Here’s how I know I just had an “AHA” moment while on my errands. Alone, in the car, I exclaimed aloud, “Ah-ha! So THAT’s how ordinarily wonderful and typically kind people tolerate bullying at so many levels.”
I drove past the house we just moved out of. In the midst of packing I noted no longer were there appointments to “show the house.” I asked my landlord if the property had been rented. “Yes.” She happily answered and provided more information than I had asked, “Two gay guys from California.”
I didn’t hear it then. But I heard it today. It would have given me pause if she had said, “Two heterosexual brunettes from New York,” or, “Two obese gals from Gartonville, Alabama.” I would have thought it odd. Or maybe even taken exception to the description.
We don’t feel compelled to say, “Two ordinary white people from two counties over are moving in here,” but it would naturally be offered, “Some black people are going to live here.”
I caught a snippit of a Donald Trump interview the other day. He was talking about the Presidential bid that he hasn’t declared he’s making. In that context he concluded that the only thing positive he could say about our President was that “he got elected.” In a sarcastic aside he said, “I’d like to be able to say he’s the best President since Abraham Lincoln…” Really? Not George Washington, not John Adams? No, he picked the president famed for acknowledging the rights of citizenship of the African American population. Here’s how racism and bigotry slip into conversation. Out of 43 presidents he offhandedly references the one most known for racial emancipation when discussing the first black president.
A compassionate, self-proclaimed, deeply committed Christian wrote a note over a stranger’s blog (which she had to copy and paste) casting extraordinary doubt on the President’s birth place and the authenticity of his social security number. Since it showed up on my Facebook page I asked my kind friend to be more cautious of her sources. Her answer? It didn’t get debunked on SNOPES so it must be real. The commentary contained some of the most racist, vilifying, denigrating assertions I have yet to see about any seated politician. All I could do was write back, “I’m just saying to be careful.”
Be careful. Be careful about those leaks in our souls that let the dirty, contaminated groundwater of Pre-Judging seep, weep and flood in to our experiences.
So a circus huckster starts shouting AGAIN that our President is not a citizen and the leader of the free world has to reduce to saying, “Here. See. I’m telling the truth. Love my country. Here’s my birth certificate, stamped and everything.” So now Donald Trump (previously referenced, rather harshly on my part, as a circus huckster) is suggesting the President was a poor student (yep, every poor student gets to be Editor of the Law Review) (note: sarcasm). Because a man with abashedly weird hair is a celebrity, does his nonsense really command thinking people’s attention? And is this not bullying on a magnificent scale?
I was contemplating releasing a new venue of my work…not my own work but the wise words of others. I was going to put a call out for “Wise Guys” and “Wise Women.” It didn’t set right for me and asked myself, “Why?” Isn’t wisdom simple enough? Words, wise and impacting, have their own merit apart from whether a man or a woman said them. My objection was immediate. “Yes, but so many quotes are attributed to me, just like so much of the art in a museum is created by a man.” As a female writer and artist, I am aware and sensitive to this issue.
What I realized was this: setting up a differential just gives further quarter to the separation of the sexes. Them. Us. Wisdom, as a category, is going to be a “we” in my use. Because to create the boundary is to begin to open the cracks of my soul for accidental, slippery, pre-established judgements.
So here is how “good people” allow bullying to go unchecked. Because bullying occurs in those places of separation. Of distinguishing THEY are not We. Their beliefs aren’t as viable as mine.
When it’s a “We,” or an “Us,” that is being bullied before our very eyes, we are likely to protect, stand up, defend. When it’s a “not us,” or a “them,” it becomes more acceptable to just stand and watch. To justify that “nature is taking its course,” by saying bullying is just part of the childhood experience, or maybe she said something to deserve it, or maybe he is just teasing.
Maybe not. The more we define by what makes us so different the greater the likelihood that we will not grasp that we are one. One of a group of citizens, One human inhabitant of the planet, one breathing creature among the many living things. One of the many. The many of US. Aha.