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body choice/autonomy culture family fun hair care humorous Uncategorized winter

Green Hair

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My daughter has green hair.

It is not the pale, pastel green you sometimes see on unicorns or fairy princesses. It is the deep, rich, vibrant green of tree leaves in high summer when the chlorophyll is at its peak. It is a very green green with the merest hint of blue in it.

It is not natural, of course. No human I ever heard of has naturally green hair. Indeed, I don’t think any mammal at all sports a green coat unless it lets some parasite grow on it. Nor does my daughter have a need to camouflage herself among green plants. For one thing, it’s the dead of winter. For another, her pale, pink skin would defeat her purpose. She made her hair green.

Which means it is her choice.

In deciding to color her hair green, she has already considered the aesthetic for herself, already factored in the comments it will provoke, already decided that she expects you to notice but doesn’t care what you think.

“I just want you to know,” I told her, “that I won’t always say anything about it, but for the next week or so, it will be the first thing I notice about you whenever I see you. She chuckled briefly and went on getting ready for her day.

Coloring your hair nowadays barely raises an eyebrow. It is so common that those old Clairol commercials (“Does she, or doesn’t she?”) with their tinge of sexual innuendo, seem quaint. No one cares any more whether she does or doesn’t. But green is still a bold choice. There can be no question that she does indeed. It’s a bit daring, especially for someone in a customer-facing role in her work. People accustomed to seeing her with the more natural-looking red she had yesterday—also, by the way, entirely artificial—may be taken aback at seeing her now with verdant locks. They will have to get used to it, just as I will. Considering how quickly humans adapt to change, it won’t even be hard.

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A Delighted God

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…he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Whenever I see my granddaughter, I can’t help smiling. She brings joy to my heart. Usually she is smiling herself because she is a cheerful child who is generally happy. But even if she is asleep or sad, I still love to see her, and I will do what I can to see her smiling again. I am delighted in her because she is my granddaughter. She has no other claim upon me, and I don’t care whether she has been naughty or nice, whether she was sassing her mother or defying her father just a few moments before, or whether she just picked her nose or wet her diaper. Just knowing that she is my granddaughter is enough to make me smile when I see her.

Imagine a God who delights in you like that, a God who beams at you and makes a fuss over you whenever you come around. David imagined such a God, and he goes on to tell us why God is so delighted in him. It is because he is righteous, blameless, faithful, pure, and humble. God delights in him because he is such a good person. I could infer that if I am a good person, God will be delighted in me as well.

The problem is I am not a good person.

That is why I regard the good news as such good news. Jesus told those who were not good that God was nevertheless delighted in them. In fact, God imputed the righteousness of his perfect Son to everyone who believes in him so that everyone can be a delight to God. Not only does God delight in me, he delights in me as if I were Jesus, the one about whom he said, “This is my Son whom I love. In him I am delighted” (Matt 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).

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Why I’m Leaving Facebook

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I’ve put up with it for a long time now, this nagging feeling that I need to make a change. Every time I’m on Facebook, I leave feeling a bit worse than when I started. It’s like an itch I can’t reach or a mild toothache, a low-level irritation that never quite rises to the level of something actionable. I’ve justified it by telling myself that everyone is on Facebook. Leaving it would cut me off from my friends and family, a genuinely serious concern.

The political climate has contributed to my decision, but it is not the determining factor. I have no trouble accepting people who don’t share my political opinions. But I’ve grown tired of having to always be on my guard, not against lies—that’s easy—but against vitriol, sarcasm and ridicule. Not that I am often a target. Indeed, I’m a mild-mannered, inoffensive guy whose interest in political subjects is mostly academic. No, it’s the negativity spewed toward politicians, government officials, and public persons that I find objectionable. Derision is one of the easiest modes of disagreement because it requires no evidence, no support. All you have to do is find something ridiculous and exaggerate it. Since mockery makes no argument, you can offer no rebuttal but to deride your accusers in turn. I’m tired of it.

I have argued vehemently against many of the President’s policies from his dismissal of environmental protections to his cruel and inhumane immigration policies, but I am tired of seeing him constantly pilloried by liberals. I’m equally tired of seeing the same treatment meted out to Democratic candidates and politicians. I’m tired of making the constant effort to see the good in people who make no corresponding effort to see the good in those with whom they disagree.

I’m tired of the self-righteousness. Of course, we all have a little self-righteousness. How can we help it? We want—sometimes desperately—to be right. We forget that there is a little bit of what we hate in the purest among us. Facebook somehow encourages moral myopia, magnifying the misdeeds of others while blinding us to our own. It feeds and justifies our sense of outrage and presents us with a community of like-minded people who will agree that what we believe is good and right and that what they believe—it matters not who they are—is stupid and wrong.

It is my own weakness, however, that has made me realize that Facebook is not for me. I have a weakness for intellectual debate. Facebook both feeds and frustrates this proclivity, making it seem that debate is possible, and then showing me time and again that most people mistake vituperation and abuse for debate. Moreover, I am arguing with people I can neither see nor hear, so there is a disconnection from their humanity that makes it easy to be less sensitive to them as people than if we were, say, arguing over coffee or debating in a study group. Despite being fairly aware of the humanity of my interlocutors, I sometimes say things that unintentionally give offense. Our debates lack context, becoming just so many words aimed at winning in some pointless contest while onlookers cheer and boo.

So I’m leaving Facebook. It is the only social media I’ve engaged in, so it will leave me with no social media presence. I will miss the friends I can’t visit, but I think I will gain something in having more time and less struggle against Facebook’s algorithms. I haven’t even mentioned how Facebook spreads misinformation or how people often mistake satire for news. Those are good reason for leaving, too, but they are less personal.

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