I was talking to a friend tonight. The conversation was rambling along quite uneventfully and without warning the conversation took a very wrong turn. In one simple, surprising, uncalled for, random statement, my friend made a comment that was both sexist and racist. In one breath he insulted both men and women. My friend was arrogant and insensitive in the extreme.
I found myself becoming angry. I was irate. Had we been in person instead communicating digitally I might have really been tempted to let fly some of my postal perspective upon his puny personage. As it was, I was fairly direct when I told him what he just said was “arrogant and insensitive”. Of course, then he thinks I’m taking his comment personally. He then went further to say that he felt he spoke accurately and that it was his “football and he’s taking it in”. My thought: You’ll be taking it in alone for a very long time because who wants to be on that team?
I quickly ended the conversation but I was still very agitated. I’m not one to just lose it generally, but certain things, statements, attitudes can entice me to get up on the ole soapbox and tonight, I was baited and I climbed right up on that ole soapbox. Well, not to him because I ended the conversation with him….but in my wild untamed mind….I was up there hammering away.
Then I mentally stopped myself and asked, “Why am I giving this so much energy?”
“Great question,” I responded to myself, and I pondered a bit further. The fire in the fire pit in my backyard and the soothing waters of my spa definitely helped me take it down a notch.
I pondered. Was it that I did take it personally? No, nothing he said, applied specifically to me nor did it touch on any of my own insecurities. So what sent me right around the twist with this one? It eluded me for a wee bit and then it hit me. It was simply unkind. It was mean and hurtful. It was a broad brush statement made that classified all fat women as unattractive and all Mexican men as desperate. It equated fat with ugly and it implied that fat and ugly women and Mexican men had no other alternatives in the romance department except to be linked to each other. “After all,” he implied, “They can’t do any better.” I believe his actual words may have been “that’s the best they’ll ever be able to do”. Now, I am female, but I’m not fat, I hope I’m not ugly, and I’m definitely not Mexican, so I know he wasn’t in any way directing this comment at me personally. Even so, this one riled me.
It angered me, because it is unkind and it is unfair. It, as do all disrespectful statements like it, lumps people unfairly in the category of loser, inadequate, desperate, not human. Not human. That’s the worst part. It dehumanized all the folks he was pointing the finger at. And, when we dehumanize others we can insult them, strip them of their right to life, happiness, freedom, choice, whatever, and treat them mercilessly and cruelly. If we dehumanize them, we can even, if left to our own intolerant and insensitive devices, kill them and make it look like we were justified to do so. “After all, they’ll never be able to have a better life” or “After all, they deserve it.” It is the kind of statement that reflects an attitude or perspective that, quite frankly, leads to things like wars and holocausts. Everything in my being reacts with horror to this kind of attitude.
I ended my own little pondering feeling a bit better that I had worked through all that quite on my own, all the online therapists being otherwise occupied with other pre-postal candidates. I realized, once again, that I hate bullies. When given the option I will side with the underdog every time, just as I did tonight. I also realized that, at best, my friend is insensitive and unkind. At worst, he’s a big playground bully in an adult body. That becomes a dangerous thing when a bully like that obtains a position of power and influence. People then become afraid to say no to the bully and instead they go along with the bully so that they don’t get targeted personally themselves. So it is in world politics (or it can be) so it is on the playground. So it is with this person I was talking to tonight. I can no longer call him a friend. This is just not the kind of character, attitude and energy I want to be around. I cannot consider anyone who thinks or behaves like this friendly. There is just nothing friendly or fun about being around an overgrown playground bully.