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Sunni's Salon, February 2006

It's the month that love is pushed at us, and for once I'm inclined to play along. But not in a phony, eros-only, chocolate-and-flowers sort of way -- in the broader sense of caring, not only about myself and my personal circle of family and friends. You see, I've finally come to terms with something I thought I'd been keeping hidden about my way of being, but which I discovered through email correspondence with a respected friend isn't so secret.

I'm not sure how to say this without sounding stupid or condescending, so with that preface, I'll just start blundering through it. I remember as a kid tearing up when those I'd like to teach the world to sing Coke commercials played; my idea of perfect harmony wasn't every voice blended in a nice unison with like voices: it was that every voice could be heard, in all its unique glory; and it brought tears to my eyes thinking that someone else thought similarly. It didn't even occur to me until years later that it was probably intended to suggest the boring blandness of sameness or equality enforced by law. Over my youth, I had plenty of people laugh at me for being too soft and too sensitive, and I'd thought I'd successfully built a callous over those areas.

But I haven't. My friend, with whom I shared that story, told me that she recognized that caring in me, and appreciated it. So I guess I was hiding it only from myself, to some degree. What I care passionately about is that each individual has the opportunity to make whatever choices he deems best. Whenever I allow myself to think about it, it hurts me knowing that every day ideological killing continues -- leaders send other people to die under their banners, and often for false reasons. It hurts me, knowing that innocent people will never have a chance to develop to their full potential simply because they had the misfortune to be born in a place and at a time when their part of the world was ruled by a power-hungry sadist who can't leave people alone, who wreaks the pervasive havoc that only institutional control can create and sustain.

A few days after I had this conversation with my friend, I read B.W. Richardson's review of Ender's Game, and clicked through to Card's review of Serenity. And there, in a parenthetical comment, was an idea that sent my brain-gears into overdrive: ... you can't build a powerful community on a sneer. Upon reading that, The Operative in Serenity flashed into my mind; even though he never really physically sneers, his whole being is a sneer of a sort. And so it is with all do-gooding busybodies; they sneer at the human spirit. I despise that; and those are among the few individuals I do not feel kinship with.

It struck me that many libertarians seem to adopt that sneering approach too, in calling mainstream people "sheople" and in other ways. I know I've been guilty of it, and probably will be again, when frustration and anger surge from reading the news. It isn't a good way to show one cares ... and it certainly isn't a means that will effectively help create a rights-respecting community, which must of necessity be part of a freer world.

I've no illusions that I can help each individual living under an oppressive jackboot; there are simply too many, and my life and resources too limited. In addition to trying to live my own life as freely and pleasurably as possible, I hope my sharings here and in other places help others to help themselves, or to find something worth celebrating. This month I'm pleased to focus on others who seem to share this caring with me to some degree. I review Jim Bovard's excellent new book, Attention Deficit Democracy; in the Webby Wanderings I showcase a fellow traveler's newish blog, and a wonderful self-sufficiency resource; and in the Musical Maunderings I explore both sexual and romantic pleasures. Last, but certainly not least, I offer an appropriate Valentine's Day interview with Bacchus, the man behind the popular sexblog ErosBlog. Our conversation wanders through sex, blogging, and government interference with sexual pleasures, of course; but we also discuss the myths and realities of sex blogging and making money online, and more.

So, welcome to February in Sunni's Salon, where you're guaranteed of my genuine concern, as long as you don't favor the initiation of coercive force against another. Tom and I have chocolates and cheeses and fine wines for your noshing pleasure throughout your stay. [Why cheeses, you ask? A chunk of good cheese on a cracker can be just as sensual a pleasure as chocolate, and suitable for those whose diets don't permit sweet treats.] Please be good to yourself, and to each other; and as always, do let us know how we can improve your stay in our warm, free little corner of the web.

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