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Dept. of Scatter Shot

Thoughts of an Irritable Old Lady

After reading more about the Unhappy Canines than I'd planned to, I'm reminded, after seeing too many (by my lights) comments of "Well, both sides have been unreasonable," or "Reasonable people can see the arguments of both sides," or (help me not bang my head against the wall, oh small local godlet of personal self discipline) "The extremists on both sides," I find myself going outside and staring into the starry vastness and screaming FALSE EQUIVALENCY, PEOPLE, IT'S A THING! IT'S A BAD, STUPID, MEALY-MOUTHED THING! Because sometimes, one side really is the right side.

After reading about Rachel Dolezal's strange, strange story, I was first completely gobsmacked at the story in general. Then, I wondered about the life she'd led that brought her to the point of perpetrating such a lengthy and counter-intuitive deception and the personal tragedy it represented. Then, after reading a few commentaries, including this one, I started thinking about something I should have been thinking about from the beginning: the supreme arrogance of privilege that she exhibited, even as she perhaps thought she was doing the exact opposite.

And then came the shooting by a white terrorist in Charleston.

I still insist that there is hope for humanity, and that there is more good than evil, more honesty than deceit, more generosity than cupidity, in the human heart. But my own heart is aching, and some of that ache comes from the effort I have to make not to answer hate with hate, and meanness with meanness. It's very hard.








This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/365602.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
a_phoenixdragon
Jun. 19th, 2015 03:33 am (UTC)
Our natural instincts at times are to bite back when we feel we have been bitten. It can be really hard to rise above that. It can be hard to NOT be bitter, to not fall into the easy constructs of 'well, they are terrible people and I can wish terrible things upon them because they deserve it'. It can be hard to not be vindictive and fall into the trap that lays out.

I wish sometimes I was baser. I wish sometimes that I can be mean back and not care. And then there are the days when I feel grateful that I am aware that it only makes things worse. It goes beyond the whole 'this doesn't solve anything' and straight to 'this is what causes such problems in the first place'.

It is all instinctive. There are times when instinct is good. But there are times when what we think is instinct is just paranoia driven by fear and sheer ignorance. Whether learned or ingrained, such reactions are less 'instinct' and more 'primitive'. That shooting is based off of such primal, base hatred, ignorance and fear - and no small amount of arrogance. I have no idea why we have such people among us all. I have no idea where when and how they decided they were better than the person beside them. I want to hate them. I want to bite back.

Instead, I just feel horror for their victims. I feel pain for the losses of their families. And I feel a weary sorrow for the people who caused all that pain. They won't learn. They can't. They've blocked themselves from that. All I can do is mourn those they have hurt and feel pity for the people who brought about that hurt. Hate them? No. Ashamed of them? Yes.

And I'm not sure that this is any better or worse that vicious anger. Not anymore.

*HUGS*
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC)
It goes beyond the whole 'this doesn't solve anything' and straight to 'this is what causes such problems in the first place'.

This! This is so very wise; thank you for pointing it out and reminding me of that.

There are times when instinct is good. But there are times when what we think is instinct is just paranoia driven by fear and sheer ignorance.

Indeed. But I'd go further and say "there are times when what we think is instinct is just paranoia driven by fear and sheer ignorance." I say that because instinct unguided b conscious thought becomes dangerous to us, becomes toxic. And yet ...

Whether learned or ingrained, such reactions are less 'instinct' and more 'primitive'.

You make a point there that I can't ignore. Perhaps what I'm labeling "toxic instinct" is more a case of conscious ignorance, and is really "primitive." I shall have to think about that.

. And I feel a weary sorrow for the people who caused all that pain.

That's the point past which I've moved. I'm tired of trying to understand them, and tired of trying to be sorrowful on their behalf. And I recognize that I absolutely must get back to that point in my own heart. Otherwise, I risk falling into hate again.

Thank you for all your thoughts, my dear; they are the best kind of thoughts, because they spur thought on my end!

a_phoenixdragon
Jun. 25th, 2015 11:16 pm (UTC)
Food for thought on my end as well...you are correct that instinct itself does have its downsides in the wrong 'mode of thought' (if thought can be applied to gut reaction).

I always love talking with you. Would love to sit down for a cuppa again sometime and just while away time with you and BB!!

*HUGS*
hellboy
Jun. 19th, 2015 04:07 am (UTC)
THAT DOLEZAL WOMAN IS SO TWEAKED. I mean, I can't go along with the people saying she's ~crazy~ because I seriously think she's mentally sound-- she's just entitled as fuck and probably extremely narcissistic to boot. Which isn't crazy, it's just self-involved to a dramatic degree not usually seen in nature.
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC)
I suppose "crazy" needs to be qualified. In terms of "doing something that makes no sense, that is ultimately counterproductive, that will eventually be found out because, hey, your parents are both alive and pissed at you" it is supremely illogical. One would only take that action if one weren't thinking logically, and if one's illogical thinking, buttressed by careful scaffolding built of repeated and inventive denials and rationalizations, continues over a period of years, then - despite any daily ability to make sound judgments in other matters - yes, she's a sick, sick lady.

That doesn't absolve her, however. She's emotionally sick - which is the tragedy I refer to - but she is still responsible for her decision, and still answerable to the people she lied to and deceived. And she is indeed entitled as fuck and extremely narcissistic. That's part of the ailment, but not a reason to excuse any of her crap.
beccadg
Jun. 20th, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you believe that Dolezal meets one of the legal definitions of insane, when applied broadly, but not the other. I mean there are a couple of basic legal definitions of insanity. There's the one for deciding whether or not someone should be committed, "The person is a danger to themselves, to others, and-or to property." It's generally applied in an, "Are they suicidal, homicidal, and-or likely to commit criminal mischief" sense. However, if you apply it broadly as simply being about causing harm, Dolezal meets it. She caused harm to her local community with her actions, and the larger community when the story went national. The other definition is "unable to understand what they were doing was wrong." That's the one that has to be proved for someone to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. It's the one for "criminally insane." If you figure she did harm, and did it knowing she was wrong to do so, she's insane, but not criminally insane. My mother was a Master's level social worker for 40 years, and I've completed my Minor in Behavioral Sciences. Not to mention the number of people in my family with diagnosed mental illnesses, or my grandmother's suicide.

Edited at 2015-06-20 07:12 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you believe that Dolezal meets one of the legal definitions of insane,

Nope, not in the least. I'm using - and I should have made it far more clear, so my apologies - a very personal, idiosyncratic definition of insanity. I can say that I don't think Dolezal meets any legal definition of insanity. I simply think that, by my own personal definition of insanity, she's sick. But it doesn't, as I said, absolve her from being held accountable.

(I have no legal training, and absolutely no training in social work, although, as someone with mental health issues of my own, I have benefited greatly from the help of those who do have social work training. I also have personal concerns about how insanity is defined legally, so I stay away from trying to state what might be considered legal insanity.)
beccadg
Jun. 20th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC)
Ah well. I did say it only sounded like you were applying the first definition "broadly." That first definition doesn't absolve anyone of any accountability. That's the point to their being a distinction between "legally insane" and "criminally legally insane." It will always boggle my mind that the Virginia Tech shooter was capable of obtaining guns when he'd been found by a judge to be a danger to himself and others. This country needs to take more responsibility for its mentally ill. It abdicated it in favor of "main streaming" after One Flew Over the Coockoo's Nest. It's all well and good to want to respect the rights of those who aren't dangerous, but to neglect not only those who need help and aren't dangerous but those who are genuinely a danger to themselves and others...

Edited at 2015-06-20 09:51 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 10:14 pm (UTC)
This country needs to take more responsibility for its mentally ill. It abdicated it in favor of "main streaming" after One Flew Over the Coockoo's Nest. It's all well and good to want to respect the rights of those who aren't dangerous, but to neglect not only those who need help and aren't dangerous but those who are genuinely a danger to themselves and others...

Again we find ourselves in agreement. It seems that this country, and probably too many others, cannot seem to do anything but by extremes, and that that applies all too much to the way we approach those with mental illness. "Let's do nothing for them except warehouse them!" "No, let's open the warehouses, 'set them free', congratulate ourselves on being righteous, and still do nothing for them." In each case, no one is actually looking at the people who are suffering mental illnesses, no one is differentiating the human beings - and thus, no one is admitting that everyone needs the treatment that they actually need - and if that requires being kept from hurting themselves and others, then that is the right thing to do, and if that requires spending money on good and comprehensive outpatient care, then that is the right thing to do, and if it requires something else, then we should do that as well.
beccadg
Jun. 20th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
Again we find ourselves in agreement.

Thanks! Again. ;-)

In each case, no one is actually looking at the people who are suffering mental illnesses, no one is differentiating the human beings...

One of my grandmothers committed suicide in her 60's. Another of my grandmothers was in and out of psychiatric care much of her live. My father has a bipolar II diagnosis, and is treated both with medication and talk therapy. Before he got the right diagnosis he was being treated as a depressive, and had a suicidal episode that lead to a week in the psychiatric wing of or local hospital. Even when someone is looking, it isn't always easy to know exactly what a mentally ill person needs. If no one is even looking...

Edited at 2015-06-20 10:38 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC)
Even when someone is looking, it isn't always easy to know exactly what a mentally ill person needs. If no one is even looking...

I and many members of my family have had the experience of going years, both with good and bad mental health providers, and even with the good providers, the journey towards finding out "what the fuck is going on" was tough. Add to that the reality that mental health is a constantly evolving thing as one's body gets older, and one's internal and external stressors and causes change and evolve themselves, and the journey turns out to be never-ending.
beccadg
Jun. 19th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC)
*Hugs.* Times like this I try to keep in mind Martin Luther King Junior's words, "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
He said so many wise things, half of which we determinedly and repeatedly ignore. Here's the one I try to keep my eye on: "The arc of the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
beccadg
Jun. 20th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
To me the "arc of the moral universe" makes that quote too... detached. It's talking about the universe, not about how the individual makes a difference within that universe, if that makes sense. Saying only love can drive out hate is saying something to the individual. It says how important love is in not just the long arc, but the day to day of each individual life. It's been reported some places that the shooter in South Carolina has said he almost didn't go through with it because of how nice the people at the church were to him. It's played up as a negative example of how evil he is, but I think it can be seen as a positive example of how far a little human kindness can reach. Yes, it didn't stop him, but it touched him. Imagine what it was doing for others? For that matter imagine how much it is still doing as people who never got to meet those people personally are getting to hear about how loving those people were?
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 08:20 pm (UTC)
I think both quotes are meant to remind us that there is reason to hope. The arc of the moral universe is, for instance, more personal than if he had said simply 'the arc of the universe'. The moral universe is that universe which we as humans choose to create; when I read that quote, it seems to me that he is saying 'we humans are slow, slow learners - but we do learn, and the lesson is that we should be just towards each other.

It's been reported some places that the shooter in South Carolina has said he almost didn't go through with it because of how nice the people at the church were to him. It's played up as a negative example of how evil he is, but I think it can be seen as a positive example of how far a little human kindness can reach.

You and I agree completely on this one. When I heard that, I almost despaired, but you're right; if just that little bit of kindness almost stopped him, perhaps that is a reminder of how powerful kindness can be. It didn't stop this evil, but it almost did, and that must be remembered.
beccadg
Jun. 20th, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
I think both quotes are meant to remind us that there is reason to hope.

Where as I think the first one is meant to instruct us on the importance of each of us responding to hate with love rather than with more hate, while the second one is a statement of belief in our ability to learn overtime to love one another.

The arc of the moral universe is, for instance, more personal than if he had said simply 'the arc of the universe'.

To me, while "moral" humanizes "universe," it does not personalize it. Universe is still a very large collective noun.

...when I read that quote, it seems to me that he is saying 'we humans are slow, slow learners - but we do learn, and the lesson is that we should be just towards each other.'

To me what he is saying in the quote about the moral universe is not just that we can all learn to love each other, but that we will all learn. Of course, part of that comes from knowing that he defined "justice" as "love correcting that which revolts against love."

You and I agree completely on this one.

Er, forgot to say, "Thanks!" My love to you. <3

Edited at 2015-06-20 10:21 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 11:11 pm (UTC)
Universe is still a very large collective noun.

In an odd way, that is part of its comfort for me: "We are both huge and inclined to be good."

is not just that we can all learn to love each other, but that we will all learn.</>

And this? This is an exquisitely wise, challenging, and comforting thing to remember. Thank you!

... and my love to you as well.
eaweek
Jun. 19th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for linking to that article. It helped coalesce a lot of incoherent thoughts I've been having on this issue.
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I saw the piece in the first place, because it did for me what it did for you.
minnehaha
Jun. 19th, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC)
I am in Berlin and finding it very hard to overcome my impressions of historical Germany.

K.
kaffyr
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
Indeed. I understand your reaction;it's a reaction I suspect I would have were I to visit Germany. And yet it is important that we overcome those impressions, in all such situations. Otherwise we can't move forward, because we're neck deep in horror and self-righteousness.
flowsoffire
Jun. 22nd, 2015 07:56 pm (UTC)
The world is a strange and difficult place… My reaction to the Rachel Dolezal case was rather along the same lines as your own. As for the Charleston tragedy… There are no words.

*hugs you* ♥

kaffyr
Jun. 25th, 2015 01:32 am (UTC)
*hugs you back*
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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