Sunday, September 03, 2017

Getting Life Backwards: Cultural Appropriation

It appears to be popular now in academic circles and in circles that vibrate out from them, to object to any person's use of anything not native to that person's culture. The crime is labeled "cultural appropriation." A yoga instructor had her class canceled because she was not East Indian, and therefore was guilty of cultural appropriation--which is evidently a euphemism for stealing. A white person wearing dreadlocks or making tacos are also examples of cultural appropriation.

But those who object to borrowing ideas from other cultures have it all backwards. Cultures grow into civilizations by aggregating ideas, practices, foods, and so on from other cultures. When one culture learns that another culture has a better solution to a problem, that solution is adopted.

If the adoption of better solutions from other cultures had been prohibited from the outset, we'd all still be using Roman numerals instead of Arabic numerals.

Cultures whose ideas are adopted by other cultures should celebrate with pride that their idea or practice was found to be superior to the previously reigning one.

It has been said that every great city is situated within 50 miles of the ocean or a navigable river because the international trade brings not only goods but good ideas to the city.

So, feel honored and not resentful when your culture is the source of ideas other people find useful.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Parkinson’s Disease is Not Progressing

My Parkinson’s Disease is Not Progressing

It’s one thing for me to notice that I’ve become a bit more unstable on my feet, or that I’m beginning to slur or stutter occasionally, or that my muscle control is lessening a bit. But when I’m told that this means that my disease is progressing, it gives me a headache.

I mean, look up the word progress in the dictionary. “Progress: gradual improvement, betterment, moving forward, ascension, advance, enhancement.” This describes my physical diminishment?
Wouldn’t it be better for me to say instead, “My Parkinson’s Disease is decrepitating”? Or how about, “My disease is dilapidating”? Or maybe declivitating? Imagine the use:

“Welcome to Walmart. How are you today?”

“I’m declivitating. And you?”


“Welcome to Denny’s. How many guests?”

“Two non-smoking and one declivitating, please.”

I mean, let’s be realistic and use the right words. Saying that our Parkinson’s  is progressing makes it sound as if it’s going to conquer us. And we won’t let it do that.

We know as Christians that the best part of life is ahead. We get new bodies in heaven, and they will obey our commands. They’ll walk easily, speak clearly, and feel full of energy. That confident hope sustains us, no matter how much our disease “progresses.”

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 
—1 Corinthians 15:51, 53

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
—John 16:33b

My Name Is Bob, and I Don’t Have Parkinson’s

My Name Is Bob, and I Don’t Have Parkinson’s

So they look at me and notice some things about me and say, “You have Parkinson’s Disease, don’t you?”

To which I say, “No. I don’t have Parkinson’s Disease.”

And they say, “Then why do you take little shuffling steps and sometimes freeze and can’t decide which foot to step out with next?”

And I reply, “Oh, my legs have Parkinson’s. That makes them often uncooperative. I don’t like it when they shuffle like that, but what can I do?”

So they say, “Well, if you don’t have Parkinson’s, then why do you sometimes slur your speech and drool and talk too fast and so softly that people can barely hear you?”

And I answer, “Don’t you see? All those effects are the result of my mouth having Parkinson’s. I keep telling it not to slur or talk too fast or too softly, but it just doesn’t pay attention. That’s common in mouths with Parkinson’s Disease.”

So they say, “Oh, I get it. I suppose the reason you no longer have a sense of smell is not because you have Parkinson’s, but because your nose has Parkinson’s; and the reason you have tiny, unreadable handwriting is not because you have Parkinson’s, but because your hand has Parkinson’s.”

And I say, “Yes, you’re catching on. Now you understand when I say that I don’t have Parkinson’s.”

And they say, “Then what’s wrong with you?”

And I say, “Nothing is wrong with me. After all, I’m still me. I’m not my body. I’m Bob.”

That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. 
—2 Corinthians 4:16