Thursday, April 21, 2016

There is So Much My Head Might Explode

Curt Schilling got fired for sharing a Facebook post and adding his own two cents. That is ESPN's right, they are in the perception business.  Target has made a decision to declare all bathrooms unisex. That is their right as a business.   Some will boycott ESPN and Target, others will cheer.  I don't know how we will survive the ever shifting sands of language and perception in these days.   We have protests and counter protests for everything, and never is there any peace.

However the question becomes, what is the cut off point? Can one discuss an idea not popular or discuss a moral stance not popular without being tarred, feathered and burned off the internet?   When, where and how can the public allow for diversity of thought?   Can one hold a moral position not popular, even dare to utter it or live by it, and hold a job in this century?

The internet does not care about anything but appearing righteous, and it's so easy to bandwagon pile on if you think your side is just, and the other side, either willfully malicious or intolerably ignorant. Such thinking is a lie, a lie we're facilitating every time we start to feel more cowed, more afraid of speaking because you might wind up the equivalent of North Carolina, or Curt Schilling or anyone else who dares to get out of line.  We keep finding reasons to cast stones...and feel justified in casting stones. It's great if you've got the rock in hand...but this is a bad way for society to operate.  We have to know, eventually, we will be the ones on the receiving end.

Or are we at the point where our media capacity and personal, private, religious and political positions are so threatening by their mere existence, that holding one not deemed fashionable is tantamount to a scarlet letter?  

I submit we are becoming Puritanical relativists, who aren't actually relativists.  We profess as a country to be tolerant, to not judge, but never in the history of our country, have the words "bigot," "homophobic," "racists," "misogynist" and "hater" been thrown around with more zeal and conviction.  We read silence, we see into people's motivations, we declare the souls unclean, and they are then convicted by the public, unclean.

I am old enough to remember when liberals scoffed at the simplistic moral thinking of President George W. Bush for stating, "You're either with us or against us."  Imagine!  Someone of intellect thinking everyone must agree or they're an enemy.  What a lack of nuance! What a lack of critical thinking!  We are a diverse people, with naturally diverse thoughts.  We can disagree.  We can even disagree on fundamental points, and still be neighbors, still be friends, still sit at the dinner table and enjoy each other's company.

In 2016 people are destroyed online for a tweet, for passing on a Facebook post, for holding a position 4 years ago, for donating to the wrong cause, for one wrong word, for holding something as true which overnight, someone decided they shouldn't. At some point, having litmus tests for everyone to pass that constantly change means we need to stop pretending we are a tolerant or free people.

If we're governing from a point of relativism, i.e. all religions are equal, there is no knowable truth, except that which is experiential and singular, ergo my truth and your truth are always equal even if they are different, then I would like for those who agree with this to explain how other than through force, any one moral position is superior to any other?

If we live in a world where the only truth is all truth is relative,* then the rule of law becomes the tyranny of the sand people.  We never know their numbers.  We never know what is the foundation, because it can always, always shift away.  Based on past history of all civilizations where the fundamental values are fungible, it will shift from the rule of law to the rule of majority to the rule of the powerful to the rule of one to no rule.

My issue is a process one. If we believe in Universal truths, we must have one discussion as a nation. That discussion is a question of what is good, how do we know it, and what does it look like in a society? I don't think we're having that discussion in this country at this point.   I'm not sure any leader or aspiring leader is asking any of these questions.

I ask these things knowing full well, it's a touchy subject.  It's a hard subject.  It's a real question.  I am Catholic. I can't cease to be that or I would cease to be me.  Yes. I hold to all of it.  Even when it hurts and I know it's going to, I know I must hold.  I'm also a coward.  I hate being disliked. Even the threat of it makes me afraid to write, afraid to speak, really wanting to cower in that upper room and stay there where it's safe, where I'm surrounded by people who think the same way.

However, going back to the sentence, I am a Catholic means I don't get to be safe.  

I believe we are made in God's image, all of us.  I also believe we have to do everything to heal everyone around us, and healing is never hurting one to boost the other.  God's way always raises all, while the fallen human's way frequently views all improvement of one class at the expense of another.  

I know and love, and have been taught great lessons by people with same sex attraction, people of diverse faith, no faith, and with alternative lifestyles I do not share.   I also know how hard it is to feel isolated, alone, and cut off from the rest of the world.  I may not know the experience of being a particular type of other, but I know, no one wants that pain of otherness, of isolation, of feeling cut off from the community.  Everyone (I believe this as a Universal truth), longs to be not merely tolerated but embraced and welcomed.  

Back to the little issue, of ESPN and Target and such things.

The demand for accommodation seems to be something business could manage by creating a singular unisex bathroom for use for whosoever needed to use the facilities, while still allowing for separate bathrooms to secure and protect the innocence of all children and provide privacy for all people.  

Such a solution would eliminate the pushing of any agenda on anyone at the expense of making companies actively illustrate compassion and understanding for all their customers through a physical service of shelling out the dollars (what they value most).  They wouldn't be able to pander or score cheap posturing points, they'd earn the right to say they were tolerant of diversity of people, by their works, not mere words.   That is a micro discussion of the consequences of living in a diverse society of people.

The macro discussion, of how we safeguard diversity of thought if the primary goal is diversity itself, or how we sustain freedom of speech, thought and religion if such liberties are punished by law and society itself, that conversation still needs to be held.

*(I know, it's self defeating but go with me that this is the premise we've embraced as a nation).

1 comment:

Helene said...

Beautifully written. I kept thinking that I wanted to copy and paste this part and that part in my Facebook feed because I feel as you do. You've managed to put it into words much more beautifully than I could ever.

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