Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Behind the Times

The reason I chose to call this space Behind the Times was initially because I never seem to be up on the latest internet meme. Most blogs are about posting the most recent viral videos or commenting on the latest lol cat. I had trouble even crafting that sentence because, let's face it, lol cats are so 2 years ago, and I don't know the term for those things where there's a picture of a wolf in the middle and copy that reads "Killer Wolf Says: Kill 'em all!!!!" or some shit. Seriously. I'm not good at the internet.

I've been trying to think of something to write for a blog that's maintained by a friend of a friend. It's the typical bloggy format, providing commentary on the news of the day. It's feminist-leaning. To really fit the format, I'd have to pounce on a news item and come up with an opinion in the moment to share with the world. Whenever we're sharing opinions, we're trying to change the world. And while thinking about why I ultimately am not really cut out for this kind of thing--this sharing my opinion on a news item that happened five minutes ago in an effort to change the world--I realized a different interpretation of Behind the Times.

I prefer to take the long view. I prefer to sit on something, ruminate, put it through some logic tests, and challenge my own presuppositions. When the shooting happened in Arizona, items from friends blaming Sarah Palin began immediately appearing in my newsfeed before anyone knew anything. When emotions are running high, reason is running low, and while I completely advocate for the having of emotions, I'm not sure I want to put myself in a position where I have an automatic response to everything because of certain biases and emotional responses. My emotions do not need to be reasoned. My responses to things, however, most definitely do.

Yesterday a friend and I were discussing a proposed ban on pit bulls in Texas. A mother was pushing for the legislation after her son was mauled to death by pit bulls. I'm a little biased in the opposite direction, knowing more than one person who has a pit bull. The ones I know are amongst the sweetest dogs I've met. I think what this mother is doing is typical. Her child has been killed, and someone must pay. Someone did pay--she sued the owners of the pit bulls and won. But she, in her grief, has taken up the crusade to make sure this never happens to anyone else's child. As I told my friend, she's coming from a place of emotion, not reason. The problem is not the pit bulls. To some degree this kind of thing just happens--animals, no matter how domesticated, are still animals, and they're unpredictable. Life is life. Some things cannot be 100% prevented. And the owners are generally a huge part of the problem. Any breed can be trained or treated in such a way that they become aggressive. Pit bulls are desirable to people who like their dogs this way, but that doesn't mean a ban on pit bulls is going to even make a dent in the problem. But my main point is that the mother is blinded by her sadness and desperate to fix a problem that is unfixable--namely, the death of her child.

When I pointed this out to my friend, she said that it takes a certain level of apathy to be reasonable. I think apathy is a strong word for it, but I like what she was getting at. It takes a certain ability to separate oneself from one's emotions just enough to check in and weigh everything. Look at the situation with a wider lens. Look at the philosophical underpinnings of whatever it is you're advocating and make sure they line up with your values. I don't like to make public commentary on things that just happened five minutes ago because I don't know what my opinion is on whatever that is yet. I can make a public statement of my feelings--sad, happy, angry, disgusted, excited--but my opinion is another matter. It's best to arrive at my opinion through an evolution involving discussions and reflection.

And ultimately, I'm not sure that many situations warrant my opinion. In most situations, there are no sides. In a tragedy, all sides deserve sympathy because we're all human, and we all deserve sympathy. None of us know what we're doing. None of us have figured out the formula for preventing tragedies yet. Some of us may have ideas, but most of our ideas are created by deeply seated biases that we might not even know we have. Yes, we all have to pick sides sometimes. But I'm extremely turned on to the idea of trying something new--turning the other cheek. Not getting riled up. Not trying to make someone pay for the sadness that is inherent in this world. Crying instead of talking. Being instead of fixing. Praying instead of preaching.

My jury is still out on a good number of things, but maybe there's a good lol cat that could help me figure them out.

1 comment:

  1. The apathy argument is interesting - I'd never thought of it that way.