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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: September 22, 2002
Latest Update: September 22, 2002

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Site Teaching Modules Collaborative Work in Recognizing Harm

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, September 2002.
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On Saturday, September 21, Kimberly Radford wrote:

How are you? I have been out of town on business. Glad to be back. I understand that I missed a great class. I have my study partner for your class, and she said that the Priests were great. What I got out of our discussion was that we needed to visit Africa before we judge them. It makes sense to apply that to everything. I case manage families and one of the hardest things I teach my new people is that others live to different standards than the ones we live by. We merely assist them to live at their optimum level. I guess through my own life I try to live by not judging, but at times it is difficult.

Yes, Kimberly. That is an important piece of what Maria Pia Lara is saying: that illocutionary force rings to understanding without atttempting to impose our own standards and/or beliefs on others. It is difficult; but it is essential if we are to live peacefully together and honor our differences.

Great, Kimberly. First, Father Obi and Father Nelson were wonderful. They did emphasize repeatedly that one must not engage in the "laying on of alternatives." With Africa, we have often simply given them what was convenient for us, without any real regard for what they need and want. Both Priests expressed that very strongly. And that fits in with your non-judgmental stance.

That on-judgmental stance was reported recently in the September 16 issue of US New & World Report in John Leo's article "The Rage is not the rage" to have been attacked by Amitai Etzioni, a well-known sociologist, who insisted that Americans were too non-judgmental, as though we were afraid to make judgments. [Type Etzioni into the search box in the left-most fram and press Go to read teh preview of Etzioni's article.] Backup to preview of article. Etzioni is reported to have excoriated both the populace and the media for not having the courage to say essentially "the Arabs did this" and "we will exact retribution and/or revenge." I looked briefly at the Report John Leo is talking about: American Society in the Age of Terrorism Prepared By AMITAI ETZION. I didn't pick up the same nuance of our being judged as afraid to take stands and judge others when necessary, but I didn't have much time to peruse the article. You might want to take a look.

At any rate, I'm glad the Priests echoed what I have been telling you, that our judgments are so deeply embedded in our culture that we cannot see our own culture, or any other, from an objective or neutral perspective. That doesn't mean that we are afraid to make judgments, but that we recognize the harm in a rush to judgment that fails to take into account the many validity claims of our vast diffrences across the globe. I am in fact proud that Americans did not let their prejudices and their own privileges scapegoat others.

I also wanted to let you know I read the article on the water crisis in Bolivia. I lived there for three years when I was younger. I have been to Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. I lived in La Paz for a while, but mainly in Potosi and Sucre. I married (the first time) a man who owned a dairy farm, a lumber yard, and a factory that produced the cement pentagons that they paved the cities in. My oldest daughter is half Bolivian. I thought it was interesting to read about those miners in Potosi. It is the most incredible site to see those Indian people work that mine. The mine itself is breath taking. It really is an incredible place. I learned a lot about the people and the place. I was there in '82 when they were overthrowing the government and burning the American Camo trucks. Right in the middle of the streets when they were rolling pianos down the street and bombing. I must have been crazy. One regret... I didn't have a camera on me that day. To tie it into the Priests... When I decided I was going to Bolivia, everyone said I should have gone to Australia, because it [Bolivia?] was a third world country and the people were barbaric, but you had to have been there. Very kind people who live a different way than we do. No regrets.

Sorry about this novel I wrote! See you in class.
Kimberly Radford

Kimberly, and all of you, my objection to long pieces is not when you have something to say; it's when students go on and on padding the essay, when they really don't have anything to say. That is why I allow you the flexibility to write about what is of most interest to you. We write better and more effectively when we have something we really want to say.

Besides, Kimberly, you gave me the chance to get up that piece by Amitai Etzioni I've been clucking about since last week. And I don't think you told us nearly enough about your experiences in Bolivia. I am continually amazed at how vast our collective experience is. We must learn to use each other as resources. We'll plan a way for you to share all that with the class and the site.

But most of all, I want to tell you and your friend how pleased I am that you and your friend formed a small group and shared what you had missed when you were gone. You make me hopeful that this kind of distance learning will one day change the inflexibility of school time that fails to take into account the reality of traffic and multiple commitments. Neither the school time, nor the barriers to our presence are socially constructed at the moment. They both exist in reality out there. And in combination they harm us. but that doesn't mean that illocutionary discourse couldn't discover imaginative new approaches to school time and traffic time and multiple commitments that might transform some of that harm. And so here we are, back once again with the feminist philosophy of Maria Pia Lara in Moral Textures.