Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:


With Mishana Hosseinioun

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

September 24, 2006


Writing in The Fog

By Mishana Hosseinioun

The City sleeps in
Ironed curtains pulled
Wind trickles
Raindrops stop mid flight
Skin of the bay rises in a sigh
Lights bobble
Windows slow dance
Asphalt weeps
Hills spill dirty secrets
Trees whisper white lies

The City forgets to make the bed
After itself
Golden Gate
With extra foam
Exhaust pipes
At rush hour
Blows second hand citizens
Through whiteness
To pasty cubicles
And White Out tubs

The City rides in the fog
And I write in the fog

No hands



The Third Sex

By Mishana Hosseinioun

April 13, 2006

In the free flowing bazaar of our 21st century gender economy, we float, neither fully men nor wholly women, but as members of the comprehensive third sex. In many ways, we share a collective skin, an elastic global organ of some sorts. It is not to say, however, that every tenacious effort on our part to differentiate ourselves from one another in getup, gait and gray matter, is a futile and utterly unfounded endeavor. In fact, this tool has served as one of society's greatest arms and shields throughout history, whether in constructing incest and homosexuality taboos to preserve 'orderly' kinship structures, or in branding the Other or Beauvoirian second sex for purposes of patriarchal supremacy. But that was so 1949. It may just be that the elusive identities we create for ourselves and others today, in general, are hardly capacious enough to encompass our full range of being, especially in this increasingly globalized and interconnected world of ours; if anything, they serve to compartmentalize us not unlike items in a supermarket aisle, when really we are more souk-material than Safeway. For that reason alone, being more cognizant at all times of our vacillation along that universal ID axis becomes our biggest modern day challenge. It is an imperative nonetheless.

Transsexuals must know this reality all too well, having been unapologetically misplaced on the gender shelf by the Stork in its haste during delivery, yet having subsequently taken to properly re-shelving themselves at all costs. In choosing to make the grueling trek toward self-actualization and trading in their days 'behind barcodes' for a life in the fast checkout lane, these resilient individuals have come to embody the ultimate art of cultivating one's own garden. We are all-man, woman and hermaphrodite alike-to one extent or another, wittingly or not, making that excursion as well. Only now we can turn to our chameleon-like kin as the sources of emulation and consolation we never knew we had.

It is common, for instance, for most women with any aspiration to ascend to the male-dominated strata of power, to be in the business of sporting short bobs and wearing the pantsuits in the casa. With a pair of X chromosomes to their name, why stop short of a Y, they are wont to question. As if females did not already have their share of burdens, they have gone on to bear those of males as well, and understandably so. After all, a glossy ponytail has yet to make it past the glossies, and no Femmebot has ever scored a Governorship. Besides, why let their bosom weigh them down, so to speak, when they can just as soon grab life by the jewels? All the same, today's Stephen-turned-Stephanie might have a lesson or two to teach them about fully appreciating that which only women hold in their 'cups.' Breathtaking gender illusionist Cassandra Cass might even step in to inspire nostalgia in each and everyone amongst them for that long forsaken, fierce element called femininity that once launched a thousand ships.

Long gone, perhaps, though liable to be resurrected, are the days when a lounging Cleopatra would stir perfume with one gilded finger and twirl an entire empire around the other. Here to stay is an age in which men soaking their cuticles in bubble water ponder how much more of their masculinity they can safely give up to experience another such feeling of utter serenity and freedom in their lifetime.


The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: An Enduring Love Tryst

By Mishana Hosseinioun

February 14, 2006

It takes but a slight stretch of the imagination to see that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in all its heartbreak, is very much a love story. That is, of course, if one chooses to perceive the holy cup as half full, as it were. It is a tale of two peoples and the beloved land they both, in a single breath, claim and worship as their own. With these various dynamics acting in concerto and inescapably escalating into the kind of passionate uprisings typical of the current day drama, it is easy to quickly lose sight of the love at its core and to simply take it for an empty glass. Even though recent decades have led to some rock-throwing here and bulldozing there, they have amounted to little in the way of genuine peace and reconciliation between the two wild lovers caught in between; their convoluted relationship is nonetheless riddled with enough fiery zeal and irrationality to make for a full-fledged romance. That handshakes, let alone establishment of mere eye contact, seem all but imminent in their current, implosive political relationship, would prescribe every more reason to excavate scraps of affection from ongoing tensions and to wrench lightness and humor out of the rubble of their everyday existence or non-existence. Handholding aside, the flat-out denial of the other's presence in the room, alone, could make a solid diagnosis of their chronic lovesickness.

These Israelis and Palestinians are your old, odd couple, too plagued by early Alzheimer's to remember each other's name or on which side of the "Wall" or "Fence" they parked their car; they are oft jaded by the viciously repetitive cycle of checkpoints that dictate their all-but-normal, quotidian lives. Then again, they are not unlike your young, sweltering newlyweds sprawled on their conjugal bed, too occupied, wrestling for the spot on top to actually consummate the darn thing. They are, in sum, a love struck item, at a loss for words-forget diplomacy-with only their god-given bodies and shake n' bake ammo to turn to when they want to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Ok, and maybe a 'Molotov' cocktail or two to break the ice.

Many a love tryst is steeped in its due share of pain, suffering and passion killings. Why then is everyone so surprised to find this pair of weathered lovebirds' wading in a bloodbath? Such is only a natural by-product of the desperate turn taken by their love affair with their land. It is no secret that where passion boils, there will inevitably be some steam and the risk of going a bit off the head. Makes one wonder whether suicide bombers and their sharp-shooting and sharply dressed counterparts are not merely the misguided Romeos and Juliets of our time-star-crossed lovers without quite an equal hand at Shakespearian penmanship to cast them under sexy candlelight on the evening news. Whatever the case may be, if this heated battle over the Promised homeland is not some form of romance or another then it is certainly nothing to write home about.


BEAT OF OURS: Ode to Jack Hirschman

By Mishana Hosseinioun

January 20, 2006

to you
to the letters of your
first name
last name
all names
spell you
cast a spell
at once

never leave
a soul
do you

to the you and me in
under one big roof
of sky

to you
because poets are beat
Luther Kings dethroned
on death
are would-be Leonardos
roaming the streets, deranged Picassos
budding Oppenheimers straddle seesaws

to the
on your shoulders
white flag
of your mane

to you
beat of ours
just when we thought
the beat was
loose change


Phil-entropy: 'Tis the Season for Misgivings

By Mishana Hosseinioun

December 12, 2005

While it is every other humble soccer mom and CEO's self-proclaimed moral, if not fiduciary, obligation to 'give back to the community,' especially around the holiday seasons, philanthropy-in all its purported altruism-can nevertheless be said to institutionalize an arguably strategic vicious circle of dependency between the haves and the have-nots. Instead of minimizing the disparity between the rich and the poor, as it would logically seem to be doing, the very act of philanthropic giving simultaneously serves to provide the aforementioned binary with all the more raison d'être, and to forever keep the white picket fence between the neighbors in question freshly painted, so to speak. And as with all cases of wet paint, this too has long been written off as a sticky subject not to be touched-so, predictably, it has been left as such.

Paradoxically enough, for every charitable transaction aimed at closing this wealth gap, there is a reaffirmation of goodness and integrity on the side of the privileged, the one who gives, and consequently, an equal and opposite widening of the perceived moral gulf between the latter class and those deemed less fortunate; hence a ready-made alibi for the perpetuation of the current hierarchical world order in which we now find, and occasionally lose, ourselves.

Meanwhile, non-profit organizations seem to be the indentured servants caught in the web of this kinship structure, evermore beholden to the lottery of foundation grants and annual benefit dinners that spell out their uncertain 501(c)(3) fates. Increasingly, competition over pocketbooks and ripped checks is causing NGOs to readily work at cross-purposes with those headed essentially down the same path, and to effectively cancel out each other's hard-earned sweat and tears. In turn, this contest works to hinder all organizations uniformly, and thus, in the long term, undermine their communal goal of realizing the likes of 'world peace,' 'democracy' and what have we.

The inability, however, on the part of most organizations to visualize their place within the larger scheme of things and to carve out a space for sharing, trust, and collaboration accordingly, is just one symptom of this enduring socio-humanitarian myopia. Non-profits can hardly be blamed, for after all they are just as busy as the rest of us, engaged in the mother of all obscurantist diversions-fundraising-and must not be bothered lest they should miss the next application deadline.

Mishana Hosseinioun is a student of both Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and a longstanding intern in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office. She is also the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights-a non-profit organization dedicated to the spirit of collaboration in the new millennium. Email Mishana at Mishana@ICHR.org


If Democracy Is The Answer, What Was The Question?

By Mishana Hosseinioun

In his 1762 work, Social Contract, the sometimes loved, other times dreaded French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau asserts that it is essentially the role and shared responsibility of citizens to question the validity of the status quo and test the soundness of the powers that be. To that end, he concluded that in order to preserve their autonomy, people must first and foremost ask themselves how they would like to be governed. In this way, by their very own hands, a social contract or set of communally determined codes of government conduct would be born, to put leaders in their intended place from the very start-a place, which Rousseau depicted as the obligatory convergence of humility, invisibility and seamlessness in governance. Furthermore, a compact that proposed to privilege the volition of the people every step of the way would also ensure that power would not be summarily abused, as it has so often been.

The dramatic notion advanced by Rousseau that sovereignty emerges from the will of the people as opposed to government is slightly if not entirely paradoxical by today's standards. Such a prospect trumps the contemporary, greatly over-simplified logic used to deduce that democracy is achieved through the mere act of voting and that democratically elected officials are by extension, automatically democratic in their actions once stationed behind their bureaus. This may even suggest that with no mechanism in place to lubricate the flow of democracy in between election seasons, every time citizens vote their conscience, they may actually be surrendering a priceless and irretrievable piece of their agency to the ballot box.

Most probably, Rousseau would have hoped for this profound message presented in his Magnum Opus, to have at least caught on, posthumously, in the mainstream-a book, which in its time practically incited the French Revolution but which, today, might easily sub as fly-swatter. That Rousseau's line of thinking is scarcely to be found in modern day convention is not a matter of incompatibility, neither does it make a case for the existence of a form of ideological Darwinism wherein philosophies are either bound to sink or swim in the 'think-tank' of humanity; for the sake of inciting one less controversy, we will just blame its current unpopularity on poor 18th century marketing, and collectively pick things up right where Jean-Jacques left off-no questions asked.

Mishana Hosseinioun is a student of both Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and a longstanding intern in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office. She is also the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (formerly, The International Bill of Rights Project)-a non-profit organization dedicated to drafting the 'Social Contract' for the new millennium. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org.


Operation Katrina

By Mishana Hosseinioun

September 11, 2005

What do you get when you mix two parts deluge, one part wind, a pinch of poverty and two tablespoons of hunger? Katrina, you didn't see the violence coming either, did you? For better or worse, the hurricane with the deceivingly sweet name that swept the South actually shines some light for us on the root of all crime-related epidemics from looting and drive bys, to war.

While the contention is not that all hurricanes are necessarily conducive to the kind of systematic and widespread killing known to Srebeniza or Darfur, this particular one is indeed a reminder of our propensity as human beings, on one level or another, toward comparable, hostile behavior. If anything, we now know that it hardly takes more than 24 hours to turn a civilized population of men, women, and youth into a vicious lot, even prepared, in certain instances, to kill for their property and survival, unless they are willing to be killed first. The universal quotient to be derived from all of this is that when you have nothing left to lose, you can, well, pretty much lose it.

Just when we in the United States thought we would descend like saints to help other nations clean up their act, we are confronted by the embarrassing reality of our own helplessness and crudeness in the face of a similar descent upon our soil, and not to mention the surprise of the ensuing ruin and destitution. To make matters worse, a natural disaster such as this one, unlike the fateful events of September 11, for example, eliminates the possibility for a target of revenge. Perhaps, the anthropomorphic itch to give a human name, and by extension, a human countenance to our storms-a tendency which may even be lingering from our days of idolatry-shows just how important it is for us to name higher forces over which we have little or no form of mastery. In the case of Katrina, she just happened to be one of our enemies, and we like to name those too. Although, in afterthought, it still would not be entirely out of the question to rule out global warming and engineering mishaps, which only then leads us back to ourselves as the culprits. We could, therefore, kindly choose to take this opportunity to spank ourselves in silent retribution-on the bottom line, that is.

Nevertheless, goodness undoubtedly emanates from such disasters as well, including the kind of outpouring of aid and hospitality displayed by bewildered onlookers around the globe; what is more, if Katrina could be deemed to have a mind of her own, she too, would have been considered well intentioned were it not for the slight over-exuberance of her marine and otherwise life-giving force. Yet like with all other life lessons that pass us by like a storm, we are most likely too busy organizing our disaster relief fundraisers to take notice of the chilling resemble of our fate due to hurricane Katrina to that of all people faced with the unsolicited storming of their land by overseas visitors that call themselves Freedom and Liberation.

When Sentinel columnist Mishana Hosseinioun sees the bodies floating down the river she knows its time to head upstream.

Mishana Hosseinioun is a student of both Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and a longstanding intern in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office. She is also the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (formerly, The International Bill of Rights Project)--a non-profit organization located in the Presidio. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org.


Grime and Punishment: from Guillotine to Gitmo

By Mishana Hosseinioun

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Prison is not so much the boxed-up notion it's made up to be. French philosopher Michel Foucault, in his astute and cutting edge work, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1977), illustrates the many incarnations undergone by incarceration throughout Western history before becoming what we either cherish or despise today as our contemporary penitentiary system. While in the past, the condemned human body has endured a battery of gaudy noontime executions by public dismemberment in city piazzas, the last couple of centuries have paved the way for a brand new, albeit haunting locus of imprisonment and punishment -- the psyche or soul.

While presently, in some parts of the world, old fashioned public hangings are not entirely a thing of the past, most punitive practices have since tiptoed their way behind closed doors and out of the public eye, but not without seeping under the prisoners' skin in the process. Everything from the sporadic abuse scandals that get leaked once in a blue moon to the foul play potentially taking place in prisons and detention centers at this very moment, might all still pale in comparison to the once commonplace, exhibitionistic abuse or downright, theatrical murder of prisoners; nevertheless, even what today would appear to be the most unremarkable of prison practices of all time, can just as soon be the most soul-wrenching and psychologically traumatic of the bunch.

Why we unflinchingly refer to prisoners as persons deprived of their freedom, for instance, is for the simple reason that any punishment involving the removal of an already elusive concept such as freedom from so-called 'hardened' criminals and 'cold-blooded' killers sounds like a pretty generous and compassionate bargain. It is precisely such relatively harmless sounding spiritual shackles, however, that impede prisoners in their personal journey toward character reform or eventual assimilation, if ever, back into society.

Ironically enough, it looks like in the throes of its own transformation over the years, the penal system has also single-handedly masterminded its proper mental breakdown, as it were, having at once been convinced of its self-professed virtues, and all the while been riddled to the point of madness with internal contradiction. There is no telling where along its evolutionary path the prison might come to recognize this self-defeating dichotomy and consequently meet its outright institutional downfall. In the meantime, we have only to wonder whether our descendents will ever, in turn, reach for a dusty volume of The Death of the Prison (City Lights Press, San Francisco, CA).

Sentinel columnist, Mishana Hosseinioun questions whether for every school built there could be one less prison, and for every additional prison built -- one lost generation. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org.


Resurrecting Utopia

By Mishana Hosseinioun

August 11, 2005

Free health care and education, a democratically elected King, and no private property -- such is a state of Utopia as fashioned by Sir Thomas More, in early 16th century London. Not even Marx' Manifesto figures into this forgotten Brit vision of a classless society. Still, when five centuries later, we condescendingly refer to something as utopian, lurking somewhere beneath our passive aggressive remark is a concurrent resentment for the status quo separating us from our desired, ideal state of collective being -- the kind of resentment that all, including our inner real estate developer, may contend with at one psychological level or another.

It is not to say that achieving Utopia is fundamentally advisable or conversely, that it 'should not be tried at home;' rather, the very notion of the ideal, never before having been achieved in our documented, non-mythical history, must be redefined altogether. As a species, our sheer terror of falling short of ethereal perfection has led us to push the notion of perfect harmony so far off the scale of realizable aspirations, that we are content settling with mediocrity or flat-out inequity so as not to individually trail off the map of socially esteemed standards.

Faced with no other outlet, this primordial fear finds further release in an inflated sense of cool and superiority vis-à-vis a bogey-idealism, reserved for consumption by rogue agents and enemies of the state only. What is more, confirming everyone's worst fears are those who dare think in the removed, idealistic realm and who are subsequently thrown off the deep end -- Sir Thomas More's head, July 6, 1535, being one case in point.

While some in smaller circles or in given decades such as the sixties, may claim a Utopia for themselves, it is typically never much more than a illusion of the latter -- a mere bubble to be busted by the next cop or dotcom pinhead. Even now, cruising in our respective economy, business, and first class airplane seats, it becomes difficult to imagine a social plane in which all could have the same legroom and delicious steak dinner, and never at the penalty of the other. Instead, there will invariably be the red eyes and their twinkling counterparts, the bloated bellies, and satiated brethren, and never a communal ramp leading to the aircraft to so much as risk an accidental run in between the divided camps.

While each group of world passengers is destined for a distinctly separate fate, some will argue that Utopia is only a chance upgrade away, or in a decision as conclusive as blowing off last month's paycheck on an extra yard of reclining space -- on the second floor of the 747. In other words, buddy, Utopia departs at 0600 and often lands quicker than you can say more Bailey's please; however, technically, not even skeptics will dare call you idealistic for the next 12 hours and 14 minutes if they are also suspended at 34,000 feet, doing 560 mph in no man's land.

Sentinel columnist Mishana Hosseinioun envisions egalitarian public transportation bringing us one step closer to a realistic Utopia. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org to get on board.


A New UN Human Rights Council: fait accompli or faux pas?

By Mishana Hosseinioun

Saturday, August 6, 2005

At sixty, the United Nations has hit its mid-life crisis and it is perfectly reasonable that it should want a makeover. Rather than buying a red convertible, however, it has opted for a little nip here, a tuck there, and most predictably, a facelift. UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan's 2005 report on UN reform entitled, In Larger Freedom, outlines his vision to implant a Human Rights Council in place of what he and others perceive as an otherwise `sagging' Commission on Human Rights. Whereas the Commission is a mere subsidiary body of ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council and assembles once every year, a Council would be a standing body, comparable in constitution and level of authority to the Security Council, and capable of meeting as often as necessary.

Despite ongoing criticism, the Commission on Human Rights surpassed expectations in more ways that one when it convened for its 61st and possibly penultimate session at the United Nations in Geneva this April. While it regrettably failed to produce any decisive action with regard to the fate of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, for instance, it devoted considerable time to strategies for appeasing Palestinian-Israeli tensions. Fair enough, statistically speaking, but still inadequate by human standards, it may be added.

Although the fate of the present UN Commission on Human Rights remains up in the air, it will most likely be sealed at the upcoming General Assembly meeting in September. In the meantime, alternate proposals for a Human Rights Council have been put forward-one hopeful indicator of the possibility for compromise amidst contention.

Nevertheless, it does not hurt to question whether a makeover would do more harm than good, or even help to improve human rights conditions globally at all. Sure, at this point in history most countries' human rights records could use a little bleaching and ironing, but what has that ever done beyond removing surface imperfections? Perhaps it is time for a change of heart and not just a wardrobe change for the Commission on Human Rights-the seasoned peace-making instrument that after years of respectable, hard work still overlooks the importance of passing resolutions that hold much more than mere symbolic and moral weight.

Sentinel columnist, Mishana Hosseinioun was presented with a certificate by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of the World Federation of United Nations Associations upon completion of a seminar at the United Nations in Geneva on the Evolution of the Commission on Human Rights earlier in July. In April she delivered an oral intervention before the 61st Commission on Human Rights, advocating on behalf of universal codes of conduct and socially responsible transnational business practices. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org.


Yes, Petronius, but where is it buried?

"Education is a treasure (Litterae thesaurum est)”
-Petronius, Satyricon, (c. 60 C.E.)

By Mishana Hosseinioun

Thursday, July 7, 2005

It was the same roman writer who in later pages of his sole extant manuscript to-date, Satyricon, wrote, “I'm sure the reason such young nitwits are produced in our schools is because they have no contact with anything of any use in everyday life.” Today, Petronius might turn in his grave knowing that the tables have not entirely turned since then-at least not in our classrooms. While lines from his satiric piece could tragically apply as much to life in the year 2005 as it did back in that of the 60s C.E., what will be left to a separate treatise, however, is whether the nitwits of his days could measure up to ours.

From an archeological standpoint, these alleged nitwits have had centuries to mature and calcify within our antiquated schooling systems; a chilling prospect, perhaps, yet it may just be that they are, in fact, justified in their nitwitdom. What Petronius phrased more eloquently than any modern day school board member was that schools inevitably manufacture apathetic individuals when they fail to provide them with any tools for survival in the real world.

What such enduring patterns in our culture teach us is that there is a need for students to learn to build relevance between academics and their own lives if they are to become well rounded, thriving citizens of the globe. Ideally, schools-not the streets-are where survival skills should be taught. The motivational gap that permeates classrooms can be attributed, in large part, to the lack of tangible incentives for learning, currently available to students. The inability on the part of most students to find joy and excitement in their studies, therefore, cannot simply be written off as an unfortunate by-product of adolescence. The truth of the matter is that our youth lie in the dark of the back alleys, learning the things they should just as easily learn in the safety of the back row of class, if not, the very front.

Either we think we already know why so many students choose the streets over their diplomas, or we are not asking the right set of questions. For instance, is it possible that the streets are providing the kind of requisite knowledge-street smarts, as it were-that we, as human beings, naturally seek in our formative years and beyond? If so, it is clear to see why youth easily gravitate towards this non-organized brand of education, otherwise unavailable to them in the classrooms. How `misguided' their choices then really are, such as spending minimal time studying, or even dropping out of school, is thus open to debate. Perhaps, this population of youth, once dubbed delinquents or nitwits by society, might arguably be a generation more deeply dedicated to the pursuit of real-life wisdom and intellectual treasure than we will ever know.

Sentinel columnist Mishana Hosseinioun plans to implement a worldwide human rights educational curriculum in schools for one class period on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2005. Mishana treasures education; email her at Mishana@IBOR.org if you dig it too.


Good Morning America
Staying up all night is a form of civil disobedience

By Mishana Hosseinioun

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Staying up all night is a form of civil disobedience. I didn't know it until I gave it a try in this chair by the window. I thought I'd outsmart Julius while I was at it, and seize both the day and the night. By 2:02 I really felt like an activist; by 4:49 I was practically verging on anarchism. By 6:15, I figured I would likely emerge as the next Dalai Lama. (No wonder they want us sleeping).

I got to watch the sky undress, just as it assumed the rest of us had our eyes closed. I caught the moon with its pants down, and the sun, red-handed, but not before witnessing the yawning clouds taking a piss on our front lawns, then skirting along-at which point the birds seemed to yell out something that sounded like "get off my property!"

But it is nearing the time I would normally wake up. So I will get up off my seat now and move onto a bowl of cereal and on with my life. Besides, it's Fathers' Day and as a daughter I never was the rebellious type.

Her Holiness, Mishana Hosseinioun, will be accepting emails at Mishana@IBOR.org.

Mishana Hosseinioun is a Politikon Zoon at the University of California at the People's Republic of Berkeley and an intern in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office. She is also the Program Director of The International Bill of Rights Project, which is true to her non-partisan platform. Email Mishana at Mishana@IBOR.org.


You talking to me, Aristotle?
'Man is by nature a political animal' - Aristotle, The politics

By Mishana Hosseinioun

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In questioning the relevance of such an utterance in San Francisco, USA, today, we must first put certain things into perspective. It is safe to assume that in the period of 335 to 323 BC, Greece, in which Aristotle wrote The Politics, the expression, man, in the general sense, did not concurrently implicate woman, or transsexual for that matter, as it does in this day and age. In fact, Aristotle made this pronouncement at a time when all women, homebound, were neither considered citizens nor possessed any civic rights in Athenian society. Still, it would take another twenty-some hundred years after the famed philosopher's death for women to start gaining such rights in the form of suffrage and birth control.

Call Aristotle a thinker ahead of his time, or a visionary in the most prophetic sense of the word, but for a millennium or two, man was presumed the de facto political animal, while woman just sat out the political bandwagon altogether. Some may argue she still does. I will argue that we all do-man and woman alike, including every lesbian, gay, bi- or transsexual among us-even in our self-proclaimed right-wing heart of hearts or ultra-lefty core of cores. Otherwise said, the original definition of political has been lost to us over time. So has genuine recognition of our true, political anima or Jungian inner-selves.

Let's just say that, politically, we derailed a long time ago. Revisiting Aristotle, then, may not be such a bad idea.

In Greek, the term politics or Politikoj is anything but what it has come to mean today. Political is not about party lines and campaigns and the scandals we have come to know all too well. Instead, politics, plainly, and simply, has everything to do with the natural, social beings-citizens-that we are, and very little to do with the socially divisive turn we have taken in the twenty-first century into our respective partisan cubbyholes. By Political Animal or Politikon Zoon, which means `who lives, whose nature is to live, in a polis (state),' Aristotle did not have red or blue in mind; and most certainly, his idea of a political animal was neither a donkey nor an elephant.

According to Aristotle, what sets us apart from all other intelligent animals, such as bees and ferrets, is the gift of speech. This ability in turn allows us to articulate our perception of right and wrong, and by extension, justice and injustice. Thus, in keeping with our discerning nature, let us not limit ourselves to the artificial confines of a particular party or political organization, when as individuals we are, in and of ourselves, our very own, homegrown, organic and inimitable political body.

Mishana Hosseinioun is the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (ICHR), a non-profit dedicated to drafting a legally enforceable international human rights document. She is a longstanding intern in Mayor Gavin Newsom's office in San Francisco and a recent graduate of Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Email Mishana at Mishana@ichr.org


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa