Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Schmutzie


I’m not a big fan of “blog awards,” but if anyone is going to add a new twist to this type of endeavor and make them special, it is Schmutzie and her new Canadian Weblog Awards, because underneath her sweet demeanor is a woman with the soul of a radical.

Schmutize is an individual very concerned about how we label and identify each other, particularly when it comes to religion, ethnicity, and gender.

Check out the categories that she has created for the blog awards. Some are quite different, such as:

Ecology & Social Justice
Family & Parenting
French Language
Health & Wellness (includes physical/mental health and disabilities)
Religion, Spirituality, & Philosophy
Science, Technology, & the Internet
Sports, Fitness, & Recreation

What I like about them is that she has thought “out of the box.” She has tried to be as inclusive as possible, following her own brand of thought.

“Religion, Spirituality, & Philosophy” – what’s so special about this category? Think about how many wars have been started over religious ideologies. Most of us see Christianity, secular existentialism, and crystal healing as angry antagonists, each movement thinking the other as hogwash, even dangerous. But what if, rather than focusing on what separates them, we look at what unifies?

Schmutzie doesn’t divide the religious, the secular, and the new age into three categories. She looks inward — at the common attitudes and interests of these seemingly disparate individuals – and puts them all in one category. Those who write about Religion, Spirituality, & Philosophy — the religious Jew, the religious Muslim, the vehement atheist, the philosphy professor, and the New Age guru — might all disagree with each other, even hate each other, but in reality, they ponder the same BIG issues – life, death, and ethics. They have more in common in what they WRITE ABOUT — than a co-religionist who blogs about Iphones. Why not focus on the common interests of these writers than the differences? Shouldn’t we categorize by content – the similarities in the thinking process — than on the specifics of the individual? Inclusive over Exclusive. Imagine if this type of thinking spread into the real world, where all THINKERS of all religions saw themselves as members of the same category?

The same could be said for the category titled: “Sports, Fitness, & Recreation”

Does a New York Yankee fanatic, a bodybuilder, a hunter, a fisherman, a guy who loves to fly kites, and a chess grandmaster blogger really belong together in one category?

You wouldn’t normally see these types of bloggers grouped together, but if you stop and think, all of these bloggers are hobbyists or fans, and are frequently obsessed with their hobbies, driving their spouses crazy on weekends. Sure, football is brawn and chess is brains, but I bet these individuals might actually hit it off if they had the chance, much like the football players and the geeks in the TV show Glee!

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King is one of my heroes. Is there any speech as powerful as his “I Have a Dream” speech?

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Is there any more powerful statement? If we broaden Dr. King’s vision to include social issues other than race, we create a world that is inclusive — unified by our character — our thoughts and actions — rather than isolated and excluded because of factors such as race, religion, or gender. It might be a stretch to go from Dr. King to blog award categories, but Dr. King WAS talking about categories — how we judge and see each other, and who we allow into our “group?” Are we exclusive in our words and actions or inclusive?

Perhaps Schmutzie’s most radical act for the awards is in the category of Family & Parenting. Schmutzie herself understands that she was going against the grain —

It was originally suggested to me that one of the categories that the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards needed to have was Mommyblogging, but that label has always rubbed me the wrong way. It seems to embrace only one part of what constitutes parenting and family, especially in a world that acknowledges the diversity of family structures out there, not to mention fathers. So, the more inclusive Family & Parenting category was born. These bloggers write about the complexity of parenthood and family life in a way that would leave most parenting magazines quaking in their boots, so read, comment, and enjoy!

That is a powerful statement. Maybe the terms mommybloggers and daddybloggers are becoming just a little stale — by focusing on WHO — in the same way that we do race, religion, and gender — over WHAT — the content of the blog or interests of the person. Shouldn’t the mother who writes about sports or politics be considered a sports or political writer? Are the old-fashioned labels holding society back? If we are going to be using labels for our writing, should it be an identifier of the person or the content?

Schmutzie does it right; she creates a category of family and parenting as an umbrella for whoever writes about family. This could be a mom or dad who write about their family. It could be a gay man raising a child with his partner. It could be a single man who adopted a son. It could even be a woman who is caring for her sick sister. Are we going to say that these sisters are not a family unit, with the same types of problems that any family might have, just because they are not child-rearing. If I moved in with my MIL to care for her, and I started a blog about it, would you discount me from being in the “family” blog category along with your traditional mommyblogging blog?

Just thinking.

Grace in Small Things: Part 1

1. I healed myself back to health without depending on the goodness of a woman.

2) I’ve been splurging on myself with the iphone, the trip to Chicago, and the more expensive ice cream at the supermarket.

3) My Mead Composition books. Not sure why I love them so much. Maybe the connection to childhood.

4) That Schmutzie is going to laugh when she sees that I finally did one of these Grace in Small Things, and that makes me laugh.

5) Peeing in the shower this morning, just because I could.