OK, I am Human Now by Ventral is Golden
I think this is a deeply flawed way of looking at the world.
Now, I have talked about Ferguson, and I’ve talked about Gaza. (In fact, I’ve been writing and talking about Israel and Palestine for more than a decade.) But there are many important problems facing the world that I haven’t talked about: I haven’t talked much about the civil war in South Sudan, or the epidemic of suicide among American military personnel, or the persecution of Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Is that okay? Is it okay for me to talk about, say, racism in football and lowering infant mortality in Ethiopia? Or must we all agree to discuss only whatever is currently the ascendant news story? Is it disrespectful to Ferguson protesters to talk about continued political oppression in Egypt now that we are no longer reblogging images of the protests in Tahrir Square? I think this is a false choice: If you are talking about Ferguson and I am talking about Ethiopian health care, neither of us is hurting the other.
I think the challenge for activists and philanthropists online is in paying sustained attention, not over days or weeks but over years and decades. And I worry that when we turn our attention constantly from one outrage to another we end up not investing the time and work to facilitate actual change. We say “THE WORLD IS WATCHING,” and it is…until it isn’t. We’ve seen this again and again in Gaza and the West Bank. We’re seeing it in Iran. We’re seeing it in South Sudan. And we’re seeing it in the U.S., from net neutrality to Katrina recovery.
The truth is, these problems are complicated, and when the outrage passes we’re left with big and tangled and nuanced problems. I feel that too often that’s when we stop paying attention, because it gets really hard and there’s always a shiny new problem somewhere else that’s merely outrageous. I hope you’re paying attention to Ferguson in five years, anon, and I hope I am, too. I also hope I’m paying attention to child death in Ethiopia. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive.
I really don’t want to minimize the effectiveness of online activism, because I know that it works: To use a personal example, I’ve learned a TON from the LGBT+ and sexual assault survivor communities in recent years online. People on tumblr make fun of me for apologizing all the time, but I apologize all the time because I am learning all the time, and every day I’m like, “Oh, man, Current Me has realized that Previous Me was so wrong about this!”
But we can only learn when we can listen. And when you call me a hypocrite for talking about X instead of talking about Y, it makes it really hard to listen.
At times, online discourse to me feels like we just sit in a circle screaming at each other until people get their feelings hurt and withdraw from the conversation, which leaves us with ever-smaller echo chambers, until finally we’re left only with those who entirely agree with us. I don’t think that’s how the overall worldwide level of suck gets decreased.
I might be wrong, of course. I often am. But I think we have to find ways to embrace nuance and complexity online. It’s hard—very, very hard—to make the most generous, most accepting, most forgiving assumptions about others. But I also really do think it’s the best way forward.
What will your verse be?
(Dead Poets Society, 1989)
Salmon Cakes with Herbed Yogurt and Watermelon-Tomato Salad
Mystery Box Ingredients:
2 6oz Salmon Fillets
4 oz Bacon
1 cup Medium-Grain White Rice
16 oz Can Black Beans
1 bunch Basil
1 bunch Mint
6 oz Fage 2% yogurt
4 oz Balsamic Vinegar
The paralysis we felt staring into our first Mystery Box from Plated can only be described as Existential. There were so many choices, so many weird combinations, so many things that we wanted to eat. We were condemned to be delicious and we just didn’t know where to start. We made lists, we googled, and, after what seemed like forever, came to the conclusion: no matter whatever we made, it was going to be fried. Then Rachel remembered a favorite dish from her childhood: Salmon Cakes
Like a crab cake but better, Salmon Cakes add a layer of crunchy goodness to the sweet, creamy fish. They’re seared on the outside to a deep, golden brown, while the inside stays tender and moist. We kept some lightness on the plate with quite possibly the freshest salad on the planet: watermelon-tomato salad, with fresh cucumbers and lots of basil and mint. The end result was hearty without being heavy and felt like the perfect meal to end a long day of playing in the sun.
12 oz fresh wild Salmon
2 tbsp Olive Oil — plus 4 tbsp more for your frying pan
2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp Mayonnaise
¼ finely diced Red Onion (about 3 tbsp)
1 tbsp finely chopped Mint
1 tbsp finely chopped Basil
¼ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
½ tsp fresh Black Pepper
Preheat your oven to 375°. Check your salmon for pin-bones, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. You’ll be able to tell that the salmon is cooked when it becomes opaque and it breaks into flakes. Don’t get weirded out by the white stuff on the surface; that’s just albumin, a water-soluble protein that coagulates and squeezes its way out of the fish as it cooks.
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, bread crumbs, soy, and black pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Flake the salmon into the mixture, keeping it in bigger, easy to identify chunks. Fold everything together, until the salmon is well coated.
Pour 4 tbsp olive oil into a heavy-bottomed saute pan or cast iron skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil just begins to shimmer. Quickly form the salmon into patties about 1 ½in thick and fry until golden and crispy— about 4 minutes on each side.
½ cup Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp finely diced Red Onion
2 tbsp finely diced Cucumber
1 tbsp fresh Basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh Mint, Chopped
2 tbsp Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Patently not rocket surgery, dump it all in a bowl and mix it up. This pseudo-tzatziki tastes better after hanging out in the fridge for at least 20 minutes— so feel free to make it when you pop the salmon in the oven.
Watermelon and Tomato Salad
1 lb Watermelon, cut into cubes
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Cucumber, cut into cubes
¼ Red Onion, very finely sliced
A big handful or two of fresh Basil and Mint
2 tbsp Lime Juice
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
The easiest salad you’ll ever make.
Prepare the watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber. Finely slice the onion and give it a rinse in cold water. A quick rinse will take out some of the eye-watering heat from the onion. Add to your serving bowl, along with the Basil and Mint. Drizzle with lime juice, balsamic, and olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
This dish is best served cold; if your produce isn’t chilly, stick it in the fridge for a few and get ready to eat the most refreshing salad ever.
I’ll need this later.