Aug. 5th, 2012

xenologer: (vagina)
Great quote from my corner of the internet today! Kyle Brodzky has been dropping some truth about the Chick-Fil-A crap which is generalizable to far more than that. Someone brought it to the discussion table that we ought to just never be angry and never dislike anybody so that we can all get along because the alternative is to be EXTREMISTS and extremists are all equally destructive and wrong.

I've always just been raised believing that moderation is where true justice lies, free from bias or anger. I'm annoyed that sitting on poles is so popular, and even moreso by the fact that those wronged by zealotry, ignorance, and bigotry tend toward the same extreme black-and-white mentality. And maybe it is the fault of those who wronged them, but that doesn't make it any less tragic.

Also he called us extremists, because the Golden Mean fallacy is never out of style.

Brodzky was not having it.

I totally get that (name redacted), that you see that people who are wronged can easily fall into the same polarized thinking. It's sort of offensive that you'd have that prejudice, and use it to try to throw cold water on a very cut and dried social justice issue.

But I think that by stating outright that you automatically think that the wronged party here are already caught up in that is sort of offensive. No one's dragging fry cooks behind their trucks on gravel roads. No one's saying their marriages are invalid. No one's saying fry cooks are literally causing a god to make earthquakes happen and kill people for their sins.

When there is a situation where it is clear who is wrong, and who is right, being 'moderate' is indefensible.

There's no honor or valor or ethical highground or medal or trophy for 'not getting involved' when there's very real, abject, and ugly human suffering going on. Sometimes the conscious, willful act of not choosing a side actually makes you a bad person. Not as evil as the people perpetrating heinous acts against your fellow people, but apathy, well, apathy means you're not opposed to the violation of people's lives. It means you don't have the desire to do what a good person would do. It means you are content to rationalize a total disregard for people around you who are in pain, and rationalize it as a virtue.

And when you do that, when you make that apathy a virtue, you are making it harder for people who do care to make progress.

It's literally unethical to go through life acting as if every issue is as important as "Chunky or Smooth." There are times when you are actively hindering the creation of a better, more sane world, when you act as if these issues don't affect you, or they aren't worth getting upset about, or feeling anger or hatred about. If you view something as absolutely important as human rights, in the here and now, as a peanut butter issue not worth thinking about, or getting mad about, or really even spending any time on at all, then you are absolutely dragging down those around you.

If you think the world's problems are dissolvable down to peanut butter issues you can feel smug about ignoring, then I really don't know what to say. This is in part, truly, because you're simply not a person worth talking to.


This is definitely linkable, but share this link instead, please and thank you!
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
Been hurting a lot lately. This comes out sometimes as depression and other times as anger. Mostly I just have a much lower tolerance right now for certain things. When it comes to callousness, I'm a little more raw right now. I've invested a lot of energy and made sacrifices for the sake of being the kind of person I can respect, of being the kind of person who didn't leave me to fight and endure alone out of ignorance or apathy.

It's important to me not to be those people, because those people do more damage than they'll ever know, and I don't want to be them. I know I'll never be perfect, but there is a degree to which I am sort of obsessively ethical (look up Compulsive Vowing in a GURPS book) to try and keep an eye on everything and minimize the harm I do without thinking.

Obligatory Proof That I Understand Humans

I know everybody does what they think is right. I know that everybody--whether they're demonstrably wrong or right--believes that the choices they are making are appropriate. Most people who consider the question of whether they are good people conclude that they are. So I know that most people are generally doing their best, even though blindness can get in the way ofeven the most earnestly good-hearted.

What I am having trouble dealing with right now is the idea that there are people who can be presented with a great gaping wound in the world and treat it like a thought experiment, like there are no real people involved and so it's not serious.

We don't all have infinite energy. We just don't. We also don't all have infinite capability. The world isn't going to fall apart because one person needs to recharge so that they can sustainably tap the finite resource that is their very self. That's not what I'm talking about.

I am talking about people who can shut a certain type of person out of their ethical considerations entirely. I am talking about people whose personal integrity comes with a list of exceptions for people whose experiences aren't really real.

Right now I am not dealing with it as well as I sometimes can.

So I'm touchy.

Just to be Clear, "Touchy" is a Euphemism for "Ready to Eat Some Fool's Home Planet"

I am so angry right now. I have a right to that anger. I have a right to be angry on behalf of people who are suffering from entirely preventable and addressable injustices, because that is an anger founded in love.

I am not wrong to be angry that some of my so-called friends don't believe they should be expected to worry about trivial matters of "political correctness" like referring to racial or ethnic groups by the names they choose. I am not wrong to be angry that my trans friends are being gaslit on a daily basis, told that they don't understand themselves or the world and that they are too insane for their self-assessments to have weight. I am not wrong to be angry that I know men who are angry that women get so up in arms about sexual harassment because these men aren't willing to learn to approach women in ways that won't frighten us.

I am right to be angry, especially if it motivates me to do the necessary work to solve the problems that are hurting so many of us.

Now Begins the Me-Specific and Not-to-be-Used-to-Bludgeon-Other-People-for-their-Anger Section

I need some more sustainable fuel than this, though. I used to fuel myself on anger when I canvassed, and while I knew that I was right to be angry because it was a sign that I was still invested in the fates of my fellow human beings, I also knew that if my anger was grounded in love... shouldn't I be able to just motivate myself with that love?

Anger's a quick-burning fuel, and I can use it to excellent effect. I know what's right, though, and I will do it even if I am not angry.

I need to find my way back to that inner peace that lets me fight because I love and not lash out like a wounded animal. I am not doing this because the people who are pissing me off and receiving the verbal flamethrower don't deserve it. They probably do! I am doing this because I hurt. Anger is a great motivator, but as strengthening and liberating as it can be to people who are just realizing the legitimacy of their pain... anger also is pain.

I've done work with dharma practice before, specifically with anger. I have gotten pretty good at stepping back a bit and saying, "This is a mind experiencing anger." I have gotten pretty good at saying that I am experiencing anger and not that I am angry, because my anger is not what defines me. It is an experience I am having, and how I respond to that experience is up to me.

I need to get back to that project, because this anger is hurting again.

Kind Enemies

One thing that has helped me is looking at people who are behaving terribly as an opportunity to practice patience that I didn't ask for and still don't want, but am getting anyway.

In fact enemies are kinder to us than Buddha. That's almost inconceivable. "What do you mean my enemy is kinder to me than Buddha? The Buddha has perfect compassion for everyone. The Buddha doesn't harm a fly! How can my enemy who is such a beep beep beep be kinder than Buddha? become Buddhas, we need to practice patience. ... Who gives us the opportunity to practice patience? Who is so kind and helps us develop that infinitely good quality of patience? Only the person who harms us. Only our enemy. So, the enemy is much kinder to us than Buddha. - Thubten Chodron

I had an employer once who was sort of obnoxious, and what I ended up telling myself (sarcastically at first, as an office-friendly euphemism), "So and so has decided to provide me with a lot of opportunities to practice patience today." Eventually the sarcasm faded and I really did see it that way. I was getting opportunities to apply some of what I was reading and deciding about my own anger, and those opportunities to practice wouldn't happen if I didn't have somebody pissing me off at least some of the time.

This is not to say that people who are being oppressed should stop fighting and respond always with "thank you sir may I have another." It's sort of the "someone is being an asshole" version of what I do when I have been an asshole. When I've been an asshole and someone tells me so, that is an opportunity for me to prove to them that I am a safe person to talk to and that it is okay to be honest with me. It's the best chance I will ever get to prove to another human being that my integrity and my interest in their well-being are priorities for me.

I don't want these opportunities because they mean I have screwed up and likely hurt someone. I don't seek them out. But you know what? I am not perfect and I will get these chances to prove myself whether I want them or not. What's important for me to remember, then, is that these are my only chances to earn real trust. Until then all they know is that I am nice when there's no conflict. They don't know if I'll flip out and act a fuckin' fool the moment I hear something I won't like. They won't know until they take that risk. So I make a point to take that opportunity as my chance to earn real trust, because without this opportunity--however undesirable--we were never going to be friends. It's painful for basically everybody involved, but until all parties involved have seen how the others handle it... there will never be trust.

So it's like that, only with other people making me angry. I don't want them to, and I'm not even saying that their behavior should be excused. Sometimes the training exercise in question is solving a problem--including setting and enforcing boundaries--without giving over control of myself to my emotions.

tl;dr: Anger Can Be Legitimate and Still Not Be Helpful

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am getting a lot of opportunities to practice patience, a lot of training exercises for maintaining mental equilibrium, and I need to make the conscious decision to use them.

Right now that means that I need to pull together some tools and techniques to practice with. I need to get on this and not put it off, because I am sure that the world will be kind enough to offer me some more opportunities to practice very soon.

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