Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Make the World Go Away

One of my Facebook friends from high school posted today:
I'm thinking of a break from Facebook. I can't take the political shit that's going down. Bathrooms, Donald Trump bashing, people getting beat up. Can't take the stupidity I see on here. And the hate. How did we get so unforgiving to other people and their way of life. What happened to peace and love?
Well, I certainly sympathize; I've had the same idea myself.  But two things stop me. One is that many of the people who complain about negativitity and hate on Facebook or elsewhere are complaining because they posted something hateful, dishonest, and negative on Facebook, and someone called them on it. (One good example, but there are many others, is the person who told me she'd like to shoot Mexicans for target practice.  She was very upset when I called her racist, I was being mean and political, and she was tired of all this political stuff.) Such people never take responsibility for what they themselves say.  Responsibility is for other people -- they can just exult in their Trump-like, Reagan-like talent for blurting out whatever pops into their heads, because they're telling it like it is, and they don't care who they offend.  But you'd better not offend them, because that's being negative, and they're very special snowflakes, too good for this world.

It also seems to me that one reason the world is in the trouble it is, is that so many people react to the problems they see by running away from them, hiding their heads in the sand, retreating into "mindfulness" and other egocentric practices. Apparently they believe that if they don't see it, it isn't happening, and if they ignore it, it'll go away by itself.  I decided as far back as high school that I wasn't going to do that. And it's not easy. But do you want to know why Trump, for example, is so successful? It's because people didn't want to engage with the people around them.

And it also seems to me that this is a First World luxury. I noticed this in high school too, when I heard white people saying that they were tired of hearing about black people's problems.  Not as tired as black people were!  (And are.)  Maybe my friend can make the world go away, but poor people can't. Black people can't stop police shootings of unarmed kids by giving up Facebook. I can't escape antigay bigotry by giving up Facebook. Women who need abortions can't get them by giving up Facebook. Children killed by Obama's drones can't come back to life by giving up Facebook.

But, as I say, I sympathize. Everyone has to set their own limits and do what they can.  My limits include not remaining silent when confronted by bigotry and injustice, which of course is considered negative and hateful by many.  I can live with that.  Or, to put it another way:

Except that I don't accept these Western either/or binaries: you have to do both.