People As Objects

MEMBERS OF THE American Friends Service Committee, a prominent Quaker organization known for its progressive values and social justice advocacy in the U.S. and abroad, have raised an alarm about a woman holding a leadership position within the organization who they say has misrepresented her ethnic background for years and who they fear may be working on behalf of groups seeking to undermine their organization. Raquel Evita Saraswati, a Muslim activist who for years has encouraged people to believe that she is a woman of color, including Latina as well as of South Asian and Arab descent, is the AFSC’s chief equity, inclusion, and culture officer, a senior position that gives her access to the files of dozens of the organization’s staff and volunteers. But Saraswati, who was born Rachel Elizabeth Seidel, is not a person of color, according to her mother, Carol Perone.

If you care about “ethnic backgrounds” of people who work for you, this will always be the result. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes, as they say.

Oskar Pierre Castro, a human resources professional who participated in the search committee to fill Sarawati’s position, told The Intercept that she had presented herself as a “queer, Muslim, multiethnic woman.” “It really touched all the points,” said Castro, who works for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, a Quaker group that frequently partners with the AFSC, and who was involved in the search along with AFSC staff members.

Who talks like this about people? The woman is being described like an object for sale. Yippee, she met the list of specifications. Look how this HR guy speaks about a job candidate:

Castro added, “In my mind it was, ‘Great, a person of color, a queer person of color, who happens to be a Muslim, it’s a woman, all these things, and someone who seemed to get it. I definitely feel conned. … I feel deceived.”

How is it acceptable to reduce human beings to their body parts and sex habits? This is absolutely horrid.

Of course, if you are trying to make a shady purchase, you will end up being conned. I’m completely on this woman’s side. She duped the people who richly deserved to be duped because they despise other humans.

Trauma and Manipulation

A neurotic is a traumatized person who is directing all of his energy into making others service his neurosis. Mental issues are a powerful mechanism of transforming reality and bending others to your will.

A responsible, adult individual treats his traumas with a professional or through a variety of mental hygiene means that everybody can individually access.

People who expect others to tiptoe around their traumas are manipulators. They aren’t necessarily doing it consciously but that doesn’t change the result.

By playing into this charade and assisting a neurotic in making his trauma somebody else’s problem, we become complicit in this manipulation.

Free People

Look at these happy faces! This family in the Russian Republic of Tuva received a package of pelmeni from the government for the son they lost in Ukraine.

Pelmeni are the cheapest food in Russia. It’s not a delicacy. They are an equivalent of our Ramen noodles. The stuff you buy when you don’t want to cook and need something cheap. So the joy of the receiving family is hard to understand.

Even less clear is how these people who probably never heard of Ukraine explain to themselves why their son had to die. Or what the reason is behind the mask theater, especially in a family that has cavalierly disposed not only of the health but of the life of their son in exchange for a package of pelmeni. Did their son crawl in the mud near Bakhmut in a mask? Was he worried about COVID?

Most importantly, why did they agree to pose for the photo shoot? There are more pictures, and it’s clear that it took a while to film the whole thing. I mean, your son is already dead. The worst thing in the world already happened. Wouldn’t you want to go grieve instead of plastering a smile on your face and posing for photos some bureaucrat will use for an annual report?

These people are in no danger (including from COVID). They have freely chosen to participate both in the war and in this mockery of their own dead son.

Decide How to Feel

It’s cute to see a middle-aged person discover something I’m teaching my first-grader but yes, 95% of our mental states can be a product of a simple decision.

I don’t know why people relinquish control over their daily experience because it’s utterly unnecessary. All you need to do is decide before going to an event, a meeting, a drive, a grocery store, whatever how you are going to feel during the upcoming experience. Curious, elegant, competent, beautiful, effective – whatever you need to feel at any time, plan for it in advance and enjoy. There’s a lot of bad shit over which we don’t have any control. Why give up things we definitely can control when getting a grip on them is as easy as the above tweet describes it?

Our life is a story we tell ourselves about it. Absolutely anybody can describe themselves as “a stupid ugly loser who had terrible luck and never did anything right”, “a mediocrity with a humdrum boring life”, or “a brilliant beautiful individual who was extremely lucky in life and experienced amazing stuff.” Depending on the angle we look from, these descriptions can apply to everybody. We have complete freedom to choose the one we like.