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Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
A Gift from Hil - 2014-12-28
There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28

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12:04 p.m. - 2014-02-06
Hey, Mom, what's for dinner?

Privilege came up at dinner the other night. My kid pretty much lives on You Tube and had recently come across those "What would you do?" videos. If you're unfamiliar, WABC's John Quinones sets up ethical quandaries with the help of actors and videotapes how the public responds. Some of the set-ups are pretty heavy-handed (teenagers harassing an old man, for instance, that one got an almost universal "Hey, you kids cut the crap!" response) but others are murkier. The one which was troubling Wolf was about a bicycle. The bike is chained to a bike stand in a park and two identically dressed young men, one white and the other black, try to bust the bike loose. In every case the white kid was offered help from passersby. One guy even offers to get bolt cutters from his truck. But the black kid is called on his 'theft'. People yell at him, call 911, and decide without asking that he's stealing the bike, yet the white kid with no evidence beyond his white skin is assumed to be okay, not a thief just a dopey kid who lost his bike chain's key.

Wolf was horrified.

(First let me say how thankful I am that my son has such a good heart and the eyes to see how wrong the whole situation was.) Wolf had many questions and I had no easy answers. In that dramatic way teenagers do my kid spoke of how guilty he felt about his easy ride. (White, good looking, middle class, educated.) I told him that he shouldn't feel bad, life is never fair, but since he had a leg up on the public's trust he could use it to an advantage. I showed him this.

It made Wolf smile. Then we talked some about privilege in other ways. Like FDR and his belief that those who've been afforded advantages (wealth, education, access to power) have a responsibility to give back in direct proportion. The easier you have it personally the more you owe to work for the betterment of all. At this point Mick muttered something about FDR's complicity in the Pearl Harbor invasion. So the convo bent around to how nobody gets everything 100% right. Despite FDR's 'scholarships' for those who couldn't otherwise afford treatment there Warm Springs, GA remained racially segregated. And how wheelchair or not FDR got plenty of extra-marital action.

Mick is easily disappointed, shades of grey do not come naturally to him. This is why he's always worked in law enforcement and is far better at it than I would be. I'm all about seeing the circumstances and influences. Mick is as decisive as an axe blade. THUNK! This is right! THUNK! This is wrong! He's trees and I'm forest. This is one of the reasons our marriage is so successful. I temper his high-handed harshness and he gives me the backbone to not forgive fricken everything, witchy hippie dope that I am. But that night in talking with our son about ethics Mick deferred to me. My husband tells me all the time that just being around me has made him a better person- more loving and tolerant. When he's out in the world he's forever asking himself, "What would LA do?" And for guiding our boy through the murk I was by far the defter hand. But Wolf is so much like me, too much like me, too readily willing to give in and let others march all over us. Too eager to give away our power. Wolf and I share an existential built-in guilt over how luck and genetics have given us an 'unfair' advantage. So Mick is a godsend. Mick and his willingness to cry foul and call people on their shit. Mick will NOT let me or Wolf be run over just because we're smushy-hearted.

Dinnertime at the Sage house is truly like this. Maybe not every night, but most of them. We talk. We eat. We laugh. We bash around Big Ideas. One of the best things about not having an eat-in kitchen. We have to eat in the dining room. It's a bit more formal than most with its heavy mahogany furniture and starchy damask tablecloths. Yet so far we've managed not to devolve down to this...

If you're in the neighborhood come on by. Tonight we're having beef stroganoff and probably a discussion about the politics, ethics and value of the Winter Olympics.

See you at 6:30, ~LA

3 Wanna talk about it!

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