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.
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.
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.