People in general don’t like it when you tell them they’re being assholes. They don’t like it when you call them sycophants either. First, it’s quite possible you’re forcing them to reacquaint themselves with a dictionary, and, second, they don’t want to admit that they are, indeed, what you just called them.
Raise your hand if you’ve never agreed with someone because it seemed convenient at the time. (Don’t you dare raise your hand. I didn’t raise mine and, trust me, I very seldom do what is “convenient.”) We all have, in a larger or smaller scale, shrugged off someone else’s arguments in favor of “keeping the peace,” “smoothing the waters,” or “bringing things to a more balanced state.” It’s what we do. We are human. Most of us, for the most part, are rather fond of non-confrontation.
The problem isn’t that we don’t want confrontation. The problem is that we start confusing non-confrontation with being right. I have a tendency to know when I am wrong, and still barreling through regardless of the fact that I know I am wrong. Very often I cannot help myself, and I make the mistake of regretting my stubbornness very little.
Today is one of those days.
I posted something on Facebook that was very far from being passive-aggressive, and will probably make the population of Friends in my Facebook page be significantly reduced. I already have seen passive-aggressive status updates that have nothing (seemingly) to do with my posting, but that I know are.
My posting had to do with Meryl Streep’s comments last night at the Golden Globes, and Mr. Trump’s response to them. Now, I know that this has been revisited many times over, and I understand that political-correctness is a huge bone of contention in our society. My posting had more to do with how people forget that excusing certain things normalizes them, and how we shouldn’t allow Mr. Trump’s mockery (yes, mockery…that wasn’t a representation of “groveling”) of Serge F. Kovaleski has the same effect as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he “never had sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky. My argument is that young people no longer think that anything other than vaginal penetration counts as “sexual relations” because the most powerful man in America at one point claimed that oral sex didn’t qualify as sexual relations. The same can be said for mocking a disability. When a person in a position of power is allowed to normalize this type of thing, it WILL have an impact.
I’m not saying hate Trump. I’m not saying run him out of town with pitchforks. The situation is what it is, and we will have to let things happen as they happen. That is the way this works whether we want it to, or not. I am willing to accept this and wait four years to see what can be done to alter the status quo.
What I don’t like is that people, because they like the man or agree with his policies, are willing to support and excuse what is, in essence, mean behavior on his part. This is not a child who doesn’t know better. This is the new leader of the Free World.
For the record: the four African-American teenagers who tortured, abused and attacked a disabled young man, who happened to be White, are horrible human beings, and they deserve to be punished. I would say the same thing if we inserted Arabic, Hispanic, Asian, violin-players, tennis aces, LGBTQ, pet-owners, mountain-climbers or anything else as descriptors for attackers and attacked. That sort of vile, disgusting, inhuman treatment of others is something I condemn and abhor.
Like I said in my posting: it is not political correctness, but rather a desire to see more kindness and respect. It is easy to say “oh, you’re so PC” when you don’t walk around being a second-hand recipient of that type of attitude. I say second-hand because I am the mostly-unseen witness of what is said about my son. People assume WE don’t hear the giggling and comments, or that we don’t SEE the looks and mockery. In a sense, we are considered to be as clueless as he is, and if we react in any way, we are called oversensitive.
That is my objection. That is where my posting was headed to, but I am sure that there will be those who will take it as “oversensitivity,” “melodrama,” “political-correctness,” “attention-seeking.” It’s not any of that. Empathy is an endangered species in the great big scheme of things; people assume that they are being empathetic because they give to charity, “share” a post on Facebook, “like” a tweet, or change their profile picture to display whatever color, flag, symbol they are compelled to use by their friends.
Empathy is mentally wearing the shoes and walking the miles even when the shoes don’t fit and the miles are long and difficult. I don’t expect anyone to understand our life as if it is the one they live; I try to visualize, internalize what it means to be someone else. I really do. I know that, in many ways, we are exceedingly lucky and blessed, and there are days when I say “I don’t know why I am complaining…this could all be so much worse,” and I remind myself that everyone’s life is fucked up to one or another degree.
If a child does something wrong, inappropriate, bad, cruel, unfair, mean…don’t we try to teach them why it is wrong, inappropriate, bad, cruel, unfair or mean? We have to stop saying “oh, it’s ok…you’re too sensitive” just because we “like” the person who has done what we would, under any other circumstances, object to.
We all have the right to an opinion, and the right to speak our minds, yes, but sometimes these should be tempered by the kindness exercised towards others. It’s not what you say, but rather how you say it.
As I said in my posting this morning: there’s no getting around the fact that J is moderately mentally retarded, and has Autism. We know it. We have the paperwork. It’s right there in black and white. We are not trying to cover the heavens with a single hand…but it would be nice if the tone was set for things to improve in how we talk to each other, wouldn’t it?