of the Gom Jabbar. Bear the pain and be human, then take the opportunity to do something better.

No More Fear

Question / poll: How many of you folks have spent most of your lives afraid of personal conflict and willing to stay silent when you disagree? If that describes you, I'm curious to know: do you remember how that started for you, or when it took root? Because that's totally been me for a long, long time -- I've only recently begun to shake free of it -- and I want to figure out if there are common origins. Whatever you're willing to share.