It was kindly brought to my attention that perhaps the views I expressed in my last post may have been a bit…well…over the top. Reactionary. Too much. Almost “pot calling kettle”-esque. (Of note, these weren’t the kind words used to discuss the post with me…these are my own words.)
I felt that perhaps some clarification was necessary on my part. Not for anyone else’s sake but mine (as I truly don’t write this for anyone else but me…but that begs the question of why the hell are you writing a blog then????…because ultimately blogs are written for the reader, right? I personally need to get these words out of my head. I need to stop the circular treadmill in there that threatens my daily serenity. I could just journal you say. True. I could. But that seems so…lonely, really. And sometimes, just sometimes, I have something witty and ingenious to add to the daily doldrums of life…and I feel it my obligation to put it out there. Rather conceited of me don’t you think? )…but…back to the clarification being made, for my sake I say not yours. But once again, conceit rears its ugly head and I must be honest and tell you that I am really clarifying lest anyone think poorly of my communication skills. There. I’ve said it. Conceited, arrogant person am I. Well…so be it. And so here goes–the clarification that is. Let’s see if I can make this point more clearly.
When I wrote of evil triumphing when good men do nothing, I meant “evil” as it pertains to the dictionary definition of such: adj. 1. morally bad or wrong; wicked 2. harmful; injurious 3. unlucky; disastrous —n. 1. wickedness; sin 2. anything causing harm, pain, etc. In this case I was using the word “evil” as a noun in some parts and as an adjective in others. I tend to think of evil in the terms of the second definitions above for each…harmful and injurious and anything causing harm or pain.
With that being said, I wasn’t in any way, shape or form, equating the heinous violence perpetrated in Boston on Monday with the few examples I gave of some of the vitriolic, ignorant rhetoric I have heard, and continue to hear, on a daily basis. I can think of absolutely nothing that would compare with the incomprehensible grief of the loss of your eight year old son and the horrific injuries imposed on his mother and surviving sister. I cannot imagine what that family is feeling–or the many others injured or killed–or what the following days, weeks, months and years ahead will bring for them. I cannot even begin to understand the level of their grief.
What I was attempting to do instead was to lay the groundwork for a thought that had been circling on that rotary treadmill in my sometimes addled brain.
It started with the quote on the refrigerator. It is right next to the coffee bar, so that every time I stand there and feed my addiction, I read it. I was reading it on Monday night. I read it again Tuesday morning. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Then I heard the ridiculous, asinine (yes, that’s a harsh word…but if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck…and this was waddling like something asinine..so there you go) words about hoping it was a Muslim not a white person who planted the bombs in Boston.
That flipped the switch. I saw red. I tried not to. I tried to stand back. I tried to distance myself. I made another coffee. And I read the quote again. And I realized what I was feeling and why.
And here is where I’ll try to clarify.
Whomever is responsible for the cowardly act in Boston on Monday did so to try to prove a point maybe. Maybe it was done to air a grievance. Maybe it was done for kicks and jollies. I have no earthly idea. Anything at this point is all speculation. Whatever. But here I am, in my little corner of the world. I cannot go to Boston to offer my services to help. I cannot do anything that at this point will make a difference in those peoples’ lives. But I can effect a change here…in my little corner of the world. It’s like this: envision a girl or boy in high school who desperately wants to be liked and to fit in with the “in” crowd. He or she will do anything to be liked, to gain acceptance into the inner circle of circles…including standing silently by as members of the in crowd, that elite circle of golden, chosen ones, taunts and bullies another student, making horrible, nasty statements about the bullied student, calling them names and just generally being incredibly cruel. The student says nothing…in effect, condoning the behavior of the ones doing the bullying.
(I’m not sure how I’m doing with the whole clarification thing…but I hope I’m making some inroads.)
Back to my little corner of the world…I have witnessed a growing tide of nastiness, directed at those who are different–be it through their skin color, their religion, their sexual orientation or their political beliefs. I have sat meekly by, at times cowed into silence for fear of saying something that will disturb the peace. Ha! Peace permeated by nasty, ignorant, vitriolic, racist rhetoric. How peaceful is that I ask you?? (Sorry, I slipped.)
I thought of my corner of the world. I thought of wanting to help those touched by the events in Boston. I looked at the refrigerator.
I realized that my part can be no longer standing silently by when someone calls the President of the United States a nigger. Having the right to express your opinion is one thing. You have every right in the universe to possess a different political opinion than the highest elected official in the country. But I do not believe you have a right to perpetrate evil. Meaning–harmful, injurious, morally wrong statements, name-calling at its worst. And when I stand silent, I do nothing. And that is how evil triumphs.
It is my belief that when this vile rhetoric is allowed to go on unanswered, when it fills our airwaves, when it begins to permeate every nook and cranny of our society, that is what stokes the fires of hatred that could lead to events like the one that occurred on Monday in Boston.
If I drew an inference or made a suggestion regarding the bombs in Boston, I did not mean to. We do not know the who or the why. We may not know for some time. But I do know that ignorant words bandied about by individuals who would rather have the perpetrator be a Muslim instead of a white person feeds the hatred. It allows the evil to triumph. And I choose to stand up and no longer be silent. I will not be complicit in the pervasion of evil.
That might be another thing right there. My continued use of the word “evil.” Ironically, I used to cringe every time I heard President George W. Bush use the word, as in “the axis of evil.” I was raised in a church that made it pretty clear that evil meant sin and the devil and hell and bad things. So when President Bush used it, I thought he was being a touch melodramatic. The irony is that now I see what he possibly meant. I don’t know exactly what definition of evil he was thinking about when he coined the phrase (or his speechwriters for that matter), but if he was thinking the way I’m thinking (and I honestly don’t know if that would be a good thing or not…to think like G.W. Bush), then perhaps he was going with the second definitions…meaning injurious, harmful and without morals. I don’t know. And it’s not like I’m going to call him up and ask him…so we’ll just have to leave well enough alone.
All of that being said, I stand by my use of the word. Only because it’s in the damned quote on the damned refrigerator and because I’m so damned addicted to the espresso machine, I read it a bazillion times a day.
And honestly, I don’t want to be a part of the hatred that fuels the hatred that perpetrates vile (look closely at those letters in that word…..) and horrific acts. I am not resorting to name-calling. And I don’t want to get into a shouting match with individuals who use the rhetoric that is so damaging. But in my opinion, in my little piece of the world, being the change that I want to see means standing up for what I believe is right, and no longer standing silently by when the “in crowd” blusters loudly and with ignorance–racist, vitriolic, degrading, disrespectful or otherwise.