Category Archives: Things That Happen

On the Ice Bucket Challenge and Charity

A few weeks ago marked the second anniversary of the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge,” a brilliant fundraising drive that’s success is without precedent and I have a feeling will probably never be repeated. To celebrate, the ALSA announced that they had discovered a gene that could be associated with the disease using the funds generated by the Challenge. Most people applauded, but a few pointed out (justifiably) that it was not the monumental breakthrough that everyone had hoped for. The disease has not been cured, but we do understand it a bit better, now.

Then there was this: “The ice bucket challenge’s scientific success restored my faith in fundraising.” I have been trying to keep my mouth shut about this article for a month now, but I can’t. To say it infuriates me puts it mildly.

While the author (Mary Valle) concludes that the Challenge was a clever and deserved success, she spends a lot of the article griping that “overblown, internet-BS game[s] parading as a fundraiser[s]” can make people “feel like money keeps getting shoveled in to the charity-industrial complex with very little in the way of progress coming out.”

What bothers me is that expecting organizations to deliver miracles because the world suddenly cared for a few moments about a relatively unknown disease is both preposterous and damaging. It ignores the great things that institutions like the ALS Association do every day that we, as a society, take for granted, and that are life-changing to those who need them.

The ALS Association doesn’t just fund research. They have chapters in every state that provide services to people with ALS and their families including support groups, service referral, advocacy, loans to buy equipment, and more. This is not sexy work, but it is absolutely necessary.

Taking this a bit further, nonprofits like ALSA provide services that address problems that fall through the cracks — the ones neither the public or private sectors deal with.

Take Code Savvy, for example. Their work has a pretty simple premise: coding is a necessary skill in today’s workforce and will only continue to grow in importance over the coming years. Schools are not teaching it (kids at some Minneapolis high schools are only allowed to use their computer lab twice a week because there are too many students and too few computers for crying out loud) for want of resources. No for-profit company could implement a mass-education program that would train a huge chunk of the population in this skill cost-effectively, let alone earn a buck in the end.

So, Code Savvy steps in to fix an never-ending problem. Most of what they and other nonprofits do is the day-to-day drudgery of the Necessary.

Nonprofits are perpetually in a quandary. The folks who work at nonprofits are there because they believe there is an unprofitable need that has to be addressed, but at the same time that their organization should not exist in the first place. It’s built into the nonprofit DNA in the form of the universal “Vision Statement” that says what the world should look like when their work is finally complete.

As a friend of mine put it, if you work at a nonprofit, you should always be trying to work yourself out of a job.

I have spent my (admittedly short) working life at nonprofits. It has rarely occurred to me that I could find a job in the for-profit sector that would appeal to me, though I have often considered pursuing work in local government. I do not want to earn a monthly pay check — I want to serve. I strive to live up to the ideal that I am not working for myself and my family alone, but for the betterment of others. A lot of that kind of work is both endless and thankless, but essential. Nonprofits will do it until we have policy solutions and government departments dedicated to solving the problem.

If you think a six million dollar, one-time infusion of cash into a disease that has been known about for decades will result in a cure you are delusional. If you decided to become a sustaining donor, on the other hand, that is commendable, because you understand that there are some things that do not go away easily or quickly. That is where I agree with folks who say you cannot throw money at a problem. You can, however, convince society that an issue is worthy of collective action and then to strategically invest time and resources into its solution.

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Filed under Nonprofiteers, Progressivism, Rant, Things That Happen, Uncategorized

Thoughts on Gratitude

When I was working at a housing rehab nonprofit in New Orleans one of our celebrity donors was working on-site working with my friend Josh. She asked Josh how much he and the rest of us were paid and he explained that we have a living stipend of about $12,000 for ten months.

She said,  “You get $12,000 a month?”

“No,” he said, “$12,000 total for ten months.”

When he had his back turned and was holding up a piece of drywall, he felt her reach into his pocket and leave something there. Josh’s first thought was that her boyfriend, who was present and a lot bigger and stronger than him, was going to beat the shit out of him. Then Josh realized she had put a hundred dollar bill in his pocket.

Josh told this story to me and our supervisor later. Our supervisor just nodded and said, “And you know what you do in a situation like that, right?” We both shook our heads. He said, “You say ‘thank you’ and mean it, and you accept their generosity.”

I hate accepting help. If someone offers their time or money or any other resource to me, I usually decline as politely as possible. God forbid I’d ever ask for it in the first place. At least, that was my way for most of my life, but after that conversation and my term of service in New Orleans, my attitude started to change.

When I moved to the Twin Cities, I finally got a job where I was paid more than a living wage (after about six months of job-searching). It was then that I was finally able to donate my time and money to my friends’ arts projects and causes in which I believe. The first, of course, was NPR.

But, being able to support these organizations is a privilege. I earn more than I need to live and I’m happy to give what I can. With that in mind, that’s ironic because I was irked by how vehemently most people try to refuse help.

I’m a fundraiser, which is a skill set that few people have and even fewer enjoy doing. Since many of my friends and acquaintances are artists, I’ve offered on several occasions to help out by finding grants, patrons, and audiences, but usually people would decline or never follow up.

“Philanthropy is vanity,” so the saying goes. To be upset that people didn’t want my help was childish. But there is something about how refusing help categorically does bother me, but for a different reason than vanity.

In American society, we are raised to believe that hard work leads to success is a natural law just like gravity is the reason objects fall toward the earth. You get out exactly as much as you put in. A person’s success in life is how much wealth they’ve accumulated.

The insidious flip-side of that attitude is that failure is entirely your fault. To accept help is to be weak and shameful, because you shouldn’t need it in the first place. After all, we’re pioneers. If you can’t survive on your own grit, you don’t deserve to. It’s individualism taken to the brutal extreme.

But then, isn’t there something a little insulting about accepting someone else’s help? Who wants to be in a position where they have to accept gratuity from someone better off, let alone admit it? It’s humiliating to say that you can’t make it without assistance.

Maybe not. None of us are self-made and no one lives in a vacuum. As babies and seniors, we’re more or less entirely dependent on other people. We rely on others for our education, resources, and consumers of our work. So why is Giving different?

I don’t believe in altruism. You’re always getting something whenever you give, whether its in an actual monetary transaction or making a donation to a food shelf for the good feeling it gives you. That doesn’t mean that doing something that mostly benefits someone else is invalid because there might be a bit of selfish intent. We all depend on one another. What’s important is realizing that generosity, reciprocity, and empathy are essential.

To give is Good. And so is to receive gratefully.

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Filed under Nonprofiteers, Rant, Things That Happen, Uncategorized

Defending “Nothing in Particular”

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the rise religious non-affiliation in America. While everyone expected the usual angry rants from the conservative right, a lot of material has been put forward by the “Nones” (I know the term is offensive to some, but I kind of like it). Being unaffiliated, and having had a rough time of it when I was a kid, I’ve tried to look for stories about my own experience. So I was surprised when I found nothing out there.

Or, at least, I have found practically nothing from the agnostic point of view, but plenty from the atheist and militant anti-religion camp. A few months ago I read Alternet’s Greta Christina’s “Christianity’s Faith-Based Freakout: Why Atheism Makes Believers Uncomfortable” which resonated with me, for the first half at least, and was compelled to write the following. I was reluctant to publish it because talking about my faith makes me uncomfortable, but I’m tired of reading gems like this, which is basically hateful trash and makes all of us Nones look bad. Moreover, I haven’t read anything expressing my point of view. Then I read Christina’s article and thought I’d found a voice I liked, but was mistaken.

Christina relates several stories about professed Atheists and other Nones being asked, and sometimes forced by friends and family, to “go through the motions.” They weren’t allowed to not practice religion. This fit my own experience, and I appreciated finding out I wasn’t alone.

But I take exception is the second half of Christina’s essay where she says,

“Religion relies on social consent to perpetuate itself. But the simple act of coming out as an atheist denies it this consent. Even if atheists never debate believers or try to persuade them out of their beliefs; even if all we ever do is say out loud, ‘Actually, I’m an atheist,’ we’re still denying our consent. And that throws a monkey wrench into religion’s engine.”

Her point is that atheism is objectively better than theism. That belief in God, or any religious dogma, crumbles before skepticism and dissent.

Defending your beliefs is admirable, but using that to de-legitimize someone else’s is just mean-spirited.

Anyway, her argument is flawed because it works both ways: if an atheist’s nonbelief should be threatening to a theist, so should the reverse. I know a lot of rational, well-informed believers (and there are a whole hell of a lot more of them than us Nones), but that doesn’t make me uneasy about my convictions.

That said, I’ve never felt oppressed for my lack of religiosity – just insulted. I don’t harbor ill-will towards religious people, and I know I’m privileged to have grown up in a town where expressing my differences didn’t get me ostracized or make me the target of a hate crime.

Still, I don’t like narcissism, or evangelism, or the glib way anyone with firm beliefs denounces someone else’s. And I’m really skeptical of absolutes.

Since the nineties, it’s become less stigmatized to identify as non-affiliated – whether that means calling yourself atheist, agnostic, indifferent, or just nothing in particular. I’ve noticed a lot of articles written by atheists, especially responding to a late-2012 Pew Research study that found that one in five Americans identify as “none,” which is an all-time high (in 1990, it was 8%). Most spend a lot of time dwelling on “why?” Why is non-affiliation becoming so popular?

Explanations range from the rise of the internet to mainstream American religion’s intolerance of gay marriage. Others argue that because media has given us so much access to atrocities all around the world, and the ability to talk about it, that it’s hard to believe in an all-loving god. No matter what the reason, there seems to be a consensus that religion, not God, is dying in America

I’m skeptical. Written language has been around for a long time, but remembering things hasn’t gone out of style, like Plato feared. That may be a bad comparison, but my point is that people always think the world is ending and it never is.

I feel there’s a simpler explanation: there have always been a lot of atheists/agnostics/desiring–non-affiliates and it’s only now become socially acceptable to be openly None. I’ve got nothing to back that up, so it’s just a hunch.

Here, I’m tempted to draw a parallel between Nones and a plethora of innate but formerly unrecognized identities, but I’m not entirely sure that’s fair. You choose religion, not sexual identity.

Or do you? Beliefs, I mean, not religion (which you can choose) or sexual identity (which you can’t choose). Can you choose to believe in something? You can choose to put your faith in a political party, but could you make yourself believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Or Russell’s Teapot?

I cannot bring myself to believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God. The idea strikes me as absurd (no offense meant to believers). My rationality prohibits it, because I can’t reconcile the idea of an OSPB God with the Problem of Evil (or Suffering). I’ve been fair to the apologists and looked for arguments against me, and the most compelling one I’ve found is that Good necessitates Evil, but that doesn’t seem right because of the whole omnipotent thing.

And I’m frankly insulted (and believe others should be, too) by Pascal’s Wager, which basically says “if God exists you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in God.” It makes Belief into an act of ultimate (literally) selfishness.

Similarly, I can’t convince myself not to believe in God. That may be a vestigial sympathy from my upbringing and cultural heritage, but it’s about as entrenched as my belief in causality and the intrinsic worth of human life.

So, I’m an agnostic, which is the reason I’m writing this in the first place. Plenty of atheists and theists have thrown in to this debate, but I haven’t seen anyone give a passionate defense of agnosticism. Moreover, a lot of the authors who’ve discussed the Great War between non-affiliation and religiosity talk about agnostics and the other Nones who don’t identify as atheist with bafflement and contempt.

Somebody’s got to stand up for the “nothing in particulars.”

Agnostics get a bad rap. In the Life of Pi, the narrator says, “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” Richard Dawkins feels the same way, calling agnosticism “intellectual cowardice.” (I like to think agnosticism is even more hardcore than atheism, because it even finds the certainty that there is no god suspect. In that way, atheists actually have more in common with theists than agnostics do.) Most people seem to think the philosophy is milquetoast at best or, like atheism, heretical/sacrilegious/irreverent (choose your term) at worst.

But, we’ve got the majority (of the minority) on our side. The Pew Study divided the “Nones” into three groups: atheists, agnostics, and ‘nothing in particular.’ Seventeen percent identify as agnostic and “Among the ‘nothing in particulars,’ about eight-in-ten (81%) say they believe in God or a universal spirit – and a plurality of those who believe in God say they are ‘absolutely certain’ about this belief.”

Religious affiliation is declining in the United States, but that doesn’t mean spirituality and faith are, too.

I think that most of the Nones would agree that faith is complicated and emotional and there are more immediate things begging our attention. That’s how I felt about it for years. For most of my adult life, I’ve just side-stepped the problem and not thought about it. The technical term here is apatheism (functional indifference to religion and theism) or, in my case, pragmatic agnosticism.

Those are the terms that probably best describe most Nones. Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies writes a pretty good sum-up, “I guess I’m an atheist. Or I would be if I identified as anything, except — like a lot of my peers — I don’t… The only thing that unites us is the belief (if you can even call it that) that there is no god. This is also why (for me), the idea of an atheist convention is so stupid.”

I included that last part because I do think atheist conventions are anything but stupid. I’m sympathetic to her definition of identity (or lack thereof), but conventions and institutions like the Secular Coalition of America are important. The religious majority throw us together into one big pot and are distrustful of non-theists. By virtue of other people’s prejudices, it’s important to have an advocate to prevent and combat discrimination (or worse).

Back to my original point, just because I choose to be unaffiliated doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention to the conversation. I’ve studied religion and philosophy, but, until recently, I haven’t asked myself how I felt. I can, of course, only speak for myself, but I think that my sentiment is shared by a lot of the Nones out there.

The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term “agnosticism” in 1869, and defined it thus,

“Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle … Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.”

Wikipedia offers a more technical definition that goes, “Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown or unknowable.” I prefer the former, but the latter describes what most people think of as “agnosticism,” that the existence of god (OSPB or otherwise) is impossible to prove to disprove.

There is a political angle to this. Bertrand Russell has a terrific short piece about how rationalism cuts two ways. Basically, he says there are limits to human knowledge, so everyone needs to calm the fuck down and stop doing things like burning people at stake.

For me, agnosticism means embracing skepticism, humility, and pragmatism.

It’s an attitude more than a method or view. Treat other beliefs with respect and listen carefully, because you might find some new ideas useful and appealing. Realize that there’s a sliding scale of certainty. There are things we can be pretty certain about (like that you’re reading an article about agnosticism right now) and others that are basically impossible to prove (like the non-existence of, well, anything).

That suits me. I write grants for a living, so structured arguments based on documented facts are kind of important to me. But I have also experienced transcendental feelings, have spiritual leanings, and am frequently afflicted with sensawunda.

And this isn’t all to say I don’t have firm beliefs or that agnosticism prohibits them (like not burning people at stake for disagreeing with me). I believe education and health care are rights, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is ridiculous, we have a responsibility to care for our environment, that people are mostly good but capable atrocities, and a plenitude of other things. Moreover, I think I have pretty legitimate reasons for believing all of it. And if you disagree, then I’m more than happy to fight you on the issue.

I’m not evangelizing here, or trying to denounce anyone else’s firmly held convictions. It seems to me that in all the angry clamor someone needs to point out that there’s a middle ground and you don’t need to submit entirely to one dogma or another to lead the Good Life.

Sometimes, it’s fun to just marvel at how interesting the world can be without absolute truths.

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Filed under Progress, Progressivism, Rant, Religions, Things That Happen, Uncategorized

New Year’s

On New Year’s Eve, my girlfriend and I went to a comedy performance and party at the Fox Egg Gallery. After the show a handful of us stayed around to help clean up and have a small celebration. Of course, someone started singing “Auld Lang Syne” and one of the performers said, “That song means something very different to me after this godawful year. Fuck old acquaintances.”

The general consensus going around the room was that 2014 was productive and awful. Everyone said that they had accomplished a great deal over the past twelve months, but they had no idea how much they  would have to pay for it. I tend to read (extremely) progressive media and there seems to be tentative optimism that we may see major reforms in social justice and take steps toward addressing climate change. I wonder if it’s not all just wishful thinking at the beginning of the New Year.

For me, 2014 was nothing if not unusual. It’s the first year since I was a freshman in college that I haven’t moved. It’s the first time since graduating that I’ve held the same job for more than a year, and I’m starting to think that I may have found a career. On the other hand, I feel like I haven’t made much personal progress on a lot of fronts, particularly with my writing and community involvement. Sure, I’ve published a few more short stories and now I’m a producer for the Minneapolis Story Club (and, unexpectedly, now a member of some kind of Story Arts), but it’s hard not to feel that I’m running in place. Or maybe this is just a sign that I’m getting older because the jarring life transitions are going to be fewer and farther between.

When I started writing this post, I had this quote stuck in my head from Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing. I love having written.” Consulting Wikipedia for material and to procrastinate, I learned that she was good friends with the great mime Harpo Marx, which felt meaningful to me because I don’t just hate writing, I hate not writing. I enter a vicious circle of uncertainty, because I often want to write about issues that concern me, but I can’t find anything meaningful to say about them. So, I tend to stay quiet, which, for most of issues I care about, is part of the problem.

I often hear people talk about how much they hate the New Year, because it’s just a time for making and breaking promises. I’ve always liked the holiday, even though I have rarely kept my resolutions. Sometimes I think it would be easier just to make a list of all the things I won’t do, because that feels more honest. For instance, I won’t run a marathon, nor will I force myself to do things I loathe “just for the experience.” I will not write what I think other people want to read. I will not be timid. I will not tell myself to play less video games. I will take things less seriously.

That seems reasonable, and a lot better for my mental health.

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Filed under Anxieties, Rant, Things That Happen, Uncategorized

Where Ideas Come From

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me where I get my story ideas. I was thrilled because it seems like this question is some sort of rite of passage. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he talks about how fans ask him (and every other author he knows) all the time. His answer is basically that good ideas just come to you sometimes and you have to remain open to and aware of those sudden flashes of insight. Comic artist Warren Ellis said something to the effect that he fills his mind with a lot of junk and stories sometimes emerge, sort of in a primordial soup kind of way.

My favorite, and the one that resonates most with me, is the observation, I think it was Neil Gaiman, that, “The difference between a writer and other people is that when a normal person brakes their arm they shout, ‘Take me to the hospital,’ but when a writer breaks her arm, she shouts, ‘Get me a pen!'”

Everyone has great story ideas all the time, whether real of fiction, it’s just a matter of writing them down. I’m not saying every time you have a flash of insight you immediately sit down and write out a story, but most of the time you just have to give your intuition the benefit of the doubt.

My story, “Where You End and the World Begins,” has a frankly bizarre genesis, and it didn’t come to me all at once.  It started with a friend of mine mentioning that his mother used to belong to some cult-like church that kept trying to compel the family to come back. One day, when the acquaintance was a little kid, some of these church members apparently came to the house while his mother was in the shower and tried to lure him into a car. His mother’s parent-sense tingled and she ran out of the house naked, grabbed him, and yelled at the parishioners to leave her family alone.

Somehow, that’s where the zealot in the story came from.

The second component, the main character who has a preternatural talent for finding things, was a little more personal and ongoing. I lose things a lot. I’m forgetful and I have a bad habit of setting things down in places the don’t belong. I’ve long wanted to be able to hire a contractor whose job it is to find all the things I’ve misplaced.

That’s it. Two weird bits of information that became a story.

So, if you’ve ever wondered where ideas come from, you already know. It’s just a matter of paying attention and writing them down when you can.

And if you’re doing Nano, get back to it.

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Art in Gratitude

In New Orleans I worked for a housing rehabilitation nonprofit where people from all around the country volunteered regularly. Most of them were church or school groups, but occasionally we’d have high end corporate types and celebrities. One of our regulars was a wealthy, charming, attractive actress and everyone was glad to have her on site for one reason or another.

One day, she was working with a friend, J, and asked him how much he was paid. He said that we were technically volunteers, too, and we got a living stipend of $12k annually. A few minutes later, when his back was turned, J felt the actress reach into his front pocket and then walk away. He looked and found that she’d given him a hundred dollar bill.

J told this to our supervisor, M, and I one day during a 24-hour build. M nodded and asked, “And you know what you do when something like that happens, right?” We both shrugged. M said, “You say ‘Thank you,’ and you mean it, and you accept their generosity.”

Giving and taking were and still are difficult concepts for me. I’ve volunteered, and I’ve gone out of my way for others, but I think I’m only just starting to grasp how complex these desires are in the adult world.

For the first time in my life, I have a salaried position and excess cash. I can afford the things I want and have done a lot of purchasing lately. But I’ve also started to donate regularly, both in terms of time and money. I’ve done my best to support my friends in their recent ventures (check out Story Club Minneapolis and OUTspoken), but I’ve also started contributing to the things I like and believe in.

For instance, Pseudopod. If you’re a fan of horror, you should be listening to this podcast, because it’s all that stands between us and the unspeakable horrors we all know exist. And, if you start listening, start donating. Because they and their sister podcasts, Podcastle for fantasy, and Escape Pod for sci fi, are hurting. Moreover, these three podcasts are some of the best venues in speculative fiction today. If you want to support the literary arts, this is as good a cause as any.

I wouldn’t have been able to make that hard ask a couple years ago. Whenever I heard appeals for money from NPR or even Pseudopod before about 2012, I always thought they were talking to someone else, that some rich person would be able to give to the cause and I could ignore the plea. Now that I work in development (a sexy term for fundraising), I suppose I’ve become more callous to hitting people up for money, but my perspective has changed significantly, too.

I work, I play video games, I write, I do a lot of seemingly meaningless things during my day and I’m beginning to understand this desire to be generous, which is more or less what I’ve told people who are trying to raise money for their projects. Somewhere, there are a lot of people who care deeply about the same things you do and want to do something about it.

True, there’s a certain pettiness to this, if you look at it like a cynic (which I am). Philanthropy is vanity, but there’s more to it than that. Most people don’t know that they can make a difference because it isn’t obvious. There’s seven billion of us sharing this planet and in a media-saturated culture we’re constantly reminded of what we don’t have that other people do, like money, talent, prosperity, good fortune, etc. It’s easy to think that Someone Else Can Do It, not because people are lazy, but because people don’t realize that You means Me.

Furthermore, most people never think to Ask. My own partner hates asking me for favors and I feel the same way, because we were brought up to believe that you have to earn everything you get. From that perspective, it’s humiliating to ask for or accept help. Pride is a powerful compulsion. But no one gets anywhere without someone else – it’s part of the reason why marriage and family are cultural universals.

So, here’s a lame way to wrap up this post: be generous and grateful. It’s good for you.

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Conned

Since a friend enlisted me to go in 2007, I’ve been attending WisCon more or less regularly. WisCon is a feminist science fiction convention which, apparently, was really rare when it was founded forty years ago. Since it’s the only con I attend, it seems odd to me that the problems WisCon was founded to combat still exist.

At WisCon, you’ll meet some of the most careful and hyper-aware people in the world, which I say with the utmost respect. Everyone is deeply concerned with language, continuing a conversation that began many years before I was born to Stop Being Jackasses to One Another (unforgivable simplification, but that’s how I take it). I had to skip last year because I was in New Orleans and a poor AmeriCorps member, so I was somewhat out of step with things when I first arrived. My strategy was to pick the panel I knew the least about and go to it, which turned out to be, “I’m Not Your Metaphor: Explaining Oppression with Analogies.”

I say that I picked the one I knew the least about, because I didn’t even know what intersectionality was, let alone that it’s problematic, before I walked into the room. The panel description read: “… is disability really ‘like race’? Is Islamophobia a ‘New McCarthyism’? Are gays the new Jews? Are such analogies ever useful, or are they always unacceptable appropriations, erasing one kind of suffering by reducing it to a metaphor for another?” The panel participants seemed to be on the same page, that using one group’s experience as a metaphor to describe another’s plight is emphatically Difficult (possibly even Troubling).

As I understand it, the problem is that analogy puts one group’s identity and experience to work for the ends of another. Furthermore, it simplifies to the point of insult an identity’s unique experience by saying its challenges and experiences are “like” someone else’s.

The part that resonated with me, however, was Allison Moon’s counter-example of when pragmatism overrules. “To win over hearts and minds” she is willing to employ analogy and metaphor, despite how messy it can be. She explained that in fundraising, she has often played whatever heart-string she thought would compel the Wealthy Person to write a check. I think that I’ve been spending too much time around development professionals, because this made perfect sense to me.

Beyond asking the moderator, Professor Ian Hagemann, to give me a definition of intersectionality, I did not open my mouth. I try to speak as little as possible at WisCon. Being a straight, white, upper-middle class male from the Midwest, I feel that I have very little to contribute to most conversations and galaxies to learn from everyone else. And because I know I will invariably make a blunder. That’s probably why I played Cards Against Humanity with embarrassing abandon the next evening…

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