Thursday, December 23, 2004

Roaming Around the Blogosphere

The vast majority of blogs, like the vast majority of anything in cyberspace, are dead -- and most of the live ones are pretty crappy. A surprising number of non-English blogs, particularly in Portuguese, for some reason. Blogging seems pretty popular among adolescents and college students, with lots of blogs commenting on the end of the semester, or agonizing about the things young people agonize over. One finds good blogs largely through links from other good blogs. Of course, I frequently check into what Juan is doing -- not only his excellent weblog, which has made him famous (He was already famous in Baha'i cyberspace, of course.), but responses to it -- which are generally positive, with a big flurry of negative comment once in a while from political conservatives.

The problem I have with politics is that, unless you have personal experience about an issue, you end up just having to choose who you believe. Generally, one side that wants to change the status quo will say "X is in terrible crisis, or will be soon, so Y must be done", then the other argues that "X is just fine, and if you do Y there will be terrible consequences." So, unless you have a way of verifying facts (and I wouldn't consider the latest study to hit the news "facts") for yourself, then it just ends up being a matter of who to trust, which is generally determined by one's own internal biases. I don't think there is any such thing as "objective" when you're talking about human beings. Sometimes, when it comes to particular issues, one has to practically predict the future in order to take a side. I generally do believe Juan when it comes to the Iraq War, and I could pretend that it's just a matter of his credentials, but of course the fact I knew and liked him in cyberspace long before he became a blogger has an impact.

Liberals and conservatives see each other through such a haze of stereotypes that I don't bother to call myself either one. (I'm liberal *religiously*, not politically.) One could look at it philosophically -- conservatives tend to have a dimmer view of human nature, etc. But even that's not completely accurate, because there are plenty of libertarian-leaning conservatives that think the common man can deal with things himself just fine, thank you very much, and accuse liberals of being the control freaks for wanting government intervention in their issues. (Word in my neck of the woods is "If you find an endangered species on your land, shoot it before the EPA finds out. Lots of environmentalist horror stories around here.) It all depends on whose ox is being gored, more than any kind of general philosophy, as far as I can tell.

Then, you have your one-issue wonders, who, if you don't jump on their bandwagon think you are a heartless ignoramus, and probably fit into the stereotype belonging to the "other" side. There's a lady harping on the circumcision of male babies in this country, over on Baha'i Beliefnet. I wasn't going to touch that one. She's right; it isn't medically necessary and like any surgery, there is a potential for harm, but it's customary. I had my son circumcised for no other reason than that's what I was confortable with. So, what do I have to say to a person that thinks this is a vast societal evil and a form of child abuse? I think Trevor slept through his; at least he was sound asleep when they took him, and sound asleep when they brought him back.

So, I try to watch politics, so I can vote halfway intelligently and all that, but I feel like I'm more of a bemused observer than someone who is actively involved. Outside of being appalled by this war, there's very little I get too worked up about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread on Beliefnet. I didn't realize Bahaism's leaders condone genital mutilation in the case of boys but condemn it in the case of girls. I guess institutionalized hypocrisy isn't confined to Christianity, eh? (PS~ There's no way your son could've been "sound asleep" while his foreskin was being amputated. That's quite impossible as anyone who's ever witnessed a foreskin amputation will pointedly tell you. Some babies lapse into a comatose or semicomatose state after convulsing from the extreme pain involved and may appear to be sleeping normally but aren't. It sounds like that's what happened to your son. If you think I'm kidding, watch an unedited video of the actual procedure. You'll be speechless when you see how much suffering the infant goes through.)