Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I Don't Do It, And That's OK

As I pointed out when I put this on FB, I'm actually an immigrant woman, and, as was pointed out to me, I missed another one there, which is that I support soldiers, but not "the military". Two entirely different things. Anyway, that aside, this is a good list.

Why progressives?

Well, the usual definition of a small c conservative is a person who is opposed to change (or at least sudden, or - as they see it - unnecessary change) and who prefers to do things the tried and tested way (even if it doesn't work). It's not just a political bent, it's a personality thing, and you can break it down into mundane things too, for example, I am a language conservative (I prefer that to "pedant").

But I've also noticed that it's a decidedly conservative thing to prefer "like me" to "not like me". I'd be interested in how conservatives see that. They may dispute it. Obviously it won't apply to all people, or all issues, but it's a trend I've observed.

Anyway, the point is that some people more than others, and especially those who are indeed progressively-minded, regardless of actual political affiliations, are able and willing to support people and things NOT LIKE THEM.


But seriously, that's progress. It goes against our ancient instincts. We are essentially tribal, it was tribes that helped us dominate, and tribes had requirements. You had to follow them. Rebellion was not tolerated. What you wore, what you ate, what you did, it was all decided for you, and you did it, because being ostracized often meant death.

Still, that was a long time ago, so that now, we tolerate difference. Well, most of us.

And all of us have a hard time shaking off the very last bits of this. My son, the writer, asked me how I felt about the idea of dominant reptilian species, and I said YUK. He said it was far more likely than mammalians being dominant, and I said YUK again. So I guess I'm speciesist. Or something.

I've nothing against reptiles (I love 'em) but I don't want to have to talk to them, especially not as equals or (YUK!) overlords.

But you don't have to be "like me" for me to love you, or even like you (which is much harder).

This crops up a lot in the marijuana issue, you know. It's not an issue with much middle ground. You are either pro or anti, and let's be honest, most of those who are pro will take advantage of legalization.

I am considered a bit odd by some, because I am 100% pro legalization, and 0% likely to ever use it. Inhale a drug? ME? Are you serious? Not going to happen.

Yeah, because guess what, it is actually possible to tolerate other people's choices, assuming they don't harm me. Ideally, they don't harm anyone, but despite harm being my yardstick, obviously it's always arguable.

Is there any harm in marijuana? Well of course there is. It's disingenuous to say otherwise, but it's no more harmful that a million other things people do, and a zero harm lifestyle is neither possible nor desirable.

But in the big picture, the harm is small, generally restricted to users, so why would I have a problem with it? Just to spoil somebody else's fun? Do I say they can't play dangerous sports? Do I say they can't eat fast food?

And as for governments, well, they pretend they care about public health, but they don't. Their laws are uneven, low-harm things are illegal, high-harm things are legal, and as always you have to see what makes them most money to understand why they ban what they ban.

And individuals who claim harm in the things they disapprove of are every bit as illogical, because they miss the harm in the things they approve of. I know plenty of people who claim that their objection to gay marriage is "for the sake of the children", and not politics, but ask them about reasons for childhood poverty being anything to do with politics and they change the subject.

At least I recently learned something about those who are both religiously and politically right-wing. Did you know that "being good" is not a really important thing in Christianity? I admit this was a bit of a shock to me. I've only heard this from conservatives. I thought it was an anomaly the first time, so being me I asked questions. No, this is solid conservative Christian teaching. Apparently "sin" isn't about being cruel to other humans, it's about your own personal relationship with God. Who will forgive you if you harm people, even if you persecute deliberately, because you did it for him.

Brings this to mind:

So when this warped version of morality comes up for discussion, they have it all figured out.

Progressives? Not all saints (see previous blog) but with the concept, by definition of "we must change for the better", that harming fellow humans (at least) on purpose, and for no good reason, is not the right way to go. Do I believe that ethics on the left are more honourable? You bet.

Here's the thing that makes it all so weird. The more important an issue is, the less effort is made to create justice.

There have been a few reports in the media recently about students being suspended for having coloured hair. Which is just so stupid. And even a lot of my more small c conservative friends have said so. That there are far more important things to worry about. Good. Good. We can all agree that if it's a matter of personal taste, that you don't have to like it to let it be.

In fact, those who get the rules changed about such "petty" things aren't always progressives even in power. They're just sensible people who pick their battles. Or they'll say their support of whatever is for humanitarian reasons. Well, it can't be.

Because if you bring to the table life or death matters, these same people suddenly aren't very humane at all.

You know my position on the niqab. Hate them. None of my damned business, if it's personal choice. Does Harper know when that is? I very much doubt it. Does he really care? Like hell.

If you'll stand up (suddenly) for women you've never given a damn for before, it makes me very suspicious.

Ah, follow the money. That's usually it. I don't always "get it" but I know hypocrisy when I see it, and anyone who is suddenly ultra supportive of anyone or any group they usually don't think twice about, there's always money involved.

A person who actually cares, cares universally. Remember, a person who is nice to you but isn't nice to others, isn't a nice person. If you love your fellow man, well.....

You know, I haven't checked to see if love by conservative Christians is conditional. I should ask.

Admittedly, when it comes to the petty things, I actually find it harder to get it right. But for the opposite reason. You see, for me, the harm in the "big" issues is obvious. If we shun or devalue those who are different to us, the next step is oppression, and we all know what happens after that. People die. So it's a total no-brainer to love and support those who differ to me in major ways, such as in the list up there. It matters.

When it comes to minor choices and differences of taste, it's so easy to fall into the trap, because it's not a big deal, of not caring about the feelings of others.

I believe this:

And yet I struggle, daily, to tolerate people's weird shit, and to say nothing, and to basically be nice. In order to not turn into Lady Bracknell, I have to remind myself of this constantly. I fail a lot. I keep trying. Doesn't make any of it right. The only reason I forgive myself is that if I'm going to be a bitch, I'll be a bitch about your hat or your beer. Not your skin or your gender. Bitch, not bigot. Not that it's OK, but it's better. Nobody's perfect.

I will always, reliably, stand up for you in the things that matter. Even if I hate your point of vew, I will stand up for your right of free speech. Even if I hate your politics I will stand up for your voting rights. Because that's the right thing to do. When ethics becomes partisan, we're fucked.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh...the sprinkling of nice...that's're nice to be nice of you to think of me...when is nice not nice? Maybe we need to take a look at that, when it comes to conservatives and progressives. I have noticed that conservatives can be very nice people; certainly nothing wrong with that. The things they want or like can be nice, too. But they may not always work, and 'nice' in and of itself does not always get us what we need or move us forward.

    One of the saying that appeals more to me is: “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” The nice people want to ask for permission first, waiting for the right or nicest time to do what needs doing. Some very nice people would not want me to pray for or send positive light to someone going through difficulty (think: Syrian refugees) because they may not 'believe' in such a thing. Nice to be concerned, of course, but don't just go ahead and offer even spiritual support? What sense does that make?

    I can see how otherwise ethical people might try to influence or politicize a subject...or a person for that matter. As a progressive person, we do not have to let that happen. ;) ~ Blessings! <3