For the past few months I have really, really wanted to write about several topics which I ultimately deemed too “hot” at the moment and deferred. I have five half-written posts stored in my blog’s folder awaiting a cool spell. Although I have been sitting around not writing, I am still paying attention (sometimes) to things that are going on around me and farther afield. This post will either be my last gasp or just a small “yop” coming from my little corner of the universe. I happen to also believe that this post will articulate, however awkwardly, something that a lot of folks from all over the spectrum have been feeling if not actually saying. We’ll see.
I suppose that everybody has what I will call a tipping point that is reached at some point and causes us to act or react. Usually I just yell about something and move on. This time, however, that didn’t help. Too many other people are involved, and I care deeply about most of them.
It all started on facebook…
Yes, you read that right. I reluctantly joined facebook (fb) at the urging of my students. Now I love it. I really do use it to keep in touch with people from lots of different places. Unfortunately, I have caught myself coming close to engaging in some of the behavior that I most dislike on fb, to wit, posting things that clearly indicate one point of view while nastily condemning those who do not share that perspective. Snarkiness? That’s ok in my unsolicited opinion. Hatefulness? Not.
Not all of my friends share my opinions on things. Some of you may even find it strange that one of my best friends and often a moral compass for me is pretty much 180 degrees apart from me on a lot of issues. I do not find this strange at all, nor does… that person. We find it fascinating! I also have friends who tell me when I am doing something stupid. They do not call me stupid, or offer to pray for me (we’re not done with this one), make predictions about the torture that I will suffer in the afterlife (or this one), or attack me on fb. We talk about it.
A little over a year ago someone posted something on my fb page that offended me. So file a “Hurt Feelings Report,” right? I wouldn’t have cared if they had put it on their own page. It’s their page. This post definitely exceeded the snarkiness requirement and was at the upper end of the nasty spectrum shading into hateful. Because I disagreed with the post (on my page!), I was not only an evil person, but I could not possibly love my country.
Of course, I made a few adjustments in my fb settings, but I was still angry. I wanted to write something really sarcastic to this person and point out not only the flaws in logic, but the many- too many to be typos- errors in both spelling and grammar! HA!I didn’t. What I did was start paying a bit more attention to a lot of the political and religious things that people say, not just on fb, but in the media and in public.
I realized several things that are still a bit crossed up, but that I will try to untangle here. Let’s consider one comment that I hear and read a lot these days: “Pray for this country!” For the record, I have NO problem with prayers. My informal and unscientific observations show, however, that this statement is usually launched by people who really mean that the president or whoever has done what they don’t like is an idiot. They are hiding behind their piety.
Americans Against __________ (fill in the blank) know all about the stupidity, dishonesty, and downright evilness of ____________ (fill in this blank with whoever the first blank hates). My mama told me not to say anything if I couldn’t say anything nice. Many of the world’s faiths exhort believers to act toward others as they wish to be treated. Sarcasm (and the choice to use it) often keeps me from doing the first one. From sarcasm, it is but one short step into real disdain for those with whom you disagree. Some of the things I read and hear are truly hateful, and I do not understand it. Sarcasm does not help here.
Things are not exactly rosy in the US right now, but let’s add the word relatively and see how well that holds. It won’t be 100%. (I can hear people coming up with examples of both now!) There are many, many ideas regarding how to make things better. Some make sense. Some don’t. I like some of the ones that make sense as well as some of the ones that don’t. I am human. Do I want to harm or kill those who disagree with me? No. I want them to shut up. Gotcha.
I don’t know many of the people out there saying such hateful things, nor am I likely to meet most of them. Some of them, however, are people with whom I share some important interests. I do not socialize with them on a regular basis, but I like them and am pretty sure that they are fond of me. Do the people who say and write such hateful things REALLY want such extreme consequences to befall those against whom they inveigh? Sometimes I truly believe that they do. They do not know those evil people, but they know all about them. Or do they?
People are still arguing and dying over interpretations of religious tenets all over the world. Here in the USA we just say horrible things about our fellow citizens who do not share our beliefs. Most of us don’t actually do anything constructive to make a positive change.
We seem to have accepted that different people can read the same religious text and understand it differently, so we do not refer to any authority at all. We just know. It’s the same with the United States Constitution (USC). I know (because I ask!) that many (another precise measurement) people have never read this document. They know their rights. They know what is wrong (as opposed to illegal), but they are completely unable to provide a legitimate source for their arguments. Anecdotal evidence is an excellent bolster, but it will not change the law of the land.
Remember the old bumper stickers that asked if you had read your Bible today? Well, I would suggest that we also ask people if they have read their constitution today. Love it or hate it, it is the law of our land. Your rights and my rights, not to mention our responsibilities, are outlined, not defined therein. Calling each other horrible names and making predictions about what will happen to people after they die is not only mean, it is an exercise in futility.
I love and resort often to sarcasm often to express my views. There is none in this post. My goal here is not to publicly shred anyone’s pride or argument. Rather, I wish to lead you to water and invite you to drink. Our domestic tranquility depends upon it.