a clarification and a misstatement

em·pa·thy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (mp-th)
n.
1. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.
2. The attribution of one's own feelings to an object.

Ok, can't let this one go. I lied back there, in the previous post. Or rather, in my drunken stupor I likely didn't realize that I do actually fear the conservatives. I don't fear the loud ones, the George Bushs and the Rush Limbaughs. They speak for themselves. No criticism needed. No, it is the ones like the guy who commented in the previous post that are scary. They are the quiet minority, the ones who are actually probably nice and decent-acting to those in their corner - and even treat the dissenters with respect while not catching on to the subtle nuances of true inclusion of all peoples. They are the ones who say, "Yeah, I got black friends." The scary thing is they think they do, but when in all-white company tell a racial joke. Even scarier: most of us are very much like this.

(That's a semi-inept example. I'll go on record as saying that I think racial jokes, or any joke that uses a stereotype can be funny on a lot of levels - because the joke is also on the teller and the listener who laughs - and I'll state it right here - I'm not above a good stereotypal joke, be it race-based or gay-based or religion-based. It's a joke, for crissake, not a speech at the UN.)

Something else he said struck me: "Fact is, none complained about feeling "excluded" or had some right trampled on." No one complained, but it doesn't mean someone wasn't upset over it. And maybe they weren't upset. The sad thing is it was likely so much a part of their experience that they barely noticed. (Kinda like how women just accept lower wages. We all know we make less. But do we do shit about it? Not really.) It doesn't take litigation, or even speaking out to prove it, and I do agree that litigation won't solve it (though it could solve the wage issue). But we; and by we, I mean everyone on the planet; have got to step outside ourselves just a little and try for a little empathy. Our future depends on it.

I'll also clarify that I don't believe that everyone can be included everywhere and always. It's gonna happen; someone's going to be pushed aside and get pissed off. Too bad so sad, happens to all of us once in awhile. Some more than others, and that's just life, as I've said before. What it's about is everyone making the effort.

PHF and I were just talking about this: we'd like our children to be worldly. This means that we make more of an effort to show them the planet's cultures than to take them to Epcot at Disney World. It means that family vacations are spent in Europe and other places besides the US (though the US is fun too). It means that we talk about religion and differences and likenesses and our own fortunate circumstances at the dinner table. These little things could save the planet if we all focus on the World, as opposed to our own little corner.

Worldly ain't throwing a Christmas party at school where one of five Christmas-based crafts is making a glittery Star of David and then calling it good. Worldly is understanding that Hannakah is not the most significant Jewish holiday, and that Easter, not Christmas, is the main Christian holiday. Worldly isn't going to Iraq and trying to force democracy upon another culture, and losing thousands of lives in the process before trying to really understand what they are all about there. Worldly isn't 18 year old Muslim kids blowing themselves up, or Iraqi insurgents killing people who are just trying to better their own country. They're all just from another corner, that's all. That corner may have a different name than ours, and it may have a different climate and clothes and language, but it's just as ignorant as our little Christian corner.

And worldly sure as hell isn't saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Happy Christmas." Worldly is taking the time to figure out who it is you're speaking with, what they believe and celebrate, and bestowing the proper acknowledgement. Not many people in this world bother with that sort of effort. Not the guy who left the comment. Not the Iraqi insurgents. Not the Christian right, or the pagans, or all that many of us, frankly. Not even me. At least we're all together as a world in our ignorance and selfishness.

1 comment:

lou said...

i fear conservatives. *shudder*