It might be the season of planetary misalignment also known as Christmas, but, swear to god, I’m inundated with sagas of passionate people whose fervent desire to help the planet, protect the flora and fauna, and support numerous altruistic results in bullying. I’m not going to mince my words here, because I’m sick to the back teeth of how we all tolerate this behaviour because ‘they’ve got a good point’ or ‘they’re only trying to help’ or ‘that’s what they believe and they’re obviously passionate about it’.
I don’t speak up on this kind of thing for various reasons… actually, no, let me clarify that: I haven’t spoken up about this before because I do my best to be kind and compassionate to others and, besides which, who am I to tell someone that their belief isn’t right for me? Or maybe I believe that what they’re saying is completely wrong? It’s none of my business what anyone believes, everyone is entitled to believe what they like and no one else can tell them that they’re right or wrong. THAT is my belief: no one can criticise or judge anyone else’s beliefs because no one can fully understand someone else, they don’t have their experiences or personality, so just shut up and leave them alone. Consequently, I get pretty damned upset when someone forces their beliefs on me.
A friend put up a post a couple of weeks ago about animal rights and veganism and all that stuff. I get where they’re coming from, I understand it and I love their passion. What I don’t like was their comment that went something like, “If you still eat meat then you’re condoning things like this. I love you but I can’t have you in my life, so goodbye.” The thing is, I get what they’re saying about getting people who aren’t aligned with you out of your life and I agree with it. I also understand the passion and commitment. But that’s not what this statement is about. In its current form, the statement is passive aggressive, sanctimonious and self-righteous. And dramatic. The same point could be made without all of that pious superiority, but it was designed to do one thing: draw a line. You’re either with us or against us, you’re one of us or you’re the enemy. There’s no room for any belief other than theirs. No one can do anything other than what they believe because everything else is wrong; it’s their way or the highway.
That’s the problem I have with this kind of behaviour: there is no room for discussion or argument or any belief other than the one that person holds. It’s closed-minded. There’s no discussion possible, no room for anything other than what they believe. They’re right and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong.
It is the intolerant demanding tolerance.
‘Tolerance’ in this case meaning “accede to my demands or else.” It’s that “or else” that triggers me, I think: convert to veganism or I’ll unfriend you. Be against horse racing or show that you are cruel to animals. Agree with me or prove that you’re a fascist racist sexist white trash money-grabbing despot.
One of Kira’s (hopefully now ex-) friends called Kira “an able-ist tw*t” the other day. I didn’t know what an able-ist was, nor do I know how to spell it, but it all came about because Kira didn’t agree not to use words like ‘stupid’, ‘idiot’ and ‘crazy’ because they are (apparently) demeaning to people with mental handicaps. Oh, sorry, mental disabilities. What is the bloody term I’m supposed to use now? Really? When I say something like ‘disabled’ or handicapped’, to me it means the same thing: it’s an illness, a genetic defect, an error in their makeup or whatever else it might be. It’s a description, it’s not a judgement, negative or otherwise. Words are simply words, WE place the meaning on them. My INTENTION is not to cause offence. If offence is caused, then the offence occurs in the listeners brain AND NOWHERE ELSE. We can change the words we use, but it’s really all about the attitude and attitudes like calling someone “an able-ist tw*t” or “an animal abuser” is exactly what they say they’re not going to tolerate in other people.
I know that people say things and they INTEND others to be hurt, I’m not stupid, but you can change all the words you like but if you don’t change the basic attitude, it’s not going to make a difference. I’m not only talking about changing the attitude of the people who are saying the words here, I’m talking about giving those who are getting offended the support they need so that they don’t get offended. This is about all of us being responsible fully for ourselves and what we’re thinking. WE are 100% responsible for any meaning we add to something someone says. One. Hundred. Percent. Forbidding people from using certain words changes very little other than making them more careful about the words they’re using. Yes, changes definitely need to be made, but it’s about attitude and beliefs, not words. Quit putting your limiting beliefs on me by telling me that I can’t say certain things because you find them offensive. That’s not my problem, that’s yours. Stop spreading your pain and upset around by making everyone else feel bad and tread on eggshells around you. Take some responsibility for yourself. Stop pretending you’re powerless. No one can hurt you with words unless you allow them to.
Here’s something for those ardent zealots to consider: passion and commitment is admirable, however you cannot force people into doing something; eventually, there’ll be a backlash. We’ll all be very polite and let you rant on for a while, but sooner or later, we’ll get sick of you and things will be worse than they were before you started ranting on and bullying people. All of this intolerance, all of these demands, all of this name calling and accusation that happens when someone doesn’t agree with you is nothing more than bullying. It’s dominating and controlling, exactly what you say you’re against. If you behaved like this in the school playground, the teachers would be down on you like a ton of bricks. You’re treating people like they’re the enemy, you’re giving them no credit for kindness or compassion, you’re assuming that they need to be beaten into submission. There’s no respect in this behaviour. You might feel that you’re justified in behaving this way because of the atrocities that you see are being committed, but you’re not. You’re trying to bully people into submission, you’re trying to use fear – fear of being labelled as an animal abuser, a racist, sexist, anti-equality, fear of being outcast, unfriended or whatever else - to achieve your own ends.
This kind of behaviour is part of the problem, it’s not part of the solution. The end NEVER justifies the means. Take a good long look at yourself: you’re letting yourselves down. You’re not setting the standards for compassionate, respectful behaviour because you only show respect to those who “deserve it”, in other words, those who agree with you.
Mother Theresa said something along the lines of “I will never attend an anti-war rally. When you hold a peace rally, invite me.”
PS I wonder if anyone will ignore everything I’ve said and make a comment about “yes but things need to change…”
PPS That’s apart from the people who will do exactly that because I’ve pointed it out, lol! You know who you are!
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Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...
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