I should write a disclaimer beforehand since this is about a controversial subject. My post has nothing to do with race or religion and I feel that racism is indeed an evil that still prevails and, unfortunately, probably always will to some extent. I also want to point out that I am Lilly white (more of a pasty beige), an immigrant (who has been a US citizen now for a long time) for whom English is a second language (as attested by my misuse of prepositions) and also what people love to call a bleeding heart (I believe in being charitable even with those who probably don’t deserve it and that people can and do change as they get older). Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the death of tolerance, civil discourse, and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Oh yeah, and also the lack of understanding that words can and do hurt a lot and can indeed destroy lives and relationships.
These past years, besides the mess brought on by politics, has seen a surge of intolerance that bothers me to no end. I am old. I still remember when I was trying to figure out what career to follow and had very few options open to me as a woman. I was sexually harassed and even assaulted many times (not raped thankfully) from the age of thirteen until I left my country as an adult. I was in South Africa during the apartheid. I lived in what was then Zaire and witnessed all kinds of injustices committed by humans against fellow humans of every color, shape or form. When I first moved to the US I was shocked by the almost palpable racial bigotry in the area where I lived back then. But things have changed, they have evolved and, for the most part, gotten a lot better. Are we where we should be yet? Not really, but there has been a lot of progress in the right direction.
Suddenly though we seem to have taken a few steps backwards. Under the guise of being inclusive we, as a society, have began excluding people for all kinds of reasons. I don’t like your ideas so I’m going to call you a few names and unfriend you. Oh wait, I’ll go further and will tweet about how horrible you are because you have different ideas from me. But, hold on, I’ll do even better; I will damage your career and life because I think you are a despicable person who supports a politician I hate and/or because you said or did something twenty years ago that could be construed as racist or biased nowadays.
Come on, people, we are better than this. We are all humans and, as such, imperfect. We all make mistakes and even those of us who think have no prejudices, I have news for you; you do. We all do. You can’t escape it, we learn it unconsciously from those around us or from events in our lives that shaped the way we think. The old proverb, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, is good advice for all of us because let’s face it, we all live in glass houses. Jesus had the same idea when he said, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
I have witnessed friends and family members cutting themselves off each other’s lives because of different opinions about some issues. I’m not going to lie; I disagree with many things friends and relatives think or do, sometimes enough to make me angry. However, I can’t forget that these are good people, imperfect but basically good. I’ll give you an example that made me very angry at the time. Not angry enough to cut myself off completely from my friend, but enough to put a bit of space between us for a while. My son is gay and this friend of mine, who is a wonderful, loving woman, posted somethings inspired by the teachings in her church that labeled my son and all other queers as sinners who needed to repent and change their ways. I was angry, I was disappointed in her because I respect her and I know she has a heart of gold and is always willing to do whatever it takes to help those in need. So I gave ourselves a little space. No words of anger, no unfriending. After some time, anger faded to a manageable level and I’m so glad I can still call her my friend. I know we will never agree on some things, but that doesn’t make her or me a bad person.
Obviously there are extreme cases. I’m not talking about people who post nothing but hate and indiscriminate bigotry or who incite violence. I decided to write this post because of the upheaval going on right now in the romance world. I don’t have all the facts and I am probably too ignorant of certain legalities to be able to judge things clearly but I can’t help but notice that most parties involved in this mess have let their anger (justified or not) tint their words and actions. In today’s world, words stick around forever thanks to social media (which I love and hate in equal parts) where people seem to think they can say whatever they want with impunity, forgetting all along that they are often hurting others.
I will end my ramblings here. Take this for what it is, a vent from someone who is so tired of the fights and strife brought on by differences of opinions, different perspectives, looking at things so closely and through tinted lenses that you are almost certain to find fault in everything.
Can we hit the pause button for a while and spend some time admiring the world around us, this magical planet we live in and the amazing and diverse creatures that populate it? Can we just agree to disagree on a few things? I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t stand up for your beliefs, I’m just saying let’s do it in a civil, empathetic, courteous way. Anger and meanness does nothing but create more anger.