Saturday, February 18, 2006

should you?

Because you can do it, does that mean you should do it?

That's a question I've been asking myself a lot lately. And what I've come up with, at least right now, is that it depends on the situation -- sometimes yes, and sometimes no. And now I'll try to explain.

I believe in a free and open society we have to be able to say and do things that annoy, irritate, offend, disgust, gall, rile, and vex others, and we have to allow others to do the same to us. It must be allowed for the simple fact we do not live in a homogeneous world. And to maintain that right, we must use it. We must say and do things that piss off others, because if we do not, the not will become a de facto law.

It would be grand if we all could say and do what we wanted with pissing anyone else off, but that's never gonna happen. So to maintain our rights to say and act freely we must be willing to push the envelope. The civil rights movement, women's suffrage (and other rights, such as to own property), gay rights -- the advances made in each of these would not have been made without people willing to annoy the crap out of other people. It's that whole squeaky wheel thing.

If we want to keep our hard earned freedoms we have both the right and even more importantly, the responsibility to push the envelope. And when that happens, some people will be angered and offended. But whether they realise it or not, the very actions that anger and offend them also protect their rights too.

So that's my yes answer.

Now for my no answer.

nd one of the incidents that got me thinking of this issue in the first place:

I have some blogs I regularly read and I sometimes read the blogs of some of the people who leave comments...and those often lead me to yet other blogs. Anyway, I found myself reading this really, really, really, really, really, really, super extra heavy duty conservative Christian (think dark ages...and then think more conservative than that ) guy's blog. I was astonished and infuriated by how backward and actually mean spirited his views were, so of course I whipped off a quite heated comment and left.

But over the next day or so, as my righteous indignation (oh yeah, I was cranked up) wore off I realised that my comment was also mean spirited and was unlikely to prove anything to him except perhaps that I acted like an ass. Now I doubt that I could have engaged in any type of meaningful dialog with this guy no matter how I responded, but by striking back with the intention of offending him without any possibility of achieving anything positive at all it just made me vindictive...and that in my book isn't a good enough reason to do something like that on an individual basis...even if I have the right.

And yet another example...a more commonplace one. The former neighbor lady I mentioned in my "I'll pray for you post" would sometimes say thing I disagree with...never really offensive per se, but things which would gall the hell out of me. For instance, her husband (before he got Alzheimer's) was never very bright and would never really have gotten very far in life without her to manage the business (farmer), buy the vehicles, raise the children (10! in a three bedroom house with one bathroom! )...pretty much do everything except work the fields and take care of the animals...and come to think of it she did plenty of that work too. But her husband was the boss. She catered to his every whim. There is no way in hell I would do that. No. Way. In. Hell.

But it's her life, not mine. It was her choice to live that life and she was happy with it. She considered her marriage a good one...and apparently for her it was. So when she would tell me about her day and what she had to do, who was I to tell her she was wrong? Was I happier in my life than she was in her's? And even if I was...would she be happier in my life than she would be in her's? When she'd talk to me, she didn't ask for my approval...just for a sympathetic ear. And that's what I tried to give, just as she did for me. I'm sure there were times she just shook her head over me, but to her great credit she never voiced those thoughts to me.

3 Comments:

Blogger General Catz said...

if you're truly into freedom, then you not only embrace what these people say, you admire them. as you hope they admire you for your points of view. hard as hell to do. but it seems to me the only way for an enlightened society to emerge from this mess we're in now. easier said than done.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Good points eek. It's real hard but rewarding to try and find both sides of each problem/situation. There's a movie "Crash." Some of it is a bit hollywood, but it's good because it shows how much we can assume the wrong thing about people from an initial impresssion.

b

8:33 AM  
Blogger veleska1970 said...

variety is what makes this world spin. i think it would be boring if we all had the same opinion/views/outlook/beliefs/etc./etc./etc.

2:52 PM  

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