Thursday, June 16, 2016

Don't Be That Guy

     So, last weekend, a would-be terrorist* struck, committing an atrocity with a horrific victim count.  All decent people condemned the act -- and promptly retreated to their ideological bunkers.

     We've been lobbing writings at one another ever since.  We're not getting anywhere; our forting-up isn't even a response to one another as much as it is a response to the horror.  And meanwhile, the survivors, a very mixed lot of humanity, are relegated to the background, part of the omnipresent TV wallpaper.

     Let's not be that way.  Yeah, yeah, the gal over there wants to round up all the Muslims and ship 'em out; that guy over there wants to throw every gun into a volcano; and yeah, they will probably never agree.

     So let's find stuff more of us can agree on -- let's strive to treat others as we would like to be treated; let's judge others by their actions and not their regrettable wardrobe, hair-color or body-art choices, not who they vote for or who they date, not who their ancestors were or where they go to worship.  Let's not look at the tags but at the person.  Modern society relies on giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.  No, I'm not saying you ought to go out and hug strangers; some of them aren't going to take it well and a very few will use the opportunity to take your wallet.  --But most people won't; and more practically, most people, nearly all people, are perfectly fine to be around at arm's length.

     Take some time out to be kind, however quietly you do it.  Take some time to realize that even really annoying people with utterly addlepated opinions -- my heavens, how could anyone sincerely believe that? -- are, by and large, just people trying to do right as they see it, and if you disagree, you can get your own bumper stickers and resolve to vote right back at them on Election day, and not have to hate them up close and personal; they may be fine folks past your points of disagreement.  --Or maybe they're not; maybe the other guy is an asshole.  But an even an asshole who (as Jefferson wrote) "neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg," and can mind his or her own business is not a real problem.  You don't have to be great pals, you just ought to get along.

     Let us yell at one another on social media while remembering that it is ultimately a kind of game, and that change happens at the ballot box and in Congress, spurred by the letters you send to politicians and by the efforts of pressure-groups you support.  Some librarian from Duluth on Facebook is not The Enemy, they're just another citizen with another damfool opinion, worth as much as your own: one vote, one voice.

     Don't be like the murderers and madmen of the world; be a citizen.  Be, when you can, a friend.
* The reality may be more complex; an abusive husband with anger issues, who had a profile up on a gay dating site, is not a great fit to the profile of the typical Islamic suicide-killer.  Nevertheless, a terror attack is how he wanted his murders to be known, having called up 911 and chosen team ISIS, and that's what I'm going with.  Even if we understood his motives, his actions would be unforgivable.


Anonymous said...

You must be the nicest, sweetest, most reasonable person in the whole world.

Monty James

Countglockula said...

I agree with the above, but always have a plan to kill everyone you meet...


Hermit said...

Thank you for voicing my thoughts so much better then I could.

B said...

I wish I could agree with you...but those on the other side wish to use this whackjob to remove or curtail my freedoms.

That makes them my enemy.

I can be reasonable, but it would seem that they can't.

THey take and take and take, and never give. They talk compromise, but they won't actually compromise. They say they want "Reasonable and Sensible gun control", but in reality they mean they want to take my guns.

I cannot reason with them because their point of view is too far away from mine for us to ever find a compromise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.
I know I will never, ever be able to hold a conversation with certain people on certain topics. What I do know, is that I can be kind, or if not kind, I can be completely professional. The latter is remarkably effective in pulling people up short and hard.
I figure the cognitive dissonance created by the polite girl in a blue state with a humanities doctorate...who is also a Christian, libertarian, and NRA member is a useful disturbance to the mind on all sides.
I sleep better at night that way.

Roberta X said...

But, B, "some person on Facebook" is not Congress, they're not the President, or (usually) the Bloomberg or Brady organization. That's what I'm saying. You find yourself in a Twitter fight with Chuck Schumer, go for the (metaphorical) throat! On the other hand, a kindergarten teacher from Austin? C'mon, neither one of you is wandering halls of power with lobbyists waving twenties at you. Argue if you like, but remember you both have exactly the same power to affect the law: a little.

Roberta X said...

Monty Jame: I'm not, you know. I love to argue. Occasionally, you have to push the keyboard away and look at the broader picture.