Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I was recently listening to an a short piece on NPR that discussed self-control.  According to social scientists, there are three things that largely affect and define a child's success in life: IQ, the family's socio-economic status, and self-control.  Self-control is the only one of those three that is relatively easy to change.  The reporter talked about how kids with less self-control  were more likely to be substance abusers, have financial issues, have a criminal record, have more health problems, etc.  When you think about it, that all sounds pretty logical. 

I never realized before how much self-control can affect our lives.  This made me think about self-control in my own life...  In what areas do I lack self-control?  How are these things affecting my overall success and happiness in life?  It's something worth pondering...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

gendered reactions to nudity

Both men and women…knew exactly how to respond to female nudes: women had internalized their object status and men had internalized their subject status.

Interestingly, both men and women felt uncomfortable looking at male nudes.

Men responded by either expressing extreme disinterest, re-asserting their heterosexuality, or both.  They did not compare themselves to the male nudes (like women did with female nudes), except to say that they were both male and, therefore, there was “nothing to see.”  Meanwhile, because men have been trained to be a lustful sexual subject, seeing male nudity tended to raise the specter of homosexuality. They couldn’t see the bodies as anything but sexual objects for them to gaze upon.

In contrast, the specter of homosexuality didn’t arise for women because they weren’t used to being positioned as lustful.  Eck explains:

“When women view the seductive pose of the female nude, they do not believe she is ‘coming on to’ them.  They know she is there to arouse men.  Thus, they do not have to work at rejecting an unwanted advance.  It is not for them.” 

From Gendered Reactions to Male and Female Nudity

Monday, February 14, 2011

'I wish you enough'

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.  Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’  They kissed and the daughter left. The father walked over to the window where I was seated. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but I could not refrain from asking:  ‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?’

He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’ Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more..

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting…

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

percolating thoughts (#7)

['Percolating thoughts' is an on-going collection of quotes I have found and gained wisdom from.  These are the ones that I've recently discovered and that I'm currently sitting with and reflecting on...]

“Compassion for the other comes out of our ability to accept ourselves. Until we realize both our own weaknesses and our own privileges, we can never tolerate lack of status and depth of weakness in the other.”
-Joan Chittister

"Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul."
-Mother Teresa

"Your attitude about who you are and what you have is a very little thing that makes a very big difference."
-Theodore Roosevelt

“The great aim of every human being is to understand the meaning of total love. Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person. The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.”
-Pauolo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

Saturday, February 5, 2011

defining danger

Lately I've been thinking about how different societies define danger and assess risk.  While living in Morocco, I've seen parents give much more freedom to their children than I've seen in the US.  I've seen kids running with sticks, playing with knives, walking around on their own, holding small things they could potentially choke on, etc.  It's not that Moroccan parents don't see that these objects are potential dangers, it's simply that they think the likelihood of something bad happening with the object is minimal.

American parents smother their children with protectiveness, and with good reason.  I think there are many  more potential dangers in America than in Morocco.  For instance, American homes have many more dangers (more small items, more glass objects, low electrical outlets...), people live in larger communities/neighborhoods where they don't know all their neighbors, American media hypes up dangers and cases of tragedy, and you get the idea.  If you look back through American history, we perceived less dangers.  People could hitch hike, kids could walk somewhere alone, and kids could play unsupervised.  I read recently that statistically there hasn't been a rise in danger over the past few decades as you think would be the case.  There's just a difference in perception.

How does our perception of danger and risk affect our society?  This is a big question that can't entirely be answered here, but I believe there are some bad consequences.  For one thing, American children aren't being as independent or gaining some of the experiences that older generations had.  Also, a lot of stress is put on parents to keep their kids safe and supervised all the time.  But perhaps more importantly we should ask: What can we do to change this perception?