How Would You Define Honor?

Can the power of vague propaganda be combated with specificity? It seems I was not alone in seeing and hearing the Nazi-reminiscent word choices and themes in the “Restoring Honor” event on Saturday.

Patrick from Palingates raised a very good point:

…events like the one which happened today are crossing a line, and more importantly, many Americans don’t seem to notice it – probably because there is a lack of "sensitivity" to certain keywords, methods and images.

This is different in Europe, especially in Germany. It’s starts already with the title of the event: "Restoring honor."

It would be impossible that one of the main political parties in Germany to choose such a title for an event – because "honor" (in German: "Ehre") was one of the keywords of Nazi-ideology.

The word "honor" was used (and abused) by the Nazis for good reason. It’s very vague, can be interpreted in many ways and somehow appeals to patriotic emotions – but it’s quite difficult to establish what exactly it is, how it can be damaged, and how it can be restored.

However, one thing is clear: Nobody wants to be "without honor."

Perhaps the way to combat such propaganda is to make specific that which is vague. Sarah Palin, according to her speech, would have us define honor as birthing soldiers or being a soldier.

Is the only path to honor through the military?

There is no reason that we need to let the Tea Party or even the Republican Party define honor. The dictionary defines honor as “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.”

Culturally, there does seem to be an element of sacrifice to the word “honor,” doesn’t there?

When I look to my own life and think of honorable people, I think of my father first. Yes, he was a soldier in the Korean war—two or three purple hearts—but if he’d ever been asked what the most honorable deeds of his life were, I’m fairly certain he would not have put war on his list. I do know that he withdrew from school to take care of his dying mother, sacrificing a dream to be a teacher in order to take care of family.

Perhaps I would define honor as “sacrificing in order to be honest, fair, and maintain integrity—even when it’s dangerous or inconvenient.”

I think of respecting the dignity of every human being, of every race, religion, and sexuality. I think of a social responsibility not just to protect our people through the use of military, but also to protect them from ignorance and crime through education, ill heath through accessible health care, and to honor each individual’s choice of religion—even if it may not be my own.

Even so, that definition is still too vague.

How do we know when we’ve achieved honor? I say it’s when every man and woman in the country has health care. When our five freedoms are consistently upheld. When all are free to marry. When our politics are not based upon racism. When the speeches of our politicians do not encourage hatred. When we don’t allow the greed of capitalism to let health institutions and food companies to cause ill health in our populace. When our international policies do not cause poverty in another country.

There is another definition of honor: “high public esteem.”

To that, I would hope that the United States would be once again known as an international PEACEmaker (and not through war), an example of tolerance and diversity, and an example of human freedoms (including freedom of religion).

How would you define honor? And if we are truly to set about “restoring honor,” what specific things would make you think we’ve restored our honor? What did I forget?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags:

On Restoring Honor

Once upon a time, people were poor. People were hungry. Children were hungry. Everyone was struggling and too many people were without jobs. Times were tough. A small political party formed, rooted in a call to freedom and economic reforms. Although first viewed as radical, as the economy tanked and unemployment rose, it gathered more and more attention.

The small, little party began to unite the struggling people in its promise of solutions. They promised to “restore honor” to the “one true” nation. They claimed that the economic difficulties and problems and sufferings of the people were caused by the undermining of the foundations of morality, faith, justice, and honor in their country.

They rose to power, promising to restore the nation to the principles upon which it had been founded, with "Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." They called its fellow patriots to protect the “sanctity of marriage,” patriots who were “linked by a solid rock foundation of faith in the one true God of justice.”

Their “highest mission [was] the securing of the right to live and the restoration of freedom to our nation… a State which must have equal rights. They called us to honor “the sacred charters of our liberty that all men are created equal.

Of course, they honored our soldiers and also their mothers. “No woman gives birth thinking she will hand over her child to her country,” but “every mother who has presented a child to the nation” was honored.

Yes, they celebrated their “love for our Army as the bearer of our arms and the symbol of our great past.” In honoring soldiers throughout their nation’s history, they remarked that “For 200 years those mystical cords have bound us to those who are willing to sacrifice to restrain evil, to protect god-given liberty, to sacrifice all in defense of our country.”

And they didn’t just honor the soldiers, but their fellow patriots, who would “never retreat” and “never capitulate.”

Are you not so proud?” Yes, their speeches and rallies filled the people with pride in their community, all the while reminding them that “none of us is too proud, none of us too high, none is too rich, and none too poor, to stand together before the face of the Lord and of the world in this indissoluble, sworn community!

Look around you! You are not alone! Let’s stand together and stand with honor! Let’s restore America!

Whose words am I quoting? Sarah Palin’s Restoring Honor speech on Saturday, the speeches of Adolf Hitler, particularly the one upon his appointment as chancellor in 1933, or BOTH? Am I telling the story of the Nazi Party or the Tea Party? Or both?

It was only one month after the above speech by Hitler that the first concentration camp opened. I encourage you to read the speeches of Hitler and notice how much you agree with.

Replace a few political details. Replace Jews with Muslims, homosexuals with LGBTQ, Gypsies with immigrants (legal, illegal, and those who merely LOOK like immigrants) and OTHER.

One of the most frightening horrors of the Holocaust was that good, decent people were led by a call to moral values, like pride and honor and justice: values that no good person could disagree with. They were united against a common enemy, a threat to their nation and their prosperity. The energy of rallies, of inspiring speeches that filled you with pride and faith and goodness, united as a nation in hope and purpose and belief.

Propaganda works because of course you believe in the propaganda. Yes, you agree with what they’re saying. How could you not? And you’re too busy rallying for the propaganda to notice what they’re doing. And why. The small details of their agenda aren’t important.

What’s most important is Pride! Honor! Justice! Equality! Morality! PATRIOTISM! They will bring us prosperity and take us out of these bad times!

National pride is good. It’s scary-powerful stuff. That is one of the lessons of the Holocaust. Propagandists would trick you into subconsciously believing that if you’re not for their political agenda, then you’re not a patriot—and an enemy of morality and virtue.

Not so.

Let us not be tricked.

National pride is neither inherently good or bad. Let’s look past its rallying cry to how our leaders would wield it.

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Dedicated to Kathy

I’m drowning in work. In the meantime, here’s a video to enjoy, especially for Kathy. :-)

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Beautiful People |

Crazy Ass Shit*

My mind is perplexing. I swear everything I’ve written this summer, I stop and think, “Where the heck did this come from?”

No, that’s not really what I think, but I usually only swear in my mind. And look, I’ve already used two swear words and in a title, no less. I thought about changing it to “Crazy Arse Shoot,” but that’s just silly.

What I really stop and think is: “WTF?

Then I sit there and think, “That’s weird.”

Then I think, “That doesn’t fit the genre.”

Then I think, “That doesn’t fit any genre.”

Then I think, “Normal people don’t go around imagining this stuff. Where the hell are you getting this stuff? What is wrong with you?”

And then I say, “Fuck it.”**

Ever feel like this when you’re writing?

* Sorry for the swear words. It doesn’t happen often.

** Sometimes it takes considerably longer to reach this stage than this post might imply. Sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes months.

PS: Since we’re swearing today, check out this totally awesome song:

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags:

Good Morning.

image*blinks sleepily* I was up most of the night, and then when I finally slept, I dreamed of a large paper grocery bag dispensing advice. It was a proper oracle, with a face painted on it and everything.

I want a new blog design. Stacey Graham’s beautiful re-design put me in the mood. Any thoughts, suggestions? What worked for you in this blog design, and what totally didn’t?

It seems cluttery to me right now. And you know how I am about clutter.

I’m also coming up with a new blogging plan. When I had a life that was somewhat settled, I could be creative about thinking of life in new ways for a blog post every day. But now that I’m building a new life, it seems all my creativity goes into that, instead of blogging.

And I miss blogging.


What would you like me to write about most? Which posts do you enjoy reading the most?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Wildly Sedentary

That’s the writing life. And yes, this is at least the third time I’ve stolen the phrase, “wildly sedentary,” from Mark Terry. It’s such a perfect phrase and a perfect description. (Sorry!)

I am tired of sitting on my butt.

It’s not like I don’t do yoga nearly every day. Only about 20 minutes, though. And I do water aerobics for at least four hours a week. And then I hike for about six hours a week.

That sounds like a lot, but it’s not. In my old life, I did a lot of standing and pacing. Moving from place to place, walking from the car to the parking lot, etc. Here? I get up and write. Sometimes I write before I get up! My camper has a fifteen foot “hallway” to walk, and that’s it. Okay, it’s a good thirty yards to the bathroom, but still.

I am crawling out of my skin.

An hour of working out is NOTHING to fourteen hours of sitting.

I desperately want a treadmill desk, but that won’t happen until we upgrade.


So what’s a girl to do? I’m not sure. Maybe I need to start taking two-hour walks every day, like Thomas Jefferson or something. I don’t know.

Watching this guy just makes my body twitch to MOVE.

So how do you deal with the sedentary nature of writing? Do you find yourself crawling out of your skin, too?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags:

It Was A Very Good Year

Edie noticed that my year has been inspired by Frank. Why yes, it has, what with “Not in a Shy Way” and “Regrets: I’ve Had a Few” and now “It Was A Very Good Year.”

I need a song for next year. Any suggestions?

About Last Year

I love Arizona. Oh. My. God. I love it here. I can’t get enough of the lizards. I stop and exclaim at every one, even though I’m pretty sure this drives the people who I hike with crazy. Also I love desert flowers, cacti, cracked mud in dried riverbeds, insects (even when they scare the bejeezuz out of me), animals, birds, toads, spiders (see above parenthetical statement) and… well, everything. Water now fascinates me, because it is such a rare sight. I can’t get enough of the desert and the mountains and the washes and the canyons.

Living Outside

The weather is BIG in my world. With paper-thin walls and a camper that has plenty of gaps where the various fold-up walls meet, weather is big. So when the 60 mph wind gusts come and I’m getting seasick from the rocking and I’m afraid my camper is going to blow over and then I won’t have a house… um, my world revolves around the weather.

Totally not like living in a house or an apartment. There’s very little barrier between me and nature.

I have no bathroom in the camper, so I walk to the clubhouse in the middle of the night and I treasure my time looking at the moon and the stars. I always have fresh air. I like being subject to the weather. I feel like I’m part of the earth, part of the natural world.

In fact, upgrading? I don’t know. Being enclosed in a sturdier camper with luxuries and a bathroom and thick walls and no fresh air? Um, well… I don’t know. When my bed is sopping wet from a leak, okay, I can’t wait. I would like to have my piano with me. But 90% of the time, I dread leaving my little camper. It’s a step away from nature. The thought makes me restless and nervous.


Travel isn’t high on my list. I’m shocked. In fact, I appear to just want to write. I, um, have a tendency to get annoyed when anything interrupts my writing. I will procrastinate the whole world in order to write. I force myself on an adventure every couple weeks, and I push myself out of the house to volunteer one day a week hiking the desert.

Part of it is also that I haven’t yet sucked up everything this area has to offer. There’s just so much to explore!

I was also surprised to find myself teaching a water aerobics class twice a week. I love it and miss it (I only do it during the snowbird season), but I never had the thought, “I’d like to teach a water aerobics class someday!” It just happened and it was fun.

Not Surprised

I still hate things. I am perfectly happy to have a bed to sleep in. Even when it leaks. When humidity gives me an asthma attack, yes, I’m ready to do anything to make it stop. But in normal, every day life, I am happy. The less things, the better. When it comes to working, I am not motivated by money or the accumulation of things.

Unless it’s a computer to write on. Or a Kindle. Or books and movies (as long as they’re in digital form). :-)

I remember when I walked in a friend’s pantry and realized she had more things in her pantry than I owned altogether. Okay, maybe as much. Still, there are two seats that have storage that I haven’t opened in ages. I’m definitely feeling the itch to get rid of more of my stuff. Don’t need it. Why keep it? It feels like a burden.

So that’s my life, this past year. I wonder what the next year will bring. I think it might be another big change, but such is life, I guess. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure!

So how was your year?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

Regrets: I’ve Had a Few

A year ago, I completely changed my life. This year has somehow managed to be the happiest, most relaxing, tumultuous, and terrifying year of my adult life. If I had known how hard the changes were going to be, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to make them. I changed my life, and not in a shy way.

Leaving Music

In becoming a writer, I lost a lot of self-confidence. Giving up something you’re good at, something you’ve rooted your identity and self-worth and self-confidence in, is incredibly difficult. Since grade school, I was a pianist. For nearly thirty years I actively improved my musical skills every day, and a whole lot of my confidence was built on that foundation of skill and knowledge and training. And fifteen years of teaching piano: I knew exactly what to do and exactly how to teach certain things. It makes one feel good, to do something well, day after day.

Leaving all that was HARD, and I was totally unprepared for what a drastic blow it would be to my self-esteem.

I’m in a good place now, so I can admit that there were periods in this last year when I was depressed and felt like a complete failure and utterly worthless. I was terrified. I felt like I was drowning, like I was trying grab the buoy of music and teaching that had once been my confidence, but I’d thrown it away.

And there was nothing there.

Oh yes, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I was freaked.

Becoming a Writer

Part of me will always be a musician. I miss it. When I watch my music friends in their careers, my fingers itch to get at the piano. I mourn it often, and it’s still a sore spot that aches, even though I am certain that writing is where my heart truly is.

With writing, I never have to manufacture motivation. Whether I’m motivated or not, I find myself writing. It just happens. I don’t want a life; I never want to “escape” writing or even take a break, unless it’s to go to a movie. Even then, try to get me to a matinee—it won’t happen. I can’t go to a movie until I’ve written.

I love volunteering and hiking the desert once a week, but as much as I love it, I have to “force” myself away from writing. In theory, I want to travel and I want to explore Arizona more, but in reality, I can’t bear to give up the writing days.

Even when I swear-to-God really don’t want to write, I don’t want to do anything else.

No Half-Measures

Up until this last year, I had an absolute, no-idea-where-it-came-from confidence in the fact that I “should” write, that the “universe wants me to write.” This certainty did not come from any belief in my writing abilities; it was just there. And I am not given to faith; I’m really not. But there it was.

That confidence was shaken and tried this year.

(Yay! I finally get to join the club!)

I knew, going into this writing thing, that I wanted to be a very good writer. And I’ve seen what it takes for musicians to be very good musicians. I put zero stock in talent, so I’ve never wondered if I had writing talent. I do, however, know how to learn. I know how to make a living in the arts. I know how to become good at something, and I particularly know how to become good at something creative.

Line up all the best musicians, and I bet not one of them ever had a fall-back career. I knew if I gave myself the luxury of one, I’d never be as good as I want to be. Believe it or not, I’m a security freak, and if I gave myself the option, I’d get comfortable.

I maneuvered myself into the position of having nothing to fall back on; I do realize that. And for me, it was the right decision.

But damn, it was frightening as hell.

It Was a Very Good Year

Yes. Yes, it was. It doesn’t sound it so far, does it? In spite of it all, I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t regret my regrets for a second.

And now look, I’ve written a whole blog post and I haven’t even gotten to the good bits! And there were more good bits than scary bits, I promise. So I suppose I’m going to have to finish this up in a day or two… after I finish my writing. :-)

Ever have regrets? Or regrets you don’t regret? Ever choose one thing above another, and mourn the loss of it, even while you know you’d make the exact same decision a thousand times over?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,My Adventures | Tags: ,

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