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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Love Thursday 4

I promise this blog is not going to turn into a political blog. Promise.

But I was listening to the speeches of the RNC last night, to be fair because I listened last week to the Democrats, and my stomach just turned over in the midst of it.

Truly, what is everyone there so fucking damned afraid of? It just can't be terrorists. Is it reading, learning, other cultures, religions, losing a way of life? What?!
What can the constant invocation of fear and the ceaseless beating of war drums gain us?
Security? Hell no. Belligerence can only serve to make us more afraid and more intolerant. And therefore more brittle, more fragile and more unable to adapt.

I hear these speeches to the converted (on both sides, actually) and my mind constantly goes back to George Orwell and reading Nineteen Eighty-Four so many times. One could take many passages from that book and change a few names and you'd be reading today's headlines. Scandals are being spun. People are being teargassed in St. Louis.

Our media constantly manipulates and rewrites history before our eyes.

Please tell me you see this happening too. I know we can't stop being manipulated but at least we can acknowledge that it's happening. Be sentient about the bludgeoning brashness of it all.


I took this photo last Saturday in the Mission. I took about 500 photos that day and, in addition to getting a crazy sunburn (complete with non-burned bands around my neck where my camera strap was), I got a picture of a vibrant melting pot of humans that comes together only under certain economic and political situations. (Are those the same things? Perhaps.)

The Mission is home to artists, lesbians, Indians, Asians, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, working class, poor. It caters to hipsters with interesting restaurants, edgy bars and eclectic shops. There are alleys that stink of urine. Corner markets that sell fresh fruit and piñatas. Walls are covered in detailed, astoundingly colorful murals. You see gang tags, too.

It's sunny there when other parts of town are shrouded in fog.

The photo above is one of the last photos I took that day. I was tired. I glanced up at the top of a building and there it was: Love to Love. Someone had to make quite an effort to paint those letters there. It made me smile unexpectedly, in all the ways that one could interpret those three words.


I don't love every one I meet, everyone I know. I never will and don't plan to. I don't love everyone in San Francisco.

I was coming home on the train and thinking about those words, and what message it might give us. What I realized is that I love that this is a place that for better or worse tolerates pretty much anyone who wishes to be here. From what I can tell, people are free to do what they please and although that creates some pretty serious problems here with drugs and homelessness and crime, I can't imagine what this city (and our country) might lose if fearmongering were to set in as a permanent and officiated state of affairs.

The way to control people is through making them afraid.

The way to empower people is by letting them love.


Let's mix it up, people! Don't let them make us afraid!


ps. The theme of Love Thursday is a regular part of Shutter Sisters, an inspiration to me and many other photography maniacs...I have no idea what the theme of today's Love Thursday is going to be since I kinda jumped the gun on this one, but you should check out their site.

Happy Love Thursday to all of you.


julochka September 4, 2008 at 2:13 AM  

i have a quote up on the chalkboard above my fabulous red refrigerator. i wrote it there two years ago and haven't changed it yet (tho' the idea with the chalkboard was to change the quotes frequently)..it says, "we can live with one another without living like one another." it was from an article in my newspaper by a fabulous danish journalist named poul hoi who is the US correspondent for berlingske. he is apparently so good he had the privilege of moving out to santa fe and writing whatever he wants from there. i just thought that statement was so profound and true that i haven't had the heart to erase it.

my parents' visit has me thinking a lot about this issue of fear--especially my mother is SO fearful of everything! i don't remember her that way. and i'm certain it's from all of that ridiculous rhetoric that you're talking about here. i find it so, so scary and feel rather helpless against it.

i try to fearlessly conduct my life, but other than that, what can we do about it?

margie September 4, 2008 at 5:27 AM  

we also watched the "speeches" last night. i must have slugged a. in the arm ten times saying "what the hell?" he made several astute comments, first, that there is a consistent theme of "all the rich guys in one tent with an attitude that no one person or people should get in their way, and that war/terrorism for them is unifying. when ms. alaska made a negative comment about the democrats and civil liberties, i hit him again and said what the hell do they call that down there, and he smiled, and said, just like us, the constitution. oy.

willow September 4, 2008 at 8:09 AM  

Your lovely photo says it all.

Eilandkind September 4, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

I love your photo and the idea of multiculturism, after all I'm an alien in America myself...
BUT I can't help wondering where 'loving' Saddam Hussein, would have brought the USA....

Elizabeth September 4, 2008 at 10:07 AM  

Great entry TB. I think we are going to have a hard time staying off this topic!

tangobaby September 4, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

HI julochka,

That's such an awesome quote. That was exactly what I was trying to convey, but of course you already had the words for me.

I think people's fear is exponentially compounded by the enormous amounts of television news that many people ingest. The constant rumble of small, fear-inducing "news" items cannot help but to impress people at the subconscious level. It's like having a constant low-grade fever.

In truth, I don't think there is much we can do about it. We seem to think our age is the most (insert adjective here), but ever since we've had politicians, wars and governments, we've had these situations.

Hi margie,

Yes, there's nothing like a little saber-rattling to bring people together in solidarity. Luckily for us, our constitution is being chipped away in bits so the job of containing people will get easier for those in control.

Hi willow,

I'm glad you like the photo. I was trying to find an antidote to the "Hate Week" stuff coming out of my radio (just can't get away from the Orwellian analogies here).

Hi eilandkind,

I'm glad you enjoyed that multiculturalism part. I can't help thinking that if parts of our country were more integrated that we would get more moderate views across the board and not so much extremity.

On your other comment about Saddam Hussein, I did not imply that we should love him or anyone else that bears us ill will. However I do encourage you to keep up with the facts. The current war in Iraq had nothing to do with the events of Sept. 11. You may recall that the majority of the hijackers were of SAUDI descent and NOT ONE was Iraqi. You may also recall that Afghanistan was a primary haven for Al-Qaeda and that in diverting our attention away from Afghanistan and subverting the fight to Iraq, we substantially weakened our initial intent for wiping out terrorists and spread our resources too thin.

I am not a pacifist and I would support a military action that was necessary and realistically executed to protect our country. Keep in mind that more of our good people have died in Iraq than were killed on American soil on September 11.

But don't worry. Since McCain now "knows" where bin Laden is (and apparently will only tell us if elected) you can bet that we'll be taking the fight to all kinds of new countries, including Iran and Pakistan. Oh, and don't leave out the Russians. Our new cold war is long overdue. But since Palin lives so close to Russia now, I'm sure she knows how to deal with Putin better than anyone else.

tangobaby September 4, 2008 at 10:24 AM  

Hi Elizabeth,

I hope we're both wrong on this one. I almost threw my radio out of the window last night.

My Castle in Spain September 4, 2008 at 10:24 AM  

oh dear...1984 is far from being a fiction at times

i believe fear is a natural human feeling but it has now become a weapon to manipulate the masses : fear of terrorism, fear of immigration and what not...

this place the Mission sounds nice !

namastenancy September 4, 2008 at 10:35 AM  

Great post and great photo. I think that it's not just about fear, it's about power - as in we've got it, we're going to keep it and all the rest of you (fill in the blank) can go back to the state of serfdom where we want you to be.

We also don't consider better than the common herd - hell, we ARE the common herd (artistic common herd) whereas the right (or some of them) seem to view themselves as the equivalent of the lord of the manor, safely ensconced in a mooted castle and guarded by faithful retainers while the serfs grovel in the pigsty below the castle walls. We don't want to be condemned to a pigsty, thank you very much. We prefer a civilized, moderately happy and content populace and understand all too well that poverty, lack of jobs and poor education lead to a lack of hope and a total disengagement with society and hence to violence. We know where that leads and unless you are willing to bomb inner cities into rubble and kill all the population, it's going to explode outward. Even if you ARE willing to jail, mow down or shoot all those whom you consider inferior, that backfires as well - look at Russia. Even China - with it's more successful but equally authoritarian government - can't stomp down dissent.

I also posted my own rant here:

And now I will stop taking over your LJ! Me bad. NJ very talkative.

tangobaby September 4, 2008 at 12:26 PM  

Hi Lala,

I believe that 1984 is one of the most prophetic books ever written and just because something is written as a fiction doesn't mean it is less true.

The Mission is an interesting place. It's diverse and troubled. It's also violent and not a place to walk about without your radar being fully engaged. That being said, it's also a place where you encounter so many kinds of people that it opens your eyes to see that not everyone is white, goes to church on Sundays and speaks English.

To me, that is crucial for all Americans to learn. We all come from different places. We cannot become identical, nor should we.

Hi namastenancy,

Yes, I agree with you entirely. The grasping and holding of the reins of power is entirely the business of a class of people that most of us will never encounter. But posing as "common folk" like the rest of us, we are lulled into some sort of stupor that keeps us from holding these politicians to task.

I do not see the Democrats as saviours, either. They've done nothing at all in Congress with the mandate handed to them two years ago.

I read your post on live journal and it was not a rant at all. Just the basic dignities that all of us deserve.

Mary-Laure September 4, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

Oh dear, I so agree with you on politics... Sarah Palin is driving me crazy with anger. And all that catering to people's fears... it's revolting.
Can't wait to vote in November.

tangobaby September 4, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

I know, Mary-Laure, I know.

The reason they turn to these aggressive and nasty personal attacks is to divert attention from the fact that McCain's policy is just like Bush's, but on steroids.

Paris Parfait September 4, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

The quote in the photo says it all. As Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." But when politicians have no substantive plans or remedies for deep-rooted problems - and they care only about themselves and their wealthy friends they try to distract people from the truth with distortions, smokescreens and fear. It's sickening. Rarely has the truth - or our country - been in such danger from small-minded extremists intent on pursuing their own agenda. It's up to us to change the conversation and change our country. And of course you know I believe the way forward is with Barack Obama as president. xo

b September 4, 2008 at 7:54 PM  

Palin struck me as very presidential. If we learned anything from Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and W, it's that a profound comfort with lying is the fundamental shared personal quality of modern American presidents. They are far more comfortable with telling massive a and significant lies than average Joes and Joannes. I'm pretty sure that Palin failed to utter a single true thing in her time at the podium. She is truly ready for the job should ill fortune strike J McJ.

robin bird September 4, 2008 at 10:03 PM  

you have obviously set a lot of your friends to thinking with this post. great and thoughtful post and great responses too. you have a way of doing that my dear. speaking the truth and then letting the truth speak for itself. your photo, the story of working hard then finding it at the end of your photographic trail has it's own poignancy. i am glad it was there to balance out the effects of the political obfuscation and as you so sagely put it, the constant invocation of fear. love is fearless. it has to be. and there is something truly hopeful in knowing that there are those who love to love. you are one, i am one and all the readers and commenters here.

happy love thursday dear julie.

mrs. sarah ott September 4, 2008 at 11:06 PM  

i want to visit the mission. and i love everything that you said.

Christina September 5, 2008 at 5:58 AM  

I missed this post! I So love the picture! I got lost in your words because I loved them.

"I don't love every one I meet, everyone I know. I never will and don't plan to. I don't love everyone in San Francisco."

Can I tac this to my desk? I want to be able to say this out loud and be okay with it! : )

Wait, you love me though, right!? : )

Eilandkind September 5, 2008 at 12:42 PM  

Thank you for replying to me tangobaby.
I hear what you are saying.
I still love your blog, those ice creams look and sounds yummie, my favourite is pistachio!