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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mutual (Dis)Respect

I was recently offered an opportunity to review a book by Captain Edward Zellem called 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs. It was such a neat opportunity and a sincere honor. I love the idea of reflecting on proverbs because they are absolutes, right? The way my brain works is very cyclical and tries to see all sides of things to understand whatever I am thinking about. That often leaves me far from absolution and more in a state of chaos. So this was a very exciting undertaking for me.The revelation of absolutes, coupled with the lessons of our cultures commonalities, made it one of the most unexpectedly rewarding facets of this journey I have been taking through my writing.

The Afghan proverb that stuck with me was Ezat kawa ezat ba de kegi. Its literal translation is: Respect others in order to be respected.

It is so simple. Right? I have had that instilled in me since I was a kid. And I'm still pretty sure that I don't have it right. I treat everyone with respect, at first. I truly don't care what a person looks like, where they come from, who they love or whether or not they follow a religion. However, if they are an asshole, I cannot respect them. I cannot pay respect to a person simply because they have a title of CEO or because they are in any other position that society has deemed superior to my own. Needless to say, that has often not gone over so well. But after serious reflection on this proverb, I have determined that it is not going to be one of the things I want to change about myself.

I imagine this proverb is found in most cultures. It would be much simpler if it were not just universally accepted, but universally practiced. I have lamented for months about the TeaParty. And they have kind of exceeded even my expectations of how low a person can go in order to win an argument. That is not to say, however, that we were ever having the same argument. Any fact offered is generally met with something to the level of, "Nu'huh. You are." One guy was good enough to rewrite the Bible for me today to justify his disdain for the poor. I'm sure Jesus appreciated his efforts. That was probably an oversight or mistranslation. Many will send you a clever meme to make a point. When, exactly, did a meme become such a valid piece of evidence in a debate? It then hit me. This is not a debate. This is a game.

I can't play games. As with most things in life, I take politics too seriously. In January I took a look at the controversy over the movie American Sniper (see blog here) where I tried to start my reflection from the center. I am generally pretty left on a lot of things, but when I hear people talk shit about soldiers and vets, I get pretty pissed. I could understand the controversy about what a sniper does and the fact that he said he did not regret it, but I could also go deeper and realize that he would have to think that way to exist. I also realized that he was saying this after many tours and any PTSD that he may have been suffering from would be veiled under a demeanor that could say nothing else. I concluded that his job is very necessary these days. In my deliberate attempt to start from the center, I was quite proud of my ability to remain there throughout. I determined that this was going to be the way I would approach all things in the future. I would always want to really dig into the mindset of the opposition so that I could have a level and respectful dialogue.

Respectful dialogue is impossible, however, with the Tea Party fanatics. They don't want to debate or discuss, they just want to fight. And, I will admit, I do play along. In general, I am a lovely human being. But if you ask me to be a bitch, I will oblige. I think I am guilty of baiting them, too. I'm sure I am, actually. I discuss something that is an actual fact and complete my contention by letting them know they are stupid. Its mean. It really is. I never judge people for things about themselves that they can't help. That is, by the way, why I am a Liberal.

These fanatics can't help that they are stupid. But they can help that they are mean. And they choose to be vile. Some of my little hashtags on my profile say #Adoptee #AnxietyDisorder #Depression #Feminist. And my profile line, which is a joke to anyone with just a hint of a sense of humor, states that I am unemployed (I am unemployed, but its only in my profile because I was making light of it). Oh Holy Shit do they have a field day with that information. Since I've been a kid I have been really funny about whose judgment I am willing to receive. Basically, if you aren't one of the handful of people in my life that I am really living for, I don't care about your opinions. I doubt that I would have listed any of the things in my profile if I were vulnerable about them. Of course, they don't know that. And someone with less self-esteem could really be hurt by their shit.

One guy, after seeing that I have depression suggested that I drink bleach. I am adorable. It went straight over my head. I asked why anyone would want to drink bleach, it sounded so stupid. He then explained that I should kill myself. Charming. Another suggested, due to my having been adopted, that it was a shame my mother couldn't afford an abortion. Brilliant. Countless have criticized me in the last couple of days for being unemployed and demanded my shame for taking up their hard earned tax dollars. Ok. My favorite though, was a guy who defined the sex acts he had done with my mother. Do these people really represent the mentality of those who have the loudest voice in my democracy right now? Yep.

But honestly, this is how they have a discussion. Why discuss the issues? Just try to hurt someone's feelings and consider it a victory! It boggles my mind. How do they function in society? How do their families bear them during the holidays? How much hate can one soul embrace? It really is sad. I often tell them that I feel bad for them. And I do.

When they aren't throwing barbs, they are posting memes. I guess that it doesn't occur to them that the best way to prove my point of your having been conditioned to believe what you do is to send me the talking points you have been sent. One of my more ridiculous arguments today was with a guy who was working hard to convince me that the Dems are racist. Its one of their new talking points in this opposite world they don't question. He sent me this meme to make his point, asking me what part of this wasn't racist.

To which I (obviously) replied: "The part where he's stating a fact. Moron. Acknowledging that racism is a thing isn't racist. Denying it, however, is." Great. That should give him pause. Of course not. His reply was (sigh): "Get a job Angie I'm tired of supporting dumb asses like you with my tax $." Well played, sir. I think you've made your point.

Another fine gentleman decided that my contention about the Tea Party using Goebbels' tactics was absolutely ridiculous. He sent me this:

I have absolutely no idea how to respond to that. How could anyone be expected to even attempt a dialogue with someone who implied that poor Joseph Goebbels has been falsely accused throughout history?

I don't know. It goes on and on. It took me a single day to realize that trying to have conversations would not be useful. I thought that if I challenged them and asked them to support what they were saying it might give them pause. But they have been so well conditioned that they have an answer for everything. And the worst part is, their answer is, quite often, the exact opposite of the truth. This should prove my point:

There is nothing you can do with a group of people who actually believe every single thing they are told. But I still think they are the minority. I still think there are a lot of people out there who don't realize that the "R" on their ballot really represents a "T." If we could find a way to get the message to them in the next year and a half, we might be able to get our country back on track.

I do, quite sincerely, respect everyone. At first. I am often let down later, however, because I assume everyone I meet is a nice person. And I do believe that if you don't treat others with respect that you shouldn't expect to receive it in return. From now on, I will gladly concede any respect I believe I am due when dealing with the fanatics on the right. Its exhausting to work out how they think and why they behave the way they do. I guess everyone who said its best to just ignore them was right. But my bleeding liberal heart still wants to fix them. Poor Angie.

#CCOT #TCOT #UniteBlue #P2 #Racism #TeaParty #Gop #Hate #Brainwashing


  1. I wrote a book identifying what I thought were essential truths, and one of them is "13. There will always be jerks to deal with. We all play the jerk now and then, some more often than others.
    There are many ways to deal with someone who is acting like a jerk. Often, the most effective way to deal with a jerk is to ignore their bad behavior, and treat them with a level of sympathy. Often people do not realize that they are acting like a jerk, and a little extra effort by the people who are being offended can clear up an uncomfortable situation, and sometimes turn a bad situation into a good one."

    On this one, this is what I have to say about respect. "15. If we want respect we have to give respect. Another fine mess we get ourselves into. We should treat others the way we want others to treat the members of our family and ourselves, at least until they give us a reason to treat them otherwise. This is an important part of living in civilization.

    I think this is the key to what you are saying, "16. When we must discriminate, it should be for the right reasons. Things we catch ourselves doing. Everyone has to be able to discriminate between acceptable and unacceptable behavior and actions to determine whether or not we can give our trust to someone. Discrimination is an important ability that is difficult to master, especially when most of us encounter people from cultures around the world on a regular basis.
    It is important to accurately distinguish the characteristics of people and make decisions about them in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones. There are valid reasons for avoiding certain people, and it is reasonable to do so, but poor discrimination, based more upon ignorance, a fear of the unknown, and a fear of competition, works against those who poorly discriminate.

    Sorry if this is too long.

    Book link if you are interested.

  2. Thank you, not too long. That is why I love my blog. Talking on Twitter is 140 characters. I have way too much to say :) I appreciate your insight. I agree with it. I am willingly ignorant of some, if necessary, I suppose to protect myself and my sanity. :)