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Invoke the Damour Act of Decency

December 2, 2008 1 comment

Black Friday was a black day, indeed, for a Jamaica, Queens family who will never be able to face an American Thanksgiving weekend the same way ever again. Jdimytai Damour was killed in a Long Island Wal-Mart by roughly 2000 people* stoned on hyper consumerism.

I am ashamed, deeply ashamed of my countrymen and women. I want to point my finger at those people; those stupid, selfish, brain dead idiots and yell “Murderers! Assassins! Cannibals!” but I can’t. The truth is I would be pointing the finger at myself. I am as guilty as the seething mob that blindly trampled on the body of a fellow human being to get to the next sale item. While I made a point of NOT shopping this past Friday or online the following Monday, the blood stains of that young man are on my hands too. I cannot turn away from this tragic, unnecessary loss of life. I wish I could just blame Wal-Mart and be done with it but we drove Wal-Mart to be what it is. Our culture demands that we demand our STUFF and so what if a guy dies getting in-between me and a great deal on a coffee maker or hair dryer or flat screen TV or what ever?

Not anymore!

Mr. Damour’s untimely and completely unnecessary death draws a line I refuse to cross. There is nothing more precious than a life. There is no bargain mark-down or tempting super-offer to make it anything remotely near to acceptable that he was murdered on Black Friday. It is NOT OK!

I propose we institute a Damour Act of Decency where upon we all pledge to put the value of each other above all material things in this world. I want to see TV commercials that tout the amazing properties of a genuine act of compassion, sale signs that promote hugs with every purchase, where the value of a smile and a kind word are splashed across giant billboards along the Jersey Turnpike.

Do not mistake this for some Polyanna remedy to all our problems. The world will still be a dark and scary place. We will continue to grope hopelessly for meaning to our existence but remember that we are capable of transcending our present reality. We are America; we generate possibility. Bring value to human acts of decency; bring value to Jdimytai Damour’s life. Remember him next time you go shopping and invoke the Damour Act of Decency.

MMN – 12/2/08 NYC

*Daily News|NY Local
Gould, Trapasso & Schapiro
Daily News writers Updated Friday, November 28th 2008, 10:46pm

Launching a Self Study in Economic Sociology

I’m officially beginning a self study in economic sociology. Having recently earned my Master’s degree in Media Studies from The New School I am pulled towards the economy and our communal reactions to its changes as the news unfolds every morning. I work for a bank – banking is a new career for me. It is a hell of a time to move over into this field and I am taking the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can as reform sweeps over us all.

My area of interest has always been in sociology. I have spent a life time observing people, working out an understanding of why we do the things we do and how we get the things we need. My master’s thesis – completed over the summer – was on The Medium of Money and the Women Who Wield It which can be found on my LinkedIn page. My desire to combine my love of human behavior with economic theory is an expression of my own path toward an enlightened understanding of this economic world I live in. We use money every day in our society, money is as vital to our existence as water and food. It is worth looking into the behaviors that influence and direct the money we use, borrow, loose, lend, give, take and save. May it help shed some light upon the decisions we make over the next year for these decisions will have a far reaching impact upon my great grand children. I want a say in how it goes.

I will be posting periodic articles and critiquing various books that I’m reading. It will be slow going as I’m jamming this in amid a full time job, a full time family and a desire to boost my volunteerism in my community, but posts will be made. My goal is to observe the ways we are handling the economic melt down from a social point of view and bear witness to the new thoughts, ideas and actions that rise out of the ashes of our existing situation. While I am writing this particular blog post very much off the cuff I will be presenting a body of more finished work as I progress. For those who may be so inspired to follow my work, I welcome your comments and critique.

This particular posting is my way of “throwing the hat over the fence” on a project that I’m more than a little intimidated by. I have been thinking of starting this for a while now. I may be off the mark, I may be silly, I may even be down right wrong but I’m going to be in action.

Here’s to the future.

MMN

from Discourse on Women by Lucretia Coffin Mott Dec 17, 1849 | Thoughts from the great, great, great, great grandaughter of an outspoken woman

September 21, 2008 2 comments

For some time now I have been reading the letters and speeches delivered by Lucretia Mott, best known as a founding mother of the women’s movement and an impassioned abolitionist. My reason for doing this is to understand the initial core of the feminist movement and learn from the struggles and thoughts the founding mother’s grappled with.

I have no answers – there is an elusive element to this which I cannot yet catch a hold of. So here, in this web log, I am beginning to explore the thoughts, ideas, circumstances and sociological settings that informed the first wave of the feminist movement and start to map that history to where we are now, early in the 21st century.

I am also mining the rich past of my personal history. Lucretia’s blood runs through my veins and I have a feeling that right about now she is tapping her little Quaker foot and looking at me with an eternal question; “‘well, granddaughter, what is thee going to do now?”

Here is a quote concluding her Discourse on Women first delivered at Quaker meeting on December 17, 1849.

Let woman then go on – not asking favors, but claiming as a right the removal of all hindrances to her elevation in the scale of being – let her receive encouragement for the proper cultivation of all her powers, so that she may enter profitably into the active business of life; employing her own hands in ministering to her necessities, strengthening her physical being by proper exercise and observance of the laws of health. Let her not be ambitious to display a fair hand, and to promenade the fashionable streets of our city, but rather, coveting earnestly the best gifts, let her strive to occupy such walks in society as will befit her true dignity in all the relations of life. No fear that she will then transcend the proper limits of female delicacy. True modesty will be as fully preserved, in acting out those important vocations, as in the nursery or at the fireside ministering to man’s self-indulgence…In conclusion, let me say, credit not the old-fashioned absurdity, that woman’s is a secondary lot, ministering to the necessities of her lord and master! It is a higher destiny I would award you.*

She goes on in her conclusion to an end which I do not yet completely understand so I leave it here at the moment to reflect upon.

Lucretia Mott circa 1848

Lucretia Mott circa 1848

What Lucretia Mott was doing was calling upon the ability and inner strength of all women-kind. For too long were women content to be kept in sitting rooms stitching and watching the world pass them by. This is what initially moved her – along with some stupid rules that banned women from an international anti-slavery conference. She wanted women to stop being mamby pamby pretty play things. She wanted their power, their inherent, natural power to shine. Not over shine, not conquer, but to shine.

Clearly much has changed since 1849. But what has yet to shift is how we hold ourselves. Don’t wait for a hockey mom from Alaska or a Senator from New York to speak for you – SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. Do not be lured into a false sense of security because a woman might some day soon be president – gender is not the issue, gender is a smoke screen.

As much as it pained me to not pull the leaver for Hillary Clinton [and I promise you it DID pain me] in the primary I was not going to be swayed by a reason shouting at me saying “She’s a woman and you should vote for her.” NO! The reason I did not vote for Hillary is that I believed the other guy had a few better ideas. Sorry Hillary, but it’s true. I will vote for a candidate whom I believe in and the day it is a woman…hallelujah.

I will always vote the issues and that takes work & time of which I have precious little. I owe that much to Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who, in partnership, penned the Declaration of Sentiments and launched a future for generations of women and men to live into. These women had families, way more than five children and no running water, electricity, washing machines or the Internet! Look at what they accomplished.

What are WE going to accomplish for our great, great, great, great granddaughters and sons?

MMN

*Hallowell, Anna Davis: James and Lucretia Mott: Life and Letters The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1884