Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Warehouse Slavery

I'm reeling from a recent article I just read on sweat-shop labour in North America. Turns out that the low-cost, free-shipping convenience of on-line shopping is once again on the backs of the poor. Long hard hours, military-style humiliation-motivation, threats of dismissal if impossible-to-meet targets aren't met, no time off --it's so inhumane that I wonder why Americans would stand for it. But what choice do they have when their children are starving. There's an endless supply of people who are willing to work, no matter how bad the conditions. These are the only types of jobs available in this god-foresaken economy. Surely the mega corporations whose goods these warehouses stock can afford to pay their workers better? Technically they are not their workers. Hell no! Warehouses are operated by other arms-length companies and staffed by further removed temp agencies. Another brilliant business model to indemnify corporations of their responsibility to treat and pay people fairly. It turns my stomach. I will never buy anything from Amazon or the like again!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Critical Thinking

More from my Hedges book, The World As It Is -- rebellion seems to be the only real means to change.  But who am I kidding, mother of three -- I am not going to take leave from work to join the Occupy Movement. So then I ask myself -- why bother? What am I doing here learning about all this, getting angry and depressed and doing nothing. What is the point. Sadly, I still haven't figured it out. But what I do find I am starting to do is think critically. Take this excellent Chomsky quote:

"Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself. There is plenty of information. You have got to learn how to judge, evaluate and compare it with other things. You have to take some things on trust or you can’t survive. But if there is something significant and important don’t take it on trust. As soon as you read anything that is anonymous you should immediately distrust it. If you read in the newspapers that Iran is defying the international community, ask who is the international community? India is opposed to sanctions. China is opposed to sanctions. Brazil is opposed to sanctions. The Non-Aligned Movement is vigorously opposed to sanctions and has been for years. Who is the international community? It is Washington and anyone who happens to agree with it. You can figure that out, but you have to do work. It is the same on issue after issue.”

I don't instinctively do this. I trust what I'm being told and am often the first in line for koolaide. Hopefully reading and learning about the perils of corporatism will help me develop this quality.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The truth will set you free

Am reading an incredible book by the insightful and highly intelligent Chris Hedges. Even from the introduction, I am inspired by his writing. He compares his role to that of a preacher whose job is to preach the truth. He writes to expose the lies and injustices that have resulted from unfettered corporatism and to "call people to arms". According to him, being objective means that you accept the status quo. How can you be objective about death squads, massacres and civilian deaths at the hands of profiteers of war? How can you be objective about 33.2 million Americans who depend on food stamps? How can you be objective about 20 000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate health care? Balanced news prevents us from feeling and its part of the reason we've lost our moral compass. Empathy, passion and a quest for justice are what's needed to effect change.

This challenges some of my recent thinking that it is dangerous to be single-minded and to vilify those who don't share your opinion. How will you ever be able to solve problems together if you are so divisive in your views? But then again, Chris Hedges viewpoint makes sense to me. You have to take a stand and fight against the injustices of the world or else you're inhumane.

I appreciate putting objectivity under the micro-scope. There's so much to learn here, that I'll have to devote a few blog posts to this.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Predictors of Divorce

I finally read John Gottman on a friend's recommendation. Not a lot I didn't know, but presented in a way that makes you think about how harmful words can be. Gottman claims there are 4 predictors of divorce. I won't summarize them all, but will stress the ones I have to work on.
Criticism: thankfully complaining is normal, we live together after all and there will be many things that will piss us off about each other's behaviour. Criticism is when you complain beyond the behaviour -- you attack the person. And that's bad. But it's what often happens. My partner is super sensitive too. So any complaint that I voice is always taken personally. In my case, it's better to not complain at all. Just accept.

Contempt: my eye-rolling, mockery and sarcasm are signs of contempt. It's the most poisonous because it conveys disgust. You can't solve your differences when you don't have love in your heart. So it's important to fight the negative thoughts, combat them with gratitude and give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Defensiveness: It's only normal to act defensive when you are being attacked. Problem for me is that it's my first line of defense. Rather than just listen and think "k, maybe he has a point here" or "he's obviously upset, listen to what he is saying" I disparage his complaint, illegitimize his feelings and dish it right back at him. Being defense is a form of blaming your partner. When I'm defensive I'm saying "The problem isn’t me, it’s you.”

All of this eventually leads to stonewalling or 'shutting down'. Too often I walk away when the conversation goes bad or I avoid talking about what's bothering me because I know it will just lead to another argument. According to this book, another thing we avoid is the feeling of flooding -- the emotional turmoil you feel when you are being attacked, or ignored. Apparently the racing heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath prevents us from being able to reason, listen and problem solve. So in order to avoid the flooding, we disengage emotionally from the relationship. We start to live parallel lives. We eventually get divorced.

Healthy marriages weather conflict because they are able to successfully administer 'repair attempts' (e.g. "
Let’s take a break,” “Wait, I need to calm down") in order to deescalate touchy subjects. Couples still have love in their hearts and are able to see through their problems in a healthy productive way. The repair attempts also lower the flooding that comes from conflict so that you are physically able to work it out.

So there you go. Another self-help book that left me feeling entirely depressed about my marriage. I find myself complaining about a lot less these days. But still carry a lot of contempt in my heart. I too take a lot of what's said way too personally and it's really difficult to work anything out when you feel so horrible about how you think you are being treated. I know he feels the same way.  Hopefully I will be able to apply what I learn here.