none so deaf, none so blind

mens group 1

We have a friend, well, actually he is Mr FD’s friend from university days, so he is an “old friend” in many ways. Over the years we have maintained the exchange of Christmas greetings and occasional visits. Now Mr FD and Friend are semi-retired and have more time to use social media and exchange media.

An issue has arisen in that friend, a baby boomer as we all are, has a very binary world focus. This was highlighted recently when on a recent current events panel program on television, a man asked a question about tax cuts and then had to suffer the arrows of the public media as his private life was trashed. He asked one very respectful question to a politician and the hounds went for his throat. Friend was one of the hounds.

It seems that the if you fail in anyway, you must be punished. Everyone must be held responsible for who they are and what they do. It doesn’t matter if you are mentally ill, intellectually impaired, been mentally and physically abused, a member of the Stolen Generation, or any of the myriad other issues that work against children from the minute they are conceived.

Once, Mr FD and I probably would have held a similar opinion, but through the years, education and life experiences we have completely walked away from such a binary paradigm. If generations of your family have been used and abused, if you have been born with foetal alcohol syndrome, if you grew up in abuse and violence, extreme family dysfunction and poverty, can it really be expected that you are going to make all the right decisions in life not to end up on welfare, homeless or with a substance abuse problem?

I am not saying that a murderer shouldn’t be imprisoned. I am asking that a wider lens than black and white be applied. Friend cannot entertain the position we hold and has taken to writing long editorial type sermons on social media casting against our personal views. We have taken the steps of blocking him, sadly.

Mr FD doesn’t have a large number of friends, but he has decided to part from this particular friend, for he finds his opinions and behaviour abhorrent. Obviously friend always had these views but due to the small amount of contact we were able to overlook or tolerate his views through politeness, but now that he airs them daily on social media, and within the inner friendship group, his racist, narrow minded mindset is fully revealed.

If you sit by and say, or do nothing, are you not saying that prejudice is all right? Does it not reinforce postures that destroy individuals and divides society? As I explain to my students if you stand by and do nothing, then you are part of the problem too.

Mr FD has told friend why he can no longer sanction his views, and of course friend then had to make some very personal attacks on Mr FD, even suggesting that Mr FD has severe mental issues (and we all know only I can say that!). Friend just can’t tolerate the idea that someone may not think he is the fountain of all knowledge and that his edicts are incontestable.

My point is, that no matter our age, or what stage of life, we need to reflect on our values and acknowledge that just because we were friends with someone one, doesn’t mean we will always remain so. I think it is important to know our values, to stand by them and to live our lives accordingly. I also refuse to give up hope that one day friend will experience empathy for those who have the harder road in life.

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7 thoughts on “none so deaf, none so blind

  1. One thing we Boomers also need to remember is that our age and level of experience do not give us license to inflict our opinions on everyone, especially on social media. I’ve been astonished at the number of friends who don’t know the difference between an OS and an email but who have embraced Facebook the way my parents embraced network TV. Even worse, they use it to spew the most alarming drivel. One friend, whom I taught to use email and helped many times with fixing her computer, has expressed disgusting opinions on Facebook about our African American president while applauding a certain candidate whose name I won’t mention here but who has been called a demagogue in some circles. I’m avoid FB like the plague, but even so I am hurt and astonished by her opinions, since she has never spoken like this to my face. She is really one of the sweetest people I have ever known, and she was very kind to me when I was feeling lost and down. Seeing what she’s like on social media however has ruined that for me. I’m very sad for her and her children, who I know don’t agree with her opinions. I also regret not planting a virus in her computer.

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  2. “I also refuse to give up hope that one day friend will experience empathy for those who have the harder road in life.”

    It is good to hope, for our own sanity. But the reality is that life is not a drama, where the bad fellow (if there IS a bad fellow) turns over a new leaf in the end. It has taken me many years to even accept that without getting all indignant about it.

    My philosophy these days is this – every single human being strives to be happy, and chooses all kinds of weird ways to achieve it. Your friend’s (?!) militant attitude is largely a cry for help to be happy. Unfortunately, no one else can make anyone happy…it must come from within.

    I feel that social media brings out the worst in many of us. It is the pseudo anonymity offered by the medium, in addition to the exhibition platform thrust on many of us who are not ready for it. Decorum is a fuzzy thing in social media. That’s why I am very suspicious of it, and try to stay away. My digital native daughter says I am burying my head in the ground. Well…to each her own.

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  3. I too have had some friends that I had to leave behind because of their beliefs. It’s not that they are different than mine. It’s that they are missionaries constantly trying to convert me to their political views and it’s exhausting. We have a very bizarre presidential election going on and I’ve taken to blocking some people because I just don’t want to see their extremist views. It has altered how I feel about them. I love Facebook for the easy connection to friends I don’t see often but it certainly brings out the dark side of people too.

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  4. I worry about losing some contacts over this presidential election. For the most part, we’re all keeping our mouths shut – tolerating differences – but the mindsets are there and once the election is over I suspect opinions will become harder to keep to ourselves.

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  5. Since the internet became a reality for us common men, we find license to spew insults, sarcasm, obscenities, and just plain hatred. Why? Because we don’t face the same consequences. We’re not directly in front of the other person. It’s made us lazy and has drawn out our worst impulses. There’s a difference between expressing your political views, even maybe with a little “heat,” and using sarcasm and making personal attacks. Some people just don’t have the written or verbal ability to argue without doing this. It’s really sad, and I don’t see it ever changing. I’m tempted to get nasty, too. But the few times I have, I’ve never felt good afterwards. I just can’t imagine how some people sleep at night!

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  6. Unfortunately that seems to be the way of it now. There is only my opinion and the wrong opinion, and you either agree with me or you are an ignorant jackass who needs to have the truth drummed into your stupid head through sheer violence if necessary.

    There is no room to see any other view except my own.

    It’s sad.

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