Tag Archives: cruelty

Mind Your I’s and A’s

While our pastor’s sermon kind of meandered today (good message, but it seemed overly long and somewhat disjointed), there was a portion that caught my attention:

Where there is ignorance, there is often indifference. Where there is indifference, we often see intolerance. And wherever there is intolerance, we will see injustice.

That explains a lot to me about the world. Ignorance remains at the core of so many of our problems. Ignorant Christians, ignorant atheists, ignorant Muslims, ignorant Jews, ignorant agnostics, ignorant pagans…you get the idea.

Now, those who read me regularly might expect me to pick on the members of the Tea Party here in the United States. And certainly, their ignorance is often astounding, as they make people with education seem to be the enemy. Suddenly, to them, knowledge is the problem. God forbid anyone pays attention, or tries to consider complex issues. No, lock-and-load or fly off at the mouth are the ways to go.

But they aren’t alone. I’ve known a ton of ignorant “progressive” people and other liberals. People who say they understand the plight of people who struggle but who distance themselves from such people. They are just as ignorant, because they have some kind of general knowledge or book learning but no connection to the real issues or what needs addressing.

Stay-at-home middle class mothers who knock other mothers’ choices to send their kids to school instead of home schooling, thereby showing complete ignorance of those other mothers’ challenges and lives, which don’t mirror their own and therefore cannot often follow a similar model.

Men who blame women for leaving them and being shallow, while remaining ignorant of their own gender sins and the things they did that helped scuttle the relationship, too. Women who show the very same ignorance as they set unrealistic demands and then dog out their former (or current) men online for not being perfect.

Ignorance is at the heart of ethnic conflict; passive workers who allow themselves to be undercut by corporate interests; corporations who focus on short-term goals at the expense of the country and their own organizational health; teachers and doctors who slap labels on kids like autism or ADHD when they’re just being kids; and so on.

And so, with my pastor’s example in mind, with those four I’s, I now offer my four A’s as a counterpoint. As a healthy alternative. As the path for our salvation, whether secular or religious:

First, we need awareness. Honest, willing efforts to look past the surface of things and challenge our own assumptions about everything.

Second, we need authorship, so that we will be not just show silent accountability but also open assertion of where we fail and where we cease to understand. Such things will lead to us asking for help in increasing our awareness and then our authorship.

Third, with those two things, we will see more acceptance. Always in society, there will be things we cannot accept, but those will be the things that are truly hurtful as a result of cruelty or ignorance. But we will accept that people are different and even when they lead lifestyles that we find uncomfortable, they have a right to be the way they are.

Finally, those three things, if we seek them (and I have no reason to expect that humanity will bother to, but there’s always hope, right?) will lead to the start of ascendancy. This could be secular as easily as it could be spiritual. But it will mean that we are on the path to fully realizing our potential beyond mere self-satisfaction and laziness. We won’t likely become truly ascendant in these our mortal coils, because that’s expecting too much.

But damn it, we need to make an effort to head in that direction.

Two-fer Tuesday: Love by Deacon Blue

Among those who practice, or advocate for, more holistic medical care—or who eschew medical care entirely for full-on homeopathic or other alternative forms of care—there is a common thought process that disease is the absence of health (or vice-versa). That is, we aren’t, and shouldn’t be, trying to treat a disease or relieve symptoms as the primary goal but instead to restore a person to health. Going along with that is the idea that we need to maintain a healthy body as the primary way to prevent illness or other unpleasantly to befall us.

In that context, one could say simply that hate is the absence of love or that love is the absence of hate. But I think it is far more complex than that, because the absence of love doesn’t always lead to hate, though that is one avenue. It can lead to despair, misunderstanding, unintentional cruelty, abuse, apathy, sadness, fear and so much more. It can even lead to combinations of some or all of those things.

I have been reminded of this in the past couple days as I’ve been going through blogs. For example, at The Field Negro lately, the posts have attracted a much larger than normal number of people, mostly anonymous but some with actual identities, who are white supremacist types of various flavors and intensities. Clearly, the closer we get to November, with a black man in the race for president, this shit can be expected to occur and probably to increase. But what struck me was how these attitudes can color the interactions overall. For example, one wingnut stated that half of all U.S. blacks either had HIV infection or full-blown AIDS.

Now, this is a totally erroneous number. Figures indicate that roughly half of those people who have HIV infection in the United States are black, but with some 1.2 million or so HIV vicitms in this country, that is 600,000 out of 36,000,000 black people, or something like 0.02%. Also, it is believed that half of those who are infected don’t even know it. So, clearly, the “half” was not anywhere near as bad (nor indicative of some pitiful moral standard among blacks) as what the anonymous racist ignoramus was suggesting. Now, whether he/she was simply misinformed or intentionally spreading lies, I felt the need to respond and make sure the right facts got out, first pointing out that higher levels of HIV infection among blacks had a lot to do with factors like the documented fact that blacks are still being denied the same level of healthcare that whites get, even when blacks pay as much money or have insurance that’s just as good. At the end of my comment, after going through the social forces that increase ill-health among blacks, I mentioned the real figures about HIV infection among blacks and overall in the country, and stressed that half of all blacks are not infected.

Trouble is, one of the regular commenters on that blog called out the anonymous commenter and myself to tell us that half of all HIV victims being black is very different than half of all blacks being HIV infected. What this tells me is that the commenter in question probably never got to the end of my comment to see that I had pointed out that same fact. So, it probably seemed that while I was pointing out racial inequities, I was also agreeing with the incorrect figures, when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth.

So, lack of love, in this case the basic “love thy neighbor” commandment that Jesus himself gave us—and something that most racist whites are ignoring obviously since the majority of them seem to call themselves Christians—leads not only to hatred (i.e. racism) but then leads to misunderstandings. That is, you get a white numbnut spouting off, and then every other person who comments and is either white or seems to be white becomes suspect. The lack of love by one stains everyone else, and then a lack of love is given by those who are being hurt. The ability to connect and communicate is compromised, even among those who aren’t among the group that’s doing the hating.

On a completely other part of the spectrum when it comes to problems with lack of love, I also noticed a weird post at Ephaphtha on cake farting, which is a big indication to me that our more intimate love is sadly lacking as well. As my recent “F Is for Fetish” post indicates, I’m not against kinks and not ignorant of them, but when fetishes start getting as specific as cake farting, I have to agree with Kellybelle at Ephaphtha that something is wrong in how we are loving. Whether because of fear of disease or social disconnections or being too desirous of the new and bizarre, we are becoming less able to love each other in normal ways. Even with sex, it isn’t enough to connect with a person. Instead, we delve deeper and deeper into the weird instead of growing deeper and deeper in our ability to connect and love.

This post is a bit of a ramble, I know, and it may seem strange to anyone else how and why I’m connecting the dots that I am. But I really believe that at the core of these two blog observations—as well as other things I’ve seen in the blogs and the news and in daily life that I don’t have time to go into now—is lack of love. We aren’t necessarily becoming a more hateful world without love, but we are becoming way more dysfunctional. One can argue that there has always been too little love in the world, and that is true, but the increasingly technological and disconnected world we live in seems to be making love an even rarer commodity.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Love isn’t going to completely go out of fashion, but I really think we’re forgetting how to love each other well—or ceasing to care about putting in the effort.

Jesus is certainly very sad to see that happening. We should be sad about it too, though I fear most of us aren’t—and won’t ever be.

(Click here for Miz Pink’s post on this same topic, but with her own spin.)