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Archive for January, 2015

Garfunkle

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Embrace the Ick,” in which we are asked to write a glowing piece about something which repulses us.

In his never-failing political incorrectness, in his volume level permanently fused at “high” by the artillery unit he commanded in Vietnam, my boss stared across the room during the company party and demanded of me “What is THAT?!”

He was looking at my favorite coworker’s wife, but it was not with admiration.  My first fear was that someone else may have heard him.  Well, it was my only fear, really.  In as low a voice as I believed he would hear, I explained how the larping, steampunking Goth pirate with purple hair was as wonderful a person as her husband.

Remarkably, he never seemed to notice nor mind that her husband had the same persona.  But we were such admirers of her husband’s work that it was either invisible, or thoroughly accepted.  I would have accepted it regardless, as my own Zen inner bastard is a steampunking Goth pirate as well.

But this does cause me to admit that I also tend to judge by physical traits first.  I have an affinity for the underdog, but only those underdogs in my favorite categories.  In the same manner that I would initially favor a tabby cat over a tortoiseshell, I recoil in revulsion at some human beings and desperately squirm to avoid knowing them.  There are both predictable and unpredictable categories I abhor.  The predictable would include anyone I suspect might smell bad.  Among the unpredictable you would find babies and athletes, which until very recently I would have considered to be only one category.

The saddest feature of my bizarre world of prejudice is that I somehow attribute only the one dimension to each condemned party.  I am often surprised to see the avatar or a photo of someone I have been admiring on the internet…to sheepishly admit that their many admirable qualities trump my unreasonable gatekeeper.

“Yes, I smell bad,” one of them might begin.  “In fact, I stink.  Before we consider the reasons and the solutions, let’s consider my other traits…why you are now interacting with me at all.  I know something helpful that you do not know.  I can and will help you.  But there is an unasked question:  will you do the same?  Will you somehow summon the diplomacy and compassion to help me become enfranchised?  Because that is what you take for granted.  Don’t gloat or compare–share the secrets.  As gently as you can, hurt my feelings and give some friendly, realistic advice.  After all, when you needed some answers I had, I was there for you.”

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bone of Contention.”

Today’s prompt has us defend the side that is opposite to our own opinion in an ongoing controversy.  I would like to tackle racism.  My personal belief is that there are no separate races…we all of us represent gradual, regional differences of the same human race, and that to label people as being of this race or that has been the most self destructive adventure we could possibly have invented or invited upon ourselves.  Once again, the words that follow would be in defense of the OTHER side–in defense of the racist…

Give it up already.  You call me a racist?  Why then do you band together to counter me, as if you have only one mind among you?  Do you really have only one opinion–that you all agree that so and so was innocent, or that you all believe that the President is doing a really good job?  Those things aren’t–if you pardon the pun–black and white issues…they are gray areas to which even thoroughly informed juries and political analysts…or future historians…have no simple answers.

You, who take offense at my freedom of speech, are the racist.  “Ignorant cracker skinhead,” you call me from your anonymous avatar.  “Corrupt infidel,” you label as you target my most vulnerable relatives.  “Thieving paleface” you cry as you relive crimes committed by ghosts.  Get over it already–that’s what’s wrong with you people.

There, I said the dreaded phrase.  And you will remain “you people” rather than the equal individual as whom I should be treating you until the day you interact with me as an equal individual yourself.  If I am a frightened little mouse with a swastika armband, show me how a growing mob is not the enemy.  If the only Arabic name I have read is followed by “current whereabouts unknown,” then you come out of your community and show me how you are even more horrified by those headlines.

Show me the ultimate gift, you stingy bastards:  the uniquely human power to forgive.  Forgive the slave owner you see in my aloofness.  Forgive the crusader you hear in my default setting of rote.  Forgive the monolingual truant of history you read in my border guard mentality, who captured the Spanish empire but then refused to even acknowledge our new citizens…inventing yet a fourth, new race for “them” instead.

I am you.  A race of skinheads?  Really, could there be such a thing for very long?  Honestly, we turn on ourselves whenever that gets even close to happening.  Don’t label me anything except misguided.  Suggest that there are no races; there are cultures, in which we can each be proud and of which we should all be proud.  Teach there are hard-fought struggles that are rightfully remembered.  Celebrate that there are different skin tones and variety among appearances that add to the splendid palate that needs to be as broad as the world it paints. In other words, forgive my ass, move on to more important matters…and invite me along on that journey.

Because I have already demonstrated, already cried out in fear, that I have nothing better to do on my own.

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