The problem with writing about things like religion, or race, or women’s issues, or political issues is that there is no way to sum up the situation in one go. There is no way to write, say, a comprehensive 6000-word monograph, the ultimate word on the topic, and then walk away from it, never needing to revisit. Or at least no way that I can see. These topics are messy and complex, with many layers of history and nuance, argument and counter-argument, and they are still evolving, and potentially may never resolve fully. Smarter people than me write about these issues after careful study (or so I assume), and smarter people than them do not write about them at all. Since I am only as smart as I am, I hope to write about these with the only two goals — those of clarity and balance.

When I was younger and, hopefully, stupider, I did not think much of these things. (Wait, does that actually mean I was younger and smarter?) I believed that they did not matter in my life. But the older I get, the more I realise that these are topics one can’t really get away from at all. One can ignore them, and life may go on as before to some extent, but beyond a point, you have to be deaf and dumb and blind not to see that many of the threads that are deeply woven into our lives tie back to these spools of yarn.

As a woman, I am especially aware of gender issues — I think of them when I see little girls and little boys with their playthings, I think of them when mothers I know quit jobs to take care of young children but fathers don’t and I think of them when women discuss how annoying it is to shave their legs. Other “sensitive” issues occupy my mind less often, but are hardly absent. When the people in Norway go out of their way to be friendly to me, I wonder if it is because of the colour of my skin. When I see a cross on the necklace of the woman next to me in yoga, I can’t help but make a mental note of it, because I don’t know too many women who wear one. And when a Chinese Christian Church meets on Saturday mornings in the local Jewish Community Center, I find it funny and heart-warming, and it restores my faith in the world a little bit. As for political issues, well, what isn’t a political issue? Whether or not it is alright to shop in Walmart is already a decision of a political nature.

And therefore I give myself leave to write about these things, interspersed with posts on cockroaches, sea shells and procrastination. The great thing about this blog is that no one reads it anyway, so I have room to fool around, screw up, and generally let it all hang out. After all, what is the point of freedom if you don’t make use of it?