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Thursday, November 26, 2015

We know who we are, and we know who you are,too.

While preparing this commentary, I heard of yet another paper detailing the uses of technology for the marketplace, named "We know where you live and we know who you are: The Instrumental Rationality of "Geodemographic Systems."  ( Jon Goss, U of Hawaii) I beg their pardon for usurping part of histitle, and admit that I know little about the field. These comments, and others on my blog, are unscientifically based on my own personal experiences and observations relating to identity, autonomy, and volition in modern day India.

A long but fascinating, almost scary, discussion of intelligent software that reads emotions appeared in The New Yorker, January 19, 2015), proclaiming, "We know how you feel."  That got me thinking of the Indian phenomenon of what I like to call 'group think,' or, "We know who you are." Emphasis on the we.

The topic has been on my mind for some time, and even came up here, in the states, as my husband recounted an encounter between our son and me. It had happened ten years ago; but my husband recounted the incident as though he had been the parent in that encounter. That being a very dear memory to me, I blurted out, "That was my story!" At which he hastily amended his version to "we..."

Many of us in the West have grown up in homogeneous communities, which are changing even as I write this.  As we live and move and have our being among a greater diversity of people, we have a lot to learn about each other, about how to be friends with each other, what is needed and how to respect one another's beliefs, customs, expectations and space.  What we don't know can give rise to fear or friendship, curiosity or criticism, teamwork or tension, welcome or withdrawal.

The same is true in India, and, for that matter, everywhere in this increasingly interconnected world which we inhabit.  So what's the difference in India?  I believe it has to do with the near-absolute density of the increasingly urban population along with a continually evolving,  incredibly rich and varied heritage from time immemorial, which continues, and increases by the minute.   Thanksgiving week, the news is that India's population has surpassed China.  And counting...

The result of being born and bred in such a closely knit yet infinitely diverse universe is, as I see it, often results in incredible poise and presence-of-mind, evident even in young children. At the same time, it engenders a joint ownership of, and group responsibility for, experience and behavior 'group think,' which to the independent American can prove exasperating, if not suffocating.  How to live and move gracefully in that context?  What happens when I want to claim ownership of my own thought and experience...Am I perceived as being peevish? How do I come across when just 'being myself'?
For that matter, who am I?  Besides being a beloved child of God, I  am accustomed to being defined by a variety of roles and relationships. Do my various internet profiles even begin to tell?

Food for thought...

Happy Thanksgiving

Cold. Windy. Snowy. Memories of childhood in northern Minnesota when Thanksgiving usually brought the first snow deep enough to be a soft landing for a child jumping off the edge of the front porch. Family gatherings now handed off to my own children, as our departure to spend another season on the other side of the globe nears.  Would I rather be here or there?   It's moot question.

As a child, I was taught, and now recall the words of St. Paul, "Wherever I go, I have learned to be content." Philippians 4:11 (Well, admittedly, I am still learning...)

May today, and the coming days, bring joy and gatherings, whether large or small,  with family or friends, or simply with yourself, remembering and counting our blessings. And being thankful.

Our family observes the custom of holding hands around the table as we pray the table prayer, affirming the connection as we "Shake the love around!" That wish extends to you, too. As we go forth into the coming days, may we remember to Share the love around as well

Wherever life finds you, God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Beautiful October Afternoon

Sunshine brings a glad brightness to yellowing green foliage, punctuated by sumac hurrahs of red and rust. Noon and the early afternoon hours are blessedly still.  Street construction crews and equipment are silent. The dust they've created all summer long settles on window and wall, even a a fine sprinkle has filtered into the house, sifting onto shelves and into cupboards.  But cleaning is suspended until the neighborhood's summer-long street project is complete.  (When, O Lord, when will that be?)

Outside our picture window, a scattering of box elder bugs rejoices in undisturbed sunlight,  their aerial versions of pop wheelies and stately mazurkas vying to impress.  Who feels sad, depressed, forlorn?

Come and see.

This show is free. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Work to Do and Ten Things I Have Left on Planes

Browsing in old and not-so-old journals, sorting and filing new poems and notes for revisions on old, discovering half-written, originally-never-intended-for publication poems.  Does this snippet from September 22 of this year qualify?

                                 Ten Things I have Left on Planes
                                       by Shirley Smith Franklin

My ticket
Two full size pillows
One shawl
One umbrella
Empty lunch bags, plastic, zip
One half-eaten chocolate bar
Every neck pillow I've owned
Several airline magazine contest entries, neat, complete, correct
One small notebook, with notes from the funeral of my very best friend forever
and contact information for her family
who were to tell me more about her  later
My heart
and all that makes the world
so bright, so beautiful, and fair.

She loved me. And I love her still.

Note to reader: [Is this a poem?  Does it matter whether it is? What do you think?]

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Challenge Remains

NaPoWriMo (April as National Poetry Writing Month) is long past and the balmy breezes of June lure one away from the desk, but the unwritten daily poetry writing challenges of NaPoWriMo's eleventh through thirtieth days remain, and remain on my mind.  And so it is with (more than?) mere curiosity that I turn back to the unfinished list, to see whether the next prompt might indeed prompt me to write a poem.  And it is a challenge indeed.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day Nine, a VIsual Poem

Today's poem is to be an example of visual poetry.  The challenger suggests leaving the computer and holdng forth on large paper...The examples given look pretty daunting.  How about mine, composed directly on the computer?

                                                          Oh           my
                                                        listen  p   I love  
                                                     I could   o   write it
                                                    all day    e  every day
                                                  wrap my   t   heart round
                                                  it feel its   r    heart beat
                                                   beating    y   with mine
                                                     celebrating writing
                                                          every day and
                                                              every way
                                                                 oh my

                                                                             Shirley Smith Franklin 4/25/15

Friday, April 24, 2015

The twenty fourth...and (disclaimer: mine are often atypical) Haiku Day again

Little is more depressing
than matching dark socks
on a gray day.
                        -- Shirley Smith Franklin 4-17-15