Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I have this obsession with searching for ex-girlfriends on Myspace. I can honestly say it's not because I'm still carrying a flame, but that I am addicted to that weird feeling that sweeps over you when you see someone from old memories. It actually feels like getting my feet knocked out from under me by a wave.

I had two exes who I regard as my white whales, because I can only get these periodic glimpses through worktime Googling that don't really spell anything out. They tug at my memory (I can remember a little love and, for one particularly lucky lady, pretty raw high school-depth hatred) but it's not the same as seeing someone with a picture of their new infant on their lap or seeing that they're waiting tables in Vegas.

I finally found one on Myspace and I was struck by one particular coincidence- she wound up going to Oxford at around the same time that I would have gone. At one point in my life, that was my big goal, every plan I had tied up in a clever, snobby knot. It didn't work out and it's for the better considering how happy I am now, but it's strange to think of the coincidence of running into her there in my alternate future. Oxford is a small enough place that the Americans bump into each other eventually, generally in search of something spicy to eat.

Since this ex and I had broken up, I had run into her once before in another improbable location (Potomac Mills, which is a huge mall far from either of our hometowns). If we had improbably met again, would that have been fate? Bullshit. I call shenanigans on fate. Think about the grander plan that opens up when you just trust to coincidence: there's that perfect shiver when I think that someone I've known has walked on the same cobblestone thousands of miles away that I have. It's like being a linked photon, but instead of the binary arrangement you're linked to everyone you've ever known with invisible lines of memory that pull taught and break, falling at your feet in cords to stumble onto years later.

I feel bad that I haven't kept up with people that have shaped me, for better or worse. I can't let my informational obsession go, though, knowing now that I can see the near misses of people I saw every day years ago. I like knowing that fate has nothing on the raw coincidence of running into someone in a dingy bar in Nepal or the steps of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the Apple Blossom Parade in Winchester, Virginny. Since most people I've known tend to be a little odd, I can trust that coincidence is handicapped by the joyous fact that freaks flock together. Even with that in place, I can still marvel at those that have stood before me once now floating around like dust in a sunlit room.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Humanitarian Party

I had an argument with my mom after Easter dinner about immigration and I’m worried that as I get older, I’ll lose my sense of empathy. She actually referred to illegal aliens who came to her hospital without insurance as “those people”, with the tone implying that she’s none to sure that people is the right word. I love my parents and I know she has a stressful job, but beyond some grievous infractions against the Hippocratic Oath I can see a larger separation between the way she and I see the world.

I think my country is interesting because the founders eventually reached for Enlightenment ideals of universal human rights to life and living, but then counted on politics to decide who qualified as a human. You can actually watch the progression of amendments to see who makes the new cut until you get to our current widest parameter for civil activity being set at an 18 year old black woman. Given the current debate, we’re looking at whether we can extend rights in extremis to an 18 year old Mexican lesbian.

The roots of my crippling liberalism lie in my finding this debate to be a waste of time. Here, in this tiny blog read mainly by my lovely girlfriend, are the outlines for a new political force, the Humanitarian Party. The platform is as such:

1. Anyone born of a woman is a human and can never be denied the right to life and family.

2. Anyone who attempts to contravene Article 1 (one) is a criminal and must be prosecuted as such.

Everything else that the party stands for stems from these two statements. It plays out like this: a living wage for heads of household, universal access to preventative healthcare, and no undocumented labor. You, the American consumer, will pay two dollars more for your lettuce and McRib instead of millions more in deficit spending for the enforcement of laws against criminalized immigrant labor. Part of your insurance payment will go into the preventative care pool, decreasing the number of expensive treatments stemming from easily preventable ailments and thereby lowering your premiums. If employers only have documented workers, then several million people instantly start paying income tax where there was only several million paying sales tax before. All the Party asks for is that your employees and their families aren’t impoverished, have time to better themselves, and have a workplace that’s safe for the worker and the consumer. After that, cutthroat laissez-faire capitalism is fine by us.

The Party wants to cut the crap that’s only really good for campaign fund-raising. The Party can end the abortion debate: we respect human life, but abortion can be a lifesaving procedure for the mother or in the case of multiple fetuses. So, the Party will sponsor non-hormonal and reversible birth control, which will be available freely and anonymously. The Party can end the gay marriage issue: they’re not infringing on any other human’s right to marry, so it can’t be illegal to be married to another human. Plus, it will increase the tax base. The Humanitarian Party doesn’t want you to pay more taxes; we just want everyone to pay the same taxes you do. The Party doesn’t care about political correctness beyond the Golden Rule.

Won’t you feel better knowing that the Party will only go to war against countries that are actively conspiring to kill you and pose an imminent threat? That we’ll commission an all-volunteer contingent of the armed forces trained in peacekeeping and emergency management for humanitarian emergencies abroad and a functioning federal level emergency relief group for disasters at home? That the police, firemen, and hospital staff who are in charge of saving your life will have more funding?

Won’t you feel better knowing that you can vote for a third party that will keep your interests in mind regardless of your party affiliation?

The Humanitarian Party: we’re fighting for you, no matter what.