I tend to be attracted to people who don’t hate me, who don’t wish ill for me or for my friends and family. I’m not the only one. People are funny like that. I also tend to gravitate toward people who have compassion, empathy, people who can express themselves in a way I can understand and who listen or read my intentions accurately. It’s not just that I want to give my time and attention to people who like me or people like me; I want to give it to people who recognize and appreciate and value those who don’t look or act like me. I value people who value everyone, regardless of their color or gender or sexuality or whatever. I like people who value people. We don’t all have to agree on everything, obviously, but we need to be able to appreciate, even try to understand other viewpoints and positions.
Part of why I think I appreciate diversity – and others who also see the value in diverse peoples and cultures – is that old saying about how everyone has something to teach you. While that is true, it’s sometimes hard to find the positive or helpful lessons. I’m meeting a lot of people lately who, while I am certain they possess some positive qualities or information somewhere, keep the good stuff hidden away. All they are willing to teach me is lessons I don’t want, things like “ignorance is fun!” and “facts are what we believe rather than what is true!” and “black and brown people are bad!” and “women are only useful as incubators for my spawn!” and “Trump is godly!” I just can’t get on board with any of those lessons. And I don’t want to. I listened. I processed. I’m done now.
As always, before we get much further, understand that words and actions have consequences, whether it’s your assertion or your response to someone else, even a bully. Think before you speak and be ready to face the consequences. You don’t get to blame what you do or say on other people. It’s yours. If you’re going to say or do it, be ready to own it. In perpetuity. And stuff we put on Twitter could come back to bite us for many years. The internet never forgets. Just. . . THINK.
One of the good things about being an adult – there are good things, c’mon. . . ice cream for breakfast? right? see? – is that you theoretically have enough control of your own emotions and actions to be able to ignore and disregard the people who still behave like children, people who try to hurt others.
Some days it’s easier to let it roll off your back than others, but overall, we’re supposed to have the maturity to recognize a bully or a troll or an asshole for what they are pretty quickly and ignore them. Pity them if you like, but don’t feed their insecurities, their hate, their fear. Don’t let them feed on your joy or twist it into insecurity of your own. Most days we can see all that.
That said, it doesn’t make it okay that these toxic people and their admirers and supporters, their enablers, are among us, all around us.
You read that right. This person claims to be an “empath,” a person who is supposed to be able to read and feel another person’s emotions instantly. They can’t NOT feel them. And this guy, who claims he can feel other people’s pain and joy and anger and hopelessness, who, unless he lives alone deep in a cave shut off from all people and communications, claims he wallows in everyone else’s depression and despair and uncertainty and fear, suggests in this thread that victims of bullies and assholes should suck it up. Just don’t be offendable, he says; you’re victimizing yourselves. (take a moment for the facepalm; I’ll wait)
I immediately thought of bullies at work and school and those people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk, puff out their chests to look big and menacing, and start in on women and children, anyone they perceive as unable to defend themselves. I thought of all the people who try not to be “offendable” every day, who try to start each day with optimism despite years of pain and emotional torture. They believe that today things will go well. Today could be different. They get all dressed up and put on a warm smile only to have to deal with the same old bullies and cruel jerks again. I thought of the people who, over time, learned to avoid contact with others as much as they could until one day they’d just had enough of the demeaning comments, insults, the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and the bullying, and bereft of hope or dignity, they take their own lives.
This “empath” is standing up for those cruel human beings who do this stuff to good people, people just like you and me, people who are doing the best they can every day with what they have left to work with. None of us are perfect, but we’re all mostly just trying our best, to love, to give, to receive, to connect. But this privileged gentleman adds drivel like, “What you’ve just described is defeatism and lack of personal responsibility regarding growth. Strength comes from adversity. Codifying defeatist behavior helps bullies, not their prey.” First, if this hogwash was true, I’d be a fucking superhero by now. Second, this guy is still, even now, trying to tell me he believes he has the right to judge for others what hurts them and what doesn’t. And he is trying his damnedest to convince me that I also have that right. I do not. I don’t know other people’s pain, their battles, their motivations. I only know mine. I’m responsible for my actions and reactions.
And that guy? Fuck that guy. Who does he think he is? He doesn’t get to decide what hurts me or you or anyone else. I define me, my pain, my joy, my love. Me. Not him. Not you.
Meanwhile, he’s still on about how people are “over-sensitive,” and “victimizing themselves” (is that even possible? is this some kind of rough masturbation thing I’m misunderstanding?! Never mind. Sorry I asked. blech). Honestly, he had his privilege hanging way out, swinging it all around, embarrassing himself. It was all so. . . indecent. . . I had to look away. He’s muted.
Here’s another fun argument, “some people just want to be offended.” That might be true. Some people live for drama. Some live for conflict. I wouldn’t be surprised if some derive some kind of pleasure or satisfaction or whatever from being offended. I can’t pretend I understand them. Whatever the case, that is not license to give them what you think they want and go around hurting people or offending people on purpose. In privacy, activities between consenting adults with a safe word, notwithstanding, of course. We all have our own ways of dealing with this stuff, but I find that stating my truth diplomatically, without interjecting hate or racism, and generally not being an asshole, tends to work with intelligent, critical-thinkers. For those who appear to be looking for a fight or to concoct a story wherein they can play the part of my victim instead of contributing to the public discourse, well, I avoid them. It’s simple. Most of the time.
These jerks and fools and Trumpers and others I deal with every day, devoid of facts and reasoning, switch to hurling insults at me. Most days I can remember they’re insecure and/or lonely and they’re making me their punching bag because they just got called out for being racist/sexist/ignorant. Again. And now they don’t know if they’re wrong or not because they won’t make an effort to find facts. They’ve been so comfortable in their echo chamber of hate and lies and conspiracies they don’t know how to join us in reality. So they insult me. And “empath” asshole says that’s good.
He’s WRONG. And what he’s saying is not just unhelpful, it’s dangerous. It’s wrong.
Most days it rolls off my back – I can take a punch or two. I am just glad that for these few minutes, they’re trying to hurt me and not someone else, someone less well-equipped to handle their vitriolic abuse. But some days they even get to me though it’s usually because I know they’re also doing this stuff to other people. They’re not just spreading lies and propaganda, which is bad enough, but they’re out there abusing people. This is not okay. This will never be okay. Don’t let it be okay.
“Standing up for the rights of others doesn’t make me a bleeding heart liberal… it makes me a decent human being.” – tweet from Non Sequitur.
(As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. Don’t let someone make you a punching bag unless you are sure you’re up for a hit or two. I hope your day is wonderful and that everyone is decent to you. Love and a *hug*)
Link: Who Cares What You Thought? – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original Tweet from Brian Krassenstein.
Link to original Tweet from Eric M. Mullins. (I don’t mean to make you famous for being an asshole, but if that is how it works out, so be it. There are consequences for our words and our actions. If words didn’t matter, there’d be no consequences, huh?)
#GMSticksAndStones #BeKind #FactsMatter