Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pouring Gasoline on the Fire

I have a pet peeve. I actually have so many pet peeves,  I am positive if there were an award for pet peevedom  I would win lifetime achievement honours.  My pet peeve du jour is making any given negative situation worse. I would add to that particular peeve and raise it for those who employ spurious techniques for bad situation augmentation. In other words, I abhor, loathe, detest and generally find distasteful those who would lie or embellish to make something look worse.

Bad enough is bad enough. There is no need to make the bad horrible. Or worse. What comes of this sort of behaviour are those sweeping generalities I adore so much. For example, when the German Wings airplane crashed into the Alps apparently at the deliberate hand of the co-pilot, that was plenty bad enough. Horrendous, disgusting, and  abhorrent don't even begin to convey the horrors of that action and its terrible consequences. It wasn't enough for some folks. All of a sudden, mental illness was on trial. Every pilot was questioned hypothetically and judged against some superhuman expectation of perfection. The co-pilot himself was analysed and dissected and dehumanised.

Dehumanised.  When we seek to add the "and his mother dresses him funny" prevalent on my circa 1970s playground, it takes away from the issue at hand so much that we distance ourselves from the humanness of the person we attack.  And in doing so we lose the chance to learn valuable lessons about ourselves.

My other related pet peeves result from a direct contradiction to what my parents taught me as a child.  I was told a quazillion times that two wrongs don't make a right, and if so and so jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge I certainly didn't have to emulate.  Yeah, adults don't take their own advice.

Walter Scott was shot in the back running from a policeman. Horrible. Heart wrenching. And apparently somewhat justified?  Because he had a problem with paying back child support? Even if he were an absolute jerk, did he deserve to be shot? If I follow that logic, I would be without friends or family on any given day. And at least fifteen days out of every thirty, I would need to be on self-imposed house arrest for my own safety. In making the shooting somehow his fault through our anonymous armchair analysis, we dehumanise Mr. Scott.

Dehumanise. By sending me picture after picture of policemen killed in the line of duty, the senders hope to accomplish what? Human beings are human beings. The taking of one life hardly excuses the wanton murder of another. There are known risks when one endeavours to enter the world of law enforcement. Still, any death of an honourable officer of the law while serving and protecting is awful.  It seems now there are known risks for being a black man. But we excuse and justify and sanitise the awfulness.

All bad people are not 100% bad 100% of the time. All good people are not 100% good 100% of the time. And beyond the hideously obvious heinous acts of horrid, who gets to decide what is good or bad? And then there is that pesky interpretation thing getting in the way of logic and reason and general good sense. The Bible is pretty clear on its big ten of thou shalts and nots. The other two of the big three religions have their own commandments and moral code spelling out what is or isn't acceptable. Yet, pundits and professors and priests and politicians have all twisted and manipulated these commandments to suit their purposes.

I have had some push-back from my post about the Walter Scott shooting. It seems that I am against all cops, that I think all cops are bad, and that I think all black men are innocent. Funny, I don't actually think any of those things. I do believe in stating what is wrong, whether popular or not.  I do believe not enough folks are willing to confront those who discriminate, abuse, demean or disavow entire population groups in the guise of being righteous. And I think it stinks that some close to me cannot bring themselves to applaud my success with the publication of my article simply because they disagree with the content. We have become so rabidly, viciously poisonous that opposing views are simply not allowed to enter our collective psyche. How sad.

I was always  encouraged to read and learn as much as I could about any given subject. I was taught that to see the world in black or white or good or bad was shallow and uninformed. The tapestry of human life has become more intricate with time. Exotic colours and patterns we were not exposed to before the advent of globalisation now intertwine with the familiar threads of our own cultures. We can chose to marvel at its beauty instead of sneering at its eccentricity. We can become a  more considerate, civil community of caring commonality. We can remember our humanness.

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