Voices Carry

Looking to my friend the Lorax for some perspective and wisdom right about now.

I don’t get angry- as in raging, yelling, screaming, po’d– all that often.  This is not to say that I don’t have my moments (ask my sibs.  Or let Fletch tell you the story about the night I threw the beer bottle at his head… it was empty.  And I meant to miss him.  And he agrees he deserved it- not so much for the practical joke that led to the toss, but for the goading that continued despite the fact that there was clearly steam of a forbidding sort exiting my ears as he just kept talking…).  But generally speaking I tend to be fairly even-tempered- often to a fault.

I can summon outrage at the inequities and stupidities and ethical lapses of the world at large, or defensive anger if you mess with any of my family or friends, but I find it far more difficult to get truly angry on my own behalf.

Not sure why this is.  Perhaps there’s something of a tendency to let things roll of my back a little too much.  To pick my battles- and to believe that I have attained at least enough wisdom and maturity to know that many of the battles that I could wage in my own defense are things that will likely pass- given enough time.

I’m not saying this hasn’t caused some problems in the past.  People who don’t know me well have made the assumption that I’m a push-over of some kind, when their baiting doesn’t achieve a desired result.  I’m nothing of the kind.

I tend to redirect the anger into positive things- activism, writing, incorporated and integrated lessons that have helped me develop and grow…

Today I’m just MAD.

This has started.  I wrote a bit about the idiocy in la belle province – the flipside of another kind of idiocy that I also I wrote about- when it first came to light.

It seems like reactionary opinions are popping up everywhere lately.  This morning a blogger I admire a great deal- her posts, whether fiction, poetry or editorial/non-fiction, are always extremely well-written, thoroughly researched and clearly examined- wrote a great piece about the worldwide epidemic of rape, in response to the latest report of a tourist who was viciously attacked while in India.

I commented that I especially appreciate the fact that she pointed out that rape- and a culture that sweeps it under the rug- is not something that is restricted to places outside of the Western world.  Although the media seems to repeatedly highlight cases like this most recent one in India, it’s all too easy to point fingers and put the spotlight back on those who are described as ‘other’.  That is, not North American/Western European.

And we have such a great record here of justice for victims of domestic and sexual violence in this neck o’ the woods.  Right.

I heard about the Danish tourist while watching the morning news as I prepared for work, but read the story online as well- since television news sound bites are generally not all that illuminating these days.  The posted story (on Yahoo Canada) was no more informative (and was so poorly edited that I shudder in remembered discomfort), but the most repugnant thing- aside from the crime itself, of course- were the comments.

There are endless and ongoing discussions about the comment sections and the trolls that haunt them.  I’ve seen a few that specifically talk about targeted misogyny and the threatening, stalker-like behaviours that some people seem to think is somehow acceptable.

There is a whole cadre of people who believe that the perceived anonymity of the internet (with its screen names and ‘creative’ avatars) makes racist, gender biased, homophobic, self-interested and/or completely uneducated commentary permissible- if not outright expected.  There seem to be a whole lot of people out there who have nothing better to do with their time and feel entitled to speak about things- usually without anything resembling background or insight- in short bursts of unsupported and irrational anger and/or hatred.

I wrote yesterday about the ways in which our current government is silencing not only those in the general population (or those with some measure of celebrity) but the scientists and scholars whose warnings regarding environmental and social outcomes, if current paths continue, are becoming increasingly dire.

I feel like I’m trapped in Bizarro World.  Any internet troll/ignorant racist can find a forum that will either garner followers of similar ilk or, rarely and in extreme cases, raise red flags of warning that will result in banishment from a community page, but those who have a sincere interest in speaking about injustice or mismanagement or just plain loss of common sense and decency, are gagged by the pundits and PR people who are paid to act in defence of our putative ‘leaders’.

Another blogger buddy of mine posted a true-to-form and lovely poem about optimism and winds of change yesterday.  I’m hoping that she is right.  Even that bit of brightness and optimism raised the ire of someone who took umbrage with a perceived lack of inclusion in the poetic language she used to express her hope so thoughtfully.  Jebus, people.  (check out scottishmomus’ response, as well- it’s classic!)

Why are the voices of those who shout about the extremes- polarizing the ‘sides’ that should be coming together in discourse for the benefit of all- the ones that are given the most air?

Way back in 1985, Aimee Mann wrote some lyrics about an incredibly dysfunctional and violent relationship with a narcissist.  The video illustrates this beautifully.

Before I started writing this post, the chorus kept on running through my head, and with every repetition I saw Aimee stand up from her seat at Carnegie Hall as she sang the line ‘he said shut up, oh god can’t you keep it down? Voices carry’.  Until I went looking for it to link to this post, I hadn’t seen the clip in years (okay, maybe decades) yet that image has stayed with me in a powerful way.  She decisively ceased to be in any way trapped by the bullying demands of that jerk’s ideals of conservative conformity.

I ‘ve called Harper a bully before.  He, and politicians like him (no names mentioned, Mayor McCheese) aren’t inclined to give their naysayers much latitude when it comes to debating their particular perspective on things that affect us all.  Whether they prorogue Parliament or shut down Council meetings through acts of ignorant obstinance and violations of procedure in order to avoid addressing those things they choose not to discuss, as the Lorax notes, if INFORMED, caring people don’t get off their asses and stand up to them, then those things that desperately need to get better WILL NOT.

You, my peeps here at the WordPress, are certainly those to whom the Lorax is referring.  From that perspective, I realize that I’m- once again- preaching to the choir (other than those trolls I mentioned earlier- not sure that I’d include them in this august congregation).  But all of you out there have readers and friends and family members across a much wider world than in my little piece of it here at colemining.

I’m trying to ignore those infuriating noise-makers who have nothing to contribute beyond vitriol, out-dated/ill-informed rhetoric or towing of party lines that are working to the detriment of all of us.  Focusing on the trolls (internet or otherwise) is doing nothing more than raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels. So I’m instead going to focus, today anyway, on rallying the cries of those who ‘care a whole awful lot’ and take the time to invest the thought and time in their actions and reactions to the world around them to contribute to a dialectic that will lead to positive change.

Dialectic is not synonymous with debate.  The latter involves a measure of persuasion- and, often, an emotional investment in the perspective- that is required in order to ‘win’.  Dialectical methods search for truth through reasoned argumentation.  They involve discourse between two or more people with differing points of view but who wish to use logic and rationality to work toward the common goal of gleaning the best possible truth of a matter.

It’s not about who  yells loudest or most persuasively.  Unlike debates, dialectics do not require an external judge to determine a ‘winner’.  Consensus is reached through discussion rather than hammering the other side with talking points and statistics.

Politicians use debate and rhetoric to inflame the emotions of those who bother to listen to them.  They appeal to the often-base desires of voters in order to motivate that electorate to continue to support them- since they suggest that in so doing ‘the people’ support themselves (and not necessarily the despised ‘others’).

Since, especially lately and hereabouts, many of our politicians seem completely disinclined to participate in any sort of reasoned discussion with those who hold opposing views, those of us who wish to approach this world of ours with reason and fairness have to wonder what it is they are trying to hide as they avoid discussions and favour more insidious forms of rhetoric.

‘I’m in the dark, I’d like to read his mind
But I’m frightened of the things I might find
Oh, there must be something he’s thinking of…
I try so hard not to get upset
Because I know all the trouble I’ll get
Oh, he tells me tears are something to hide
And something to fear
And I try so hard to keep it inside
So no one can hear’

Enough sitting quietly as a cowed reaction to the bullies that are stepping all over us and our futures.  Time to start a rumbling of discourse.

Voices carry.

PS- If you made it this far (thank you!), please know that I realize that this one was long and ranty- even for me (which is certainly saying something).  I noticed a lot of my fellow bloggers posted ‘year in review’ type posts as 2013 ended/2014 began.  Since I did not do so, I’ll justify this one as my look back at some of the things that have got me thinking and talking and writing and encouraging discourse- internally and out there in the world(s).  As long as something new doesn’t come along to rile me up all over again, next post will be back to something a little lighter and more positive.  Promise.

64 comments on “Voices Carry

  1. I wish I had written this.
    Apologise for nothing. This said exactly what needs saying. And eloquently. I vote for you.

    • colemining says:

      You helped inspire it- so thank you for that! I think I’ve calmed down a little- although I have the morning news on now, so that could change quickly. Thanks, me wee lass. Appreciate your support. Not sure that ‘voting’ will be involved- this time out, anyway- but it’s extremely reassuring to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way and that others just might be seeking change as well. xo

      • Whatever happens, you have my spiritual vote.
        It is difficult not to be angered by much of what we hear and see. I shout a lot at the TV. Sometimes I just refuse to watch it altogether. Otherwise I would put something through it. 😉 And, like you, I am not quick to anger. But some things drive me almost insane.
        I’m thrilled if anything I said contributed to such a wonderful post. x

      • colemining says:

        Oh boy- am I ever guilty of yelling at the tv/radio/computer/print article. And it seems to be a worsening condition.
        As I say, I appreciate the vote of confidence. On my way to work this morning I actually composed the beginnings of a post called ‘why I am not running for mayor of Toronto’ in my head, but I think I’ve pretty much decided that the sentiment is too close to the attack ads that I despise, yet that have become part of the accepted and expected fabric of our electoral system these days.
        You’re a grand influence and source of inspiration!

  2. Reblogged this on scottishmomus and commented:
    Passing on a voice worth hearing. Eloquent. So much sense. He has my vote for a new kind of world leader.

  3. quiall says:

    You said what needed to be said and eloquently so! Thank you for that.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you for reading- and for agreeing! Sometimes it feels like there is no one listening to reason and rationality- it’s very reassuring to see that there are like-minded people who are looking for change.

  4. Excellently written and superbly phrased to enrage the most unfeeling. Thank you. Susan x

  5. One of the overlooked effects of the demise of the print news is that letters to the editor no longer carry the impact they once did. Most papers did a pretty good job of vetting the names of those who submitted letters, to keep out fakes. Of course, far more letters were submitted than could ever be run, which wasn’t good, but folks tend to be civil when they had to attach their own name to their thoughts. Social media and being able to respond to stories online through avatars and pseudonyms has opened the way for trolls and others to free their inner kook. It certainly has done little to further substantive discussion.

    • colemining says:

      CBC- SO very true. Another victim of a culture that wants instant gratification and hasn’t the patience to read anything more than a couple of hundred words at a time.

      There seem to be a distressingly large number of kooks out there. I write this blog pseudonymously- for a number of reasons- but it is representative of my voice/opinions, based completely in the way that I have come to view the world and my fellow human beings. I welcome discussion, and I’m not seeking to hide behind my anonymity in any way. Most trolls cannot say the same.

      The sad reality is that people want to debate- with the assumption that they will ‘win’ the argument- rather than discuss- especially if it means that they might have to re-evaluate some of their basic assumptions and/or agree to compromise.

      Thank you for reading- and your thoughtful comment. Bring back the vetted editorial, I say!

      • I, too, enjoy a good discussion. I’ve always said that anyone who agrees 100 percent with my point of view has some serious issues. That’s not to denigrate myself but to point out that there’s no possible way that educated people can agree on everything. We’re products of our experiences, education and surroundings, and no too people can have the same of each.

        It’s tough to have to re-evaluate basic assumption and often takes time to come to realize new conclusions, but if you’re not willing to at least consider different views you’ve got a long, boring road ahead.

        Thank you for a thought-proving read, CM.

      • colemining says:

        Once again, your wisdom resounds, CBC. So very true. When I was teaching I ALWAYS tried to drive home the reality that CONTEXT informs opinion/belief- including all those things you cited.

  6. In your post you referred to dialectic and the opportunity for people to engage in this way and truly come to decisions that are reached through understanding. One of the problems with current politics and, let’s face it, it’s been that way for years, is that such a notion seems utterly alien to the very nature of our politicians and the way systems are set up.
    If the problem is systemic then there is almost no point in running for any office. I would fear becoming ‘one of them’, taking and following the routes and methods they use to squeeze through bastardized, watered down versions of what I stood for. Glad of every little inch forward, as if major success had been achieved. And then to become involved with those whose voices carry power and whose lobby is such that they are never ignored and so their policies pass while trade-offs are made.
    I hate the whole thing.
    But, I believe in politics as in the Greek ‘polis’, the people and the voice of the people. But not the emotional, blackmailing masses whose voices also shout for deals to be made in exchange for votes.
    If politics originated in dialectic and philosophy, perhaps there is a way to return to that. I don’t know how. And I feel naïve for even suggesting such a thing. But there is a universal disillusionment with current political thinking and systems. And it is beckoning to people for change.
    If people feel disenfranchised they will not vote. I always have done but now I’m beginning to wonder whether a peaceful but worldwide civil disobedience would serve to get the message home. What if every ballot paper was defaced? And a message scrawled across each one to say, ‘no more’? At least beginning in those countries where ‘free press’ would be obliged to report on it and no politician would have a mandate? Is this anarchy? Would countries collapse? Would people themselves rise up to say, ‘these are the things that matter, this is what must happen, this is how we change and improve the world’?
    Utopia is my favourite holiday destination, btw. 😉
    But something is afoot I feel and words like yours go a long way to encourage people in thinking in real terms of what and how things should and could be if we have a mind to make it happen.
    Sorry for my garrulous comment. It does get to me. And I don’t have any answers. And I find that frustrating. Because all I’m really doing then is slagging ‘them’ off and offering no alternative.
    But some day……..Up the revolution!

    Omg! I have just read all the areas you highlighted. Previously I had read the post but not clicked on the links. No wonder you’re going mental! Feck sake!

    • colemining says:

      Never fear- I’d hardly accuse anyone else of being overly garrulous. Pots and kettles and all…
      Assuming that politics ever really did reflect the ‘polis’, I’m not sure how we get back to that. One of my personal hesitancies in figuring out next, proactive steps is the concern that engaging with the system- as it stands- will turn me into that which I most despise. ‘Dirty’ and ‘politics’ are inseparable terms these days- and I have no interest in getting into slinging matches with those who think that governance is about the ‘winners’ of pissing contests that should have become obsolete post-primary school. No names mentioned, of course (Rob Ford).
      ‘Feck’ is right.

  7. LindaGHill says:

    Nicely written. I have to admit, I was beginning to wonder if you were Rick Mercer by the end of the post. 😉

  8. Agree with you completely. People need to unhook themselves from their personal triggers before responding to a blog and see the message (none are so blind as those who will not see). Those who espouse equality and unity need to build bridges instead of argue and inflame, for no bridge can be built out of ashes. And you know me, reminds me of Scripture: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

    • colemining says:

      Yes, Susan. I just don’t understand the hair-trigger impulse that drives so many people these days. I suppose it’s another symptom of our general unwillingness to maintain interest in anything that is longer than a 2-minute clip on an infotainment programme and that ‘selfie’ thing that lets everyone believe that they are entitled to their moment of ‘fame’. It HAS to stop being about which side ‘wins’- before we all lose. Language- and the way it is used for rhetorical purposes by those with a spotlight (be it political or religious) is becoming increasingly divisive and polarized. We are all HUMAN- and if ideologies are going to continue to suggest that one group is better than others, then it’s past time that we discuss the arguments that support those ideologies.
      Thank you for reading.

  9. yakinamac says:

    Well said. In a previous job I worked on a policy area that had a tendency to attract rather objectionable views. Between you, me and the gate post, I used to set aside 10 minutes every so often to sign up to news sites with a variety of pseudonyms and write a few retorts to their vitriol (as well as reporting the ones that most clearly over-stepped the line). The thing that I found most infuriating, though, was not the sheer stupidity and viciousness of some of the commenters – sadly, always something to be expected from what I still believe is a very small minority of people – but the fact that certain publications (naming no names, Daily Mail) very deliberately presented stories in a particular way to provoke and encourage that reaction. These are educated people who knew they could not get away with writing straightforwardly hateful language themselves, so instead spun their stories in a way that, for example, made the ethnicity of the perpetrator of a crime the key element of their coverage – then sat back and waited for the poison to flood in. Truly disgusting.

    The Lorax is, of course, quite right.

    • colemining says:

      Yes! There are certainly ‘news’papers here that do the same (no names mentioned, Toronto Sun, National Post)- although those are easy enough to avoid (and oh what fun I have when they call me up and try to get me to subscribe…). The television ‘news’ sources are certainly guilty of doing so- and the ‘reporting’ of Twitter responses to the ‘report’ is stomach-churning, indeed.
      I wish I shared your belief that those who spread the vitriol remains a small minority, but I feel like I’m seeing the polarizing reactions more and more lately. Perhaps I am just more aware- so the numbers seem to be higher- but I find it discouraging, nonetheless.
      It’s Friday- so there will be some recovery and rebooting and then back into the fore to figure out how to better fight the good fight.
      Thanks for reading- and your thoughtful comment!

  10. I jUst (re)read The Lorax to my boy before his lights went out, and sat down at the computer. =)

    I won’t bother to send you the original post. This is an excerpt of the post I put out at 100 followers:

    “…if you’re hummingbird-chatty, good at stroking egos, or trumpet outrageous claims (because we all know notoriety begets celebrities, especially in America), by common definition you’re popular. But I would measure blog performance by art and impact.”

    Though not blogs aim at art per se. Point is, extreme/ludicrous/ignominious/stupid positions do get the attention. We don’t need to give them our precious time or energy.

    • colemining says:

      ‘Tis very true, HW. There are a lot of people out there making noise and attracting other noisemakers, yet the din is to little positive purpose. I don’t think everything need be art, but impact- especially these days when we seem to want nothing more than to sit back and let someone else solve our problems- is important. And if it’s done artfully, all the better.
      I make every attempt to avoid letting the extreme stupidity waste any of my time- but it is so pervasive… it’s small wonder that it seems to be (in some circles at least) persuasive as well.
      Thanks for reading- and for the thoughtful comment.

  11. Aussa Lorens says:

    Oh I am woefully uninformed and American so I have no clue about all of this. But I’m with ya on the need for a rant– I too am generally even tempered but when I’m not, I’m definitely not.

    • colemining says:

      Unfortunately, while the issues I ranted about are Canadian, for the most part, they are indicative of a worldwide trend in irresponsible governance and economic and social inequities that need addressing tout de suite. I’m finding the temper much closer to the surface these days- another indication that I need to do something. Just not sure what…
      Thanks for reading and following, Aussa. I appreciate the visit.

  12. […] There WILL be better days.  I’m doing what I can to expand the reach of my small voice. […]

  13. […] can honestly say that 94 (!) years wasn’t enough time here among us.  Pete was one of those ‘voices’ I spoke about.  And his is still out there carrying in ways that leave me […]

  14. […] of truth right now.  I’m too tired to argue abstracts when I’m attempting to reiterate the point I made about dialectic vs. debate a little while ago).  Too many people don’t have […]

  15. One of my favorite presidents was Harry S. Truman, known as “Give “em hell, Harry.” He called them as he saw them, and “the buck stopped here.” Keep on saying it, loudly and clearly. You’ve been voicing your truths for some time now. I’m in my 80’s these days, but I was vocal for most of them once I found my voice in my 20’s. You’re not going to win them all, but you’ll make a decided dent here and there. My solace was that Jesus didn’t win them all either.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, for the visit, the follow and the comment. Welcome!
      I am aware that all battles can’t be won- which is one reason why I try to choose mine carefully- but I remain hopeful that sharing my voice will, indeed, make a dent. We need more political leaders like Truman. Here in Canada too many of our elected leaders are more than willing to find scapegoats willing to take the blame for the various scandals that have become business as usual, rather than assuming the true mantle of leadership and ‘stopping the buck’ appropriately.
      I look forward to perusing your words of wisdom!

  16. […] today.  As such, this tune popped into my head while thinking through all this stuff and the Voices Carry movement that I’m encouraging of late.  And Mark King’s bass playing is always […]

  17. […] contribute their voices to the battle for the maintenance of the goodness and rightness of our humanity, often speaking out […]

  18. […] not, whales.  There is a sea change in the air.  It’s moving slowly, but the voices are getting inexorably louder.  The desperation of those who seek to further- increasingly […]

  19. […] in this case- and is an important observation that requires further examination.   As concerned voices advocating change develop and continue dialogues that attempt to change this propensity to set […]

  20. […] His voice is all about the positive. […]

  21. […] raison d-etre. Here was a recognition in music and recollection of a generation past but whose voices still carry. Their voices carried on the wind from a not so very distant time to the present where the same […]

  22. […] that silence- about things that matter- isn’t acceptable. I can appreciate that. They have Voices that say (or shout, depending on your perspective) things that matter- and that manage to get […]

  23. […] I’ve said before, I don’t like debate. Debate, by definition, polarizes– and suggests that someone will […]

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