goodnight moonOne of the reasons to subscribe to Salon Premium — besides the fact it’s a well written, progressive publication, is the ability to participate in Salon’s very literate discussion forums, called Table Talk. Just to give you a flavour for the quality of the discourse, here are three recent Table Talk posts:

From: ‘Aunt Snow’  Re: A Vietnam Veteran’s Odyssey

I was reading Kerry’s 1971 speech and immediately thought about the men coming home now.

In 2000 a former co-worker of mine died. He was my union brother for almost 20 years. He was a swaggering, attractive, macho kind of guy; a talented craftsman and a tireless worker who took risks, but could always be counted on to reach that extra inch, to push himself that extra bit on the job.

When I met him, I was an apprentice and he was a senior journeyman — although we weren’t that far apart in age; he had just been doing the job longer than I had. On the job we did a lot of physical work; heavy lifting, working at heights, working long hours, working under harsh conditions. He was always the guy junior people like me looked up to, tried to match, and I for one always tried very hard to make sure I measured up to his standard — and worried if I somehow thought I didn’t. He was also a man who drank a little too much, and liked to get high. He loved his wife, but our job was one that put a toll on relationships due to the long and uncertain hours, the fluctuating pay.

His wife left him, and he entered into a series of troubled relationships. He began to drink more and more, and began to miss work. The union had to fine and discipline him for no-shows and for drinking. Although he had many friends who loved him and cared for him, eventually he had been banned from so many workplaces that he had a hard time making a living and keeping up the payments on his home. One night he tried to kill himself with a handgun. He missed, and lay injured for 12 hours before he was found. He ended up paralyzed from the waist down.

Because he was a Vietnam veteran — a former medic — he was treated at the V.A. hospital. For the first time in his life, he stopped drinking. For the first time in his life, he received counseling. For the first time in his life, he participated in group therapy with other Vietnam vets. A year after he shot himself, he was released and had a place in an assisted living apartment. He was going into vocational training. He was dry. He went to sleep one night in his new apartment and never woke up. A blood clot in his brain.

I think about men like my friend Tom whenever I think about men coming home from Vietnam. I think about him when I read about the men coming home from Iraq. I sat with him one day in the V.A. hospital, about three months before he died, and he told me how — 30-some years later — he was finally dealing with his experiences in war. It’s terrible to have to wage war that can affect a man’s life the way Tom’s was affected.

It’s a crime to do it for an invalid reason.

From: ‘Nancy R’  Re: Goodnight Moon

For a long time I have been puzzled about why Right Wingnuts are the way they are, and I have observed a few things about them which seem to be endemic in their ranks:

  1. No sense of irony. The inability to understand paradox. Extreme discomfort with ambiguity.
  2. Poor critical-thinking skills. The inability to write about what they read with much competence. Unable to sort out the larger meaning of what they read. Tend toward not being about to sort out the difference between the theme of what they are reading, and unimportant details.
  3. Lack of imagination, and a singular lack of ability to intuit how to make elementary character judgments.
  4. Lack of empathy. To the extreme.
  5. Dislike of reading fiction.
  6. Absolutist binary thinking run amok.
  7. blah, blah, blah.

I have always wondered how these people turned out that way … and though I have seen a bit of absolutist non-critical thinking on the left, I read something today on Atrios, where a troll was unable to understand why liberals like a “fake news show” like “The Daily Show.”

Someone made a remark about “Goodnight Moon” and the person said, “What is ‘Goodnight Moon’?” And like a bolt from the blue, it came to me: His parents didn’t read to him as a child.

When I was a new mother, and was cramming what to do to make sure my kid was going to be a reader, the advice that was repeated over and over again was, “Read to your kids”. And I did. From the time he was 4 months old it was ritual with my son, until he started reading independently, to read out loud to him every night. (Actually, it continued until he was 9.)

Now we see that the most important time in developing cognitive skills is between the ages of 0-5. And I am willing to bet that if you want a kid with an imagination … and who is able to make character judgments, and who wants to read fiction, and learn to identify with people not like him or her, you’ve got to read to your kids. Every night, without fail.

From ‘Lionlady’  Re: Women’s Thoughts About Growing Older

One of the upsides of being older is being able to observe other people’s judgments of oneself and not be bothered by them.

Don’t like my hair? You don’t have to wear yours this way. Don’t get my religion? You don’t need to understand it; it only has to make sense to me. Don’t like the choices I’ve made in life? Then don’t make those choices for yourself.

I used to try — and try to justify myself — and feel the need to explain, explain, explain myself, hoping desperately that others would approve.

Being 54 means I don’t need everyone’s approval. It’s nice when people get me, but it’s no longer required. Being older has made me realize that individual human beings live on entirely different planets, within cultural, educational, gender, and class bubbles that sometimes prevent them from even realizing the others exist.

Being seen, being understood, by a select few friends and family is enough. I’m no longer the server at a cocktail party of life, circulating with a tray of hors d’oeuvres, saying, “Here, have a piece of me. Would you like a piece of me? Please, have another.”

I own myself now.

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