I’ve not written anything in awhile. Not that I haven’t mentally written a million words since my last post. There simply has been no time for me to put anything down onto paper or hard drive. Last night I made time to get a few things down that have been on my mind of late.
- The summer baseball season will be over in two to three weeks and for the first time in my life I am willing to admit the heresy of looking forward to it being over. It’s been a long year.
- When did Facebook become Pinterest? I can’t stand to log on anymore because of the barrage of images filled with pithy quotes, sayings and attempts at pop-psychology “wisdom” being constantly posted. I think the thing that turns me off the most about them is that people are being increasingly lazy in their attempts at communication and self-expression by posting these images/quotes, as well trending toward passive-aggressive behavior. I’m not completely against it as I will do it myself on occasion. I’m merely stating my observation that over the course of the past few weeks or so it has dramatically increased. No biggie.
- Why can’t we communicate with each other anymore, instead of at each other? We used to do that. We used to do a lot of things.
- We’ve thrown them all out the door, we modern people. Out with the old, in with the new, even if the old had proven itself of worth and value. And we are a snarky people. Don’t believe me? Read the comboxes of almost any news outlet or group on Facebook. YouTube comments are a sewer occupying a unique station all their own in Dante’s Hell. I began reading comments at first because I value opinions and differing viewpoints. It’s how we learn from each other and grow. But those lofty ideals are being drowned by the commenter known as a troll. And tonight I made the mistake of reading a few.
- It was on Facebook. A group I had “liked” posted Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem “If.” The first two comments were positive, and then a troll named Ramon lit a bag of poo on fire and left it on the doorstep:
“…wasn’t Kipling one of the most prominent proponents of imperialism?”
- Tell me, please: what in the hell does that have to do with this classic poem? Kipling had his faults. He was human just like the rest of us. And therein lies one of the reasons for the snark. Because people no longer try to elevate themselves or lift themselves towards something greater. No longer do they dare to stretch and reach. Now we merely drag everyone down to our mud-and-muck level.
- While Kipling wasn’t as pure as the driven snow that does not detract from the beauty and wisdom found in his poem. But you see examples of this every day and with the U.S. elections being a few months away it is only going to get worse. I have been called out as a liberal and a right-winger. A racist and a hater of the poor. Anti-women and a homophobe. An anti-choice lover of life (that was a surreal one). I plan on checking out of Zuckerberg’s playground until after the elections are over and then maybe…maybe…I’ll dip my toe back in the water.
- We love to simplify things by labeling groups or individuals based upon what they say and upon our own (increasingly) limited worldview. The very people who shout from the rooftops that we must open our minds and be tolerant are themselves the ones who’ve slammed their mind’s door shut and long ago thrown away the key. It’s fascinating to watch, if not sad and somewhat scary. That kind of an unthinking mindset leads to a lack of empathy and ultimately to a loss of touch with humanity followed by tragedy.
- It’s sad to me that the great advances we’ve made in communication have only served to isolate us from each other more and more.
- I read comments like Ramon’s and I think of a line from The Tree of Life (my movie review is here):
Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.
- It’s because of this oversimplified labeling of people being done that I tend to be careful when articulating my thoughts on certain subjects. But sometimes no matter how well you express your reasoning you have no chance because emotions, not reason or logic, now rule the day. Many choose the way of nature over the way of grace.
- Just try to make a statement in polite conversation in which you take a position contrary to those of President Obama. Better yet do it on the internet. Within minutes you’ll be branded a racist.
- And about that ‘war on women’. Our president is engaged in his own brand of American eugenics and not a word is uttered by my feminist friends. Margaret Sanger would be so proud. But of course I as a Catholic male am anti-women. It is as much a part of my nature as breathing. Riiiiiiiight.
- See, right here I could ask “Why do my friends on the Left hate babies and women?” But that would be grossly inaccurate and unfair. Instead I’d ask “Why are my friends on the Left so blinded by political ideology that they don’t protest this type of action? Is it because the president is a member of their political party?” I think that’s a fair question to ask of Americans on both sides of the aisle.
- Politics is America’s religion, with Republicans and Democrats as its two largest denominations.
- Of course the other label thrown around today is homophobe. You know, it wasn’t very long ago that civil unions were all that the pro-gay side wanted. I can specifically recall debates and conversations where I asked “Won’t ‘gay marriage’ be next?” Eyes rolled at me and I was told “Oh, please, none of us are talking about marriage. You heteros have screwed that up enough that we don’t want to be a part of it. But don’t you think a person has a right to be in the hospital with a loved one when he’s dying?” Now, seemingly minutes later, if you don’t support gay marriage you are a bigot, a homophobe, the KKK or a sex-Nazi. Amazing.
- Jennifer Fulwiler had just such a conversation with a long-time friend of hers who is gay. He asks her for her opinion on gay marriage and she gives it. And in the very next sentence he calls her a homophobe.
- In the course of their conversation Jennifer’s friend displays his tolerance towards Catholicism by saying “Great belief system you have there. Sounds like a barrel of laughs.” Later he says “Not everyone is as crazy as you guys.” Tell me again, using the Left’s definition of tolerance: Who is the intolerant person in this conversation?
- Online, thefreedictionary.com defines homophobia as “the fear or contempt for lesbians and gay men. Behavior based on such a feeling.” By disagreeing on the issue of gay marriage I am not expressing fear or contempt, nor is my disagreement a behavior based upon “such a feeling.” But because I do not base my position towards the issue upon emotion I am defined as a prejudiced person who is intolerant because I hurt the feelings of someone emotionally tied to the issue. Funny old world.
- A friend posted an infographic on Facebook that purported to list attributes that were once a part of “traditional” marriage. It is a clever propaganda piece listing ten “laws” that were a part of traditional marriage over the course of the last 421 years, beginning with a law from 1691 that says it was for “whites only.” It ends with “20??: Same-Sex Marriage”. I agree that on the surface it paints a very ugly picture and found myself being disgusted by it. But that’s the way effective propaganda works. It paints the worst possible picture of something by cleverly using the worst elements of it, even if out of context and over hundreds or thousands of years, in order to gin up emotion. Those laws were awful. But were they actually laws? For how long? For what jurisdiction: a county somewhere in England, or the universal law of the world?
- The “traditional marriage” graphic was effective propaganda because I’m willing to bet that my friend who posted it and most if not all who read it and agreed with it never bothered once to consider these options. Emotions take over, we silently nod our heads in agreement, and another propaganda victory is won.
- I can dig up negative stuff about anything perceived as good. Do I therefore throw the entire thing out? Do I become a Ramon?
- It’s against the law to “walk one’s cow down Main Street after 1:00pm on a Sunday” in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Why is Arkansas against bovine exercise in the afternoon? That’s it…I’m never again visiting or talking with anyone from Arkansas. Of course I’m kidding. Take a look at the crazy laws that existed or still exist per state. One could create a sign just like the one about traditional marriage for every state in the Union.
- Ask Brad Pitt’s mom about what it’s like to freely voice your contrary opinion in this country. I’d post some of the reactions here myself, but they are horrible. You can see them here.
- Good grief. Enough of politics and “culture wars” and back to the present. Tonight my oldest son used some of the balance on his Barnes & Noble gift card and came home with the book Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander. He and I were introduced to Winters and the rest of Easy Company like most of America due to the excellent HBO series Band of Brothers. A few Decembers ago we were fortunate to meet some of the surviving members of Easy Company as they came to the SAC Air & Space Museum in Nebraska. I turned to the Appendix of this new book and read some of Winters’ quotes on leadership. This quote stood out:
“I find that as I go through life, and I meet other people, what I am doing as I get to know them is I’m looking at them and I’m seeing if I find the same characteristics and same qualities in them that I have in the men that I fought with. That’s what I’m looking for. If I can find in a man those characteristics, then I know what I’m dealing with.” – Dick Winters, Biggest Brother, page 282.
- I find myself doing the same thing. I find myself looking for common areas in which we can agree. It’s a foundation from which to build a friendship. We all do this to an extent.
- In my post on The Tree of Life (which I’m still convinced is one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen) I wrote:
I was still meditating on this film while I was sitting outside this morning with my coffee and, as is my routine on weekends, praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Right away was a reading from the first psalm that in essence states “there are two ways a man may take.”
- There are indeed two ways a man (and a woman) may take. Two roads diverge in the yellow wood. And, as Steve Martin’s grandmother in the movie Parenthood describes in the clip below, we have a choice between a roller coaster and a merry-go-round. As a married male Catholic and father of three you would think I was on the merry-go-round. Yes, you would think that if you are quick to label me after selectively reading any of what I wrote above. You would be wrong.
Have a great week, y’all. Stay frosty.