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Racism is Other-ism

dwr.jpgRacism, and Racist, are bad words. It’s not so much that they are meant to describe a nasty human trait, but that they are etymologically incorrect. (My wife opined, correctly I believe, that they’re political words.) Every human being is of the same race, that is, the human race, so it follows that the only racists are haters of humans, individuals like David Suzuki who has described humans as the Earth’s “maggots”. (Comically hypocritical coming from a guy who has five kids.)

The correct word is Other-ism, and we’re all potential Other-ists. We’re prone to looking at others and making judgments based on their “other” skin colour, clothing, ethnic origin, caste, tribe, weight, occupation, and anything else whereby we can identify them as being other and lesser than us, and therefore us being better than them. Other-ism is the root cause of bullying, unjustified discrimination, and indifference.

DalitOther-ism lurks in every human heart, and left unchecked becomes part of our life and our culture. India is Possibly the most Other-ist nation on earth. in addition to all the standard Other-isms, divisions based on the caste system still exist, and why wouldn’t they? In Eastern religions, your situation, good or bad, is simply karma for your deeds in a previous incarnation.  If you’re an Untouchable (Dalit) cleaning sewers, (pictured), that’s your lot in this life, and it’s your own fault.

In Africa, Other-ism is rampant. Other tribe, other social status, other rung on the upward mobility ladder, even other shade of brown. I was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and had invited our driver from a previous trip, and his wife, to join me at my hotel for dinner. They were Aggrey and Anna Mponguliana, and during dinner we discovered that they, and Meritha and I, had been married the same year. The conversation turned to our courtships, and Anna revealed to me that Aggrey had paid 10 cows for her. Then she added, that if her skin had been lighter, Aggrey might have had to pay 20 cows. I suggested that Homo sapiens, which ironically means “wise humans”, should actually be called Homo stupidus, because while Africans and Asians go to great lengths to lighten their skin colour, Caucasians lie on the beach risking skin cancer to look more like Africans and Asians.

On every trip to Africa, I experienced Other-ism myself. I learned a few words of Swahili, and one of them was Mzungu, meaning white man, and many times in elevators and on the streets, it was pretty clear that the Mzungu was being dissed.

I once was told that aboriginal North Americans could not possibly be racist, (Other-ist) because they were themselves subjected to Other-ism. A few weeks later, a prominent aboriginal chief stated, publicly, that Hitler had not been unreasonable when he “fried 6 million Jews”.

Other-ism is found in every culture, but it’s solution is not to be found in legislation, nor in burning down your neighborhood. Rather, it’s in a change of perspective brought about by self-examination. Other-ism is rooted in PRIDE, and as CS Lewis said, pride is what turned Lucifer, an angel of light, into the Devil himself. Pride lurks in every human heart, and it’s in our individual hearts that solutions begin.

Almost everyone experiences Other-ism at some point in their life, and every one of us, without exception, is a potential Other-ist. Let’s begin solving Other-ism by ruthlessly rooting out the problem where it starts.

I’m Dave Reesor

Next blog; Tribalism; the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the stupid.

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Simple Food Uncategorized

Breaking Bread? Break Your Own!

Dave 07

Old Fashioned Bread
Over the past few months, my family has posted several pictures on the Internet, of a very simple, homemade bread that I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve now had around 300 requests for the recipe, so here goes.
There are only 4 basic ingredients; it takes 5 minutes to mix, and then, 15 to 18 hours later, it’s 5 minutes to get it into the oven. And it smells good! Quantities can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, depending on how much bread you want.

Basic Recipe 

2 cups unbleached flour, or 1 cup of unbleached, and 1 cup of whole wheat.

Light Rye.jpgI just tried 1/3 rye flour, and it’s great. (photo) But you won’t get quite as much rise when you add whole wheat or rye. A small handful of flax seeds add texture.
I have an uncle and a cousin who grow Kamut; an ancient grain that is significantly higher in nutritive value than modern grains. I’m going to be getting some from them in a couple of months. Hint for Meritha: If I don’t get a grain mill for Father’s Day, I suppose I’ll have to use the coffee grinder.

1 teaspoon of traditional yeast

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/3 cups of water, more or less.

Mix the dry ingredients and add most of the water. I mix it with a spatula – it’s less messy than using your hands, but if you like to feel the dough, go for it – and check to see if you get a dough that just barely sticks to the spatula. If it’s too dry, you’ll need to add a little water; too wet and you add a little flour. I keep flour and cornmeal in shaker bottles.

Then I put a plate over the bowl and let it sit for 15 to 18 hours.

The idea is that the yeasts do much of the work of digesting the gluten, and releasing the minerals and vitamins. I got the idea from watching a four-part series called Cooked, on Netflix. It’s well worth watching.
**My general philosophy is: “What’s the worst that could happen?” If it’s skydiving, the parachute might not open. No thanks. But if the bread is inedible, I just throw out $1 worth of ingredients and 10 minutes time; try to figure out what went wrong, and start again. If you get this just right on the first try, you’re probably lying. But seriously, that’s the secret. If you’re afraid of a failure, or a few, you’ll never create something that’s really yours.   The recipe is meant for you to make it yours.
Plain Wheat.jpg

So, 18 hours later, again using the spatula, I poke it down, (kneading I suppose, but easier).  I check it for stickiness and sprinkle and mix flour or water, as needed. You don’t want it to stick to your baking dish.  Using the spatula, and sprinkling a bit of flour, I form it into kind of a ball and roll it into my baking dish, which I’ve had in a slightly warmed oven.

Leave it in the turned-off oven: then, 30 to 60 minutes later, and leaving it in the oven, I turn  the oven on to 400°, set the timer to 55 minutes, (you’ll adjust this depending on how moist you like your bread) and let it bake, covered with foil or a lid.

**For the basic 2 or 3 cups of flour recipe, I bake it in a heavy, 6” diameter, non-stick aluminum pot, or a 3 X 7 X 3 inch deep rectangular ceramic dish. I wipe the interior with olive oil and then coat it lightly with the cornmeal. It gives a nice crust.
 For larger quantities I use a deep, cast-iron pan. In the summer I use the barbecue and set the pan up on bricks to avoid burning the bottom. From the BBQ.jpgIt’s also a great way to bake Cornbread / Johnny cake, or pies.
To the bread recipe I sometimes add flax seed, or a mixed cereal, or whatever seems like it might add good taste and texture. Adjust the water and flour accordingly.

Brush cream or oil or butter the top, and bake it uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Cool it on a rack for as long as you can resist trying it.

Baking simple bread is very rewarding. Kids and grand-kids, and guests, love it. If grand-kids are staying overnight, get them involved. And explain the health benefits.
I’m not a cook, but I really enjoy making simple things that taste good, and are healthier, but don’t cost much. And if I can do it – most of the time anyway – anybody can.
Have fun!
Dave