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  1. z
    z September 16, 2009 at 2:28 am |

    Okay, I’ll bite. Here’s my attempt.

    I want humanity to be about what we as a people can achieve the most of. I want humanity to be the smartest, the most compassionate, the most curious, the most tolerant, the most peaceful, the best that we can be.

  2. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac September 16, 2009 at 3:52 am |

    This post would have been much more powerful and less annoying if you’d used “I” instead of “We”.

    Because when you ask: When did you last give yourself a quiet moment to really, really feel a need, let alone nurse a dream unadulterated by the impulse to give away parts of it before you even begin?

    The answer is, er, this morning? And yesterday? And last week?

    If you don’t ever do that, then I’m sorry. If you don’t think other people ever do that, then you’re wrong. If you think the problem is that many people don’t do that, you may well be right: but can we at least hear if you’re speaking from your own personal experience, rather than hearing you tell me that you know I don’t dream unadulterated dreams, then go to work to bring them to reality?

    Sister, you do not know what my dreams are. And you do not know what I do to bring them to reality.

  3. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. September 16, 2009 at 5:51 am |

    I hope, I wish, I dream of a world where each person sees each other person as having a value equal to their own.

  4. queen emily
    queen emily September 16, 2009 at 5:53 am |

    “I” think that was a mean-spirited and petty response, Jesurgislac.

    Great post, Little Light. Lots to think about, I’m going to come back to it.

  5. Sadinotna
    Sadinotna September 16, 2009 at 6:38 am |

    You seem to be unaware that value is relational. If I, for example, state that Canada is the best country, I have also stated that all other countries are inferior to Canada. If I merely say that Canada is a good nation then I have also said that there are “bad” nations, and it is not hard to figure out what nations are bad because those nations are the furthest from whatever I praised in Canada.

    All compliments are insults to things unlike the complimented. All praise is scorn to things upraised. If you say that we should favor a culture of tolerance then you are saying that 1) intolerance exists and 2) you want to destroy it. No way around it: creation is destructive and strengthening something is weakening something else.

    Positive and negative are categorizers that do not really exist, but if you must insist on one then it must occur with the other. Monopole magnets, after all, do not exist.

  6. Creating a Culture of Belonging: Riffs on Time, Place, and Co-creating Space (cross-posted on Feministe) « La Lubu

    […] brings me to Little Light’s next fabulous post. And I’m trying to do the exercise, and I can’t. Oh, I can think of things I want, but […]

  7. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac September 16, 2009 at 7:12 am |

    “I” think that was a mean-spirited and petty response, Jesurgislac.

    To being told what I think and I dream and I do?

    I thought I was being quite polite and respectful.

  8. brit
    brit September 16, 2009 at 7:26 am |

    “I think if feminism is an anti-sexism movement, it has already failed.”

    Feminism is a women’s liberation movement.

    It has not failed in that because feminism, as a movement for women’s liberation, is a process. It is ongoing. It will keep going no matter how many distractions, no matter how many backlashes. As long as there are women actively involved in the process of working towards women’s liberation, feminism will not have failed, it will still be happening.

    Anti-sexism work is a tool that people concerned with human rights and the progression and evolution of humanity can use to help achieve aims identified by the women’s liberation movement, among others. To say that feminism equals anti-sexism is to miss these points, and to say that it has failed is to jump the gun somewhat, as well as a grave misunderstanding of what any of these things mean, and a depressing dismissal of all women involved in fighting in this movement, right now, ongoing, in whatever way they are doing so.

  9. Willow
    Willow September 16, 2009 at 7:28 am |

    I approach social justice issues from a liberation theology perspective, for the most part, which places the dignity of people, both as individuals and as communities, at the center of its worldview.

    The LT influence, in fact, is one of the reasons I am happy to call myself a feminist despite the very serious problems I have with the Feminist Movement (TM)–it *isn’t* just anti-sexism. Especially if you take a more holistic view of feminism as encompassing issues like access to clean water, health care and so forth.

    I really, truly don’t mean to be snarky, but–I’m just not sure how this is, well, dangerous. It’s certainly *easier* just to be “anti”-stuff, and it gets a better response from the media, but hard is not the same as subversive.

  10. Jadey
    Jadey September 16, 2009 at 7:41 am |

    Thank you, little light, for this post and yesterday’s. Both have filled me with a sense of being alive and connected, because you have made beautiful things out of somewhat horrific material.

    I feel like there is space in my life for “anti”, if only because what I feel most strongly “anti” toward is what lives in my own skin, and my comfort in the past has often turned complacent. But this post has made me reconsider what sacrifices are made by being “anti”, and how I might go about preserving the hope as well. I think I would like to stay anti when challenging myself, but when talking with others, some “pro” could go a long way too.

  11. brit
    brit September 16, 2009 at 9:21 am |

    “My point is that feminism isn’t equal to anti-sexism”

    I misunderstood your point then, I thought you were saying the opposite. Reducing feminism to ‘anti sexism’ and leaving out the pro woman, women’s liberation part of it, is something I see so often in the papers, in my life, in blogs, even those that profess to be feminist, etc, that it’s too easy now for me to see it even where its not. My apologies.

  12. brit
    brit September 16, 2009 at 9:49 am |

    In a word, Evolution. I don’t know where to start on what that means or would comprise. I can do the antis- No capitalism, no money, no profit, no working day, no schooling, no bosses, no marriage, no beauty rituals performed to appeal to others (as opposed to cleansing rituals that just make us feel good cos we smell good and feel soft, to/for ourselves) no monogamy (meaning intentional monogamy, as opposed to accidental monogamy, the sort that truthfully just turned out that way, no pressure), no pressure to have or not have sex, no hierarchies. The end of medicalised and mechanised childbirth.

    The pros are harder because I don’t have the language for them, I have wisps of the idea but no concrete memory to refer to to find a description. I feel like we all need a lot of space to figure this stuff out but it’s difficult to make that space without people stomping all over it. Evolution requires exploration and exploration requires space to try things out and get them wrong and start again with a new direction. I feel that noone is allowed mistakes, and some of us are allowed even less than others. Women are not allowed mistakes. Politically or personally. We need space to make mistakes without being reduced to cliches and stereotypes.

    Women’s liberation looks to me like women having all the space we need to explore our humanity.

  13. kb
    kb September 16, 2009 at 10:44 am |

    All compliments are insults to things unlike the complimented. All praise is scorn to things upraised. -and this is one of the biggest problems I have with so much media analysis-no. They aren’t. There can be multiple variations of good, multiple variations of beautiful.
    and, while I agree that what you have said in this post is important to do-and one of the reasons I get so sad when I see people tearing down a movie or book that “pretends we’ve just solved racisim/sexism(the two I’ve seen) in a future world” we do need to-I agree that we need to think about what that would would look like. That’s the only way to know where we’re going. And doesn’t mean the author is pretending we’re there yet. And that’s admittedly a response to people on sites that aren’t this one. so moving on to the post.
    that said-I disagree when you say this is scary. No, really it’s not. Personally, to me not hoping is much scarier, not doing anything is much scarier. So this, and really the last post, just can’t resonate. It could be a function of privilege that wanting things isn’t scary to me-it probably helps a lot that being brought up non-poor and white make me believe that I can get things I hope for, that I can make them happen. And why is it scarier to write positive than negative? I really am trying to understand, but I haven’t ever felt that-I just don’t get it. I mostly prefer “i’d like everyone to have choice over their lives, and rulership over what’s inside their skin” That’s a form that you can write as a law, but other than that-not scary.

  14. Willow
    Willow September 16, 2009 at 10:59 am |

    It could be a function of privilege that wanting things isn’t scary to me-it probably helps a lot that being brought up non-poor and white make me believe that I can get things I hope for, that I can make them happen.

    Interesting thought.

    I grew up (and continue to be) unpoor and white as well, and it is not scary for me to want things for others. But due to multiple disability-related issues and the effects they have had on my life and future, I have a very tough time hoping for good things for myself.

    But I’m with you on “why is it scarier to write positive than negative.”

  15. kb
    kb September 16, 2009 at 11:09 am |

    should have fixed my last sentence-I meant, that’s not a form you can write as a law “give everyone choice” is too nonspecific.

  16. peanutbutter
    peanutbutter September 16, 2009 at 11:17 am |

    I first came across this general concept when I was a teenager. Best advice I ever got, and it grew over the years — I recognized it in the questions you asked.

    The advice I got was to ACCEPT a compliment with a simple “Thank you” instead of downplaying whatever I had been complimented on.

    It may be considered a trite or simple thing to “think positive” but in reality we are very strongly conditioned against it. And thinking of something in terms of its positivie, constructive aspects instead of its negative aspects (even though, as someone pointed out, they are but two sides to the same coin) results in a profoundly different way of looking at things, and devising strategies to cope with or fix things.

  17. bg
    bg September 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm |

    I want a world where human beings treat all other living beings with respect and see themselves as part of a whole that needs, values, and supports them.

    I want a world where I can be human without labels or judgments.

    I want a world where quality education is available to everyone.

    I want a world where people are the decision makers in their own lives.

    There’s a start…and I also have something to add – this truly isn’t meant to be petty or snarky – but why use the phrase “unpoor” when referring to socioeconomic status? We are so afraid of class that we even have trouble naming it. Or maybe we just aren’t sure where we stand between “rich” and “poor”. I am also middle class (wealthy by the standards of most people on earth) and white. I suppose privilege might have a lot to do with my conviction that good things can happen. Then again, I’ve seen a lot of apathy from privileged people (since the system benefits them) and a lot more hope from those less privileged by sex/race/class/etc. Hope is nonexclusive; I laud your conviction that we can change things.

  18. kb
    kb September 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm |

    I said unpoor because in this case it’s not about being rich so much as it is about not being poor. middle class is included in the w/ economic privilege, and for this aspect I don’t know that I think it matters which you are. I don’t know-there are some privileges about what you are, and some about what you’re not. It’s not that I feel bad about naming class, but the privileges it gives you aren’t just limited to one particular class, so I feel that nonpoor was the best phrase for it in that context. There are others where middle class probably is.

  19. shah8
    shah8 September 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm |

    I suppose I care enough about this sort of thing to respond. I vehemently disagree with this post. Hope is a baited poison to enhance all the troubles and travails released by Pandora. Treacly utopianism like what little light has posted is what it is because it’s all about the refusal to engage in mechanism, because it’s all about pretending that there is no scarcity of materials, labor, or will, because it’s also all about pretending that people wouldn’t try to create scarcity when there IS plenty. There are always going to be bad and worse choices, and there isn’t going to be enough *glint*Positive Thinking*glint* that will create an unpleasant alternative.

    I am not a buddhist, but this sort of post is, to me, precisely what is meant by the malevolence of desire, because it’s fundamentally rooted in a sort of willful ignorance and denial of what is. The belief that we can craft all of the sets of things and beings to our imagination, when they belong to themselves, even if they love you, even if they serve you, even if they are inanimate to your vision.

    So I refuse to write down these sorts of words, because I already suffer enough.

    Not to mention this little fact:

    If we’re just a little to obvious about dropping out (and inviting others to do so), we’ll invite our own destruction, same as the Albisengians, Canudos, any place where a minority is visibly successful, or even hippies now.

  20. Zailyn
    Zailyn September 17, 2009 at 4:15 am |

    This post is amazing.

    I’ve been thinking on ideas that go in this general direction. I’m on the autistic spectrum, and lately I’ve been trying to get past “I am disabled in X ways because of my neurology due to society” and try to imagine what a society where I am /not/ disabled would look like-

    and coming up utterly blank.

    So I can’t phrase it in a positive way yet. I try and wrap my mind around it, but it’s just too big, too different. I can’t say what I’m looking for without using the words “not” or “without”. I want to not be… I want this to stop… I want to live a full life without… not, not, not. It seems so incredibly limited, so sad, so doomed to failure to only be able to wish for things to go away but not to imagine what I want to replace it.

    I want… I want… I want a world where difference is celebrated, is seen as that which makes us unique people in our own right whatever shape the difference takes, where support when those differences cause pain is matter-of-fact and considered the only moral thing to do.

    Anything more specific than that? Not a clue.

  21. lex
    lex September 17, 2009 at 7:47 am |


  22. Jha
    Jha September 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm |

    shah8: We must be reading different posts. I don’t see it as a denial and ignorance of what is. I see it as an affirmation of what can be. I believe that the latter is worth every bit as much as the former.

  23. shah8
    shah8 September 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm |


    I was wondering if I was too outspokenly harsh, but still, I feel this way.

    Anyways, the traditional response to posts like little light is “and I’d like a pony, too”.

    There is just a *very* rich philosophical tradition of attacking this sort of idea, mostly because the desires and ends are decoupled from the situational context, means, and genuine knowing of ends.

    For instance, I’ve got to get out of this town is often the only thing that matter for the people who flee a place. Where-ever they’d like to be is utterly irrelevant to the now, and often, being away is a precondition for knowing where you’d truly want to be. A great many jewish people died in the Holocaust for exactly this kind of reasoning. The lucky ones left however they could, and then decided they’d go to America, or Israel, or wherever.

    In another vein, Ida B. Wells would have as strong a negative reaction as Emmanuel Kant. In the context of violent miasma, placing a priority to keep on dreaming of a better world is despicable lotus eating. Someone has to go out and stop these people.

    We have so many wishgranter stories that illustrate just how dangerous monkey’s paws are in terms of just individuals. And applied to societies, such wishes are almost uniformly malignant–because usually, some other group of people suffer and die for your ideals. Because when the means, history, and context are left vacant, people place their worst traits there. Universal education? Underpaid, brilliant women structurally coerced to provide that labor. Democratic yeomanry? Native Americans gets treated like varmints lowering the value of land and exterminated. The monsters of human crafting gets pushed into the closet and under the bed during the daylight, and let free to terrorize the night shadows of morality.

    In fact, most public religions and state moralities encourage this sort of gap thinking. It’s easier to provide something if no one is concerned with how. It’s also easier to fundamentally isolate people in their little quantized shells when they are forced to imagine something they’ve never imagined before, and so must project a vague image of immediate dubiousness.

    I think I will stop here.

  24. zindzhi
    zindzhi September 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm |

    It makes me thinks of my Haiti . we were freed slaves, but mentally we were still slaves and treated each other as such. then we never really got past that so we found it normal to enslave poor children because it was all about fighting the evil french and not building a nation on love. So now we are trapped in mental slavery together. I want a world were we can all be free to be who we are , to be loved valued and cherished. I want communities based on mutual respect love and commitment to make a better world.

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