Incivility

This week on Facebook I unfriended and blocked one of my best friends from high school. For sometime, it’s been clear we’ve grown in different directions in our lives.

He can’t understand the concept of white privilege and I can’t understand how he’s still a fan of the Grateful Dead when he has such conservative views.

I still remember the day he heard the Grateful Dead for the first time. In the mid-1980s, when we went to his first Dead show, it was the first time he traveled north of the Mason-Dixon line.

We grew apart as we got older, and my conversion to Christianity often seemed to be an issue.

When I posted sarcastic or critical comments of Christian or political leaders, he posted comments questioning the behavior of Christians — to him, I appear to be the representative of all Christendom. I repeatedly offered to share with him my faith story, but he ignored the offers.

He never understood my sarcasm and criticism being directed at people in power and in defense of the helpless. He makes fun of people offended by the Confederate flag.

He evidently can’t see the difference between mocking the powerful who oppress the helpless and mocking the helpless.

So when I made fun of Gov. Chris Christie’s weight, a man who appears to care very little about children, my friend thought it acceptable to make fun of my adopted daughter.

Before I blocked him and deleted our conversations from my Facebook page, he got to see a Christian’s obscenities-laced offer to punch him in the face.

I suspect my obscenities help him disbelieve my confession of faith in Jesus. Like some people, he’ll ignore 90 percent of the facts and focus on the negative that confirms what he wants to believe.

I introduced him to Robert Hunter’s “fountain that was not made by the hands of man” and thought I could help introduce him to the fountain of living waters. Someone else will have to help him see Jesus.

This is  an example of a bigger issue — incivility.

We live in a world where Donald Trump appears to be running for Troll in Chief, rather than Commander in Chief, and millions seem to find that acceptable.

People think it’s acceptable in day to day life to behave like the worst online comments. The standard of acceptability gets lowered just a little more, and tomorrow, lowered a little more.

Just when it appears we’ve hit bottom, and people are as rude as they can be, someone grabs a shovel and starts digging. Others rush to join in, or simply roll around in the fresh dirt.

The mainstream gets offended when people on the fringe of the culture demand to be treated with respect and dignity.

White, American men get offended when they are reminded that like it or not, they share the world with people who aren’t like them.

So it’s sadly no surprise that my old friend has no problem with an offensive online comment about our little girl, because he doesn’t have to look far to see millions of people dehumanizing Syrian victims like three-year-old Aylan Kurdi. A significantly visible segment of society is committed to further marginalizing victims, and they don’t care who gets hurt.

When victims complain about being offended, they are dismissed as being ‘politically correct.’

There are always victims, but sadly our culture continues to move away from victims, and towards the oppressive majority.

Jesus is always on the side of the victim. He stands against oppression.

Jesus is on the side of refugees and little girls. He’s not on the side of the majority when the members of the majority walk the streets with rifles, or make it illegal to help the needy.

We who actually follow Jesus have no choice but to follow Jesus, and that includes standing up for victims and standing up to oppression.

That includes standing up to racists. Or bigots. Or homophobes. Or misogynists.

Jerks don’t get to decide when they are being rude or a jerk.

Offenders aren’t the ones to determine if they are offensive.

Bullies don’t get to determine if they are bullies, victims do.

Or, as Louie C.K. says,

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4 Responses to Incivility

  1. Cindy Ladd says:

    I appreciate your thoughts, and I support them. However, I don’t agree that it’s okay to make fun of somebody because they’re in a position of power. Comment on their actions or their words. Pointing out something about their weight (or race, or sex, or orientation, or religion) is lumping a whole lot of other people together with your derision. It does nothing to elevate a conversation, nor does it reflect well upon you.

    Like

    • jim says:

      Yeah, my comment about Chris Christie was over the top. But there’s a world of difference between making fun of and satirizing pompous people in positions of power and demonizing the helpless.

      The problem is, when some of us get sucked into mocking the self-righteous, no matter how deserving of ridicule the subject, we contribute to the climate of incivility.

      Thanks for the comment and for reading.

      Like

  2. Zaela says:

    While I understand several points you are making, you also seem to provide criticism, judgment, trolling, stereotypes, to the world, so it’s hypocritical to point out the unacceptability of others doing what you’re doing about different subjects. So you don’t get to say you’re the victim when you’re also being the bully. And though I think that’s unfair, maybe that’s another one of your points. People don’t act the way you want them too. I’m sorry you lost your friend there. Maybe there’s still a bridge to peace.

    Like

    • jim says:

      Thanks for reading, and for the comment. The subjects matter. Hypocrites need to pointed out. Paul Ryan claiming to be pro-family, wanting paid time off to be with his family, and then voting against paid time off for the rest of us, for example.

      As I wrote, “He never understood my sarcasm and criticism being directed at people in power and in defense of the helpless. He makes fun of people offended by the Confederate flag.

      “He evidently can’t see the difference between mocking the powerful who oppress the helpless and mocking the helpless.”

      Thanks again.

      Like

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